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What Brothers Think, What Sistahs Know: The Real Deal on Love and Relationships

What Brothers Think, What Sistahs Know: The Real Deal on Love and Relationships

4.3 3
by Denene Millner, Nick Chiles

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From the author of The Sistahs' Rules and her husband comes a Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus for African Americans.Denene Millner's sassy, shrewd reaction to The Rules became a bestseller. The Sistahs' Rules spent six months on the BlackBoard list. Then, proving the value of her own advice about dating and mating, Denene


From the author of The Sistahs' Rules and her husband comes a Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus for African Americans.Denene Millner's sassy, shrewd reaction to The Rules became a bestseller. The Sistahs' Rules spent six months on the BlackBoard list. Then, proving the value of her own advice about dating and mating, Denene married Brother Mr. Right, Nick Chiles. Once she'd laid claim to his heart, she took a really long look at his head to find out what his words and actions really meant. Together they decided to go boldly where few couples dare: inside the minds of a sistah and a brotha to reveal the real deal on what Black men think of commitment, monogamy, and other mysteries--and what sistahs know about staying true to themselves.

What Brothers Think, What Sistahs Know is the first book for African Americans that decodes the inscrutable ways of the opposite sex. In this funny, honest, provocative book, Millner and Chiles step across the great divide to create--once and for all--real understanding between sistahs and brothers. They give the real deal on:

* The perfect date
* Why brothers think all sistahs are angry
* Why so many men could run down Michael Johnson in an effort to escape commitment
* Whether it's fair for sistahs to scream when brothers chase white girls
* Why good sex matters

What Brothers Think, What Sistahs Know covers everything from first dates to lasting commitments, from myths and misunderstandings between brothas and sistahs to the kind of communication that fosters love and respect. It reveals, for the very first time, the motivations and fears coursing through that warm-blooded animal on the other side of the bed.

Editorial Reviews

Deborah Gregory
The book's honest, witty dialogue format makes reading it like getting inside your lover's head. Readers will walk away form this kiss-and-tell survival guide with hundreds of secrets—all from a sister and brother perspective.
Essence Magazine
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Coauthored by the creator of The Sistah's Rules and her husband, a reporter, this volume offers a fresh, often funny perspective on African-American relationships. Millner and Chiles probe each other's views on dating, sex and marriage in a fast-paced, sassy dialogue that both pokes fun at and illuminates the differences between male and female perspectives on love. What's wrong with taking the "slow route to the sheets?" Millner demands. "Men," retorts Chiles, with a candor that is one of the book's hallmarks, will go "fast, slow, medium--whatever's necessary to get into the panties." Some chapters address specifically issues of African-American relationships. One deals with the appeal of white women to the black "brother," for example, while another ponders why so many black women seem angry to black men. Other chapters reprise the universal themes of every relationship guide since the beginning of time. Such material can seem so basic it's banal: Do we really need such a clued-in pair to tell us that the best way to be asked out on a second date is to be yourself? Still underneath the street smarts and the slang so hip some readers will need a glossary, Chiles and Millner are warm, straightforward, down-to-earth mentors. One of the book's great pleasures is the chance to eavesdrop on their blunt but affectionate banter, which models just the kind of male-female honesty extolled by experts of all colors. (Feb.)

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HarperCollins Publishers
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Yoo-hoo! Over Here: How Do We Get Your Attention?

From a Sistah

Can't count how many times I've been to a party with a bunch of beautiful sistahs, dip from head to toe, smelling good, sweet as sweet potato pie and ready to tear up the rug and expecting to tuck a few cuties' numbers into their purses by the end of the night—and they end up leaving dejected, having spent a full two hours buying themselves their own drinks and dancing in a circle with their girlfriends.

    The cuties are there—dressed to kill and sipping their Henny, standing up against the wall next to their boys, simultaneously doing the two-step and surveying the room. But they don't move from that spot—unless it's to get a refill on that Courvoisier. They don't dance with anyone, except the wall and the one weave-and-leather-wearing-big-booty-spiked-heel woman in the room who looks like she's a little hot in the ass. And they hardly strike up a conversation with anyone other than their boys.

    And in the meantime, we sistahs are left to feel like the wicked stepsister at the ball—unattractive, out of shape, just plain unworthy.

    We thought we'd done everything we were supposed to do to get a guy interested in us. We made sure we looked cute that night. Threw a casual glance over at Mr. Two-Step—might have even tossed the booty in his direction.

    Alas, no play.

    No forseeable action.

    Forced to go home feeling woefully inadequate—like we don't havewhat it takes to snag a good one.

    It's a harrowing experience.

    Ditto for the cute brother on the subway who sees us every morning at the same exact time at the same exact place, but ignores our behinds every single solitary day—and the cute guy at the video store, grocery store, mall, hell, anywhere we go where there are fine guys to whom we might be inclined to give some play.

    Now maybe it's us—and we're sure you'll correct us if we're wrong—but it doesn't seem like brothers are into that old-fashioned way of meeting a sistah—the one where he sees a woman and, like, talks to her. Offers to buy her a glass of wine. Asks her out on a date.

