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How I Met Your Father: The Set-Up Man

blind date ctgirlwiththeredscarfKids, in the winter of 2015 I found myself at the center of yet another set-up/ blind date scheme by one of my well-meaning friends. While I admit I was intrigued by the prospect of meeting someone who’d been vetted and vouched for by someone who loves me, it got me to thinking about my previous, somewhat failed set-up attempt …

December 2013 …

Your Aunt E had been raving about Silver Fox Writer for the three weeks since she and the others had issued the 28 Dates challenge, insisting we’d be perfect for each other since we both had such a great love for the written word and travel. She’d given him my number so all I had to do was wait patiently for him to contact me and set up the date.

Which, thankfully, he didn’t dally about doing and so we were all set for a drinks date at Café Mojito in Long Street the following day.

Nervous as all hell, I arrived 10 minutes early, checking out every seemingly single male who walked through the door; anxiously wondering what he looked like ( E had said he’s hot), how old he was ( E pegged him for early 40s,which yes, was considerably older but hey, it was just a f***ing date, right?) and whether he would like me or not ( remember, I hadn’t dated anyone in a while, besides the Prince of Egypt and we all know how well that turned out!).

Silver Fox Writer arrived on time (bonus brownie points) and he was extremely charming. We ordered drinks, chatted about careers, why we’re still single, family life (he had a daughter), cities we loved visiting and more.

Yes, he was handsome, easy to talk to and I began to relax, thinking that dating an older man wasn’t going to be all that difficult until …

Ten minutes into the date, when we’d barely even touched our drinks, Silver Fox Writer leans over, grabs my arm and says: “Look, I really like you … so where is this going?”

Whoa, Cowboy, hold your horses there for a sec! Everyone always says girls go big on the end resulting {forecasting the future of the relationship with images of meeting the friends and family, moving in together , weddings and babies etc) but obviously they haven’t heard of guys, and older ones especially, doing it too.

I responded with a coy “ let’s see how well date number one goes, shall we?” and tried to get the date back on track but then he dropped the bombshell that he was 52 and had a 19-year-old daughter… gods almighty! This man was the same age as your Nan, Kids … not cool!

johnny depp cape town blind date

Look, I am no ageist – in fact, at that point in time, I was harbouring a serious celebrity crush on 49-year-old Johnny Depp, but I had to be realistic about things. Silver Fox Writer was no Captain Jack Sparrow – I wanted babies, you guys, and this man was not in the baby-making business when he already had a grown daughter. Simply put, I was just not that into him.

As we parted ways with a fumbled goodbye kiss, I realized I wasn’t all that disappointed that things hadn’t worked out on this set-up.

If anything, the experience taught me that while your loved ones have your best interests at heart and are trying to do an amazing thing for you, what they see as a great choice for you and what you want for yourself are two completely different things.

Back in 2015…

Now I find myself in a similar situation and this time, I am going to be smarter about things.

blind date cape town

Impala Fanatic is  a single, older man and seems stable-looking, if his Facebook photos are anything to go by ( yes, I’ve stalked his page, this is what dating in the 21st century looks like – you get to know the basic details from the Internet).

My friend swears we’re made for each other with our similar interests and personalities. I’ll be the judge of that when we have this date but if we aren’t soul mates … well, it’s just a f***ing date, right?!

How I Met Your Father – The Mother City Version Part 1

Kids, in the autumn of 2015, I restarted my 28 Dates mission with renewed vigor, mostly to keep your Nan’s misguided enthusiasm for finding your father in check.

I kid you not – she was SO eager to see you guys being created , if I just happened to be in the vicinity of an eligible bachelor , I’d get a sideways glance, small smirk and “Who were you just chatting to?” from her …even if the guy in question was my recovering alcoholic, balding , single dad neighbour.

So, armed with a resolve to at the very least find you a dad with a great head of hair, I cleaned up my online dating site profile. Change my profile pic from the washed out rock star cosplay pic of 2008 to one of me rocking a little black dress at an awards evening? Check! Answer a few more asinine questions about the meaning of life, my stance on warfare, daily chores and love versus a good time? Check! Set my willingness to meet potential matches to keen? Check! Check! Check!

And so the wait began…

Within a few hours, I’d had not one, but three very promising candidates:

Surfer Small-town Boy was a tall, blonde and athletic type, moving to Cape Town within a week from, well, duh, a small town, keen to meet the lady he’d settle down with in the big city. Was this lady me, and would I be open to meeting him?

Brainy but Bored Guy was a seemingly cocky know-it-all who not only co-owns a renewable energy firm but studies cognitive brain therapy when he isn’t wooing his various international girlfriends with Star Wars short movie clips. Yes, the site had listed us as less than suitable matches but how about we discuss it over drinks?

Mother City Rodeo Star was a Texas immigrant with a passion for theatre, travel and giving back to Africa’s children and wanted to us to meet up and chat about our shared interests, if I was open to it?

