Houstons in Memphis
My favorite restaurant turned into a scene of one of my worst dates
Another work trip is coming up, and I am actually dreading this trip. You would think I enjoy traveling for work. I mean, who wouldn’t. I got a new shiny big girl job that comes with an expense account, semi-fancy hotels, and frequent flier miles.
But this trip I was not looking forward to. I was heading to Memphis, Tennessee.
I had never been to Memphis before, but from what I knew about Memphis, watching First 48, Memphis was not my speed. But hey, a girls gotta get to the bag.
Before every work trip, I always check the weather.
Cold and rainy. Maybe a slushy mix.
This doesn’t make my trip sound any better. But there is a new Black girl who joined our Memphis sales team, and I was excited to meet her.
I step off the plane in Memphis and head to the rental counter. Since the forecast calls for slush, I elected to get a truck for this trip. I might as well ride big body style while I am in town.
I finally get to the office. My oh-so-cute white work bestie greets me. This woman is no taller than 5'1 and 102 pounds soaking wet. But her laugh will make you think there is a 300-pound man next to you. Immediately she introduced me to the only pop of color in the office. It’s an instant connection.
I take her to lunch to get to know her a little better. She let me know that she had a boyfriend from college who was living all the way in San Francisco that plays for the 49ers. They were trying to do the long-distance thing. I immediately said to myself…NOPE. But to each its own. They are actually engaged to be married now, so it did work out for my good Sis!
After work, I head to my hotel. Send some text messages and hit the bed.
Another long day tomorrow of work.
My alarm goes off at 5:30a because I really thought I would get up and go to the gym, but who am I kidding at this moment. The bed feels too damn good.
I lay there scrolling through Instagram for the next 30 minutes.
Around 6a I turn on the news. My eyes focused on the scrolling news feed reporting a school closure in a Memphis county.
I immediately hop out of bed and open the hotel curtains, and to my damn disbelief, there is almost a foot of snow outside.
I checked my email to see if the director sent an email about today's office closing. No email just yet, it’s not even 6:30, so I will give it some time.
6:45, my phone buzzes.
Subject: Office Closure
Body: Hey team — As you can see, we got some unexpected snow last night. The office is going to be closed today. It is still business as usual. Please be careful if you are going to be on the roads. I will send another email out later today with weather updates.
Ok. So now what am I supposed to do? I don’t have any calls planned for the day because I cleared my calendar to spend time with the Memphis team and director.
I email her back.
Subject: Time to Chat Today
Body: Hey Bestie, What a time to come to Memphis. In the middle of a random snowstorm. And of course, I pick the one hotel that does not have a restaurant attached to it. I hope I do not starve to death in here. Thankfully the mini-fridge has some items, and they have some frozen meals downstairs I can buy. If that still works for you, I still want to chat about a diversity strategy today at 2p. Let me know.
I got an immediate response.
Subject: Re: Time to Chat Today
Body: That sucks. Let’s hope it clears up so you can get some better food. Can’t make the call today. I have my son home with me all day since the daycare is close. Let’s see if things clear up tomorrow, and we can chat in the office then. Let me know if you need anything while you are in the hotel. Try and stay off the roads.
I spent the next couple of hours responding to emails, but by 11a I was pretty hungry. I took a stab at the downstairs food selections. It was either a hot pocket or frozen mac-n-cheese. I went with the hot pocket.
Posted up in the bed with my pepperoni hot pocket watching daytime TV talk shows, I thought to myself, “this is nice. I never get to do this during the day anymore.”
At 7p and I get an email from the office director.
Subject: Tomorrow’s Plan
Body: Hey team, I hope everyone was productive today and still accomplished some things. We will open the office tomorrow for those who can make it in safely. If you feel your commute will not be safe, please work from home. Let me know your plans tomorrow morning. Thanks!
Yea, I am not going to go in. My truck is still covered in snow.
After a few binges of HGTV’s House Hunter’s, I finally fall asleep.