    It's almost as if we don't exist.

    What do we have to do to attract your attention and get you to approach us?

From a Brother

Hold up; wait a minute. You're kidding, right? Because that scenario you've painted doesn't exist in any world I've inhabited. Where are these pretty, put-together sistahs just waiting to give all these brothers some play? This is surely a figment of your vivid imagination, right?

    Let me give you this scenario as a reality check: We're leaning against the wall in the club with our boys, checking out all the cuties gathered in tight little circles with their girlfriends. We assume these women are at a DANCE club to DANCE. I don't think that's an outrageous assumption to make. We were excited and anxious when we got there because there were so many beautiful women in the house. We survey the scene carefully, trying to pick out the right one to approach. This is a dangerous, careful science. Make a mistake and our experiment blows up in our face, right there in front of the whole club. We are looking for a sign from anything with breasts. She must be with a group of three women or less so that our embarrassment will be kept to a minimum if we get dissed. She must look warm and fairly happy about life. This means that at some point we see a smile cross her lips. She must have hit the dance floor at some point during the course of the evening. If she has thrown a glance in our direction, all the better—but this one isn't entirely necessary (maybe she just can't see us from where she's sitting). We take about two hundred deep breaths, we maybe do a quick shot of Jack to boost our confidence, then we march across that interminable stretch of dance floor separating us from her table, we present ourselves in front of her and we let the magic words slide from our lips: "Would you like to dance?"

    Invariably what we get in these situations is a very quick and decisive, "No, not now." That, of course, is the same as, "Hell no, Negro, now get out my way!" Though we try not to make it appear so, we are shattered. We walk back to our spot against the wall. Our boy, if he's truly our boy, offers a few mumbled curses in our behalf thrown in her direction. Maybe we get the nerve to try this one or two more times, but after awhile, thoroughly defeated and confused, we give up. In the bathroom, we stare at ourselves in the mirror and wonder what's wrong. Does our breath stink? Is there a large booger in our nose? Is it the color of the suit? (Maybe she doesn't like purple.) The haircut?

    This happens all the time. It happens so often that we really don't understand what you're talking about when you complain about men not asking you to dance. It is truly a case of the genders looking at the same issue from perspectives as far apart as Mississippi and the motherland. Recently I was at a club with my wife, my sister Angelou and a group of her female friends who all happen to be single. The single women occasionally all danced together in a circle, looking like they were enjoying themselves. But then they'd sit down and look around the club, waiting—or so I thought. Then a man approached one of the women and asked her to dance. Immediately, she said, "No." Just like that. Wouldn't you know it—the next day this woman was complaining about not meeting any men at the club. Typical.

    And forget about the subway, the grocery store or the video store—no way in hell you're giving us play in these locations. Come now—how many times have you really been willing to give some stranger play on the subway? Yeah, you might give him a smile if he's exceptionally good-looking; you might even let him talk to you. But are you really going to give this stranger a phone number or the necessary information to allow him to find you once you step off the train? I think not. I think sistahs step out the door with that Hannibal Lecter mask on, and it takes rare and exceptional circumstances for the average brother to pry it off.

    You wonder why the sistah with the weave, big booty and the spiked heels is getting all the dances and all the play? Well, for one, if she has a big booty and she's out there on the dance floor twirling it around for every brother to see, we're probably going to be lining up to get our chance to bask in its glorious rays. As for the weave, most brothers tend to care about or notice these hair issues much less than the sistahs do. If this sistah looks like she's having a good time and she's likely to dance with us, we're certainly going to give her a shot—particularly if the booty's talking to us. You're all going to look at her attributes and her clothes and figure we're shallow and superficial for going after her.

    But what you all conveniently ignore is her attitude.

    The sistah is enjoying herself; she looks like fun. This is what the brothers came to the club looking for: FUN. So we're going to be drawn to this sistah like flies on ... well, you know.

    Why do you all get dolled up and travel en masse with your girls to the dance club if you don't want to dance? What—or, more specifically, who—are you waiting for? Surely you know Denzel doesn't hit the clubs anymore.

From a Sistah

Ha-ha—very funny. Yes, we like to get our little grooves on as much as guys do on the dance floor—we'll whip off our heels and cut a rug into shreds if you give us a minute. And if a cheap Denzel knockoff asks us to dance, watch out! We're ready to get that soul clap going and sing right along with Frankie Beverly when he gets to that "Before I let you goooo, oooh-oh ooooh. Oh, I will never never never never never never never never never let you go before I go" in "Before I Let You Go." But only if he looks like he's not going to give us any static.

    That's right. Static.

    Y'all sistahs know what I'm talking about. It's the static that comes when Denzel Fake-ington decides that just because we told him we would dance with him it gave him the right to feel up every moving body part on our frame that his two hands can reach.

    That's right: A sistah who says "yes" to a brother and takes his hand as he leads her onto the dance floor knows that a good 80 percent of the time, she better step to the dance floor prepared to pull some boxing gloves out of her bra and take on the brute strength of Mike Tyson if all she wants to do is dance.

    You brothers know who you are.

