The Year of Dating Dangerously (I)

It all started rather innocently. And with more than a bit of déjà vu. Eight short years on, and I am single again. And I’m trying this internet dating thing. Again. After all, I had some fun with it last time and it did bring me the Moonman, for better or, as it turned out, for worse. Hence my return to singledom.

So, up goes my profile again, and this time I decide to be upfront about my flaws. These include, but are not limited to, the following: I can’t cook, I can’t garden, I don’t eat enough veggies and too much chocolate, I prefer lounging to going out for some exercise. I have a bunch of kids and pets and my life can be pretty chaotic (still, no change there!). I don’t eat anything that has mushrooms, avocado, fish or bananas in it. Or the meat of any animal that doesn’t have two or four legs. And even then, not always.

And away we go. I start getting fans and emails and pretty soon I have a small army of fans, who seem to think listing one’s flaws makes a welcome change to the staple diet of people listing their good points. Most of them are either too far away geographically (New Zealand?! Saudi Arabia?! Texas? Knysna!?) or they are way too young or too old for me. Or they have a moustache. Or they cannot write a coherent sentence. I am convinced these people are all perfectly decent, good, kind, interesting human beings, but a girl’s gotta have some pride.

I get a sweet letter from a 24 year  old. He says he knows he is a bit younger than my lower limit (which is 44!), but his friends all say he’s really mature for his age – would I like to meet him for coffee? Well… lemme think…. No. I have a child of 21. It can’t work. I write him a kind and matronly reply to thank him for his letter and to say that I do feel quite strongly that I am too old for him, but that I hope he meets a nice YOUNG girl soon.

I strike up the usual conversations with people from all walks of life. And inevitably the next invitation to meet for coffee arrives.


First up is a man who is looking for a tall, skinny, non-smoking girl, and still wants to have children (i.e. non-compatible – apart from the smoking bit). But he happened to be in my sister’s class in primary school. He doesn’t remember me, but he remembers her quite well. Which is not surprising really, she was and always will be quite stunning, while I was of a much paler, quieter and more nerdy variety. Nobody remembers me from primary school. Probably not even from high school, come to think of it. Even university. Damn. This is getting depressing…

So, we meet for coffee, Mr Incompatible and I. It turns out to be a four hour long coffee, and I laugh so hard my stomach hurts. The man is hilarious! What fun, a total blast. I haven’t laughed this hard since the Moonman told me about painting his gate naked. After this great date, we part with a friendly hug. Great guy! But, sadly, still non-negotiably incompatible. We don’t follow up with a second date, but we’re still say hi now and then and I always have to ask him if he’s found Tall-Skinny yet.


Next up, about a month later, is someone with whom I’d been exchanging witty and lively emails for a few weeks. Let’s just call him the Biker. Although he looks nothing like the biker you may have in mind. When he asks where we should meet, I suggest the coffee shop at, wait for it….. Builders Warehouse. Yes folks, you heard right. Thing is, I’m very pragmatic, and I’d picked up a few clues about the man through his letters. He doesn’t like crowded malls, and neither do I, quite frankly. Even deserted malls are not good for me. And besides, I had to get a few things from a shop near the warehouse, so it’s convenient too. The man thinks it’s a hilarious choice of venues, but agrees to meet me there. The muzak is so excruciatingly horrendous that only elderly deaf people go there. Which is great, at least it’s not crowded.

This date is not quite as side-splitting as the previous one, but there is an easy feeling and we happily start rabbiting on about all sorts of things. I am not nervous, which is a good sign, and if he is, he hides it well. He’s endearingly unshaven and wearing his t-shirt inside out, and that makes me feel quite comfortable, somehow. So we sit and talk for ages, and finally I have to leave and we say goodbye with a friendly hug.

Now this time there is second date (during which I spill my whole cup of coffee onto my white blouse, and I have to go buy a t-shirt in order to carry on with our date). And a third, fourth, fifth… and we eventually stop counting. The Biker is emotionally mature, smart and funny, and probably the kindest man I know. We get along so well, I can hardly believe it. We go on picnics, we watch movies, we talk for hours, we even have a baby together. Oh wait. That doesn’t sound right. I must digress here for a minute.

I am a “kanga mum”, which means I suffer from a rare disorder where I am compelled to take newborn humans into my care for a few weeks or months at a time. There seems to be no permanent cure for this debilitating condition, and medication only partially treats the symptoms. So a month after meeting the Biker, I invite him out for a most unusual date, even more unusual than Builders Warehouse. I invite him to a kidnapping, to be my partner in crime. We drive to Tygerberg Hospital, and an hour later, we zoom out the gate with a tiny brown baby strapped into the car seat. We find it hilarious that the security guard at the exit asks to check the boot of the car, and here we have a stolen baby on the back seat. After the successful kidnapping, we take our little hostage out for coffee.

So for the next two months, Buddy tags along everywhere we go. He goes walking on the beach and in nature reserves, he even goes along on a weekend trip. The Biker is pretty cool about the whole thing, even though he is more into bikes than babies.

The Biker and I happily hang out like a pair of old slippers. We sit on my stoep drinking tea most Sundays. We have a great time, every time. We become very close friends. And yet somehow it never progresses beyond friendship. We are best friends, but we are not a couple. My (other) friends find it odd and confusing. But it is as it is.

I carry on dating dangerously, and after each new date, I report back to my best friend for the post-mortem.


Next up is the Farmer. From his emails I can tell he is well spoken and well educated, and has a good sense of humour. I gently break the news to him that I have a baby, but only for another few weeks. We can either have a date with an undersized chaperone in tow, or we can wait a while. He says the chaperone is fine, let’s meet now. Cool. So I rock up at the coffee shop at the Botanical Gardens, which has become my favourite, with baby Buddy strapped to my chest (see how  I don’t allow my condition to prevent me from living a full life?) The Farmer arrives, and my word, he is huge! He’s almost two meters tall, and I feel like a demented dwarf next to him. And that becomes my nickname: Demented Dwarf. I like it. We settle down to our tea (him), cappuccino (me) and milk (Buddy). We chat and laugh relatively comfortably, even though I suspect he is quite nervous. He’s very attractive. The air is crackling with chemistry. Eventually we say goodbye, I strap my chaperone into his car seat and make my way home. I think I might see him again.

And I do, a week or so later. This time I get a friend to babysit and we dine at a restaurant just around the corner. The man tells me about his life on the farm, his kids, his dogs, his cats, his parents. Fascinating. And oh boy, it takes my breath away when he looks into my eyes. After supper, we pick up the baby, and say goodbye with a warm hug and a warm kiss or two. Or three. I wasn’t counting. I think I might see him again. And I do, another few weeks later, but by then it has become clear that the logistics of distance and well, life, generally, are not going to play along. We’re still friends, though.

Two months after the legal kidnapping, Buddy goes to his adoptive parents and I get to suffer from insomnia again, as I always do when deprived of a baby.

Dating can happen in earnest again, now that I am babyless. I still hang out with my best biker buddy, and we have endlessly interesting discussions about life, the universe and internet dating. During this period I get “stood up” four times, which is very demoralising. I get invited out for coffee, and when I say “OK”, I never hear from the guy again, or the date gets cancelled a day before. It’s unnerving. But I remind myself that these men have just disqualified themselves, and that I wouldn’t want to go out with someone who is that rude anyway. So there. (But still, it’s awful and rude. Why not just say, “I’m sorry, I’ve just met someone else I really like and I’m gonna go with that and see where it leads.” I’d be cool with that! Really!). Oh well. Forwards, march…

(Continued here…)


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