Here's the full story of my most recent encounter as a defender of OPM, otherwise know as Other People's Marriages (OPM):
It's Sunday at one of Harlem's curiously numerous French bistros, and I'm awaiting a brunch date who couldn't figure out how to travel two stops on the train without being 30 minutes late. Fortunately, the bar was interesting. I waited, sipping decaf coffee with soy milk because I live on the edge, and chatting with an interesting British Ghanaian ex-pat when a stream of French suddenly caressed my ears from across the bar. My French has deteriorated to the point that I only understand it if I'm expecting it, and having left my beret and cigarettes at home I didn't assume this handsome, well-dressed French African man was addressing me. But he was. "Your hair is very nice. C'est... natural, my daughter and wife want to wear their hair this way -- natural. May I take a picture for them?" he said.
Not so weird... more and more women are going natural and it's fun to discuss. Others have replaced Candy Crush with the game 'do-all-black-women-wear-weave, let's-ask-them-awkward-questions.' Between these markets, I field a lot of daily questions about whether I set my hair with 500 microscopic curlers every night or wear wild yak fur on my head. Besides, it's always nice for out of work actresses to be photographed by strangers, so I obliged.
So Pierre, as we'll call him just to be offensive and stereotypical, snaps my photo and proceeds to show me pictures of his wife and daughter. I smile phonily as the life force drains from my body blah blah blah... I don't care. Every second of my breath I spend talking to a new married man is time away from short or long term goals like getting laid, painting my nails, or one day having children of my own. It's just a waste of time. But for some reason they get a huge kick out of it -- buying drinks from across the bar and the... whoa excuse me I fell asleep from thinking about these useless encounters. Anyway, being the Good Samaritan that I am, I take his number to text him a list of products and hair blogs for his wife and daughter, so that their only styling options in Paris aren't having their edges snatched out by angry Senegalese braiders.
At 10 p.m. that evening I remember to push send on my little hair dissertation. Instead of getting back a "Thank you," my other half and our darling clone-spawn will love this," I get back a flirty: "tu dors pas?" -- meaning, you don't sleep? Now perhaps in thirst-bucket land 10 p.m. is super late to not be locked down in a Snuggie, but in my world it's viable business hours for a favor I'm not getting paid for and making innuendo from it is a stretch. But before I get the chance to wish his family a nice life, I receive another text: "So you have a drink with me?" ERRR. LET ME THINK ABOUT IT.... NO. LE SIGH. WHAT ABOUT WHAT I WANT?
I don't want to date married men. No one ever asks, so we can just set some ground rules. What about my needs? Even if I totally disrespected OPM and had no moral compass, what else would be in it for me?! The days where young actresses had 'sponsors' or sugar daddies seem to be a thing of the past, or Boardwalk Empire, which is not real. At least then adultery was somewhat mutually beneficial to both parties. But this recession-ravaged New York boasts married men with nothing to offer but a wife slowly losing her mind from their antics and three to 18 children eating up whatever money would have been allotted to my groceries, or whatever it is that kept women demand. So, to review, no emotional stability or self respect, but also no plane tickets to Paris, strings pulled for a Broadway debut, wild Atlantic salmon... nothing I actually need. Just the promise of free alcohol and strange penis. OK. Pass. I'll never be that bored. Single women over the age of 23 have an iPhone full of men we couldn't get to commit to us, why seek out new, extra super unavailable prospects that are balding and have stopped working out? This is just foolish. So next time some random person asks to photograph my hair... well... I'll probably say yes so people think I'm a celebrity. But I still want married men to stop trolling single women like me in an attempt to feel relevant and appreciated again. Your wife just texted me -- neither of us appreciate you. Bonsoir.
Kelechi Ezie is an actress, writer and singer. Visit her website www.kelechiezie.com, where this piece first appeared.