    We watch you work the room, going from sistah to sistah to sistah until one poor fool gets caught moving too much on a good song and you push up in just the precise second she was really feeling the beat and she said, "Sure, I'll dance with you." And as soon as girlfriend gets out of the two-step, dips, turns and tosses you a little booty? Oh my God, you lose your mind, throw your hands in the air and zero in for the kill—groin to booty, gyrating and twisting and sweating and stuff all over her good suit. Had you two been naked, she'd have left the floor eight weeks pregnant.

    It's embarrassing as hell—you acting like a fool, connected to her backside. She tries to push you off, but you act like that's just part of her dance routine—until another song comes on and she runs terrified from the dance floor, eyes darting around the room to see just who all saw her getting felt up like a two-dollar ho in front of the entire nightclub. And he has the nerve-no, the outfight audacity—to ask her for the digits as she dashes.

    And trust me, every woman in the joint's done peeped it—including the thirty other ladies who refused your hand before you got to her.

    Now, do you really think I'm going out like that? Hell no!

    We sistahs would rather dance with our girls than get caught boogeying with some guy who's going to think that our two-step is his license to rub his little thing all over us.

    See, when we go to the club, we do want to dance—we do want to have a good time. But we want to be respected, too. We want the man to be a gentleman—to ask us politely if we would like to dance, to keep a respectful distance from us while we're on the dance floor and to say "thank you" after it's over—without pressuring us into standing over by the bar and telling him our life story as he "please baby, please baby, please baby, baby, pleases" his way through his request for the digits, or, worse yet, an after-the-club date.

    We just want to dance—and, perhaps, assess the chemistry from a healthy distance.

    If we hit it off, then cool—we'll talk to you. And it might actually result in the exchanging of phone numbers. But if we just want an innocent dance—one with no strings (or groins) attached, respect that. Then maybe we'll be more inclined to accept that dance card.

    Speaking of dance cards: What would you think if we asked you for a dance—or, better yet, out on a date—after we showed you love up in the club?

From a Brother

First, we'd fall to the floor and kiss your feet—granted they looked well-scrubbed and relatively corn-free. Then we'd stand up, give you a gracious bow in honor of your wisdom and foresight, and say, "Hell yeah, I'll go out with you!"

    These are the kinds of questions that brothers don't understand. Why would we have a problem with a woman asking us out on a date, as long as we were available and interested? It relieves us of the pressure and possibility of getting dissed.

    When I was in elementary school, it was common practice for girls to write those little notes to boys they liked, asking the boys to check the "yes" or "no" box to indicate whether they liked the note-writer in return. Sometimes the note even got passed to the object of the girl's affections through another intermediary, a friend of the boy. But the point was that it eventually got there, it announced the girl's intentions and feelings, and it made the boy a happy little dude for the rest of that day and probably that week. (Of course, little boys being little boys, he may not have always had the proper response. He might've decided that he didn't want to be so transparent about his answer, so he might've started a fight with her or thrown her in the mud first to camouflage his extreme pleasure.)

    So, what happened to all that elementary schoolgirl aggression? What killed it over the years? Was it this notion that men liked to be the aggressors, the pursuers—a notion furthered by women such as those who wrote that book The Rules?

    I'm here to announce that although some men may tell you they like to be the aggressors, there's likely not a man in the world who isn't thrilled by the idea of a woman making the first move. (Unless your name happens to be Michael Jordan or Wesley Snipes, both of whom probably get nauseated by all the luscious beauties throwing themselves at them. Tough life.)

    We can't repeat enough that we're just as frightened by getting dissed in a club as you're all frustrated because not enough of us ask you to dance. There's a major problem here, a logjam that won't be broken unless somebody is bold enough to make the first move. I wish more men could toss their feelings and their egos to the side and approach every woman in the club for a dance. But you know how that would look. That brother would soon become a clubwide joke as the crowd witnessed the rejections start to pile up. In the absence of bigger male cojones, we need some help from the females. More aggression on your part would go far in breaking the logjam. Who knows—some of y'all might even find husbands.

    But I ask of you, please, be realistic. If you know you're no Halle Berry, if you have more in common with bassett hound than Angela Bassett, don't march up to the best-looking brother in the club and expect him to be thrilled by your invitation. If he's a nice guy, he might agree to dance with you, but he's not going to be wild about spending the rest of the evening with you at his side, chasing away all the cuties. This is shallow and evil, you say? (See Chapter 3 on the importance of appearance.) I offer in evidence Exhibit A: The devastating ugliness that ensues when the pudgy brother with the bad teeth and nonexistent rap saunters up to Fly Girl, interrupting her love affair with her vanity mirror, and asks her to join him on the dance floor. Are onlookers more likely to say Fly Girl was shallow, or to ask themselves what in the world could Brotherman have been thinking?

Meet the Author

Denene Millner is a columnist for Parenting magazine and the author or coauthor of nineteen books, including The Vow and Straight Talk, No Chaser.

Denene Millner and Nick Chiles live in South Orange, New Jersey. She is a reporter for the New York Daily News; he is an awardwinning journalist who has worked for the Dallas Moming News, New York Newsday, and the Newark Star-Ledger.

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