For The Man Who Says He’s Not Intimidated (Part 1)

We met while I was a graduate school student in Boston. He was an employee in the library I frequented. He’d restock bookshelves and monitor the computer lab while I studied for exams and completed school projects. Coincidentally, our schedule were similar so we would see each other in the library  often.

During my study breaks, I’d strike up a conversation with him. He was a Boston native, who was pursuing a career in the entertainment industry. When he wasn’t working in the library, he was exercising, preparing for gigs, or taking care of his three younger brothers and sisters. He was an attractive guy: the type of guy that made you do a double take when you saw him walking down the street. In nicely tailored suits and trousers, one would think he’d just step out of a GQ Magazine. A career in acting was very promising for him, for he was also talented. I was impressed by him and wanted to get to know him better.

What was a bit of a turn-off for me, however, was his constant reminder of how smart I was. “You have like 5 degrees,” he’d often tell me, “You’re like super-smart. Not like me. I am still working on my GED.” The fact that he was not a public health student was one of the reasons I was initially attracted to him. My days in graduate school were already filled with discussions on correlations, epidemiological studies, and cultural competency, so a short break from these discussions were welcomed and appreciated, and that’s what he provided.

Whenever we spoke, he’d teach me something new about Boston, about acting, about modeling, or about life in general. He may not have had a formal education, but to me, he was a smart guy. I appreciated him for that.

About three months after we met, I completed my master’s degree. To celebrate, he offered to take me to his favorite jazz club . The plan was to meet at the club and eat dinner afterwards. I arrived at the club first, but unfortunately, it was closed that evening, so we went to a nearby Mexican restaurant instead.

I was well pleased with my date. Not only was he looking good, but he was trying extra hard to impress me: opening doors for me, making comments about public health, and saying obscure facts about Atlanta that only a native would know. His efforts, however, were becoming a little overdone once we sat down for dinner.

“You know you come off to me as a very intelligent woman. I bet you read the dictionary for fun?” he said.

I laughed, “No, I don’t read the dictionary for fun. When I was a kid, I sometimes read the dictionary, but that was only if there was nothing on TV. But as an adult, I only use it as a reference.”

“Oh really? Well, I love reading the dictionary. I need to catch up on my reading though. I’m only on ‘B,’ he said.

A bit perplexed and amused by our conversation, I tried to think of a clever way to change the topic. I’m no longer a student and I refuse to have a conversation about the dictionary, I thought to myself.

“How was the tryouts for the gig you were telling me about last week?” I asked him.

Fortunately, for me, he forgot about the dictionary and began talking about the challenges he had been facing in his industry. Soon, to my dismay, he ran out of things to say and focused his attention back on me.

“You look impeecabel tonight,” he said. 

“Impeecabel?” I asked, thinking that ‘impeecabel’ must be a word I did not know.

“Yes,” he said with confidence.

I paused for a second, “Oh you mean IMPECCABLE!,” I said. “Thank you!”

He looked a little embarrassed that I corrected him. I noticed his face dropped, but shrugged it off and began talking about how much I missed Atlanta. Atlanta had always been a city he wanted to visit. I promised him I’d be his tour guide when he came.

A few minutes later our tacos and burritos arrived. When the server asked how the food tasted, my date replied, “The food is copesattict!”

“Copesetic,” I said, without even looking up from my food. “You mean copesetic.”

There was a little tension. Noticing the annoyed look on his face, I realized that I should have let that one slide. For, a man’s ego is a fragile object and from his facial expression, I was not handling his ego with care.

We continued eating in silence. I cracked a joked to lighten  the mood and inquired about the upcoming gigs he had coming around the city. He relaxed a little and talked for about 5 minutes. I was listening but my mind stopped when he said, “There’s this actor in Boston who’s seemingly ooobiquitous….”

Oobiquitous? I thought to myself. I was stuck. I hadn’t heard anything else he said.

“Oh! UBIQUITOUS!,” I said after I realized what he meant by ‘oobiquitous.’

“Look,” he said firmly, “I don’t have 5 degrees like you.”

“And that’s okay,” I said to him, “I’m here with you because I like you just the way you are! You don’t have to keep reminding me how many degrees I have. Your education does not matter to me.”

Silence showed up again, but by this time, I was exhausted. I had no more energy to stroke his ego while he make pitiful attempts to impress me with SAT words. I never expected that our date would go like this, for our previous interactions had been lighthearted and fun. He never attempted to use words like impeecabel or oobiquitous. 

We somehow managed to continue our conversation. It was a little forced and I could tell he was preoccupied as he dropped me to my apartment afterwards. “Good luck with everything,” he said to me, as he lightly kissed me on the cheek. I knew that this would be my last time seeing him again.

Once I walked into my brownstone, I thought to myself, Whew! Now I know why momma said you should only date men who are as educated as you. I haven’t dated a man without a college diploma since.

