“A real man keeps his word. If he says he’s going to do it, he gets it done. If his word is weak, the man is weak.”
Cam and I met online and had been going out for about three weeks when we were presented with an opportunity to move away from our typical sports bar, movie routine. We’d been invited to a night of Couples bowling with my sister and her boyfriend, and my cousin and her husband.
This would be the first time we had gone out with others and more importantly, the first time he would meet my family. Though I wasn’t ready to marry him, I felt like he was past the “are you a serial killer” stage, and ready to be introduced to my crew. But it also meant I needed to be ready to get their input on the man I was dating. Eek. They were definitely going to be honest.
Within the first ten minutes, he was a hit. They liked him immediately. He was full of energy, easy to get along with, and nice to me. (The latter is definitely a requirement.) He was also competitive, which worked well for this group because we all were as well.
As we set up the scoreboard, placed our balls on the rack, and laced up our shoes, Cam called out to the group, “Hey, we’re competing as teams, right?” A couple of people nodded and responded “Yep”. He continued, “Ok, well, what’s the prize for the winner?” Everyone continued what they were doing, but turned their attention to the conversation, as we were intrigued by this idea.
My cousin, Sheila, was the first to respond. “Bragging rights!”, she shouted. We all laughed. That’s how we rolled as a family. We played a lot of games – almost any time we gathered – and the trash talking and bragging was always the right and prize for the winner. It was so satisfying and ego-boosting that we had never even considered actual prizes.
A little dissatisfied with her response, Cam offered an idea. “Well we need something. If not a prize, how about a penalty or consequence for the losers?”
Then, he leaned over and whispered in my ear, “We better not lose.” Mind you, he doesn’t know if I can bowl well or not at this point. I have only said I like bowling. Did he just voluntarily put the pressure on? Well, it was his to own. “Well, you have a lot of points to get to make sure we don’t!”, I retorted. “You can’t bowl?!?”, he asked with judgment and disgust in his voice. “I’m okay. I can keep the ball out of the gutter”, I carelessly replied.
He shook his head, turning back to the group.
As he did, my sister, Keisha, jumped in with an idea. “I know what it should be. The couple who loses will have to eat/drink a concoction from the food bar made by the winner. This might consist of several condiments, drinks, pieces of food, etc. All edible items and nothing dangerous. Are y’all in?” As we laughed, we either nodded or stated our consent…every one of us.
And so we played. Cam and I were in the middle most of the game. [Come to find out, he only played “slightly” better than I did –averaging about 170 points, but never made a strike. I only made one strike though I averaged about 150.] We were in the eighth frame, running fairly neck in neck with my sister and her boyfriend and then…her boyfriend got a turkey! Three strikes in a row!! Since my cousin and her husband had long ago left us in their dust, this sealed the deal. We were clearly the losers of that day’s game.
I knew it. He knew. No one said anything because the game was still in motion, but we all knew it. And though I didn’t notice it in the moment, that is when Cam started to “punk out”. Right after his turn (and before mine, Sheila’s and Donald’s), Cam quietly excused himself to the restroom complaining that his stomach hurt. I thought nothing of it and continued to watch the game.
When Donald, my cousin’s husband, bowled his last frame, the game was over. Immediately, my sister turned to me and said, “You know what that means…Y’all lost, SUCKAS!”
I rolled my eyes up in my head and said, “Yeah, yeah. Alright, alright. Let’s get this over with.”
My sister quickly jumped up, exclaiming, “I’ll be right back. Going to make your special treat, right now!” Then, she laughed wickedly as she skipped away.
Donald then turned to me with his brow furrowed and said, “Hey. Where’s your boy? He ain’t gone and disappeared has he?” I nonchalantly replied, “Oh, he went to the restroom.” “Well”, Donald retorted, “he’s been gone for quite some time. Isn’t that a little convenient?” I pursed my lips, gave him a “whatever” look and turned away.
Truth is, I had noticed. It was convenient that he had been in the restroom for the past 20 minutes, especially because it was clear at the time of his departure that we were going to lose the game.
As my sister returned with two cups of foolishness, so did Cam.
Donald: Man, we thought you’d gone M.I.A. You trying to disappear on us?
Cam: Naw. My stomach was hurting so I had to step away. Think I’m going to head home now
Keisha: Not before you drink this concoction!
Keisha was not one to play when it came to competitions or wagers. ‘Respect the rules or don’t play the game’ was her mantra, so she had full intentions of ensuring that this concoction was consumed.
Ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, sriracha, peanut butter, cheese, vinegar, salt, pepper, and Mountain Dew had all been stirred and blended into a smoothie like texture in two cups with a sprinkling of Old Bay on the top. Not appetizing at all, but as we agreed not poisonous.
Cam frowned as my sister did a jig while listing the ingredients. Then, she handed a cup to each of us. Initially, he shook his head and backed away. Then, begrudgingly, he took it.
Cam: Seriously, my stomach hurts. I can’t drink this tonight. Can we do something else?
Keisha: No, we agreed to do this. Besides, you can’t change the rules after the game is over.
Cam: But something upset my stomach. I really can’t.
Me: You’re the one who came up with the idea to have a “consequence” for the loser, and you agreed to this one.
Cam: Yeah, but that was before you made us lose!
Are you kidding me? I’m not going to push back or get into it now since we are still in the presence of others, but did you just blame me?
My sister gave me a look like, “Who is this dude? Does he not realized he’s outnumbered and we will jump him?” But she followed my lead and kept quiet.
Me: Come on. (I turned to Cam.) Let’s drink up.
Cam: fake gagging sound – Seriously, I can’t do it.
Donald: Dude, seriously, you’re the one who set up the agreement!
Cam: I know, but that’s disgusting.
Me: Are you really leaving me hanging. Shaking my head. I can’t believe it! Just take a sip.
I started sipping my concoction and the grimace on my face said it was not easy, but I did it…until it was gone. Then, I turned to him and lifted my cup in a Cheers kind of motion, encouraging him to get to it. He shook his head, put the cup down and started backing away.
“Man, are you going to let her take the hit for your team?!”, Donald asked with a tone of extreme disgust. He picked up his things and began to walk away. He was done!
Sheila began to follow her husband and my sister’s boyfriend beckoned for her to join him in exiting. My sister stopped in front of Cam, looked him in his eyes and shook her head in disbelief before heading towards the door. As she turned her back to him, he yelled, “Ok. Wait.” My sister and her boyfriend paused; my cousin and her husband did not. (They were really fed up.)
Cam pinched his nose, took one little sip and literally ran off towards the restroom with his hand over his mouth!
Last time I saw him.
Any man who would allow his woman – any woman for that matter – to take the fall for him is a b@#!$! No other way to say it.
Essentially, he broke his word, and as most men know, your word is your bond. He agreed to the wager and should have followed up accordingly. Trying to avoid the outcome and wiggle his way out not only showed that he would likely be unreliable in the future, but that he would probably not be dishonest or forthright either. While this might seem like a minor situation since it was just a game of bowling, it has major implications for the future. When the outcome was not what Cam expected, he made a decision to not honor his word (and to act like a baby in the process), which in turn caused him to lose the respect of his date and others around him. In life, there will be disappointments, but maintaining who you are in the midst of those is what determines the true strength of a man.
Because there is no evidence that the narrator saw signs of this kind of behavior/action prior to this event, I don’t have any advice about what she should have done differently. It is clear that she realized immediately that he was not what she was looking for in a partner or mate (or a friend for that matter), and decided to end the relationship. Definitely a wise decision.
Remember: Character flaws not only provide insight into who a person is, but they work their way into the fabric of the relationship and destroy them from the inside out. Take heed.