Goodbye Vuyo

Vuyo-Mbuli6This morning I was greeted by the shocking news of Vuyo Mbuli’s death. Shock gave way to the immediate need to say something on Twitter and Facebook and eventually the need to say something gave way to tears.

No, I don’t know Vuyo personally. I’ve never even met him. I only know him as the talented, jovial newsman I invite into my lounge every morning. It’s my ritual. I get up, take a shower and while getting ready for work I listen to Vuyo and Leanne on Morning Live like thousands of other South Africans every day.

So why was I crying like I just lost an old friend or an uncle?

I guess it’s because you watch a TV personality through a screen doing the same thing they do every day and hope you’ll catch a glimpse of their human selves. I did. I caught a glimpse of a very positive individual – someone who knew how to wake South Africa up with a smile. Even on the difficult days.

I liked the way he tried to break down the stiff demeanour a morning news show can have. I liked the way he always commented on Andile’s shoes. I liked the way he took time to greet us in so many different languages and the way he unashamedly proclaimed Morning Live to be “The best breakfast show in the world”.  And I liked it when he ended every broadcast with ‘Sharp Sharp’. Even if it was hellava cheesy.

Vuyo was a newsman of the people. He seemed to be in touch with the Everyman of South Africa. He knew how to get to his interviewee. He knew how to pursue the tough, uncomfortable questions just as we at home began asking them in our minds. And he always did his homework. But apart from his polished presence and genuine interest in his journalistic subjects, he just seemed to have a gentlemanly touch and a fine passion for the work he did. And that is always rare.

I will miss you Vuyo. Tomorrow morning we will all rise but we may refuse to shine because without you being there to salute the start of the day, it will be very difficult.

Goodbye Vuyo. Hamba kahle. Alvida. Totsiens. Khuda Hafiz. Tsamaya Hantle.

Tagged , ,

Letting Go

4127545336_f4c046b630

As we grow older, we learn to hold on tighter. We become experts at holding onto fear, guilt, worry, anger and cynicism.

Letting go sounds so easy. It sounds like opening a window and letting the curtain billow in the breeze. But it isn’t easy. It’s more like swimming up to the surface to breathe in, despite being pulled under by dark and slimy sea creatures. If it were easy to let go, we would not walk on this earth. We would float above it and glow with eternal buoyancy.

Holding on offers a strange comfort. It is what is expected. It is not unchartered territory – you’ve been here many times before. Keeping calm and carrying on is not as easy to navigate. Because most of the time ‘carrying on’ takes place without witness and all the effort that goes with it is under the surface.

We are expected to feel guilty for making mistakes. So we gather our mistakes in a guilt menagerie and stand back and admire their ugliness. When the anger builds up we let it brew till it boils over and sticks to the surface.  Cynicism is like the stray pet that arrives at your door unannounced and you just can’t say no to its big, droopy eyes. And fear? Fear is the worst because we learn to live with it so well that we develop its accent and soon forget our real voices.

We also hold onto hope. And just because ‘hope’ is a smiley-faced angel child in one syllable, we mustn’t be duped by it. Holding onto hope can be naïve and distract you from the reality.

I have an F minus in ‘letting go’. I’ve held onto the bruises on my heart for many years now. I carry them with me and even though they don’t fit well with certain company, I allow them to participate in the conversation from time to time. I also hold onto the fear manifested in my nightmares and I hold onto the guilt of a 1000 glasses of spilt milk.

Maybe it’s time to let go?

I read this quote the other day: “Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.” It’s by Buddha. And I like it. Not just because Buddha mastered being buoyant and grounded at the same but because it doesn’t imply that we have to empty out our fears and worries like a chamber pot onto the street. It implies that ‘letting go’ is work in continuous progress. And perhaps it is less about letting go and more about deciding that today…we won’t be carrying the heavy load upon our shoulders.

 

Tagged , ,

Love is…sharing a hanky

Cotton-Handkerchief-Men-s-Handkerchief
I’m on a horse. I’m on a white horse, clutching the bare back of my Spartacus warrior – my gladiator hero. And we’re riding off into the sunset.
Warning: All cynics and realists, you may now leave the room before you reel with nausea at my sentimental stirrings. I am going to write about love. I’m writing about LOVE!

I love weddings. Maybe it’s because I grew up on an awesomely sweet diet of Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. Or maybe it’s because when God was handing out the die-hard romantic genes, I stood there with a pick-up truck. I can’t help it. I love weddings because they make love so visible and blatant. Sure….Life’s silent moments and painful trying moments give true love the opportunity to reveal itself but I like weddings more because weddings make love obvious and unashamed. Weddings offer you the chance to believe in good, old-fashioned love again.