5 thoughts on “For The Man Who Says He’s Not Intimidated (Part 1)

  1. The intimidated man want a woman like us but do no know how to just be themselves. Men say we need to stop making then feel intimidated but most of the time we don’t do or say anything wrong. They make comments like, “You are too much woman for me” or ” I can’t give you what your daddy gave you”. It is sad that they lack confidence.


    • Joi, thank you and I couldn’t have said it better myself. After our date, I thought to myself that maybe I shouldn’t have corrected him, but lol, it was like a reflex. Couldn’t help it. And clearly, he wasn’t comfortable using such words either. I would have preferred if he had just stuck to what he knew.


  2. Uh oh…here I go. I don’t think any man is truly intimidated by a woman. Walk with me for a second…..Intimidate’s root word is timid and it means “frightened or overawe in order to make them do what one wants.” Guys don’t actually fear women. We’re also not thinking about you making us do what you want. That’s funny. lol. And “overawe” actually means “to be impressed so much that one becomes silent.” Let’s put it all together….so intimidated is to be so ridiculously impressed by someone that you literally become timid and silent in their presence fearing that they’ll make you do what they want. I think “intimidated” is such the wrong word to describe what happens in these 1 date relationships. A better example of a man being intimidated would be when a police officer stopping him randomly and he not only becomes quiet but he literally is scared that he’ll be forced out of his car and have to fully submit to the officers authority. Some abuse it as we know. Thats intimidation! What you described……thats….let me explain.

    I really hate when women say guys are intimidated because none are. I really hate What we are at times is deeply overawed & impressed by your degrees, attitude, classiness, and achievements. What we are at times is fearful that you’ll be the stereotypical feminist/ I cant wait to out perform a man…as if there was a competition. What we really fear is that while you’ve accomplished things like good credit, career, degrees, and a home that you’ll still miserably fail to respect me as a man. What we fear is that we’ll end up captivated by a nice woman who at the core still won’t see our value IF we don’t have the same material and potentially meaningless achievements. We don’t like wasting time either. And degrees have little to do with being able to love me in a mature relationship. Credit means nothing in terms of love. Knowing those really long words that get you 100 points in Scrabble doesn’t mean you’ll be an amazing girlfriend, wife, or mother. Sometimes I want to say women should come down off that high horse that some seem to enjoy riding…..I said some.

    I think the only and best thing you could have done was to clearly look him in the eyes and tell him that you can sense something because he keeps mentioning your degrees. And I know what you’re thinking….”I did that!!” Yeah but you did it after correcting him in that “Oh!! Thats what you meant to say? I had no idea what language you were speaking dude…are you retarded?!” It sounds like that in someones head. We’ve all been there if we can be honest. I don’t think it would have worked but not because he was “intimidated” and not because you’re insensitive……more so because he wasn’t able to own his insecurity and appreciation in your presence and you didn’t have the subtle hand to exhibit and say the things that make the avg person who thinks you think he’s less know that is “enough.”

    Whewwww….I’m done. That was a lot. I’ll send an invoice for this Man 225 course. lol


  3. Sorry but I have to agree with Noble Woods…. Particularly this part:

    “” It sounds like that in someones head. We’ve all been there if we can be honest. I don’t think it would have worked but not because he was “intimidated” and not because you’re insensitive……more so because he wasn’t able to own his insecurity and appreciation in your presence and you didn’t have the subtle hand to exhibit and say the things that make the avg person who thinks you think he’s less know that is “enough.”

    Correcting him was sort of a passive way of asserting what you both perceived to be your “intellectual superiority”. But to be fair, I have to admit that I probably would have slipped up and automatically corrected him the first time too 😉


  4. Hey Yaya,
    I really enjoyed reading. Very interesting situation we have here. To go along the lines of Noble, “more so because he wasn’t able to own his insecurity and appreciation in your presence and you didn’t have the subtle hand to exhibit and say the things that make the avg person who thinks you think he’s less know that is “enough.”” All of this makes me think of the affirmation and acceptance that both men and women in different areas of relationship and even friendship. For example, my husband’s previous girlfriends and interests were all petite. Which is not how I would describe myself physically. 😉 Seeing how we had been friends for so many years, I also was privy to his thoughts on relationships and what he was looking for. I knew upfront that I did not meet everything on that list and that I was distinct from the women he previously dated. However, I took a different approach than the gentleman featured in the story. When transitioning from friendship to possible romantic relationship, I told him my thoughts upfront, such as, “Hey, based on the women I’ve seen you date, I don’t think I’m your ‘type’ so I am a little surprised you are interested in me.” That led us into a delightful conversation. I wonder if maybe it would have been more helpful, if he just asked you upfront about the difference of your educations and your thoughts about that. I remember having a situation with just a guy friend, who did not have the same education (or socioeconomic background) as me, who tried to adjust his vocabulary in our conversations. I think I was initially flattered, but overtime, he came to understand that it wasn’t necessary.
    Now, obviously, there is not much time to accomplish that over a date. I would have also asked for clarification in regards to use of words. And if he didn’t bring up the topic, I am not sure how I would bring it up without making an awkward situation even more uncomfortable.


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