Starting Your Dreams Later In Life and Embracing the Detour

Jenee Darden speaking at Creative Mornings I know it's been a while since I've posted anything but that's because of my job. I'm working as a reporter covering Oakland and I host an arts segment on the radio where I get to interview amazing artists from around the Bay Area. Plus I'm publicizing my book  and building my speaking career!  You know what's funny? I thought this would all happen by the time I was 27-30.  Nope. That wasn't God's plan for me. I'm finally beginning to do the things I've wanted to do and I'm almost 40 years old. Some people reading this who are 40 will say 40 is still young. But some younger people reading may think 40 is nearly ancient. But I'm writing this post for those who like me, thought their career and personal dreams would come true much early in life. I'm here to tell you not to give up.  You know, death inspires life. A number of my relatives and friends have passed away, ranging in

Crossing the Fetish Line

This is a photo of Tao but pretend it's Tryst at the Wynn.
Photo Credit:  Ryan Holst

This economy has been hell. Sorry for the unpretty language but that's how I've been feeling for a long time.  And what better place to go during a recession and spend money? Viva Las Vegas!  I was having one of those Kindred  "far away from here, far away from here" moods and needed a serious break from reality. Nothing says "unrealistic" more than a city where Egyptian pyramids, and the Statue of Liberty are within blocks of each other.  

The  Vegas clubs were calling me and it had been a long time since I dressed up to party. I wanted to wear the tightest thing I could find.  I mean, hold your breath, stomach sucked in, don't even eat a Triscuit tight. I slipped on a $14 dress  I found  at Ross that made me feel  priceless and my favorite strappy gold heels. A few spritzes of water and jojoba oil on the the fro , one coat of lip gloss  and I I hit The Strip. Destination:  Tryst at the Wynn Hotel.  I couldn't ask for a better night. My girls and I got hooked up with free admission and drinks.  The club wasn't too crowded because most people hit Aria for Kim Kardashian's birthday party.  The DJ was spinning the right stuff and I took in the buzz of nightlife and my second Georgia Peach. 

Now for the juicy part. My girls and I were sitting at a table when a guy tries to snap a picture of us. We covered our faces and told him that taking pictures without people's permission is not cool.  He apologized and I heard an accent.  Traveling the world is my dream. My intrigue gets turned on when I hear an unfamiliar accent.  He was from Israel.  I lectured him again about taking photos without permission and asked, "Do you go up to Israeli women and snap their picture without asking?" Of course he said no. From there we started talking. He answered all of sorts of questions I had about living in Israel and cultural tensions with the Palestinians. We talked about the value of entrepreneurship in the Jewish culture. Then dating came up. Did I tell you he was 26 and had deep brown eyes? And he was very cute with light-bronze glazed skin?  Did I tell you he owned a real estate business and was traveling the Western U.S. and Mexico for vacation?   He wanted to know why my 30-somethin' somethin' self was single with no kids.  I told him I didn't know and it doesn't bother me.   Three months later, I still don't have the answer.

We danced. He knew how to work the floor.  My friends were very impressed with his hip -hop dance style and rhythm.  A few songs later he slowly got closer . And closer. He whispered in my ear, "You are so beautiful and you have beautiful skin." I thanked him with a flirty smile. We sat down. He said he's always been attracted to dark women. But he made "dark" sound like something he wasn't, which I found odd because he was only a few shades lighter than me. He wasn't Al B. Sure light, nor was he Wesley Snipes dark (To do: research complexion issues in Israel). It was  late and I had been up almost 21 hours straight.  He was getting dreamier by the late, late minute.  But I was ready to return to my gorgeous room at New York, New York Hotel and call it a night or morning.  He was staying at the Belagio. We started to head out when he gave me a swift, soft kiss on my bare shoulder. Then he looked at me with his endless brown eyes and asked for a kiss on the lips BECAUSE he  "always wanted to kiss a dark girl. "  What-the-hell? Why do guys say dumb things and kill the mood?????  So he wants to kiss me because I'm "dark"? He wants to kiss me so he can go back home and tell his Israeli homies what black lips feel like? Or maybe how black girls feel different from other women?  This all ran through my exhausted mind. I gave him a friendly hug and wished him well.  He was confused by my rejection.

"Girl, what happened?" my friends asked when I returned to them.  I told them and they understood.  If I weren't so tired I would have schooled him.   

I have swirled and I understand how someone else's skin color, eyes, hair texture or style can be a turn on when it's unlike yours. But that's different than a fetish. To me a fetish is when you can't see the person for who they are because you're so caught up in whatever about them turns you on. The Israeli dude felt fetish-y to me. But there's a happy ending to this story. I left Vegas with $40 extra dollar in my pocketbook and a good idea for a blog post.


  1. OMG! That totally blows! What a sexy little tryst (lol) that could have been w/o his fetishizing and eroticizing your blackness! BLAH!

  2. @ Amaya-- Yeah, he put out the spark quick with that comment. What's odd is that he was dark himself but I don't how race and skin complexion work in Israel.

    @Mocha--awww, I like the play on words with tryst. ;) And I felt "blah" after his comment. But I couldn't wait to go back my room and get some sleep. Our room at NYNY was nice. We got it at a good price.

  3. "He apologized and I heard an accent. Traveling the world is my dream. My intrigue gets turned on when I hear an unfamiliar accent. He was from Israel."

    Didn't you 'fetishize' him just a bit too... his big mistake was vocalizing his desire. Israel is not exactly overrun with black women in the same way you don't meet a ton of hebrew speaking secular israelis in the states -- but I have met some traveling and they have the reputation of being HOT --

    as an african american woman (or any woman of color), one may have a sensitivity to being called 'dark,' but can you blame the israeli for his semantic slip? he's just not culturally sensitive to that stuff.

    and if you had made out with him, would you not have gone home to your friends and talked about the romantic israeli/middle eastern passion?

    the man was hot for diversity!

    ps. i had a fling with a hot israeli in thailand once - all i can say is girl, you missed out! ;)

    pps. when you are talking about the lust generated upon meeting someone attractive for the first time, isn't it true that you can't see the person for who he/she is but rather you are focused/caught up on whatever about them turns you on...

  4. @Kim

    "i had a fling with a hot israeli in thailand once - all i can say is girl, you missed out! ;)" "The man was hot for diversity."

    Girl, your response had me on the floor laughing. LOL For the record I didn't say his accent caught my attention b/c I found it hot, but because I want to do my international travel and I'm always curious about other people's countries. Technically that doesn't mean I was "fetishizing" him.

    My issue wasn't him referring to me as dark. I would have corrected him. But it was more so like he wanted me to help him with his interracial quota.

    And I might would have told my girls I met this hot Israeli guy, but him being Israeli wasn't why I found him attractive.

    Another friend of mine, male, said I looked too much into it, but that turned me off.

  5. "Looked too much into it??" People are too funny. You didn't look too much into it. It's clear from what you wrote that your gut told you right away how you felt about the situation. Good for you that you listened to your gut and gave the hug instead of giving in ... yah, maybe the guy's language was awkward b/c of a cultural issue, but his intentions/motivation sound pretty clear to me.

  6. Thanks Diana. I could tell his wording of "I have never kissed a dark girl" was pretty clear. His English was very clear the whole night.

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  8. I SOOOO AGREE WITH KIM!! *sigh* Oh well!! Jenee missed out on having a steamy foreign affair..*shrugs* I'm not mad at the man. He wanted some chocolate lol ;P

  9. @ Anonymous--

    I know he wanted some Chocolate and that was all he wanted. LOL I couldn't do it.


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