Kids, the 28 dates journey to meeting your Dad had its trying moments … over the first 18+ months, I met all kinds of guys – the hot and jerk like; the mature and childish; the no –shows and … the over eager.
This particular type of male was a special breed, most notable for his zealous need to please you, his almost reverent need to include you in future plans and tie you down (and you could never be too sure that this wouldn’t include cable ties!) and his astounding capability to turn into a scarier version of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Mr Freeze when you tried, very gently, to put the brakes on this not-so budding relationship.
You guys remember Surfer Dude, the small town guy looking for Ms Right in the Mother City, right? Well, to explain how that went to hell at an alarming rate, let me tell you about all of the boys I didn’t love before…
A week after my friends and your godparents challenged me to the 28 Dates, I was walking across Greenmarket Square during my lunch hour, minding my own business when a kind-looking man smiled at me.
Usually, I ignore guys like this because they might be creeps, but I’d agreed to be more open to new possibilities with the 28 Dates thing, right, so I smiled back and thus began a 10 minute conversation with, let’s call him Prince of Egypt, about my gorgeous smile, how I’m the first friendly person he’d met in Cape Town and could he take me out for coffee?
Flattered, and surprised at how easy my dating challenge could be, I gave the Prince my number and we agreed to meet at Vida e the next afternoon after work.
On the designated day, Vida e had already closed for the day, and so I texted the Prince to meet me at the café next door. He arrived 10 minutes late but hey, since he’d been closing up to the general trading store he’s manages ,I couldn’t be mad at him.
The late issue I could move on from and even politely turning him down for dinner at Mesopotamia which he’d apparently booked for, when I had expressly said I could only meet for coffee as I had an event that night, is something I could overlook; but it’s what happened next that sent me running for the hills faster that you could say “Magic carpet ride!”
After idle chatter for 15 minutes about careers, him telling me that I was incredibly beautiful but too old to still be unmarried, him boasting about his home in Goodwood that he was renovating to bring his large extended family to live with him at, the car he drove, the amount of money he makes which is more than enough to support a (second!) wife with; I started to suspect that all was not well with his not-so-royal highness.
The Prince was slightly uncomfortable with my choice of venue, as it serving alcohol was against his religious beliefs and surely it should be against mine too, considering my name. I explained my agnostic views and he tried to understand, saying that he is sure his mother and sisters could help me find my way back to the path, when he took me home to meet them in Morocco…. Wait, what?!!!
How, in the name of all of the gods, did we go from a coffee date to Meet the Parents in the desert?!! And why would this man think I’d go all willy nilly with him, with no money, family or friends to a foreign country? Anyone else get a Sally Fields ‘Not without My Daughter vibes here?!
Thanks, but no thanks, Prince… I think I prefer the land of the free where I can be my awesome, non-religious, independent self, thank you very much! After a month of “Let me take you out and take care of you because it’s wrong for a woman of your age to be alone and husbandless” texts, the Prince finally got the message to go bride-hunting elsewhere.
Which made me wary of smiling at strange men or chatting to those professing the need to take me out because I am so utterly irresistible until…
Lonely Emo was a late 20s, young entrepreneur from Gordon’s Bay, who had travelled the world and was keen to try the Mother City dating pool once again. He loved my exotic look, my deep love for reading and travelling and was keen to take me out for ice cream if I was free.
We couldn’t quite agree on which beach to stroll along for this ice cream meet-up so we settled for Primi Piatti V&A. Lonely Emo arrived before I did, had snagged a prime viewing spot and was a big huggy bear type with a great smile. I had hope that this would be a great date.
And it was, for the most part. We chatted about past travels, places he’d lived in, our families, our interests etc. It was around the “So, why are you on this dating site?”, that things took a turn for the weird.
As it turns out, Lonely Emo, though a year younger than me, had been married for four years to a gorgeous Lebanese woman ( hence his love for my “exotic look”), and they had lived happily in London and India for two years, when tragedy struck – she had ovarian cancer and had sadly passed away.