I didn’t set the alarm for the following day because I already decided I would stay in the hotel and work. I rolled out of bed at 8:30a and worked straight until 3p. I was actually more productive this day than the day before.
But now I am getting antsy. I haven’t had any random human interaction in about 48 hours.
My group chats are a little dry. Hell, my phone is rather dry.
I go to the app store on my phone and stare at the recommended apps page for a while. I back out of that and get into an intense candy crush session. I must have gone through 20 levels before I ran out of lives.
I go back to the app store. I type t-i-n-d-e-r into the search bar. An app icon with a red flame appears. I hit download.
I say to myself, “What the hell are you doing? You know this app hasn’t given you any luck.”
But yet I am still watching this app load on my phone. Click to open it and then log in.
I check to see what my profile looks like. I couldn’t quite remember what photos I had chosen or written for my bio.
Ok, everything looks good, but let me add that I travel for work to this profile. #flex
Let’s see what Memphis has to offer.
I open up the app and start swiping.
No, no, no, no, no, no, no, ehhhhh…no, no, ok maybe (swipes right), no, no, no, no, no, no…
This is wack. Alright, a few more.
No, no, no, oh hell no!
That’s enough—time for bed.
The next morning I woke up to hella tinder notifications. My first thought was, “it’s probably a bunch of losers.” I was right.
I started my swipe-a-thon again. There was one dude that looked pretty good. He was tall, brown skin, appeared to have a career, his teeth are all there, he didn’t post a bunch of selfies, and I see no mention of kids.
Ok, I can do this one.
Swipes right. It’s a match.
I waited to see if he messages me.
Four hours go by. Nothing. Whatever. I am leaving tomorrow, so it doesn’t really matter anyway.
Of course, the next morning, there was a message from him. I didn’t bother to respond right away because I had to figure out how I would dig the final parts of the rental out to drive back to the airport.
After convincing some of the hotel staff to help a sista out, I was on my way back to civilization, Atlanta.
Before take-off, I checked to see if there was a message from Brian. There was.
Brian: Hey, how are you.
Eye roll. Lame.
I’ll respond later.
Back in Atlanta, I decided to send Brian a message before bed.
Me: Hey, just seeing this message (a lie). I just landed back in Atlanta. I was in Memphis for work visiting.
There was no reason to sit around and wait for his immediate response, so I went to bed.
The next morning I had another message from Brian. We exchanged messages for a little bit.
Brian: Do you come up here a lot.
Me: That was my first visit, but I will be making more trips soon. Probably will spend quite a little bit of time there.
Brian: What do you do?
Me: Internal recruitment. You?
Brian: I am a financial analyst.
Me: Sounds like a good gig.
Brian: It’s cool. Next time you are in town, let me know, and we can link up. Here is my number.
I stare at the number in my Tinder DMs for a minute. Am I going to offer up the same or keep his number?
Me: Got it. I will hit you next time I am in town.
Two months later…
I am packing for my flight that leaves in approximately three hours. I always wait until the last minute. I hop in the car and head to the train station when I am done.
As the train takes me to the airport, I open up Tinder and scroll to find Brian’s message. Instead of sending him a text, I responded in the thread.
Me: Hey, I am about to catch a flight to Memphis. Will be in town for a few days. Let me know if you want to link for lunch.
I don’t check Tinder again until I am sitting on the plane. There is a response.
Brian: Hey, yea that sounds good. Let’s link up tomorrow. Shoot me a text.
Me: Ok cool.
I don’t send a text. He will be alright.
The next day…
Before walking into the office, I send Brian a text.
Me: Hey, let me know what time you want to meet up today. I am good for lunch.
I got no immediate response, so I went about my morning.
Around 11a, my phone rings, and it’s a Memphis number. Not sure who this is, I answer it.
Me: This is Jemia.
Brian: Listen to you sounding all professional.
This should have been the only red flag I needed, his response to my greeting.
Me: Who is this?
Brian: It’s Brian.
Me: Oh hey, I didn’t expect you to call me. Are you trying to meet for lunch?
Brian: Do you like fried fish?
