Part 1 – 2005
When a dear friend told me about this fabulous guy she is seeing and what fun things they do together and what fabulous restaurants they go to and how enjoyable it was when he came over to her house to cook for her and how wonderfully affectionate and demonstrative he is and that he is also great in bed and wealthy and good looking and tall and how he makes her feel so special, I confess I had a moment. It was the very briefest of ignoble moments. It was less than a nanosecond in a nanomoment, in which I felt green. Not a delightful harlequin green or a cheerful lime green. No, what I felt in that brief three tenths of a nanosecond was more like army green – an odious, envious, murky, greyish camouflage green.
Once my equilibrium was restored I told her how happy I was for her, gave her a sisterly hug and enquired about where she met this Adonis; this paragon of every virtue that every woman dreams of finding in a man. She met him online. So online I went to find out if there were any more like him. I went to the same dating site and I concluded that this was confirmation of the old adage “you have too kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince”.
I joined the site. I mean, oh yes, for sure. She can’t have found the only Adonis in South Africa. Imagine my absolute elation when I switched on the computer in the morning to be informed via email that in the short space of time between midnight and eight no less than seven men had chosen me as their ideal kind of woman. I haven’t pulled that many men without going out of my front door – ever!! This is a single girls pulling paradise. Surely, I thought, one of them must be my Adonis. He obviously recognised my singular charm and compatibility from my description of myself and he has come to claim me.
Alas, it was not so.
I immediately eliminated the ones who gave themselves crack-brained pseudonyms like ‘Big Banana Boy’ and ‘Thick Dick’. I was naively confused by the guy who said he was happily married and in a monogamous relationship. This showed no Adonis quality so I placed him firmly in the lying, cheating, pondscum SOB category and terminated him.
I continued to wade through the frogs. The site showed me hundreds of men. I sighed dramatically and thought, ‘So many men so little time’. In fairness, not all of them were frogs, but not one of them was Adonisesque.
The poetic one sounded sweet. He wrote of himself: “I have transcended passion and love. Like a flower, I have reached the maturity and the time where I am just a fragrance that offers itself to be enjoyed”. Sounds like no sex.
Some of them were sad, like the guy who claimed ‘I am a bit interesting’. Shame, only a bit? Some of them were uber-confident, like the guy who began his description of himself with the words “I am an extraordinary human being”. That should get their attention.
Instead of describing himself, one guy quoted Ayn Rand. – “The man who is proudly certain of his own value will want the highest type of woman he can find, the woman he admires, the strongest, the hardest to conquer – because only the possession of a heroine will give him the sense of an achievement, not the possession of a brainless slut . . .”. He would have done well to leave that last bit out.
I laughed when one of my ‘fans’ was revealed to be a gentleman who is interested in exploring cross cultural relationships and aspects of the Karma Sutra. He is looking, he says, for ‘Good Karma’.
Hark, sweet Adonis, your Aphrodite is still online.
Part 2 – 2011
It’s 2011. I’m in America and I’m feeling free. No one knows me here. There is no heritage that Americans automatically know about me. There is no TV celebrity that has people stopping me in the mall. There is total and divine anonymity and I’m loving it.
One of my friends has a divine man. He’s handsome and he’s sweet. They’re married and happy. She met him online.
OMG I think to myself. I’m in America. I can go online and I can date; something I cannot do in SA. I’m too well known in SA. My friend tells me the site and I join. Now this particular site isn’t for people who are just looking to bonk. There is no one called “Big Banana Boy”. On this site people want to meet a partner. It’s sweet. There is about an hour or two’s worth of homework that you have to do. You must answer questions that resemble an interrogation by the secret service, but in the end you are matched with many someones, and you can choose to communicate with them or not, and you have stages of communication to go through which are automated before you can exchange numbers and meet. It’s all guided to prevent mistakes. But even with all that online protection, things can go awry.
His name was Harold. I saw his picture. He was hot. When I looked at this fine tall, dark, black man in the picture something in me just turned itself on and I said “That’s the one”. I read what he said about himself. He seemed conscious and well read and politically savvy. First was the guided conversation with questions picked out by the site managers, or site shrinks or who knows. We had to answer questions about the things we’re passionate about. The things that are important to us. What you’re grateful for and such. Then there are statements to complete and so on. You have your onsite email, and you start to chat. It’s lovely.
Harold, who I affectionately called Harry and I hit it off. We laughed together. It’s the sort of thing that seals a deal, isn’t it, laughter. And then we decided to take it to the next level. We exchanged email addresses. Harold didn’t type fast, so we quickly moved to the level after that. We exchanged phone numbers.