Now, Kids, I am no stranger to loss and in fact, just participating in the28 Dates challenge had taken a lot of courage in allowing myself to open up to other people but this was a little on the heavy side for me. Judging from your Nan’s numerous suitors following your granddad’s death, no one likes being the rebound guy or girl after the dearly departed spouse because you always feel like you can’t measure up to their memory.
But, I wasn’t ready to give up quite yet so when Lonely Emo suggested we have a follow-up date, I agreed. I was slightly freaked out but pleased when within half an hour of the date, he called me to say that he had a really, REALLY great time and he couldn’t wait to see me again.
Which would have been a great place to leave me wanting more, but then two hours later, he sent me a six part text telling me how beautiful I am, how incredibly lucky he is I agreed to date him, that he was so nervous about spending time with me and that he was looking forward to the next time.
A+ for enthusiasm, dude, but leave something for date 2, right? After responding that I had had a great time too, I didn’t hear from him for three days when suddenly I received a barrage of texts from 7am to enquire about whether I knew that manager at Primi Piatti, because they were taking money from his account without his permission.
When I said I didn’t, I received a curt “Fine, I’ll sort it out” message and the insinuation that I was helping the restaurant in robbing him. Talk about a mind-coitus! From “You’re the most beautiful girl in the world!” to “You stole my wallet and my heart!” in a mere three days? That’s an all new record for me being dumped, Kids!
Suffice it to say, I never heard from Lonely Emo again and I was done with falling for the super keen but then…
Surfer Dude had been my second most favourite candidate of the three I had set up dates with in late May even if I initially wanted nothing to do with him because unfortunately for him, he shared a name with the man who broke my heart.
At your godmother and Uncle T’s insistence that I couldn’t hold one man’s crimes against his namesake, I gave Surfer Dude my number and didn’t hear from him for a few weeks. When I finally worked up the courage to ask him if he was still interested, he immediately responded with a resounding yes and started texting me.
Now, Kids, because I work in social media and I am in contact with thousands of people all day, I prefer not to do much online chatting in my free time – I am all about being present with the person in the moment, face to face. I explained as much to Surfer Dude, who wasn’t that keen on not chatting but agreed since we would then have more to talk about on our date the following week.
When he asked for a photo of me in exchange for the one he’d sent, which I hadn’t asked for, I explained that I wasn’t comfortable sending them to him and asked him to please be content with the (fully-clothed) ones he could see on my profile. Trust me on this, my loves, the Internet is forever – you do not need any inappropriate images of yourself out there for the world to see.
We chatted on and off amicably for a week, about his move to Cape Town, work etc. until he started asking weird questions about whether I would still want to be intimate with other people if we had to start a relationship – great question for when you have the “exclusive talk” a month or two into seeing each other, not so much when you’ve only been chatting for a week.
He also had quite the ego – when I told him I’d been stood up by my date one Saturday, his flippant response was “Told you I am the man. That’s what happens when you date little boys.” A little bit funny, sure, but not what I needed to hear right then, and sensitivity would have gone a long way in his favour.
All the same, I was looking forward to our date. When he texted me to confirm the Monday before, I was ready to respond about how excited I was but then he asked for a photo again. I reiterated that I wasn’t comfortable doing so and asked him to please stop asking me as it was annoying.
Surfer Dude then went all Mr Freeze on me, accused me of being bossy and insisted we end things immediately. I politely told him that I wasn’t being bossy, I was explaining my boundaries to him and if he couldn’t respect them, then yes, by all means we should end things.
Like your godmother said: “Screw him! You do not have to lower yourself to his level by supplying him with masturbatory material! Freak!”
And she’s right, Kids… Finding your father is important, having you even more so but I do not have to degrade myself in the process.
To all my future suitors, take a leaf out of Aretha Franklin’s book: