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When I was thirteen, my mom received a job promotion that required our family to move from El Centro to Bakersfield, California. I was entering high school in a new city, but I must admit, Bakersfield was a step up from El Centro. At Stockdale High, located in a dusty town in the middle of California where only a handful of black people lived, I met the man who would help mold my current vision of what a man should and should not be. If I believed in love at first sight then, I would tell you that is what I felt when I met Cory Hall.
I clearly recall standing in the hallway my freshman year, socializing with some of my classmates, when this guy walked up on the right side of me. He was so handsome. I had never seen a man who made me stop and stare before, but this guy did. I asked around to find out who he was and if he had a girlfriend. I was told that his name was Cory, he played football, and that he was either very shy or gay because he didn't socialize with females much. I later found out he wasn't gay and he was asking about me, too. He was too shy to ask me for my number, so he gave his to my friend who gave it to me. We began talking on the phone a lot and spending small amounts of time together outside of class. I told my mom and everyone I knew that I was going to marry him! I didn't know when, I just knew he would be the 'one' at some point in my life.
Cory and I went on our first date when I was fifteen, and I quickly learned that boys will only become men if you force them to. Assuming I was like the other girls he had gone out with before, Cory thought he could take me on a date without any moneybasically on a free date.
Since I knew, even as a young girl, never to go on a date without any cash, I usually kept fifty dollars in my purse.
I also knew that if a guy wanted to date me, he had better come correct.
When Cory and I pulled up to the window at the drive-in movie theater, the attendant said, 'Seven dollars, please.' Cory looked at me, and I looked back at him. Without even thinking of reaching into my purse to pull out my money, I told him to take me home and said, 'Don't ever go out with me with the expectation that I will pay!'
Instead of taking me home, Cory drove us to his house to get a small check his dad had sent him. He then drove to Liquor King (a liquor store in the neighborhood that would cash checks) got his money, and drove us back to the drive-in. Once we were settled in, I showed Cory that I had money, and reiterated to him that I was not that kind of girl. 'You can be a star athlete and one of the most beautiful men that I have ever seen, but you have to understand that it still costs to date me.' That moment was a building block in the foundation of our relationship. Cory now understood that if he wanted me to be his girl, he had to be a man when he was with me. We never had that discussion again.
After high school, we moved in together and shared most of the bills. Because I worked at a bank and made more than his $526 football scholarship check, I bought most
of the groceries and took care of the miscellaneous things that we needed. Cory always said, 'When I make it to the NFL your only job will be the house, our kids, and being my wife,' and he kept his word. In 1999, Cory was the second pick of the third round in the NFL draft. A few weeks after the draft, he sent me a couple dozen roses with a note that said, 'Yes, I will marry you!' I called and said, 'Where is the ring?' He said, 'I haven't got my signing bonus yet, but as soon as it comes, I got you.' This is how my life began as an NFL wife.
I have spent half of my life either married or seeking a committed relationship. Some of the men I dated were decent, and some were just downright awful. I have stuck with guys who were broke and broken in spirit. I've been with the guy who needed a loan to help pay his bills, the guy who needed help getting a cell phone because his credit was bad, and the one who was always overdrawn on his account. Guess what? I loaned them money and paid some of their bills. Why? Because I could and wanted to show my 'independence.' I have had the liar, the cheater, and some who were a combination of both. Back then it didn't matter. I was just happy to have a man. I never thought about standards. Without an example of a 'good man,' I simply followed my heart and became attached to what I thought was love, in the name of love. The end result was lose-lose all the way around.
I had two children by the time I was seventeen years old. As a young, African American teenage mom from a broken home, the odds were stacked against me. Pushing through the odds, I obtained a job in Corporate America and worked diligently. And the hard work paid off. I was promoted every two to three years and proved to myself that I was in charge of my life. I controlled my own destiny. By the time I was thirty-two years old, I was the epitome of Ms. Independent. I had the new house, the new Rover, the designer shoes and clothes, and the well-dressed children. My relationships, however, were in complete turmoil. I still had a long way to go before I would figure it all out.
Shanae and I hope that as you read this book, you will see the message behind the stories, laugh at the obvious, and be relieved to know that you are not the only one experiencing certain situations in your relationships. We also hope our stories will inspire and encourage you to take better care of yourself. Our ultimate goal is to help you build yourself up, to help eliminate unnecessary dating drama in your life, and encourage you to establish healthier relationships overall.
What do men really want? That's the billion-dollar question. It's probably safe to assume that if anyone knew, Bill Clinton wouldn't have risked impeachment; John Wayne Bobbitt would still have an intact penis; Steve McNair would be headed to the Pro Bowl; David Carradine would be working on his next film; and Neil Diamond, Michael Jordan, Mel Gibson, Steven Spielberg, and countless other men would be hundreds of millions of dollars richer. So, we won't even attempt to answer that question.
What we hope you will learn from this book is how to get the most out of your relationships and to explore what you need to work on within yourself to achieve this goal. Truly, you are the only one who can change yourself and therefore your circumstances.
Let's get started.
©2014. Shanae Hall and Rhonda Frost. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Why Do I Have To Think Like A Man?. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442.