Kids, you’ve heard the expression “always the bridesmaid, never the bride”, right? Well, when I was young and single with plenty of guy friends, I was always the best friend, never the girlfriend.
It started pretty early in life for me, this being “”one of the bros” thing. When I was 2 and a half, I met Imtiaaz, the son of my parents ‘friends and according to our dads, anyway, my future husband.
I want to spin you the story of how that young puppy love turned into something as epic as your grandparents ‘love story BUT, in what would be the story of my life for years to come, there was a slight glitch right from the beginning…
16 November1988 …
According to your Nan, Imtiaaz and I were inseparable because everything that he did, I did too. Through no fault of my own, I had developed into quite the tomboy – a combination of my father’s desire to have a son after two daughters and therefore showering me with toy cars, guns and Lego and my mother’s insatiable love for all clothing in navy blue.
So naturally, on my third birthday, the two of us were chasing cars around the living room, playing up a storm and having fun until my mom called me to get ready for my party.
As I emerged back into the living room in my twirling red and white dress and everyone was making a fuss, Imtiaaz broke out into a full blown tantrum that could have been heard all the way out in deep space.
When asked why he was so upset, my toddler crush silenced the room with this heart-stopping one liner: “Because she’s a girl!”
And thus began my career as wing woman, best friend and sister to the men in my life.
By my sophomore high school year, nothing much had changed. Though I was a hell of lot more girly, the hot boys still treated me like one of the guys.
Admittedly I didn’t help things much because this was around the time I became a hard-core feminist, dismissing marriage as nothing more than a more lenient form of prison ( don’t judge me, I was 16 and angry – remind me to tell you about the Goth phase that preceded this girl power one sometime).
Like all of the other girls in my grade, I had a crush on the hot jock jerk and of course he didn’t know I existed – the tragedy of teenage life!
At the start of our sophomore year, the hottest boy alive, according to my fellow classmates, transferred to our school and specifically my class. I remember distinctly the collective audible gasp that occurred as he stormed into our homeroom and made every girl go weak at the knees – except for me.
Look, I didn’t deny that Fawwaaz was easy on the eye but did he make me see the stars and the moon with his handsome face? In a word – no.
He wasn’t Leonardo Di Caprio handsome and I was far too in love with the rude jock to notice anyone else. Besides, Fawwaaz was so arrogant about girls falling over their feet for him, and it was a complete turn-off.
My indifference to his apparently obvious charms at first grated on his nerves and he would purposefully seek me out or drag me into his over-the-top stories about how cool he was just to get a reaction out of me.
A year later, and we had settled into a big brother, little sister friendship, teasing each other mercilessly and, in moments when he really doubted that people saw his amazing heart beneath the uber hotness and I was convinced I was going to die old and alone, being each other’s confidants.
Fawwaaz never did manage to get my heart to beat wildly for him but for the love of the gods, I’d still have liked to be considered as something more than just his bro in a skirt!
Fast forward 11 years later and you’d think I’d have outgrown the best friend phase…yeah, right!
Monroe was a ridiculously good looking, uber talented writer whose mere prose was enough to reduce me to a quivering mess.
Quirky, with an off-centre sense of humour and the exuberance of a puppy who is always happy to see you, I fell for him quickly and I fell hard.
Skype chatting, emails and hanging out at social events ensured we developed a repartee that was playful, funny, filled with inside jokes and a general onslaught of his incredible sexiness on all of my senses.
Shortly before my US Contiki trip, we’d reached an impasse of flirting and when a would-have been just us “hangout” fell through, I was ready to give up because gods be damned, a girl can only try so hard until …
I got a very sweet text from him just before my flight to say he was wishing me a rocking trip and that he couldn’t wait for me to tell him all about it when I got back.
Yeah, ok, so I kissed that tall, dark stranger in New York in the two weeks I was gone, but I was really eager to get back to Cape Town and kick-start things with Monroe.
Only … I got back and he ignored me in group chats and via email for two weeks. I couldn’t figure out for the life of me what the f*** I’d done wrong. Why had he been all up for things before and now totally ignoring me like a stop street?
Kids, I was miserable for those 14 days and no amount of chocolate or True Blood episodes helped (ok, wait, seeing Alexander Skarsgard naked is always UBER helpful but you know what I mean!).
Finally, because a) I can’t stand being ignored and b) I am a sucker for punishment, I Skyped him asking how he’d been and what he’d been up to for the past few weeks. Our usual joking ensued and when I sympathised with him about a black eye he’d sustained during a workout session, he delivered the heart-punching, soul-crushing news: the girl he was seeing felt sorry for him too.
Ah, sweet Mother of Dragons! So that’s what was up – I’d been moved to the friend zone without realising it and there I was trying to chat the idiot up!!!
What followed was my ugly spiral into that “Oh gods, no-one loves me and I am going to die alone!” hell all single, friend-zoned girls drop into and if it wasn’t for your Uncle T dragging me off for cocktails and a work event that night, I don’t know how I would have survived. I don’t think Tendai had ever seen me that out of control and that’s saying something, considering the kinds of mischief we regularly got up to, but I digress!
I backed off Monroe instantly and did not fall into his inappropriate, full body hugs anymore or engage in any witty and suggestive Skype chats with him after that because f***, a girl has to have some pride but man, was it difficult ;(
Fast forward to a year later and running into Monroe at a public event. I wish I could say I’d overcome the rejection and could maturely engage with him but alas, no. I awkwardly hugged him, snapped a pic of him in costume and ran off mutely. Like I said, somewhere inside of me is that three-year-old who disappointed the first boy she ever loved and I had never recovered ….
Luckily for you guys, I am your Dad’s best friend and his girl 😉