Me: Yea, I do. Why?
Brian: I know this place where we can get fish plates off the truck. It’s nothing fancy, but the food is on point. We can meet there around 1p.
Me: 1p is a little late for me to be eating lunch. I’ve been at the office since 7:30a.
Brian: Oh, you gettin’ that overtime money.
Me: I am on salary. I have a meeting at 2p. The latest I could meet would be at noon.
Brian: Let me see if I can get out of work at that time. I will hit you back.
At that moment, I should have just let it go. I knew he wasn’t it, and I would be wasting my time. His phone etiquette alone was terrible. But my lonely behind didn’t listen to my intuition.
My phone buzzes around 12:15, while I am already at lunch with another colleague. I knew I wasn’t about to meet up with him. I made alternate plans.
Brian: Hey, I can’t make noon work, but let’s meet after work for dinner.
I was still trying to decide if I wanted to respond or not, so I just put my phone back in my bag and finished lunch.
A couple hours later, I responded to his text.
Me: Sounds good to me. Hit me up after you get off work.
The truth is, I was bored and wanted some company. Even though Brian wasn’t going to be the best company, he was someone I could hang with after work and kill time with.
I got to my hotel around 5:30p and was exhausted. I took a hot shower and got right into the bed. Before I knew it, I was asleep.
*cell phone rings*
With my eyes still closed, I answer the phone.
Brian: Daaammnnn, did you brush your teeth yet?
Me: What? Who is this?
Brian: It’s Brian. You don’t have my number saved yet? That’s how you do me?
Me: I’m half-sleep. I just answered the phone. What happened to us meeting up after work? What time is it in any way?
Brian: It’s 7. And I got caught up after work with something, but I am free now. Do you want to go bowling around 9?
Me: Bowling? You said we were going to go to dinner. I am not going bowling, nor am I meeting you at no 9 o’clock. You know what, it’s cool. I’ll catch you another time.
Brian: No, wait. You right you right. Ok you pick the time and place, and I will meet you there.
He didn’t know that I had already found the restaurant I wanted to go to earlier in the day, so I was prepared for this question.
Me: Houstons on Poplar at 8p.
Brian: Ok, I’ll be there.
Me: See you soon.
I get out of bed and start getting ready, saying to myself, I know this dude better not be late.
But I should have known.
I pull up to Houstons at 8:05p. I didn’t even bother to send a text letting him know I was there because I really didn’t care. I ordered a glass of wine and sat back to enjoy the evening. I was not even thinking about seeing Brian.
Around 8:30p, I get a text…
Brian: Pulling up…
I look at my phone and roll my eyes. Placing it back into my bag. I see him approach the hostess desk out the corner of my eye.
I specifically picked a spot at the bar where I would be visible. I wasn’t wasting any more energy on this nigga by waving him down.
I glanced in his direction as the bartender handed me my second glass of wine. He sees me and starts walking towards me and says, “There she is.”
At this moment, I am thinking, “no this nigga didn’t with the ‘there she is’ comment.”
“Hey” is my short response.
Brian proceeds to tell me why he is late. He had to stop by his friend's house, who was having a bowling party, to let him know he would be late. Apparently, it’s a birthday party for one of his friends.
The flags are just dropping from the air at this point. He didn’t mention anything about it being a party when he invited me a couple of hours ago. Thinking about it now, that might have been a better move anyway. There would have been other people to talk to versus sitting in front of this person who actually wasn’t even attractive. He looked way better in his pictures.
He had a thin frame, which isn’t a big deal, but he looked like he had more meat on his bones in his “gym” picture. He damn sure wasn’t 6ft, so that was a lie. His outfit was straight out of the mid-2010s. And his eyes looked very tired and hard. Like he’s had either an extremely rough day, or his life is hella stressful.
It was already a no for me, but it became an even bigger no.
I had ordered my food a few minutes before he arrived, so I knew I had to wait at least another 10 minutes before I could distract myself with my meal.
The small useless talk begins.
He asks me about my day. I don’t ask him about his.
