“I know that every single encounter, every challenge, and every situation are all spectacular threads in the tapestry that represents and defines my life and I am deeply grateful for all of it.”
Dr. Wayne W Dyer “I can See Clearly Now”
Check Your Mate
Do you remember the radio programme Check your Mate (Springbok Radio 1973-1985, hosted by Percy Sieff and Judy Henderson)? I realise this is going back a good many years, possibly more than a lot of you can recall. It was very entertaining. Briefly they would ask one partner in a relationship, pertinent questions about the other one. The questions would range from – what is her/his lucky colour? For how long does she/he brush their teeth in the mornings? To – What was your favourite childhood toy? Basically it was supposed to be about how well, or not, you knew your partner.
So here I was, 40 something, single and deciding whether I should be a participant in the game. This one however, would have slightly different rules. I am going to call it, Find Your Mate! I listened with ever increasing despondency to the sceptics. “There are no decent single men out there. They are all married.” I had to disagree. I was married once (actually twice), and he (the second one) was not a decent man. Besides, I consider myself pretty okay and I am out there. So surely there must be available persons of the opposite sex who would pass the litmus test?
I had done a bit of the pub crawl thing. Well, I guess you were all spot on. There are NO good men to be found propping up the bar. I regard myself as passable, yet there I was drinking my Chardonnay in a dimly lit, sometimes suspect drinking hole.
I relied on my girlfriends to set me up with eligible gents. The best I met was a tired looking, scraggy haired chap who met me for coffee wearing floral shorts that resembled sleeping attire. I did agree to have dinner with him, after all how bad could he be, he came highly recommended by one of my best friends! I had to concede, he did take me to a very lovely restaurant. He had clearly gone to some effort with his dress and had brushed his hair. He dropped me off after his 1970’s land rover spluttered and shuddered all the way back to my house. A peck on the cheek ended the evening and that brief liaison.
Purchasing some art for my single pad, surprisingly led me to forging a friendship with a man who introduced me to “The World Out There”. I discovered art, music, dancing and a gallimaufry of people, who to this day, remain dear to me, just as he does! AND I now have a mean art collection!
The short hook up with the younger, tall, good looking, deep voiced singer is something I would rather not go into detail about. Fun while it lasted but I could never come to terms with the growth that looked just like a coach attached to his rear end. Not to mention his Tyrannosaurus like arms that could never reach into his pockets.
What was a girl to do? On line dating had bit of a stigma attached to it. I mean how desperate did you have to be? It was not something that I wished to explore! I took a deep breath, shook out my tail feathers and convinced myself that I did not NEED a partner, I simply WANTED one!
I had heard an ever increasing number of success stories of people meeting in cyber space. The thought nagged at me. Then I was told about a new dating site about to be launched. It was one of those where your information was not publicly displayed. At their discretion, you were paired up with potential matches. After telephone discussions to share your information, you could then decide whether the man in question could contact you for a date. It appeared to be all very proper and of course safe!
I decided that this was definitely for me. I did not want to go onto one of those other sites that had your information splashed all over for everyone to see! That would be plain humiliating!
Date number one, very intense, bordering on mild insanity and got drunk. Date number two, pretty cool, lots of fun. Date number three, solid, good guy. Date number four, I never met. I found out that two, three and four all knew each other. My fragile dating self-esteem had been reduced to me feeling like a commodity, passed around to the highest bidder. I temporarily withdrew myself from the game to lick my wounds.
As a side, I saw two a few more times. He turned out to be a dishonest, deceitful and spineless cad. Three has become a friend who I greatly value. Lessons learnt, time to move on!
I joined yet another so called exclusive site which operated in the same manner as the one above. At the price, it darn well better deliver. Numero uno was an advocate and held all sorts of other fancy titles. How exciting! He cancelled an hour before the allotted time and apparently went back to his ex-wife.
Two, a sporting, surfer dude with a good job. Excited again! After a few dates and even having met the sister, aunties, uncles, mother and father (strangely not the son) he divulged that he had a transferable disease in the nether regions. Good on him for having the courage to tell me. Not having ventured there, I had narrowly escaped unscathed!
Three, the biker boy, who wanted to buy me my own leathers after our first coffee date. Slow down there buddy!
Four, not much of a resume, but at this stage, what did I have to lose? Traipsing over to the coffee shop to meet, I enquired telephonically what he would be wearing so that I would recognise him. “A striped shirt and blue jean pant.” Was his reply. Oh goodness, where was that very deep, black hole in the ground when you needed it?
