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DiscoveryFor years I have seen the catalogs in the newspaper stands or stacked on top of themselves in restaurant alcoves. Next to the piles of Readers at The Golden Nugget. Getting caught in plastic walls of the bus stop shelters. One day I finally picked one up and looked at it. It said “Free Discovery Center Fall Catalog: Chicago’s Lifelong Learning Center.”

I turned the first page.

“As Chicago’s largest and longest running independent adult education program, we present fun, stimulating classes by qualified independent instructors who enjoy introducing others to their subjects. Learn among friends for your own enjoyment and growth, no exams, grades or degrees. See for yourself what lifelong learning can be!”

There were art classes such as “Jewelry Making 101″ and “Drawing for Beginners.” There were computer classes like “Learn to Type” and “Photoshop 101: Elements.” There was also “Zumba” and “Classic French Cooking” and “Table Tennis” and “Energize Your Resume” and “Beginning German.”

And then… I discovered the magic.

“Chicago Sex Tour.”
“How to Meet and Attract Women.”
“How To Find the X-tasy Spot.”
“Bondage and Domination: An Introduction.”

Holy shit. I must take one of these classes.

I must take one of these classes and write about it.

I asked a few people if they were interested in going with me but everyone suddenly seemed very busy.

Luckily, I have one very good friend who jumped at the chance, in her traditional all-cap form, when I asked her if she had any interest in checking it out with me. That friend was Samantha Irby.

Her four-word emailed response was simply: “HO, WE ARE GOING.”

So we decided to go to one of these classes and then write about it. But which one? “Networking for Kinky People?” That was too close to a regular Friday night amongst our circle of friends. “Sensual Chair Dance for Everywoman?” We both knew that wasn’t going to happen. And then we saw it.

It was called:  “Black Women’s Dating Boot Camp.”

I knew right then, there was no choice.

This was bigger than we were.

The class was described as:

“For Women Who Want to Find Their Groove. As the roles of men and women evolve it becomes harder and harder for black men and black women to define their needs, desires and to find a committed, caring relationship with each other.

In this seminar you will learn how to successfully determine your personal relationship style, and that of the perfect man for you. In addition you will discover a method to beat the odds against black women finding dates, mates, and marriage. This class is for Afro-American women who want to find their one great date, mate, or marriage partner. You will:

  • Learn to determine your and your date’s energy blueprint
  • Discover the three essential ingredients for a perfect relationship
  • Learn how slavery, race, and religion impact dating
  • Discover how to use the physical “Golden Ratio” to snag your man
  • Determine your sexual strategy: Laid, or Paid?
  • Learn why the smart ones “love the one they’re with
    ** Class fee: $39 plus a $10 materials fee.”

We signed the fuck up.

“What am I gonna do about the fact that I’m not an Afro-American female?” I asked Sam.

“Girl, you can totally pass for Hafrican,” Sam told me.

I stared.

“And if not, don’t worry. I got you.”

My plan was to get there early so I could find a seat in the back and draw as little attention to myself as possible. But of course, I was late. Twenty minutes late. As we hustled up to the Discovery Center door, we laughed at just how stupid this whole thing was.

“So now we have to full-on walk across this room full of frustrated Black women trying to get their groove back,” I said. “Oh god, I just thought of something worse. What if WE’RE THE ONLY PEOPLE HERE.”

“Right?” Sam said, “This is the most dumb.”

But it was too late.

I had said it. I couldn’t unsay it.

And as soon as the words had left my lips, I couldn’t unknow what I now knew in my heart was true.

We climbed the stairs up to the second floor of the building, rounded the corner to a small reception area. There sat our teacher.

Alone.

There was no one else.

We were the only people who had signed up.

She was probably in her early fifties. She was thin and tired-looking and she introduced herself as a Life Coach.

“Are you…. Sam?” she asked me.

“No, I’m Jill. I’m not Black.”

She led us to a back room big enough to fit a single table and a few chairs. She handed us each a stack of papers stapled together.

“And now I will just need the $10 material from each of you,” she said.

“Oh, I think we already paid that online.” I said.

I have never seen a woman move so fast. She snatched the materials out of our hands and ran off to the front of the room to check with the cashier. Sam shot me a look. “Did you notice all of those scars on her arms?” she said.

I hadn’t.

