Learning How to Ho and Date and Failing at Both

Today is a joyous day for all of us who love Houston, Beyoncé and good writing: Michael Arceneaux’s debut book “I Can’t Date Jesus” is finally out, and we have an exclusive sneak peek exclusively just for you.

Arceneaux, who also writes a weekly column here at INTO called Dearly Beloved, shares a chapter entitled “Learning How to Ho and Date and Failing at Both” that takes us through some of his most, um, hoeish moments as he navigates the world trying to find love.

And it will resonate with the hoe that resides in all of us.

His debut book is now available. Buy it. Immediately after reading this. Trust us.


We met outside the Abbey. It was 2:00 a.m., so Los Angeles had effectively shut down because the city’s nightlife was useless without alcohol unless you had weed and access to an after-hours spot worth your time.

That night I was in possession of neither, so it was time to drive my ass to Jack in the Box, devour a Bacon Ultimate Cheeseburger value meal with curly fries and a Coke (each jumbo sized), shower, and take my ass to sleep.

As I was walking out, I locked eyes with a guy whom, a few hours prior, I had seen while in the midst of complaining to my friends for the umpteenth time that I missed the gay bars in the South because techno music made me question the existence of God. He was incredibly attractive. If I were an A&R exec, I would sell him as a man who had the appearance of a heartthrob R&B singer but lacked the talent to be one: we could sell him to audiences as a semi competent rapper who could get girls and gays to monetarily support his musical career for a few years.

A light-skinned version of Chingy, if you will.

His name was An’toine. (I’m not for sure why the name needed to be separated with that apostrophe, but I don’t want to disrespect the man’s mama, so I’ll leave it alone.) He went by that name, his middle name, and a hyphenated last name that consisted of both his parents’ last names. I applaud the progressiveness there, but one of his parents had a last name as long as the space between New York and Los Angeles. I bet he took all day to sign shit.

He was waiting outside with his friends when we made eye contact for a second time, but as always, it was up to me to do the approaching. So I did, and although he was warm to me, you got the sense that he could be cold to those he didn’t want in his periphery. My concerns were heightened once we started to communicate via text. There was a strong whiff of jackass emanating from his messages. The same could be said of the clear signs of stupid. I am no grammar nazi.

I don’t anticipate anyone writing in complete sentences. I accept people using “u” for “you” or “ur” for “your,” and whatever instances of shorthand folks like to use sans the following: “HBU,” “WYD,” and “HBD.” With him, it wasn’t so much how he typed but what he said, or was trying to say. You could tell he was more into the superficial than the substantive. It was all too apparent he was more invested in optics than anything else. No wonder he would wriT3 lYk3 tHis. God, a simple “How are you?” from me invited a bowl of alphabet soup in my BlackBerry Bold. It was as if his texts were trying to reach through the screen to warn me, “Don’t do this, Arceneaux.” And yet I asked him out anyway. Because he was incredibly attractive, and I wanted some ass.

So I went despite having it on good ground that this probably wouldn’t work the way I thought it would. Where we chose to eat was a bit of a one-sided negotiation. He was adamant about picking the restaurant, and every single one of his options was ultra expensive. I didn’t mind paying for an expensive meal, nor did I object to paying for the company of someone I had invited out. Did I have it like that? Hell no, but you weren’t going to have me looking like I was a cheap-ass. Still, the way he broached the issue was a turnoff.

He discussed it with this sense of entitlement coupled with a bitchiness that I found frustrating. Like, I don’t mind taking you where you want to go, but you’re acting like an escort, and if that’s the case, how much are you? We can get to the point, because, after all, food would get in your way, no?

Having said that, despite getting the sense that he wasn’t the sharpest person in the Southern California region from his texts, most of those texts were flirtatious on both ends, so once again, I brushed the signs away. An’toine ended up picking none of the options he had previously mentioned. Maybe he merely wanted to see if I would be willing to go wherever he wanted. Whatever the case, we ended up at Yard House, some saddity sports bar.

I went with an open mind and hoped for the best. That feeling didn’t last long.

Once we sat in front of each other, the sense I had that he had the capability to be cold was promptly confirmed. He greeted me like I was the uncle who falsely claimed one of his mama’s children to cheat on his taxes. During the get-to-know-each-other portion of the evening, he said, “Wait, you said you’re a writer, right? What do you write about?”

