This post contains explicit nudity …. the full frontal kind … you have been warned

The story starts in the land of WhatsApp, where all good stories start.

In this one I am sober.  It was the middle of the day (yes and I was sober) and I was working away like the industrious little worker bee I am.

I get this rather cryptic message – and it makes no sense.  It appears to be from a bloke named Patrick, and he is saying hi to his mate that he met in London, let’s call him Jeffrey.

I grasp I am not Jeffrey, unless that Bruce Jenner thing is contagious, but I play along.  I have a bit of time, and am looking for amusement and wish to sharpen my wit.

I answer the message and I make it clear that I am not in London. I was doing a quick up sell on Table Mountain and what ever else I could see out of my window.

On that particular day my wit was strong and I was actually being awfully funny.  This message banter went back and forth and it was all very knee slapping.

Patrick realised I was not Jeffrey, and then we had a general chat. He told me he was an Italian living in Ireland.  Excuse me as you peak my interest.  Right?

He sent me a photograph.  Totally unsolicited photograph.

Of himself – a selfie – but he was wearing a wife beater vest and shorts.  He was kneeling on his bed, and the reflection in the mirror showed some rather questionable flowery curtains, and a puke green sort of wall colouring.

Which was alarming as he had told me he was an interior designer …… maybe he is the blind kind.

He proceeded to send me several more pictures of himself, always in a vest, always “selfie” styled.  To be honest I had already cooled to this relationship on the first image of him in a vest.  I did not really need more to cool my ardour.

I have a rather violent aversion to vests.  And seeing men’s underarm hair whilst they are in a vest.  It is a bit sweaty and sort of stuck at strange angles to their arm pits.  Vests do nothing for me.

Actually that is a lie, it does manage to dry up my vagina almost instantaneously, and that alone is a sure sign that Patrick was not “my one.”

Once the initial few days of bantering had passed and I had used up all my comedy routine, there was really nothing to be done, but go our separate ways and try to forget ever “not meeting each other.”

Patrick would send me the odd WA message, and say things like “hi how are you doing” and then include an updated picture of himself in a vest.  I had the usual groin and groan reaction.

I replied less, because well we were done.  I had no more to get out of this relationship, nor give.

 {I want to warn you that if you sensitive to full frontal nudity, or if your name is Patrick, then I suggest you click away now}

I am sitting there quite innocently — minding my own business.  A lot of my work interactions are done on WA and the result is that messages pop up all day and I generally have my phone nearby during work hours.

There are a few things that I believe could have happened here:

1.  Patrick took a hit of pure heroine and thought this was a good idea.

2.  Patrick’s mother taught him that his body was beautiful and he should share it with anyone he barely knows.

3.  He had a new duvet cover he wanted to show me and this was the most interesting way he could work out to do that.

4.  This approach has worked for him in the past, and suddenly the entire conversation with Jeffrey is viewed in another light.

5.  Patrick knew it was my birthday coming up, and this is the only gift he could think that would keep on giving.

6.  I have nothing.

>>>>>>>>>>>  I am warning you that you are about to see an image that you will forever have burnt onto your retina ………….

>>>>>>>>>>> SAME WARNING BUT IN UPPER CASE AND BOLD JUST SO YOU KNOW I AM NOT PLAYING AROUND HERE

 

>>>>>>>>>>> You have had umpteenth warnings to click away, but you have chosen to follow this path …….  no crying about this later, no hair pulling and weeping ………… if you are going to act like a grown up then you need to also take responsibility for your decisions ……….

>>>>>>>>>>  no more warnings

>>>>>>>>>>  this shit just got real ………..

Patrick_3536

Did you notice the floral curtains!!! ?  Yes, I know very distracting.

I did blur out his face, I really gave that several hours of thought.  As far as I know, and can testify the remainder of this image contains no photoshop.

I replied with a rather curt response along the lines of WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU SENDING ME NAKED PICTURES OF YOURSELF — PUT ON YOUR VEST YOU SICK FUCK!