He had such a sexy voice. And he was so philosophical. I liked that. Harry could talk. He wasn’t really saying anything. It was this stream of consciousness. I just put the phone on speaker and let him talk. I had a fleeting moment of thinking ‘he’s stoned’, but I didn’t like that thought as much as I liked Harry so I kept him and dropped the thought. But, he could talk a lot. Eventually, I had to stop him. He wasn’t saying anything interesting or engaging. It was doing my head in. I told him, “No more lectures, only conversations”. He was embarrassed. He apologised profusely, and he stopped. How endearing.
The conversations were much better. They were entertaining and they went on for long. The phone bills were being ratcheted up, but who cares. We went from polite conversation to flirtation to something akin to phone sex. It was delicious. I blushed like a girl. I was liking Harold. He emailed me love songs from utube. It was romantic. He really massaged my urges over that phone. After we’d been on the phone for a couple of weeks, he told me that his name wasn’t, actually, Harold. It was Harrell. The first mind explosion went off in my head. Harrell was a surprise. I’ve never heard the name Harrell.
What’s in a name? How do you lie about your name? Who lies about their name? Why would you lie about your name? And if you lie about your name, what else are you lying about? That’s what’s in a name.
I’d delayed meeting Harry because, much as I liked him, I love books and movies and it’s always the charming one on the phone who is licking the knife he’s going to cut you up with as his honey coated words and velvety dark chocolate tones tempt you towards imprudence. By the time we met, however, I liked Harry more than I was afraid, so we agreed to have dinner.
We met in Greenwich. He’d wanted to paint the town in NYC and then spend the night with me at a hotel, but no. That would be tacky. I’m not that girl. He suggested that I come to Bridgeport and spend the weekend at his house, but no. How would I explain it to the Ambassador if Harry turned out to be the axe murderer and hacked me to pieces and buried me in his garden? So he came to Greenwich, which is where I lived and we went to dinner in my parish, so to speak. I was comfortable with that.
As we walked into the restaurant Harry announced that he needed a drink. Oh, the mind explosions that went off in my head. He’d said on his profile that he didn’t drink. He drank. We had a bottle of red wine, which he threw down his throat like it was Oros. We had another. It suffered the same fate. When it was time to leave I went quickly to the bathroom while he took care of the bill. When I came back I couldn’t find him. The maitre d’ directed me to the bar where Harry stood with an enormous glass of red wine. It looked like he’d asked for a double. “I’ll finish this in a second”, he said. And he did.
Harry was very drunk. Harry also wasn’t what I’d expected. I was disappointed. He wasn’t tall, nor was he as dark as I’d expected from his picture. Nor was he classy, quite frankly. He’d boasted to me on the phone that he was a graduate of Columbia University and about his wonderful career in IT. But he didn’t look like a man who had an Ivy League education. He looked ghetto. I’m not being a snob. It’s an observation. I still had dinner with him, didn’t I?
It was fun at first. I decided to enjoy it. He was interesting. He was charming. He’d been in the military. I’ve never known anyone like him. I couldn’t place him. And now he was drunk. I encouraged him not to drive, but to stay the night in the hotel. He agreed. I think he assumed I was going to stay with him. Hell no, impossible. I accompanied him to the hotel because he was so drunk. We took a cab. He checked in. Then he wanted to go to the bar for another drink. I refused. “Well then let’s go up to the room,” he said. I refused. When I refused he got very angry. He started yelling that he didn’t know why I made him get a hotel if I wasn’t going to stay with him. I said, “You’re drunk, go upstairs and sleep it off”. “I’m not drunk”, he yelled. He pulled at my arm. It was time for me to go.
There was a long corridor from the reception to the exterior. I walked quickly down the corridor. Harry followed behind yelling at me. It was horribly embarrassing. As I got into the cab Harry was shouting at me “Fuck off then House Nigger, Kaffir”. Kaffir? I’ve never been called that. I had to come to America and meet the black man from Bridgeport in Greenwich Connecticut to be called that. I had no response. I was too upset. I told the driver, “Please let’s go”. He pulled off.
To say I was shaken up would be a huge understatement. When I got home and closed the door behind me I burst into tears. I had spent the evening with a psychopath. My friend was up because Harry kept calling the house. I’d switched off my cell. While we were getting ready to be loves young dream I’d given Harry the house number and from the moment I’d left him at the hotel, he’d been calling the house. My friend was shaken up because she could hear that he was drunk and my phone was off and she wasn’t sure I was ok. Luckily he didn’t know where the house was. I’d not given him the address, so we were safe. It’s not like in SA where you can ask the security company to come and sit on your doorstep. My friend and I sat at the kitchen table for a couple of hours with wine, cheese and chocolate and exchanged dating horror stories, of which this was my latest and my last. We laughed a lot. I went to bed restored.
It makes a great anecdote now, and we laugh about Harry, but I am cured. I will never ever again, as long as I live go on an internet dating site. It’s not fair. Some people meet husbands. I met the psychopath of the century.
In future I shall accept my men as I’ve always accepted them, through the introduction of a friend.