In this generation, love is a little damn scary. It is unstable and complicated and easily given up on. Love in this generation doesn’t require the title of marriage, the ceremony or even grand witnessing by the Lord above. It can be fluctuating and impermanent, constantly questioned and under threat and sometimes, it won’t even last the seven steps around the marriage fire. But we all need something to believe in. And while a wedding doth not the marriage make, the purity of the moment is something to behold.

As I watched my gorgeous cousin exchange vows this weekend, I was reminded of the reason that people gather to have a wedding. I don’t think it’s because you get to walk around @Home choosing items for your new love nest with that supermarket-scanner device. I don’t even think it’s because you get to voice the tear-jerker speech you’ve always held somewhere in the recesses of your mind, collected from all sorts of inspiration spanning across “You had me at hello” and “Is it still raining?…I hadn’t noticed.” I think it is because you get to promise to love somebody with all your heart in front of all the people that matter to you.

The counter argument is that you can promise to love somebody with all your heart privately, quietly and without public announcement. But where’s the fun in that? Where’s the Dilwale Dhulania in that? Where are the high stakes? (For now…I have no better arguments, so let’s digress.)

Somewhere in the evening, I took a big bite of soji and the not-so-soji-sweet moment of the nuptials arrived – the hurling of the bouquet into the snatches of the available ones. Surely a die-hard romantic would love this time-honoured tradition? Contrary to popular belief, this is the single girl’s nightmare. No, it not a declaration of your cool singleness. It is a loud, embarrassing proclamation of the fact that you are still sitting on the bloody shelf like an awkward vase. I tried to lift my arms to catch the bouquet but they just wouldn’t budge. And I wondered why…

Let me just take this moment to step down from the white horse. If I have to really challenge my fantastical love-princess vibes I can be a little honest and say that I don’t really have to have the marriage. But what I really have to have is the love.

There were two impeccably beautiful standout moments in this marriage I witnessed. In the first, the priest barely completed his question, “Will you take this woman to be your wi-” when the groom shouted with unbridled enthusiasm, “I WILL!!” The next was a quiet moment between new husband and wife sitting on the stage. She asked him for his handkerchief and delicately wiped her nose with it. Later on, he reached over, took the same hanky and wiped his face with it. And that was the moment that sealed it all.

Weddings give you a chance to uncrumple your heart. It’s time to say thank you to the believers – the newlyweds, the ones who would walk 500 miles and the ones who will love each other in this incarnation and the next. You allow me to dangle my legs over the shelf and to believe that one day the realistic man of my unrealistic dreams will find me…and be willing to share his hanky with me.

Tagged

Tossing and Turning

5111026779_f31355e86f_z

As I write this, I sit down at an outside table. I take my jacket off. The wind blows. I put it back on. I start writing. I stop. I start again. Back space. Back space. Back space. I pick up everything and go and sit inside.

I’m going. No, I’m staying. I’m taking it. I’m not. I get it. I don’t.

There is much to be said about decision-making. There are some things in life that cannot be decided with an eight ball, angels or ching chong cha.

Being restless is starting on the right hand side of the bed, rolling over to the left and ending up at the foot. And the harder you search for comfort, the more the bed sheets tangle you.

The Guardians of my Universe are shaking their heads in dismay and every now and then letting out a loud guffaw. “Look at this silly girl,” they seem to be saying.

They shuffle around hurling obstacles in my way, only to clear my path, only to put up ‘Wet Cement’ signs. They’re amused and I’m not listening.

I’m too caught up with fear, doubt and hope. And lamenting my old self that leapt off the ledge as they shouted: “3,2,1, bungeeeeee”.

Last night a man grabbed my ass at a bar and fought with me over my occupation of a barstool. What a lowly human specimen – Neanderthal, Beast, Cretin. I fought back throwing words at him instead of the barstool I so desperately wanted to lodge between his vacant eyeballs and then I proclaimed loudly to the barman: “Do you make it a habit of serving assholes at this bar?” The caveman’s brother then told my friend: “Your friend needs to loosen up a little. She’s so uptight”.

Who would have thought that assholes could be transporters of wisdom? The brute at the bar was right (not in his behaviour of course, but in some indirect analysis of my own bullshit). Maybe I’m taking all of Life a little too seriously at the moment. In some kind of Wordsworthian way, the world is too much with me.

We create our own rules, our own limitations and our own liberations. What difference does it make to anyone? And why do I carry this undue pressure like bricks in a satchel? When someone said: “Live each day as if it were your last”, I don’t think they meant that The End lies waiting in a spacious, airy, one bedroom two blocks away.