Or some thing of that ilk.

I realised from this image that Patrick really was proud of his physic and wanted to show everyone.  Now I don’t know everyone, but I have shown this around at my local pub.  Not always to applause.

Considering how infatuated most men are by their penises, they do have a rather STRONG reaction when they see pictures of other men with their penises out.

Men are a strange bunch.

Crazy white men especially, but we have discussed this earlier.

I have this friend Francois who is so damn funny – so I sent this picture to him.  Francois being polite, commented on that even though he was struggling to keep his lunch down, he wanted to draw my attention to the dimensions of not-Patrick’s-curtains.

I commented that now that he mentioned it, there was a certain ……. impressiveness there, once I got over the shock of the floral curtains.

Francois, without missing a beat goes “soft mattress” which made me splutter with laughter.  That is why I will always adore Francois and continue to stalk him a non threatening manner.

Some key points:

1.  You knew there was going to be explicit nudity and continued to read this post, so for your burning  and bleeding corneas I have no sympathy from me.

2.  I don’t have Patrick’s number any more, so please do not contact me looking for it.

3.  If you are this Patrick, then cool – you have a little bit of fame over here in South Africa, yay for you.

4.  Am I the only one who is deeply disturbed by those curtains?

5.  I show this to a friend, and the first thing she does is comment how atrocious that bedside lamp is ……. same girl who as we watched 50 Shades of Grey kept swooning at the decor.  Love her!!

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My first internet date …. when I was still wide eyed and filled with hope ….

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So the guy’s name was and probably is still Leonard.  I am going to skip pseudonyms here.

I was happily sitting  chatting on dating sites. I thought I could keep this cyber chatting going for almost forever.  I know me.  My social phobia and my fear of meeting new people, will keep me glued to a keyboard and a screen, happily hiding there.

After a few drinks (when all good decisions are made) – I drink alone. It’s  not quite the 12 step programme, but it is less than 12 steps from my computer to my bed, so it is sort of the same thing.

I decided GO ON A DATE!  And then I had this internal monologue.  I often do it out loud so I am not sure how internal it is, and I convince myself that I need to “grow a pair” and just go out with people.

These people.  Just go.  Pick 10. Even if randomly, and go on 10 dates.

If after 10 dates it is still as much as a cluster fk as I anticipate it will be, then I will say fuck it all, eat chocolate until I am as wide as I am tall, and stop brushing my teeth.  And get cats.

That people is my plan.

I ask Leonard out.  Remember this is my first step out into this rather strange space.  I have not been able to set up my “rules” my “codes” that I stick to when meeting strange people in strange locations.

We book a time, Saturday 16h00 – my thoughts are I can be out of there whilst the sun is still up.

I make the mistake of letting him select the place.  Never made that mistake again.

He selected The Fat Cactus in Mowbray.  Should have been my first clue.  I was giddy with the excitement of it all, and forgave a lot of details that right now would not pass the muster.

I got myself ready for this date, like I was going to meet Leonard and we were going to run away and live together on his private estate, forever and ever and ever.

Yep, that is the way I was pitching this in my head.

I had not been on a date in more than 20 years.  Unless you count the time the plumber came over.  And I do.

I was channeling Cinderella and Snow White. It was all going to be magical.  Little woodland animals would come along and clean my house after I danced around with them in a clearing in the woods to music by Mr Bolton himself.

I arrive at the venue.  Early.

I want to make sure I have all exits mapped out.  I want to check out the toilet, see if I can fit through the toilet window if push comes to shove.  Shove being the operative word.

I am sitting at the “restaurant” and I got a sense of being 22 and drinking too much tecquila – it’s that kind of place, where you are singing “Come on Eileen” at about 11pm with people you don’t know, but whose sweaty armpits you are sort of leaning in to.  The decor leaned towards a grungy homeless shelter than say a place one magically meets their prince.

Again, I am trying not to be too judgey.  Be cool.

