When the tide turned on Love Jones? Can’t say. Just that it started as most terrible things do. On Twitter.
I’ll back up for the uninitiated.
Love Jones, the 1997 rom-dram-com starring Larenz Tate and Nia Long, was long hailed as a standard-bearer for onscreen black love. Carried by the leads’ sizzling chemistry and a soundtrack produced to get you laid, it often rolled off the tongues of Xers and Xillennials when asked their favorite movie.
Not to mention its…efficacy in the dorm rooms of black college students. “Come over and watch Love Jones“—predating Netflix and Chill by a decade.
So, what happened? The same thing that happened to everything we enjoyed before The Internet—see: symbolism, satire, and seduction. We sucked the joy right out of it.
I don’t want to bring a dish. I don’t want to sit in a kitchen pretending I care about your mom’s dressing recipe or how to shred cheese.
I don’t want to risk my outfit around your rowdy little cousins or hold your sister’s baby and have anyone making longing glances at me with an infant.
I want to bring the wine and watch the football games until dinner is ready. I don’t want your dad, brothers, or uncles mansplaining sports to me.
I don’t want to bow my head and pretend I pray while your aunt recites a 12-minute blessing. I don’t want to avoid the gazes of those who’ll judge me for not fixing your plate. I don’t want to answer questions about my parents, or my three half-siblings with three different mothers, where I went to school, what I studied, where I go to church. I want these people to stop talking to me so we sneak away from the table for a bathroom quickie.
I’m the girl you call at 9:00 PM on Thanksgiving evening with promises of leftovers and kitchen sex.
I want to slip on one of your T-shirts and sip whiskey and hear the story of your uncles’ fight over the Spades table while we stand at the counter eating my mother’s roasted duck and your mom’s macaroni and cheese that you know I’ll never perfect but you don’t care because that’s what your mother’s for.
“I’m wondering what happens when this isn’t enough for you,” you say. You hate to say you know how this works; that at the beginning — the “Oh my God, could this be real” phase — you’re seeing the end. You tell him you’re falling. That’s a lie. You’re choosing. Feet planted on solid ground. Refusing to be swept away.
You chose this — the 500 miles between you and him — because it doesn’t disrupt your carefully-crafted existence. When it ends (and you know it will), it’s a clean break. No shared spaces, communities, or friends. Just a few “unfollows” and a deleted text thread. Voila! All gone.
“I feel like you need to be still right now and I wonder what happens when you’re ready to move again,” you say. At some point, he will want more than your arms-length approach. Permission to leave it in post-coitus. Consideration of his unsolicited opinions. Submission to his spontaneous nature. Room to dream of relocation to a sexy city outside the safety of the Midwest, a Vegas elopement, dropping your last name, a kid, a dog.
“Don’t worry about that,” he says. “You’re everything I could want in a woman.”
You don’t worry. You just know.
Five months later, morning texts fade to one-sided threads and calls on the drive home from the bar turn into days of silence and “I love yous” become “I’m sorrys.” You’re driving home from work thinking of nothing in particular when “He always got them fuckin’ excuses” blares from the radio and rips through you like an electric current.
How many more apologies and justifications can you absorb?