What men say when we are not around
Harold: 23, college student, single. He looks like NBA star LeBron James. Khalid: 27, chemist, single; resembles Ice Cube. George: 30, entertainment promoter; has lived with his girlfriend for two years; one child with girlfriend, two children from a previous relationship. Celeb twin: Hill Harper. Greg: 38, screenwriter-actor-personal trainer, married ten years, one child. Reminds you of Ving Rhames. Malachi: 45, order-fulfillment specialist, never married. Celeb clone: Terrence Howard. Marcus: 45, hospital executive, married 12 years, one child with his wife, a stepdaughter from his wife's previous relationship; makes you think of Marvin Gaye.
*Names have been changed to protect privacy.
"What place does love have in your life?"
Marcus: Let me get mine out of the way. It's good, but it's probably not there at the same level that my wife would think of love. I just think Venus and Mars have two different definitions. I think of one thing as love, and she's thinking of something else. I don't buy the flowers, and I'm always missing Valentine's Day and birthdays. But I still say I love her.
Malachi: And I'm the exact opposite. I'm the flower guy. I'm the letter guy.
Khalid: You're the letter guy?
Malachi: Yeah, I'm the surprise guy. That's why I'm so perfect. She's gonna get those flowers for her birthday. She's gonna get a note left someplace that makes her think, How'd he get that there? But right now I wish I felt that feeling. I want to get married. But I've got to feel that feeling.
George: My grandfather told me love is another four-letter word like f--- and hate, and I've always held on to that. I feel family love. But I don't feel romantic love.
Harold: I'm going to be honest with you guys, I don't know what love is. I thought I was in love, but I don't know what it is, I really don't. I have a lot of love for my family, but love in a relationship? I don't know it-I'm 23.
Greg: It's mainly what you want it to be. For me, it's living a life with the woman I feel is my soul mate. I still do flowers, but I think that's just part of my expression of it. The basis of it is what we have together.
Essence staff members Nazenet Habtezghi and Natasha Shubrick assisted in setting up this roundtable. In next month's issue, look for Part Two of "What Men Want"-an exclusive Essence survey of Black-male opinions on what makes the perfect partner.