The table top was particularly sticky. Once I found a position where my arms were comfortable they just sort of stuck there.  Adhered there.  I kept it looking casual.  {I am not 100% sure what the sticky was, but I decided not to look at it too closely …..}

I am thinking about all the preening and stupid things girls do when getting ready for a date, and then this guy walks in.

He is the exact opposite of what a girl does to get ready for a date.

I cannot confirm, or deny, but he looked like he had been in that set of clothes since this morning,.  And at some point had had a relaxing deep afternoon sleep in those clothes on his gomma gomma couch.

Was woken up with a fright, no time for grooming, donned a white hat —- a fedora I think — I can’t make this shit up people, and appeared there before me.  Visions of stallions and being swept off my feet leaked away quietly.

It turned out he was my date.

Lucky. Lucky me.

I unglued my arms and said hello.  Now already any expectations have flown out the window.  Not up to the sky in wonder, but straight into the tarmac making that thunk-thunk sound like an injured pigeon does as it tries to tarmac dive after being in the sun too long.

I have long started regretting I got a full body wax for this, and the new underwear is starting to creep.

Anyway he introduced himself, Leonard, and I said hi and then he started to talk.  About himself mostly.  He did ask me a question, and as I tried to answer, he sort of cut me off and answered it.  For me.

I felt it was going so well we were finishing each other’s sentences.

By that I mean, I just ordered Millers and thought I would focus on drinking them.  I would let him speak. He seemed to have a lot to say.  Nothing really interesting, but with enough Millers things that are loud can turn int a quiet drone. I have done the field work, trust me on this.

Almost the first thing he said was that he did not carry credit cards – he only paid in cash.  I got a strange “Big Brother Conspiracy” going on —– but as said I did not have much time to ask questions —- or answer any.

He told me he owned his own home and car — which of course countered my initial sense that he was tres cool and homeless.  But I left it.  I thought that is sort of odd in this day and age, but hey white old folks be crazy, so I will just decided to go with the flow.

I knew that this date was not going well.  It wasn’t to the point where I felt I needed to throw a candle at the alcohol stand to form a fire ball so I could escape in the chaos that ensued.  I realised that at least I had a back up plan because the only thing going down here, was my expectations and hope of this ending soon.

As he talked he name dropped.

The problem with name dropping is if the person sitting across from you is not suitably impressed then stop fucking name dropping.  Name dropping is not cool if you have to keep explaining who the name is.

To the person drinking Millers sitting across from you.

I stopped opening my mouth to explain I did not know who so-and-so was, and realised I was not really going to get a word in, so I shrugged and ordered another Millers.

I looked around for something to read and found a menu.  I quickly jumped in with “I am starving – I am going to order something” and he then agreed and continue to tell me things about the menu.  It appeared he was a regular here.

Efficient and friendly server arrived, we ordered, and again I sat and drank my beer.

I was alarming sober.  I had fallen into that comfort level where I no longer cared. I started looking around and found things that amused me.

Food arrived.  It was really good.  Great mexican food – really enjoyed it.

He ate his. I think he ate what I didn’t eat. Or something else equally as endearing.

I thought okay, I have gone about as far as I was with this one.  I think I ordered another beer – and asked him if he wanted anything else, he said no.

I said great, I am going to call for the bill, which I did.

Leonard started to tell me that he gets 10% discount at this particular establishment.

If you have known me for 13 minutes you will know telling me you get a discount for anything is akin to making my vagina dry up, shrivel and catch the first taxi home.

I looked at him in my most convincing “listen here mate” look I could muster and said “it is fine really…”

And he kept saying it. 10% discount.

I was now wondering if we had moved into a sort of autism territory.  I kept staying IT IS FINE but slower and louder, because well, it was fine. The quicker I can get the fuck out of here, the quicker I can get home, phone my friend Judith and drink wine.

That was my short to medium term plan at this point.

Then he goes “I don’t have any cash on me……..”

I offered him what I though was a withering look, it might have just being “DUDE YOU ARE FUCKING SHITTING ME RIGHT NOW …..”