Since Surfer Boy would still be unavailable to meet for at least a week, I agreed to see the other two first and set our meeting place at my favourite local bar and theatre, Alexander Upstairs – a place which is feeling more and more like home and so that I’d have the home ground advantage. Besides, they make one of the best Cosmopolitans in town – anything to calm my raging nerves!

As I waited for Rodeo Star to arrive on the Monday evening, I flashbacked to the night this crazy 28 Dates mission began …

November 2013

My birthday dinner at Primi Piatti V&A Waterfront with a group of my closest friends, where the drinks and declarations of love were flowing and we were celebrating the passing of a rather difficult year (I’d lost both your great-grandma and my first love, to a stomach ulcer and other men, respectively).

I was bemoaning the fact that that I hadn’t had any real love interests that year, as I had for so many before them when my friends, which included two of your godparents, decided enough was enough – something drastic had to be done! I would not go another year without being kissed (and other stuff not suitable for your young ears), if they had anything to do with it.

And so my 28 Dates mission was born – I was challenged to have 28 dates before my next birthday or until I’d completed all of them, whether by online dating, blind dates set up by the group, speed dating or meet-cutes (meeting guys the usual way). I could date the same person more than once, and it would be counted as one of the 28, but I wasn’t allowed to bail on any of them. Nothing to wear? Someone would come over with suitable sexy date outfits. Feeling fluish or tired? Someone would bring me a Med-Lemon or Red Bull. I would not and could not be allowed to find any excuse to fall back into my dateless rut.

Back to 2015:

Rodeo Star arrived at the bar, looking all ruggedly Southern boy sexy, with beguiling blue eyes, a beard that did not scream hipster and a big bear hug for me. Hello there, Cowboy!

Over the course of the evening, we chatted amicably about theatre, travels, family, work and I thought things were going well. Sure, we didn’t like the same movies or series, but couples don’t have to like all of the same things, right? Opposites attract and all that.

Ok, so there might have been a drawn out silence here and there, but gods, he was beautiful to look at and maybe he was quiet because he was as nervous as I was, right?

The sticky part of the evening came when he just couldn’t understand why I needed to leave to go to a mass Games of Thrones viewing and how he hates the show. Now, Kids, this wasn’t a deal breaker, but you know how much I love cosplay, and for this series in particular – you’ve seen the photos of your other godmother and I dressed as Khaleesi and Arya. I didn’t just love the show, I freaking lived it!

As we got the check (which we split, by the way – he may be Southern but apparently likes to go Dutch), I asked Rodeo Star what he was thinking of since he was especially quiet and after a while, he responded with: “I’m thinking about how much I hate Game of Thrones, actually. It’s such a silly show.” Cue the alarm bells going off in my head, thinking I’d finally messed things up for good.

Two days passed in which I fretted about why he wasn’t calling me but also hopeful that he would. After all, things had gone well until the unfortunate GOT comment. So why wasn’t he calling?!

The Wednesday morning, while I was finalizing the date with Brainy but Bored, I finally received a message from Rodeo Star and the cruelest thing about this dating mission happened – I began to have hope.

See, the thing is, when a date goes bad, you already know it won’t work out and you can move on from there. But having the guy you like finally email you after two days ignites the spark of hopefulness you try to ignore – your heart becomes buoyant, you can’t control the huge smile that streaks across your face at seeing his name in your mailbox or your imagination that runs away with images of second, third and fourth dates, introductions to the friends and family etc.

Too scared to open the email but too excited not to, I left it unopened for an hour, swinging on the pendulum between wishing he was asking me on a second date to despairing that he wouldn’t.

Finally, I pulled on my big girl panties and read the damn email – much to my regret:

“Thanks again for the evening on Monday – I hope you managed Game of Thrones, in spite of the power cut. Without putting much thought in it, as much as I enjoyed the conversation, I didn’t experience much chemistry. I’m looking for something with a little more of an instinctual convergence. I suspect we will run into each other often,seeing as we’re both into the theatre scene, and it will be nice to see you. Best, Rodeo Star”

What the f***?! What the heck does “instinctual convergence” even mean? And who the heck even says things like that?!!!

Guys who believe in love at first sight still exist? Are you kidding me?! Well now, colour me surprised!

I won’t lie, Kids, my ego was bruised and my heart ever so slightly crushed. My friends encouraged me to try to talk Rodeo Star into giving me a second chance with a second date… but surely that seemed a bit desperate,right?

I deliberated all through lunch and a Aero chocolate bar or three before deciding that screw it, if he didn’t want to get all up in my weirdly, awesome, GOT-loving business, I wasn’t going to beg him to and let him off the hook in my response. Life is too short to wonder why people don’t like you.

And as your godfather always says: “F** it… NEXT!”

To be continued …