By Shirley Jones-Luke
“Big feet don’t mean a big Johnson,” my mother told me when I was a teenager. But I was 13 at the time and had no interest in boys sexually. So listening to my mom dispense sexual advice to me was a serious “ewww”. My mother — then and now — was always giving me some things to consider when it came to men. Sometimes she was wrong (“cross-eyed means he’s crazy”), sometimes she was right (“if he can’t take care of his teeth, he can’t take care of you.”). But overall, it made for interesting conversation.
As an adult, I teach and mentor high school students and often find myself sharing my mother’s wisdom. It’s an eye-opening experience for my students and makes me value my mother’s offbeat sayings even more.
I remember my mom telling me that there’s something wrong with a man who lives with his mother past the age of 21. “Unless he’s still in school or taking care of his mama, he should be living on his own,” she said. I didn’t think it was such a big deal. The economy is hard on young people no matter what the time and sometimes it’s take a person longer to establish himself. My mother wasn’t having it. “Just lazy or maybe not too bright or both,” she’d say. But I like to give a person the benefit of the doubt and allow a person the chance to prove himself.
Boy, I learned the hard way and that mama had been right — at least in my case!
I had met a guy who was seven years my senior. He lived with his mom in a nice home. She lived on the first floor and he lived on the second floor. His mom was in her 50s and worked, but she did have some physical issues. Her son, my boyfriend, was in his prime, but didn’t have a dime to his name. He didn’t have a job, wasn’t in school, and didn’t have any plans. My younger self fell for his charismatic smile and… well… his big Johnson. But even prowess in the bedroom only sustained the relationship for so long. I soon tired of paying when we went out and the final straw came when he gave me a stolen birthday card. It only cost $2.99!
“If a man can’t look you in the eye when he’s telling you something then he’s lying!” my mother would say. In my experience, this is so true! I’ve dated plenty of guys who would look everywhere around me but not at me. “Is this skirt too tight?” I’d ask. “Oh no, it looks fine, baby,” as he stared at the wall. “Did I keep you waiting too long?” I asked. “Oh no, I just got here,” he’d say as he stared at the ground. “Do you have money for the movies?” I’d ask. “Aw honey, I left my wallet at home!” he’d say as he stared at the sky.
“Bums!” my mother would say. “Don’t fall for a broke behind man!”
In the 21st century, relationships have definitely changed. Attitudes about dating have changed, too. Gone are the days when you waited for a guy to call. Now you’re waiting for a text, an email, or a snap chat — or you go ahead and do it yourself. (Why should you sit around and wait?!) No more sitting by the phone at home hoping he’d call (who still has a landline phone anyway?). You can instant message your new man or tweet him. “Tweeting?!” my mother asked. “Isn’t that what birds do?”
Regardless of technology’s role, most relationships still need face time. Love can’t always develop on a screen. Love often needs physical contact, to be nurtured, and to grow. “Love is like a plant, child,” my mother says. “Without attention, it will eventually wither and die.”
But of course, my mom is hip to today’s technology – sort of.
“Make sure you search that man on the computer,” mom says. “Search that man?” I’d reply. “Don’t you mean do a search on that computer, mom?” “Girl, you know what I mean!” she’d say. “Go on now and doogle him.” “Doogle?” I say. “Don’t you mean Google, mom?” “Child, whatever that Internet thing does,” she’d answer. “You just better find out all you can because you know he won’t tell you everything.” Silly, sure, but who hasn’t “Doogled” someone — potential mate or otherwise — just because?
So when your mom gives you some advice, listen – but do make your own determinations. I hold on to mom’s advice about a man’s teeth – I can’t talk to a man that has bad teeth. (Fortunately, my husband fixed his!) Also, says mom, check out the guy’s fingernails, they better be neatly trimmed. His feet do need to be nice as well. You’re not dating a guy with talons for toes. Also, hairy guys could be scary guys. Do you want a grizzly bear in your life? Tell him to trim it just a tad. You don’t want him shedding all over the place. “You’re going to have to clean that up because he won’t!” says mom.
Shirley Jones-Luke is a mother, teacher, writer, and graduate student. She lives in Boston, Massachusetts with her son and husband. She teaches English Language Arts for the Boston Public Schools and is working on an MFA from Emerson College. Mrs. Luke enjoys reading, writing, improving the educational experience of young people, music, and fashion. Mrs. Luke can be found on Facebook (Shirley Jones-Luke), Twitter (CrazyS), and LinkedIn.