I did actually glance around waiting for Ashton Kutcher to appear and scream “PUNKED…”  He didn’t.

I am not sure how many seconds had passed  he said “I will run across the road and draw some money”

I looked at him and said “YOU ARE NOT FUCKING RUNNING ACROSS THE ROAD. TO DRAW MONEY.  JESUS.  I WILL GET IT.  I MEAN SERIOUSLY …….”

{key note:  the issue is not that I am paying.  I am fine with that.  Fine.  It is the fact that he announced he had no credit cards, then announced he had no money —– surely anyone in their sort of half right mind comes to a date with some money, or a cow to barter, or maybe some beans to barter for a cow …….. something dumbass….}

I was thinking that inside my head but it slipped out and I said it aloud.

I took control of my voice, stood up went to the bathroom, had a bit of a laugh and thought, well you know 9 more dates cannot be worse/stranger/more disappointing than this…. right?

I got back to the table.

He was still talking.  The server returned with the credit card machine.  He kept muttering about his 10% discount.  I wondered if I hit him against the side of the head with the credit care machine it would stop his bleating.

I know your frontal lobe controls conversation so it might need to be a full frontal head butt with an iron.

I paid the bill, said thank you and stood up.

My aim here was to leave, fast.  Avoid any contact.  ANY.

He insisted he walk me to my car.  Yeah, not.  I pointed to my car and said it was fine, it was right there, it was broad daylight and I would be fine.

He invited me back to his car.  I was a little unclear of where this was going.  I have not dated in 20 odd years, lots of things could have changed.

I agreed, only because I thought if I walked him to his car, that means I could leave him AT HIS car, walk to my car ALONE and be able to snigger uncontrollably the entire way.

I get to his car —- and this is a true story —- he takes out a brochure and starts to sell me something.  Not something interesting like a vibrator that gets 200 km to the litre, but cleaning products.

I shit you not.

I just stood there.  I took a deep breath. Smiled as politely as I was able, said thank and good-bye.

I walked back to my car – a little bit unsteadily.  It was not the beer, I was wearing heels that made me walk like a new born Kudu calf.

I called my friend Judith and told her to get her raggedy little arse over to mine as I seriously just needed someone to talk to.

She came over and we laughed, and then screamed with laughter and drank too much wine.

The next morning I checked my phone — I am that person who puts their phone down and then does not look at it for 15 hours.

There were a list of messages from Leonard.

They started off with “thanks, it was lovely to meet you” to “lets do it again” to “do you dance?” and then moved on to the more uncomfortable ones “why aren’t you answering my messages” and “okay, okay fine….”  There weren’t hundreds, but there were say 11 or so – but they got decidedly more needy as they went on.

How on earth could this guy think or feel that what he had just experienced would be considered a good date?

That I would want to repeat.  Maybe he was just following up on his cleaning product order and see if I was going to order 25 litres of Handy Andy or VIM.

I realise I am niave and a tad low on street smart, but for fuck sake, dude ………. dude!!  Even I know when a bomb is a bomb.

Needless to say I wished Leonard well, and said we would not be seeing each other again.

He did ask again if “we could go dancing … as friends”

Bless.  So that was my first time.  Done and dusted.  No more dating virgin here.  I owned that!

Would you consider a discrete friendship?

“Hi, lovely profile. Wud u consider a discrete friendship?” This was from 43–Married–Southern Suburbs (Unspecified Suburb), Cape Town, South Africa  ——–  I’m going to go with, no thanks. My guess is this must work for some men, and women.  Not so much for me.   berry cartoon internet dating  

First date on a dating site ….. well the intro at any rate ….

I sat before my flashing screen and my keyboard typing away.  Chatting to people, and feeling slowly more brave.

Not brave enough to tell anyone my name, but brave enough to enter into conversations.  Light conversations. Nothing of substance.

I decided to treat on-line dating like real life dating, and always have a glass of wine on hand.

Sometimes I would put out snacks, but the glass of wine was a non-negotiable.

One of those evening when the glass turned into glasses I realised that I was never actually going to go on a date IRL with anyone.

