As a kid in the 1980s, I had a large, hardcover book called Stars & Planets that offers a foundational understanding of our solar system and the universe. The book taught me, among other things, about red dwarves and black holes; the relative size of moons to their planets and how oxygen and gravity work. It drove home how infinitesimally small my humanity is in the context of the universe’s vastness. It’s because of this book that I’ve had a lifelong fascination with the cosmos; it also likely planted the earliest seeds of my religious agnosticism.
Even back then, I viewed astrology and horoscopes as bastardizations of scientific empiricism…cute and whimsical things to talk about, like fortune cookies and getting one’s palm read, but never to be taken seriously in any context. I never took the time to learn the actual horoscope – I can’t tell you how many signs there are or to what dates they correspond. I know I’m a Leo and that my mother is a Virgo because her birthday is a month after mine, but I can’t tell you any other loved one’s sign because none of that shit matters in any capacity anywhere.
In fact, I take folks who take astrology earnestly with a level of seriousness somewhere between niggas who still believe Jussie Smollett was set up and niggas who believe the government killed Nipsey Hussle over a Dr. Sebi documentary.
Yet, I’ve found myself encountering a staggering number of my female peers – college-educated and in or entering their 40s – who pay close attention to birthdates and their relation to the positioning of stars and other celestial beings as a meaningful proxy to dating. Since last summer, I’ve dated numerous women with whom I’ve had to engage in this hippy-dippy bullshit to the point that I felt inclined to write this. They’ve always been there, but it seems more acute lately (Maybe Mercury is in retrograde).
It always starts out the same way: She asks my birthday, and as soon as I tell her, she’ll say, “Oh, you’re a Leo” with an intonation of amusement or borderline disdain before continuing to make an asinine attempt to link personality qualities to the date my mama happened to shit me out on terra firma despite knowing me for about 17 seconds.
I politely (but firmly) explain that I don’t believe in any of it while mentally rolling my eyes smooth off in the back of my fucking head. And she often gives me some version of, “well, I don’t really take it seriously either” despite having every intention on finding a reason to insert it into all future conversations. Why do I endure this little game straight from the bowels of Hell…? Well, Joe Rogan nailed it in his discussion of astrology with Neil deGrasse Tyson: “If you wanna get laid, you have to talk nonsense to people.”
Just this year, I learned that there’s a such thing as a “rising,” or ascendant, sign that (according to my Google search necessary to write this sentence) apparently has something to do with the specific time one is born when a star is somewhere dropping a deuce in the cosmos. A woman told me that as a “rising Scorpio,” I’m apparently a raging whore; she expressed actual real-life reticence to tell this to her good friend because she didn’t want her to be concerned about my hoe-dom. I did my level best not to laugh in her face.
Another woman flat-out requested that I ask my mother what time I was born on my birthdate so she could consult something called a natal chart (which I also had to Google). I only assuaged her silliness because…see Rogan’s statement above. According to her, this chart revealed that we were extremely compatible, which might have been more interesting to me had I not discovered near the end of our second date that she was lying about her age by ten whole-ass years. (Black women age like Giant tortoises, I tell ya.)
I went out with a woman who was in a polyamorous situation, which was cool until I realized that she’s an extinction-level-event hippie who, among other things, somehow managed to shoehorn “energy” and “universe” into every fourth sentence and who made me bow my head to pray to all gods before every meal we shared. She had me download an app called “Co—Star” that, to the best of my knowledge, links the astrological alignment between two people, but is actually a bigger waste of megabytes on my phone than that goddamn Hamilton ticket raffle app. She asked me if I read it once and I couldn’t contain myself: “I could, but it would just be a waste of my time,” I wrote her.
Last year, a woman told me with a straight face that she didn’t date men of whatever sign (Tauruses, I believe) because she’s had so many bad experiences with them. Apparently, it was lost on her that she might be the common denominator of each of her failed relationships and situationships, not every dude on Earth who just happened to be born around Cinco De Mayo.
(This same woman suggested I confront my disdain of heavy traffic by writing the word “traffic” on paper and burning it to “release that energy into the universe.” I’m detecting a pattern here.)
For a brief moment in 2018, I interacted with a woman who described herself as an empath and spent an inordinate amount of time on the phone talking about signs and shit. She had the unmitigated gall to also live in Naperville, Ill., which for Chicagoans is the equivalent of driving to fucking Saturn. We never made it to a first date.
Fundamentally, I don’t think there’s a profound difference between evangelical-level religious faith and belief in horoscopes. But, perhaps because Judeo-Christianity is so ingrained in me by virtue of the country in which I was born and raised, making decisions based on celestial provenance is more risible to me. As a non-Christian, I wouldn’t have as much of an issue with my hypothetical child’s mother passing down Christianity to them as I would her passing down pseudo-intellectual claptrap like astrology.
In my 20s, I legitimately worried about finding a partner who isn’t caught up in the miasma of religion or superstition, which is essentially a by-product of growing up in a black-ass, southern-ass, churchgoing-ass city like Detroit. Fortunately, as an adult, I’ve dated many women who take religion and superstition with a grain of salt, if not rejecting them altogether. Apparently, I’ve just been unlucky as of late.
Despite being something of a late-model asshole, I have yet to reach the point where I’m willing to tell a woman I just met to her face that her beliefs are stupid. So, in the future, if some lady starts talking to me about how I’m “emotional yet impulsive yet kind yet strong yet weak yet happy yet angry yet sexual yet impotent” because I’m a Leo, I’ll nod, smile, wait until she finishes. Then I’ll text her a link to this blog post and wait’ll her blue iMessage texts turn green so I know she blocked me.
It would be such a Leo thing to do, really.