Of four young men outside Rio Bravo nightclub, where a 90 percent male clientele sings karaoke, three are sending money to wives in Latin America and one is single.
“I have a wife and two children in Salvador. I send them money. I am trying to get them to come here,” one says.
But if the men of Langley Park hope eventually to bring families here, it appears many never do so. In the meantime, dollars may be the most concrete manifestation of faraway relationships in this spread-out town of emotional distance in Prince George’s County.
“I have a girl here, too. My wife, I love her, but she is not here,” confesses a man who does not want to be named to avoid jeopardizing his relationships. “You can find girls here if you go to the right place at the right time, but it is hard.”
Those who uproot themselves and move around the world to support families with low-paying jobs are, by definition, flexible and accustomed to some impermanence. If the man eventually can move his family to Langley Park, he jokes, “My girlfriend, I will have to send her somewhere else.”
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‘You don’t want a man around here’
In another part of Prince George’s just across the border from Southeast Washington, the quandary is reversed, and as six women prepare for a child’s birthday party at the Seat Pleasant Activity Center, a good man is hard to find.
Stephanie Daniels of Deanwood, a single mother of one with “one on the way,” motions past the squat family-style homes toward the streets that lead toward Minnesota Avenue in Southeast Washington. “The young men are out there, I take it,” she says. “They’re in jail or dead.
“Whereas the mothers, we’re living for our children, so we don’t have time for that nonsense.”
It’s difficult to meet a man in these parts, where women of certain age groups significantly outnumber men, leaving many women lonely, she says, “but you don’t want a man around here anyway, because of the negativity.”
Competition is fierce for men who are stable and productive. “There are a few, but the ones that have their heads on straight, they’re already snatched up,” Ms. Daniels says.
Just off a basketball court on the other side of the recreation center, Taras Brown jokes with a friend and tries to mentor a ninth-grade neighborhood boy, epitomizing both the sense of privilege and the complications in child rearing that the shortage of men breeds.
“Let’s just say you don’t have to fight for them around here,” he says.View Entire Story
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Luke Rosiak is a projects reporter on The Washington Times’ investigative team. He formerly covered lobbying and campaign finance for two watchdog groups as well as transportation for The Washington Post. Luke can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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