Here on the blog and over at The Swirl World on Facebook, I often receive questions in my in-box from women interested in knowing more about how to date and relate to Rainbeau men. (Shout out to blog mistress Christelyn Karazin of Beyond Black & White for the term “Rainbeau,” which, for Black women, is a term used to describe non-Black men).
Sometimes, the best way to answer certain questions is to hear how it’s done from the people who are successfully doing what you’re interested in. This week we’re featuring Swirl couple Gene-Leigh and Seth Wheeler.
To learn more about how they dated, related, and ultimately married, read on – and stay tuned!
NOTE: Installments are in Gene-Leigh’s own words.
Installment One – Gene-Leigh Tells How They Met
“Hmm….I don’t know,” I thought out loud to myself. I was searching the database of a website called PlentyofFish, and I wasn’t too keen on the results.
“Oh well, they’ll just have to come to me,” I sighed, and started to press enter. I stopped myself, and added to the bottom of my profile, in all caps, “RACE IS NOT A FACTOR”, and pressed enter.
I sat back, cross-legged on my pull out bed, and stared at my new dating profile. I’d been back in my hometown of Pittsburgh for a little over a year, and after leaving the Windy City (and a destructive relationship) in the dust, I was looking to start anew. I was in graduate school, worked at night processing checks at a bank, and was about 2 weeks away from moving into my own apartment. For the next few weeks, I fielded a few messages, made a couple of connections, and vetted a few losers (a poster who said “Baby, you’re hot. I’ve always wanted a sexy black woman to fulfill my fantasies!”–was QUICKLY deleted and blocked). I’d moved into my own place, and been there for a week, by the time I got a message from a strikingly handsome man with clear blue eyes. We exchanged emails a few times, and I liked him. He was down-to-earth, intelligent, and very handsome. I began to feel the little eddies of excitement that comes with a new beginning.
What Happens when You’re Patient – and have an Open Mind
And then—NOTHING. I checked my profile for a week, and got nothing at all from him. I wondered if I’d scared him off. Discouraged that I’d wasted my time, I was ready to delete my profile and settle for a lonely life filled with coursework and stress. I checked my profile one last time, and noticed a message. I clicked on it, and enlarged the picture of the guy who sent it.
I squinted at the picture, trying to make sense of it, and then remembered skipping over his profile because of my own preconceived notions of what I THOUGHT he was looking for. That and I noticed that a little blonde girl was also in the picture with him. “Looks like a rocker,” I thought to myself. His arms were covered in tattoos, and he sat on a chair with his pant legs rolled up, and his bare feet in a kiddie pool. The little blonde girl, who I assumed was his daughter sat next to him in the pool in a bathing suit smiling.
“What a weird pic to put on a dating website!” I thought smiling. One of my rules of dating is that I don’t date men with children–and that is my OWN preference. I know that there are men in the world who are fathers and make awesome mates for women, but I was looking for someone who didn’t already have a lifelong commitment.
“He’s kind of cute in a rocker way…” I thought. I’d never dated a white man before—-as a matter of fact, I’d gone through a period in my very early 20s where I was staunchly opposed to it. Too many bad experiences and a nasty stint at a fast food restaurant with customers spouting racist slurs had soured me against “pale folks.” It took going back to college and expanding my mind, and accepting people for who they were for me to make that change.
The Email Exchanges
“Ah, what the hell,” I thought. I clicked reply and sent him a message back. I allowed my mind to drift to the possibility of dating outside of my race. What would my family say? What about HIS family? What would society think? As I drifted off to sleep that night, those questions danced at the front of my mind. The next day, I received a message and a little more info on my rocker dude. His name was Seth, he was 28, and lived about 5 miles from me. He enjoyed listening to (and attempting to play) music, and worked the night shift, like I did. He thought my picture was pretty. I smiled as I read his reply. I dashed off an email, got ready for class, and found myself thinking of him during lecture.
We emailed each other for about two weeks, and in that time, I learned a lot about my “rocker dude”—- he’d gotten out of a short fling a few months before, and the little girl in the picture was actually his god-daughter. His best friend’s wife (whose daughter it was) took the picture of him sitting on the edge of the pool after she’d set up his account. I wrote back to him about my life, what I was doing, where I was going, and where I had been. We typed about music, movies, and bad restaurants. We talked about family, and I learned that his parents were very liberal folks who lived in a small town about two hours north of Pittsburgh. We typed about our brothers–we were both the oldest—-and about how his middle name (Andrew) was my brother’s first name. Now this entire time, I’d been sending messages through my email over my cell phone. Growing tired of typing, we finally worked up enough courage to exchange phone numbers, and talk on the phone.
First Phone Call . . .
I remember being so nervous the first night he called! “Oh my God I’ve never talked to a white guy, what do I say? How will he sound?” When Seth finally called, he was as nervous as I was, but the conversation just flowed like we’d known each other our entire lives. We talked about the stars, and food, and the sucky dating scene. He told me that he was glad I was talking to him because it killed him when beautiful women would end their profile descriptions with, “NO white men please.” That gave me pause. I was at a loss for words. I finally put some smile in my voice and told him, “Well, they missed a good one,” and we laughed.
. . . and First Date
As time went on we got closer, and we started to go out. Our first date was late at night, and we ate at an all-night restaurant after we were both off of work (remember, we both worked the night shift). I had a chicken salad, he had pancakes. He paid, and he wore a black T-Shirt with the Ramones on it and a pair of jeans (he still has that shirt, and since we’ve been married, I’ve been known to sleep in it from time to time). As time went on we got closer, met each other’s families, and got to know each other more and more. When he asked me to be his girlfriend, we were watching TV, and he turned to me and very thoughtfully said, “Hey, will you be my girlfriend?” I said “Yes” without thinking—-it was the most natural thing in the world. We had tiffs and arguments, and great make up sessions. He bought me an acoustic guitar (which is prominently displayed in our living room even today) and we made music together. He made me dinner, and gave me a stack of punk rock CDs. We went to punk rock concerts (which are a ball) and cooked Thanksgiving dinner for our parents. He soon proposed, and we got married on October 11, 2012.
Has this been a whirlwind? Absolutely. Has it been hard at times? Of course. But when it all comes down to it, we love each other deeply and dearly. I can’t see spending my life with anyone else–I need him like I need oxygen, and I know he needs me just the same. Just think: If I’d held on to my old feelings and beliefs, I would have missed out on the love of a lifetime. He’s my rock, and my “rocker dude”. I love you Seth (kiss). <3
Tomorrow: The Bat Chronicles (Part 1)
Join in the Fray: On a scale of 1 – 10, how open-minded are you?
Copyright © 2013 Michelle Matthews Calloway, ASwirlGirl, All rights reserved.