Our Life Coach came back with a print out showing that we did not in fact pay the additional $20 fee. Sam forked over the money and we took our stapled stack of photocopied papers. The front cover had a picture of some kind of Japanese cartoon animal on it, you know, with the giant sad eyes holding a broken heart? Something that should be named Pom Poko or whatever.

Now, I wrote and rewrote this part of the story a dozen times, but I just couldn’t even begin to capture what happened over the next three hours.

Luckily, during these three hours I took lots of notes.

Here are some of my actual notes from that night. They make about as much sense as the entire workshop did, so jus join me if you will, on this magical journey that is Black Women’s Dating Boot Camp.

The first lesson was to understand Yin and Yang. Yin was female power and Yang was male power. You had to have your Yin and Yang balanced or else, you will become a sociopath and/or a nymphomaniac.

You would eat men’s heads off like a praying mantis. There was no cure for this, either. If you got to this point, you were pretty much just fucked

The real life examples that the Life Coach gave of women who had this problem, and I shit you not, were Nene Leeks from the Real Housewives of Atlanta and Hilary Clinton.

YOUR NEW MANTRA IS: “TRUST NO ONE.”

Women have chainsaws inside. Men have daisies and softness.

If you are eating food and shitting poop, you are a slave to Biology.

That was the only talk of slavery, by the way. I’m not sure if she held back on that for my benefit or what.

Women think and feel, which make us very dangerous, but also very unstable.

When a relationship ends, it takes two-years for the “oxytocin toxicity” to get out of a woman’s system and only then can she get over a man.

Men think about sex every three seconds. Contrary to popular belief, as women, we should not trust our gay male friends because they have women’s brains—- but men’s penises — so they give bad advice.

90% of black women are Givers/Mama/Selfless.

90% of black men are Takers/Little Boy/Selfish.

The men you want to date are the Receivers/Gentlemen/Self-Centered.

Like, for example, Brad Pitt. So, I guess, go find him.

She recommended that we create professional business cards with our limited contact information to give out strictly for dating purposes.

She gave us a list of 19 – NOT 18, NOT 20, but 19 – principals for getting a man. At this time, I would like to to present these principals to you.

  1. Dress sexy, not sleazy.
  2. Show off 2 out of 4 of body parts – not all four.
  3. Dress youthfully, but not too young.
  4. Don’t wear rings.
  5. Don’t wear bracelets
  6. Don’t wear tight or high necklaces.
  7. Be clean and well made up.
  8. Show off your hip/waist ration* – Show off your waist. (*her typo)
  9. Dress in a manner that fits in with your cub’s crowd. (??)
  10. Blouses that have a V-neck are very sexy.
  11. Skirts are more flattering than pants.
  12. Men love long, shiny hair, try to keep your hair long.
  13. Color your grey hair – gray hair is aging.
  14. Make sure your teeth are as white and straight as possible.
  15. Don’t smoke.
  16. Nails should be short, clean and well manicured.
  17. Go easy on the perfume.
  18. Ditch the eyeglasses.
  19. Men fall in love with their eyes!!! Be eye candy!

Once you have identified the man you want, using these rules you SHOULD get you that ring in no longer than nine months.

“Are you married,” I asked.

“Yes I am,” she said, “happily married for the past 20 years to the same wonderful man.”

“That’s nice,” I said. “How did you meet him?”

“I scoped him out at one of those bars where businessmen hang out. He was everything I wanted, older, rich and white!”

Hold up,” Sam said. “He’s white?”

“Yes!” she said and told us all about her rich husband and her cars and horses and her dogs.

“And you strong women can do it, too.”

We nodded.

After three hours, we were finally free. We stood up from the wobbly chairs and left the musty-smelling room. We walked out with the Life Coach and said our awkward goodbyes. We watched her get into her 2005 Ford Focus and drive off. Back to her Rich, White Husband. More probably, back to where that extra $20 would really count for something.

Later, when we googled her, we discovered that our Life Coach had previously marketed herself as a Dog Trainer but had lost her business after she was charged with animal cruelty for allegedly putting electronic shock collars around the dogs’ genitals. (No, really, it’s in The Reader.)

Sam and I went to get food and many drinks. We decided that our yin and our yang were about as balanced as they were going to get that night. We decided that our Life Coach looked a lot like Erykah Badu and that we mostly felt sorry for her. We decided that next time we considered taking a Dating Boot Camp or any other class for that matter, we would spend our $50 class fee on food and many drinks instead.