He asks how I am enjoying his hometown of Memphis. I say it’s cool.
He picks up on the fact I am not really into it, so he switches his questioning up.
Brian: Let me ask you this question since you’re a girl.
My immediate response was, “a woman, thank you.”
Brian: My bad, you right, a woman. Ok so at this bowling party…
Here we go again with this bowling party.
Brian: …My homeboy is actually going to ask his girlfriend to marry him at the party.
I stop him.
Me: So you were going to take me to this surprise engagement party, even though we’ve never met?
Brian: Yea, I figured you know, y’all love that married shit. So I figured you would enjoy watching it all go down.
All I could think was WOW. Made a facial expression, and Brian continued with his story that I hope will turn into a question before my food arrived.
Brian: Well none of us really like ol’ girl. We think she be cheating on him. One day, my patna saw her at some spot trying to brush up on some other nigga. We tried to tell buddy what was up, but he all in love and shit with this girl. So what do you think we should do?
Ok, now this is going to be fun.
I told him my thoughts on the situation as my food was placed before me. I didn’t immediately eat because I wanted to finish this conversation before having a mouth full of food. Plus, it's a salad; it’s not like it will get cold.
Brian: Should we stop him before he does it at the party tonight?
Me: Absolutely not. That man is grown. He will ask her to marry him with or without y’all there. Some people need to see and feel things for themselves, so they will never make that decision again.
I wanted to start eating my salad. I ask him if there is anything else about his friend's girlfriend that they don’t like or are they just basing their opinion off that one situation.
He is rambling on about some other ish the girl does as I devour my plate. I think to myself, he didn’t even order any food. So I ask, “Are you going to order anything?”
Brian: Nah, I am good. I had a fish plate a little earlier. I’m good with this beer.
I roll my eyes. So this fool was going to show up at dinner, knowing he already ate. I wasn’t expecting him to pay for my meal, but he knew he wasn’t about to pay the moment I said Houstons on Poplar at 8. Whatever.
I shrug and let him finish talking.
I’m getting towards the end of my salad. The bartender asks me if I want another glass of wine. I glance at the clock. It’s almost 9:30. I tell him I’m good.
Brian: Are those tomatoes on your salad?
Me: Yea, why?
Brian: I hate tomatoes.
He makes the pretend throw-up sound as I take my next bite. And the next bite.
Me: So are you just going to be like a kid and make noises while I enjoy the rest of my food?
After that statement, I ask the bartender for my check because it is clearly time to go. He asks if it is all together, the wine, salad, and his beer. I said, “you can put it all on one.”
Without hesitation, Brian says, “Ok big baller, handling the check. I see you.”
The bartender couldn’t move any faster. I was ready to go.
A few seconds later, his phone rings. He looks at the display and answers it in volume that is entirely too loud for the establishment we are in.
Brian: Is this my nigga PJ?! What up man? You at the spot yet?
Brian: Nah, I ain’t there yet. I’m up at Houstons on Poplar. I don’t really like their food much, but you know what it is.
The bartender appears, hands me the check. I don’t even look at it. I just hand him my card.
Brian is still on the phone talking way too loud. Thankfully we were the only ones in the bar that night.
The receipt and my card come back. I sign and pause for a second.
This nigga didn’t say, ‘hold on I have to answer this call’ or even mouth thank you for paying for his drink. He is just yapping away on the phone like I am not even here.
Well, sounds like my cue.
I get up, grab my bag and proceed to walk out the door without looking back. Brian is still on the phone talking.
I get to my car, parked right in front of the bar window, and I can still see him sitting in the same spot on the phone. He didn’t even flinch. He just let me walk out the restaurant.
I drive off.
15 minutes later, I get a text.
Brian: Where you at?
Absolutely not. You didn’t move or look in my direction when I got up from the bar. And to wait this long to figure out where I am at. Nope. I am good.
The old me would have laid into his ass right in that text. Instead, I blocked him. Deleted the text. Opened up Tinder and unmatched him.
I would never see him or Houstons in Memphis ever again.