I had years of blogging, social forums and other inter web experiences behind me where I had managed to form high functioning relationships that were personal and familiar, but where I had never NEVER met the person on the other end of the cyber wire.

I realised I was doing the same thing here — I was chatting away to people, and there was this sense of familiarity, but jesus creepers, there was absolutely no chance I was ever going to put clean underwear on and step out and actually meet these people.

Good god no!

A few more glasses of wine later and I was feeling slightly braver and then I made a little pact with myself.

Go on 10 dates – 10 dates, that is all.

Go on 10 dates, they do not even have to be people you would consider sharing an ice cream with, but 10 people who have a pulse, possibly a penis (clearly my standards were pretty low), and you can sit across a table with them for a minimum of 60 minutes, try and aim for 120 minutes.  Just try.

Come on — I said to myself —- what do you have to lose?

Me back to myself —- well that will mean there will be some dignity being traded, and a fairly good chance I will make an a-hole of myself.

Scratch that, there is an almost certainty I will make an a-hole of myself.  Have you seen me in public or at social engagements?  Like that, but worse.

The Wine was talking now —- come on, go, it will be fun.

Me looking at the Wine knowingly —- you have often said things will be fun, and you have been wrong in the past.  Would you like to see the pictures of me doing the Gangnam Style dance, with the mickey mouse ears? That I did? No?  Exactly.

{Wine decided to start talking to me from this point on wards ….. yes, I know they have meetings for people like me}

Wine — it was fun though?

Me —- yeah, it was actually.

Wine — come on stop being a chicken, go on 10 dates.  After the 1o dates if it is all quite sucky, then you can advertise for a friends with benefits, laugh this dating thing off totally, wear your slippers all day, and just not go out ever.  Butd you will need to get cats.

Me —- why the fuck will I need to get cats?

Wine —- crazy cat lady needs cats.

Me —– I have a cat.  Crazy cat lady actually indicates a level of insanity and only requires the ownership of one cat.

Wine — yes, but Kennith has listed the cat as an asset on the spreadsheet.  If he gets awarded the cat in the divorce negotiations, then well you are all crazy lady with fuck all cat.

Me — wine, I must tell you, you are starting to make an alarmingly convincing argument at this stage of the evening.

Wine — yes, funny that.

Me —- okay, Wine, let’s get our shit sorted, who am I going to ask out on a date?

Wine — can I suggest a little walk by the fridge for a fill up before you step out off this rather uncertain little ledge.

Me — fuck Wine there you go again, with all the good ideas.

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Just in case there are parts that do not make sense …… granted even with this, much of the above still does not make sense, but let’s blame it on wine.

IRL = In real life

Cyber wire = The magic thread that connects us all to the inter web

Inter web = Internet, but the term is ridiculous enough to make me smile each time I see it.

Wine =Chenin Blanc

Glass = Large fish bowl

 

To internet date or to just avoid social suicide ….. that is the question

 

This question raises several other questions, the first being “when is it okay to start dating?”

The logical answer is “any time you are not married or in a relationship with someone else.”

Seems reasonable, can’t argue with that.  But maybe I can.  A little.

I am technically “not” divorced.  I am still married — according to the Government of South Africa.  I realise I am probably opting to step out into the “social” waters too early when in fact I am not quite ready yet.

There was that line from 28 Days, where they are told that they have to nurture a plant for a year, and only if the plant thrives and lives for a year, are they ready to start dating.   Great plan.  But I kill any plant that I have to have contact with.  I can buy the plant, someone else can plant it and tend it and it will grow like a dream.

To involve me at any stage in the plant’s life is the shortest way to the compost heap for the said plant.

plant hospice

I gave this “time” thing a great deal of thought.

Is two weeks the right number?  Is two months better?  Is two years?  Should I work on a time line that is acceptable to me, or should I consider public opinion, and amend my time line to suit people who will look at me and make a judgement?

Tricky, tricky stuff this.

