So one morning past, Huey, the man I was getting to know sent one of his usual morning Pinterest-like inspirations. This isn’t his real name, but I needed a reason to smile while I told this story.
Anyway, I usually reply to these upbeat snippets with India.Arie or Pharrell videos, but on this particular day, I texted back with a personal message before noticing I was in a Group Conversation. He mentioned he talked to his mom every day, so I reasoned he was doing a “two-fer” and didn’t mind (much) until the other number texted: Who is this? I don’t have your name in my phone. Whether it was directed at Huey or me wasn’t clear.
I realized quickly, though, that this was not his almost 90-year old mama who barely knows how to use the smart phone he bought her. I clicked and viewed the number, verifying that it was the wrong area code for his mom yet local to me. I needed answers too, I thought and immediately shot back: This is Nailah. Who is this? I left it group style so Huey could see the conversation escalating and jump in any time with an explanation.
He did not.
I copy/pasted the other number into Google, got a name, photo and bio. I saw that she was a professional in his side hustle that he might or might not be trying to network with.
This still wasn’t the big deal to me you’d think it would be, because I am not the jealous type and assumed a reasonable explanation was coming. I assumed this smart-and-wonderful-seeming man wasn’t stupid enough to link two women he was dating together in a group text. And I also hoped he wasn’t that lazy. I mean if you are going to send an inspirational group text why not send it to a dozen people instead of two, right?
I should also mention that I had been uncharacteristically falling hard for this man who had been kind, thoughtful, quietly funny, and very deep-voiced and easy on the eyes. So much so, that I had this Leela James song on auto repeat for a few days before this incident.
Nevertheless, after an hour of distracting work and no response, my heart rate was up for all the wrong reasons. I texted specifically to him. ‘Huey, what’s going on? Why have you sent me and Lulu (not her real name either) the same message?’
I got a pedicure for lunch. She served me Jasmine tea, massaged my feet and painted my nails Christmastime red although it was clearly still summer. I checked my phone every few minutes before finally turning it off and closing my eyes.
I returned to work, turned the phone back on and found two missed calls from him and three texts in which he tried to convey in different dumb ways that he didn’t even know how to do a group text.
It’s the phone’s fault, he continued. One of the texts was allegedly sent on his way to T-Mobile so the tech gurus could fix his phone.
Taken care of, he texted later, to just me.
After enough deep breaths to almost fall asleep, I texted back that I still don’t understand and would like an explanation. Afterwards, I realized I should’ve typed satisfying explanation. I went silent then because silence is my secret power.
That is where I left it.
In the meantime, the other number texted me that she was confused too. No more details. I did not respond. She went silent.
That evening, with all the hand gestures in the world, I retold the events to a guy pal.
GP: That’s messed up. He sounded so amazing.
Me: Yep, ruined my morning. How did it come to this?
GP: Dating can be like a scary movie. It’s done then?
Me: Unless I get a satisfying explanation.
GP: Such as?
Me: Almost anything that involves a brain injury, seizure, or her nickname is the same as mine and he wasn’t sure why he had two numbers for me so he texted them both.
GP, laughing: You’re not going to make contact again?
Me: Nope. It’s his move and it’d better be good.
GP: What if he gets defensive or his explanation sucks?
Me: I’ll get over him.
GP: What if you don’t hear back?
Me: I will assume he’s been in an accident or that I just got played.
GP: You really don’t need closure.
Me, laughing: Nope. Closure is overrated. It didn’t work out. It doesn’t matter why.
GP: You date like a guy.
Me: I date like a butterfly.
I never really expected not to hear back, but a week passed. I dipped into self-care and processing, with a side of binge-shopping. Deleted him from my Contacts, stopped playing Leela James songs and disbelievingly closed the space I’d opened for him in every little way I could.
A few more days after that, Huey finally called. I was on a train with my family to Vancouver, B.C. and had turned my ringer off to focus on them.
Against my better judgment, I listened to the voicemail. He sounded happy. He also sounded like he had food in his mouth. “Just got out of church and I was thinking about you. Hope the garden is still coming together. Hope your family is well. You don’t have to call me back. The weather is changing. Dress warm and stay safe.”
I felt a rare headache coming on as I played it two more times and I suddenly wanted Rocky Road ice cream.
“He still didn’t answer the question,” my brother said when I relayed the craziness and I laughed myself to a better place.
The next morning Huey started texting inspirational sayings again and couple photos (just to me) like all was miraculously well again, but I had already fallen completely out of like.
I blocked his number and am currently on a dating hiatus.