After giving him the topics and some of the outlets I was writing for, he looked me up and down and snarled, “I don’t like to read.” My response should have been, You don’t like to read, but you write lengthy-ass Facebook posts as if you’re Iyanla Vanzant with a learning disability or a keyboard that barely functions because you spilled a liter of Dr. Pepper on it.

Who doesn’t like to read? This beautiful, empty-headed jackass who liked to dispense passionate, grossly uninformed “life tips” on the Mark Zuckerberg-made platform, apparently.

Yes, it was a pretty shitty thing to respond to a writer by saying “I don’t like to read,” but at the same time, I didn’t give that great of a fuck. If you wanted to be stupid, such was your right. What insulted me was what happened a few minutes later. My back was turned to the person when he said it, but An’toine declared, “You look just like that dude at the bar.”

I turned around and looked. It’s impolite to call someone ugly, but it’s equally rude to tell a person that they resemble someone you would call a bugawolf in your head. “I don’t look like him.” “Yeah you do.” “I do not look like him, An’toine.” “C’mon, you’ve got to see it.” “I don’t see shit over there but someone’s child who doesn’t at all look like the one in front of you.”

But he kept pressing it.

It’s one thing to say you think my profession is a waste of time because the consumption of words is too taxing an ordeal for you and your unimaginative mind, but I’ll be damned if you say I mirror a man who appears to be well over a decade older, at least twenty pounds smaller, and looks like the light inside of him got stomped out by three cases of bourbon consumed five years prior. You got me fucked up.

In just under an hour, I had learned An’toine was blind and dumb. Thankfully, he spared me from discovering that he might also be slightly deaf, because he said he had somewhere to be in the morning. He meant his job, but I personally wished that he would drive into the fourth circle of hell. We didn’t hug good-bye, and that was perfectly fine.

While in the parking lot, I started to entertain the thought of finding a hypnotist to fulfill my mom’s desires for me to like vagina, marry one, and make grandchildren with it in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, because that motherfucker annoyed the everlasting shit out of me.

By the time I got inside of my car, I called my friend Kim in Houston. I asked her if it would be okay to run him over. She told me no. “I know violence is wrong, and I already look like Chris Brown’s second cousin to some people, but doesn’t he deserve to be hit?” “Yes, but you can’t do that. I don’t got no bail money.”

Considering how often God behaved like a troll, it was no surprise that I ran into An’toine repeatedly for a few months, and then finally he fizzled away. Two years later, I got a message from him on Facebook Messenger.

It was 6:00 a.m. in New York, where I now lived, which meant it was the middle of the night for him back in LA. “HUB?” The fuck is that? Oh, you want to know how I’ve been? This is why you need to join a book club, damn fool. After that, he randomly inserted that he was horny. It was the fringes of the day, so I was too.

We took the conversation back to text after he sent a picture revealing just how horny he was. I responded by saying I wish I had gotten a chance to get at that when I was in LA. Me 2 but u was trippin. By my love of literacy? Supposedly, I was too eager and rushing him to get serious. Serious how? I had no idea what he was talking about and could bet he was confusing me with some other sucker whose time he had also wasted.

After masturbating to his videos and pictures, I was finished and told him that if he was ever in New York, he could hit me up and we could finally make something happen. He said “cool” while casually mentioning that I could also fly him to New York. Hardy har, bitch.

My mistake was that I should have never bothered trying to get to know him on any deeper level. That wasn’t how you were supposed to ho. You made your intentions clear and acted accordingly. I knew this fool was a fool only good for fornication, and I gave far too much energy to someone I only could deal with in scenarios centered on ejaculation. He was a terrible person.

Having said that, I know terrible people can be tempting, and despite his being an insulting, rude simpleton who needs to have his eyes examined, I would still fuck. Obviously, it would be a hate fuck.

And for my own comfort, I would bring a book and pull a condom out of it.


From I CAN’T DATE JESUS: Love, Sex, Family, Race, and Other Reasons I’ve Put My Faith in Beyoncé by Michael Arceneaux. Copyright © 2018 by MichaelArceneaux. Reprinted by permission of Atria Books, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Photo Credit: Steven Duarte

Tags: Advice
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