Valentine's Series: The Ex Vignettes by Belal Rafiq

In honor of Valentine’s Day, all this week on our blog we’ll be posting pieces from our January 31st reading on intercultural dating and relationships. Our second piece is by Apogee Associate Editor, Belal Rafiq.


Ex #73: Half Afghan, half Puerto Rican girl (I call those Halfghans) whose name didn’t go with either ethnicity. She was the sweetest, cutest thing in the world. She would tell her much approving mother (A Puerto Rican that was more Afghan than the father) our day-to-day events in prime detail. She and I went to high school together until I moved.  I sighted her at the school I moved to; then she attended the community college I went to, then a couple classes of mine that she didn’t need for her degree. She also really liked Kylie Minogue. It was all we listened to.

Ex #165: Half Black, half white free-spirit stripper who was short enough to use my leg as a pole every time we were in in the boys underwear section at Wal-Mart, getting those Superman nut-hugger tighty-whities she wore for superhero stage acts. I’ve never seen someone so in love with their job that they would do it for free outside of the work place. She gave me so many lap dances that her body eclipsed the roommate who always sat on the other side of the living room. All I ever heard from her was “you guys go upstairs already.” Never saw a face. Never saw a limb. Pretty sure it was a girl though.

Ex #240: Afghan girl who looked like Ashley Judd and Mya put together. Amazingly bold eyes she had, probably from never blinking. Again, we started off great. She said I was the only one who could make her laugh. We were good for awhile (a little while), until she drove me to school because my car broke down. We’re listening to Talib Kweli, I’m rapping all the verses, then she blurts out “I don’t think I could ever date a black guy. I just don’t think I like the way they look.”  I say, “haha, yo, you’re crazy funny,” while thinking for a second, great, that’s one rack of people I don’t have to worry about. Then we get off the highway onto the side roads leading up to the college. She honks and curses at every car, cuts them off, calling everyone a spic. Everyone. Except for the black drivers, she calls them niggers.

Ex #536: Salvadoran girl who made me meet her parents on the 1st date, plus brother. Plus sister. Plus nieces, nephews. She brought her father, her friend-zone guy friend, and two 19 year-old nosy, flirty friends. We had to go for an 11pm movie showing. At 1am, everyone’s asleep around me, even people who didn’t come with us. She and I are the only two awake, so she decides to jump on me and make out. On some Desolation of Smaug-type shit. All I can think is, please pops don’t wake up. Please, no one wake up, but pops especially. After awhile, I pull away from her and look left. The friend-zone friend is staring at me like I just killed his mother.

Ex #537: I blind-dated an Indian girl (set up by Ex #536 before we dated) on Valentine’s Day. I planned the whole day out, like hours worth of shit; and only when I was about to meet up with her did I think, “oh shit, if she’s an asshole, this could be a long ass day. Possibly one of the worst days of all time.”  I mean, she did send an inhuman amount of texts. But she was cool, very much the shy type that took a while to open up. When she did, we connected well, and talked on the DC Metro all the way to the Spy Museum.

They had a special Valentine’s Day thing called “Love A Spy” where for part of it you get to play-act as a spy in a high-speed chase thriller suspense conspiracy pursuit thing. We analyzed fake evidence and talked to screens that never talked back and pretended to travel on helicopters and fake ice creams trucks. It was great. The restaurant we went to afterwards even comped our dessert. On the way back, she leaned on my shoulder and told me how she ended up being a loner at her job because she was the only girl who wouldn’t have a three-way with the boss or go to his coke sniffing parties. I said, “Damn, Quizno’s is a crazy place.”

Anyways, it’s all well and good until I get a text basically saying that she can’t date me because her parents would stick her head in a blender if she ever dated a Muslim. Well, that ‘s only like the 56th time I’ve heard that one. Okay, buh-bye.

Months later, when I broke up with Ex #4, I get a text that says, I heard you broke up with Ex #5.

Yup.  I texted back.



So what are you up to?


You want to do something?


Yeah, whenever. Because I like you.


Ex #60: All-American girl who had a crush on my best friend, but a lust for me. We kind of knew her from the football games we played against the other apartment complexes in the neighborhood. Sometimes those games led to fights, that led to huge rumbles in the grass.  Anyways, she made it obvious that she wanted the relationship with my boy, but other stuff with me. 8th grade Spanish, she held my crotch every time I passed by her. Not grabbed, held.  She would also flash me every class until our seats got reassigned, and I sat behind her.  Then she’d turn, lift her shirt, and lay her girls on my desk, sometimes licking her nipples, then trying to make me lick her nipples. When we’d go back to Spanish, she’d steal one of my hands, bring it over her shoulder and into her pants, while saying “I’m hungry.” Every lunch period, she straddled my lap for the whole 45 minutes, which made playing UNO with the boys mad difficult, but I remained undefeated.

When my best friend’s mom passed, she put on one of the biggest cry fests I’ve ever seen. In front of the school. This wasn’t drama queen but drama emperor-type shit. Because I was with her, everyone thought my mom had died and for weeks people were apologizing to me. It got so bad that months later, when another girl I was dating saw my mom at our apartment, she asked, “Am I seeing a ghost?”

Ex #1: When I was 11-ish, there was a Romanian girl who was already a close friend. We both liked that show Ghostwriter on PBS, so naturally we created a detective agency. We had the pen necklaces, notebooks, and ghetto plastic suitcase. Our second case involved a coded note that someone left at the playground. The witness who saw the digger wouldn’t snitch, no matter how hard we grilled his ass, so we took the note back to my place to decode it (it was one of those substitution codes.) The message came out to: BELAL, I SAW YOU AND  ______  MAKING OUT BY THE SWINGS THE OTHER DAY, which was a fucking lie.

Sadly, as our attention waned, the case faded and went into the cold case stack. Months later, when I saw her use a circle to dot her i’s, it hit me: why I was the only one that wrote in the notebook; why the witness never looked her in the eye when we interrogated his ass; and why she didn’t look surprised when we decoded the note.

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