It was a six and a half minute date. I asked him what he did when he was not working.
“I go for a drive.”
“To where?” I questioned.
“‘Ag anywhere, I just drive.”
At book club, one of the girls commented on how successful she had been with one of those sites that I think I may have previously referred to as desperate and humiliating. It was food for thought. So far all other avenues had proved fruitless. I would sleep on it.
I convinced myself that even though I was not desperate, perhaps I could suffer some humiliation in my quest to Find Your Mate. I did not need a trial period. I plunged in with the enthusiasm of an Evangelist. Profile – check. Payment – check. Photograph – check. And so I sat and stared at my laptop expecting that any minute Mr. Perfect would leap out and carry me off.
Oh my word, everything from under a rock all over the world crawled out. It was a minefield and I had to try and navigate my way through it with as little shrapnel hitting me as possible. Messages arrived in my inbox that were clearly copied and posted to masses of unsuspecting victims. Photographs bordering on pornography were opened for my viewing. Men from 22 to 75 wanted to meet. The last straw was when I received a message that said “I just want to fuck you!” Profile – deleted. Payment – terminated. Photograph – obliterated.
After numerous sessions with my shrink to restore my faith in mankind and in myself, I decided to try another site. Let’s face it, you have to explore every avenue (even the humiliating ones). The infamous DatingBuzz would be my next port of call. All the admin was tiresome but with renewed vigour I forged ahead. The hit rate is that perhaps 1 in 20 people that you meet, may be a match. Phew I had a long way to go.
With a different attitude and no expectations my photograph was posted! Delete became my favourite button. Too young, old, weird, short, tall, fat. Lives on the wrong side of the mountain. Cannot spell. Does not listen to music. Is not active. So my list of criteria grew and my matches dwindled. I was relentless in my quest and adamantly stuck to my idea of the ultimate man. This however did not safe guard me from meeting the men who had lied about their age. Posted photographs from years back and gave false information in their profiles.
At this stage I feel it may be a good idea to take you behind the scenes. Into my home! What happens before The Big Event, aka The Date! The messages to and fro on the site! Then The Big Reveal which was exchanging cell numbers or email addresses. More idle chatter. By now I have googled, Facebook stalked and researched Linked In. With sweaty palms and brow, the place, day and time are set. Apprehension reigns supreme. I like the man to be decisive and if he has taken charge and made the plans on his own initiative, good on him. If he has come up with an interesting place to meet rather than the local coffee shop. Double points. Sadly though none of this comes with any guarantees that he is going to be – The One!
What to wear is the next challenge. Of course I want to look lovely. But how much cleavage and leg is appropriate? Conservative or sexy? Smart or casual? Hair down or up? Expensive jewellery may be too flash. Cheap Jewellery, well, is exactly that cheap. Flatties or highs. Decisions, decisions. In the end I invariably decided to be, ME! Plain and simple. Take it or leave it!
I had convinced myself that this was all a game and not to be taken too seriously. Truth be told I had a glimmer of hope for each and every encounter. I was mostly left disillusioned and a little bruised. Being a true warrior, I kept at it. Oh boy, this game was tough!
One gent allowed me to pay for the drinks, his included. Another told me in his thank you sms afterwards that I had dominated the conversation. Indeed I had. I pointed out to him that it was because I had done an awful lot of stuff so far in my life. It was not my fault that he was dull.
The Frenchman was suave. The Irishman was dapper. Neither was for me! The Blaauberg boy lied. The rugga dude from George expected to stay over on the first date! Short, Prius driver, I think not! Body odour from Noordhoek, Yeuuk! Ego from Sea Point, a non-starter. Pity Party from Claremont made me nauseous. Camps Bay could hardly walk with all the baggage weighing him down.
The water salesman was interesting and became a friend, good beach days, walks in the mountain and opera was shared. The house renovator from Wynberg signed up as a client of mine (I am a Conditioning Coach). So all was not in vain. Until……..
“Just wanting mature adult fun”, said one.
“How about you, me and my Husband getting together?” Asked another.
‘I am still married but….”
I pride myself on my tenacity and resilience but even this was becoming tiresome! As much as I had told myself that I would not allow this to get to me, it was. Time to take a break methinks. Hold on, who is that who has just messaged me. Let me take a quick look………..!
HOPE – Expectation and desire for a thing. To cling to a mere possibility. (Oxford Dictionary)