Anyone who knows me knows how stressed I get in social situations.  I would far rather hide on my couch, curled around a large bottle of Viognier and as much DSTV as I can ingest in one sitting, than put myself into any “strange” or “new” situation.

Meeting new people is about as uncomfortable for me as having a full body wax.

To add to my reluctance to consider dating nor or ever was that I feel that I am undate-able — like there is something fundamentally wrong with me.

I do not have a little black book full of names of previous partners to joyfully dig up and start drunk dialling.

If I had a little black book, I would fill in exactly three lines on the first page, and that would be it.  Besides having no idea how dating works NOW, to be honest I did not have at terribly good knowledge back THEN either.

Daunting does not even hint at it sufficiently.

Add to that that being “divorced from” – which tends to knock your self esteem for a total ball.

What ever low self esteem I had before, was well and truly pushed to an entirely new level of low when I realised I was the one being divorced from.  Lower than snake shit, I like to say.

I am sure who is divorcing from and who does the divorcing is just an issue around semantics.  For me it felt like a key point.  Probably because I was the one being left.

I gave some thought to the thought of me maybe dating again at some point in the far future  — then started to feel violently ill, so I just had another glass of wine and flicked to the Comedy Channel.

I thought of my by-line  “42 year old woman, with three children — and divorced.”  Yep, that blurb is not looking so very alluring right now is it? The only way it could be worse would be  “42 year old woman, with three children from three different fathers — and divorced.”

Really only moderately worse.

With all of this going on.  In my head.  I really really could not see me going on a date with anyone.  Ever.

I started to think that I might be better suited to being crazy cat lady … but that would require the acquisition of more cats.  And that I was even less keen on.

One day I was sitting by my lonesome, and I remembered a friend telling me about a dating site she had been on.

I uh’mmed and ah’ed, and just sat there staring at the screen.  I tried to go and look at the site, but you can’t unless you register.

I started to get this feeling that what if I managed to register on a dating site, and went through all the things you have to go through — and then I got absolutely no response, how the hang would that sit with me?

Surely, surely Shirley that would just add substance to the little voices that keep telling me I am shite.

With a glass of wine in hand, and one already down the hatch for confidence — with no idea what I was doing, I sauntered out into internet dating land, with more courage than I was feeling.

On the other hand Darron, I must say that my years on forums, social media and blogging did assist me in finding my feet.  A little.

Sites like forums have their own culture, their own manner of operating, and everyone seems to know the rules except you. Because you have just arrived, and there is no one to guide you, so generally you go along and make a total arse of yourself, before you start to sense the “mood of the room.”

You being me in this exercise.

It took me a while to figure out how things worked, and to find my feet.

The negative was that I could not see other “female” profiles so I had nothing to base my profile on — writing a profile about yourself for internet dating land is extremely daunting.

I used up all the characters that were afforded me in each section.  Why say less when you can say more? {wink wink}

Then with one final push of  the enter key, I was officially there in internet dating land.

The place that had filled me with dread and fear and anxiety.

It appears dating sites do not do anything for free.  You can put your profile up for free.  But.  And here is the part where they have you by the short and curlies.  To be able to see any responses to your profile you need to “sign up” and some money needs to change hands.

I will confess it is not enough to make you rethink the idea — and at the same time it is just enough to make you think, well shit balls I need to get my monies worth here.

You sit and stare at your profile and wait for someone to toddle past and say “hi” or “wink wink” or “Great picture, you seem to be wearing a wedding ring!”

You know stuff like that.

And then you sit and wait.  For the little “pink pink” of a message in your mail box.

Longest wait ever.  Okay. Not ever.  It does feel not dissimilar from that not being picked for the softball team at school PE class experience.

The exercise was not so much about going on date, than it was about finding out whether I could.  Or whether it might be better to just shut myself up in a convent somewhere.

Going on a dating site was facing my fear of what is out there — and whether I could ever actually go “out there.”  My theory was, no matter how frightening and dreadful as it could be, it can’t be worse than I am imagining it in my head.

online dating01