The wisest man in my life reminded me: “It’s okay to say, ‘Stop the world, I want to get off’.” I do. Just for now. Just till the winds have stopped rattling my windows, till the nights are less restless and just until I’m okay with indecision.

Should I end here? Or keep writing? Urggh! It doesn’t really matter, now does it?

Tagged ,

I know why Icarus built wings

icarus1If Icarus were around today, I’d ask him to hold onto his vision and try again – this time just avoiding the sun. We all want to fly. We just don’t want to do it with airlines.

Airports are emotional places. If it’s not about business, you’re either saying hello, saying goodbye or about to take flight to be connected with people you love or to pursue grand adventures. I’ve always loved airports for this reason – for the fact that they don’t just move cargo and humans. Airports are intravenous portals of love, feeding us with life experiences and memory trays that fold away into the creases.

Airlines, however, are machines. Flawed, icy, heartless machines. In the tangle of flight patterns there are missed flights, delays, storms, technical faults, overpriced tickets, frustrated staff and bumpy landings.

On March 13th, I was due to fly to Durban, just for the night, to celebrate Flatfoot Dance Company’s 10th Anniversary. I was one of the original 10 dancers in the company.

As I set foot in the airport, I received a message from Kulula.com saying: “We’re sorry to inform you that your flight MN603 on Wednesday, March 13, 2013 from JNB at 5:15pm has been amended. The departure time has changed to 9:10pm.”

Apart from saying that I’d have to wait 6 days for a refund and that they could offer a R400 meal voucher, they could do nothing. And no other airline had an available flight. I left the airport in tears.

Airlines don’t get it. It’s never just a delayed flight – it’s a ripple effect of disheartening proportions. Every year, billions of people sit in your seats in the upright position. You take their hard-earned dough and deliver an uncomfortable, unsophisticated experience. You position yourselves as biltong but charge us for caviar. You make us pay for our snacks. We tolerate your cheap jokes and bilious green uniforms. You over tax us and underwhelm us. You move us like cattle over the clouds. You lose our luggage and spit us out into the airport and the only reason we forget and travel with you again is because the destination is far more important than the journey.

Kulula.com, you’re not just in the travel business. You’re in the heart business. “Sorry, there is nothing we can do” is the emptiest statement in the world. Of course, some things are not within your control like weather and technical faults but most other things are. When the gaffer tape that holds your wings together comes undone, it’s how you handle it that matters. Do something. Surprise me. Don’t just leave me with my disillusionment and tear-stained cheeks. Don’t message me an hour before a flight and offer no explanation and don’t man your desks with disempowered, careless staff. What you made me miss, I can never get back. There are no refunds or vouchers that can reignite memories or reunite me with people that mean something in my life. Kulula.com, I don’t want anything from you. I just want you to stop behaving like an airline.

Tagged , ,

A Tribute to Flatfoot Dance Company

544132_493142170752247_572036972_nWe always referred to Lliane Loots, Artistic Director of Flatfoot Dance Company, as “Goddess”. Apart from feminist discourse and embracing yourself as an empowered woman, this Goddess taught me when to tread lightly and when to stamp my feet firmly on the earth.

I was two years into my first advertising job after college when Lliane called to ask me to be one of the 10 founding members of Flatfoot Dance Company. I remembered my days in the student company of the same name with such joie de vivre that I could not get the thought out of my mind. Advertising, at the time, was a male chauvinistic torcher chamber that did more to snuff my creativity and self worth than ignite it. I left the yellow-painted terrifying grip of Ogilvy and escaped to become a full-time dancer in Durban.

Mornings in studio began with the rolling up and down of the spine, stacking our bones above our feet and feeling the imaginary thread pulling up from the tops of our heads. Then came floor work. Here we would pay tribute to Martha Graham the goddess of contemporary dance and train the pelvis to contract and release. Standing up again, we would salute Erik Hawkins by acknowledging that ‘the arms are where the back puts them’. Laban Technique allowed us to travel from school to school teaching the privileged and underprivileged ones for R10 a class.

There was not a lot of money and we were constantly developing proposals and finding ways to survive. I lived with my parents and got two other jobs to make sure that I wasn’t behaving like the child that refuses to fly from the nest. I was infinitely happy.

Being a dancer is like tracing out the invisible lines in the planes of Life. You play in the suspended arena between reality and dream state. It is about awakening a consciousness that slumbers in other moments. When I dance, I am wholeheartedly consumed by the moment. Everything that troubles, nags and hurts disappears. I am present. I am conscious. I am alive.

I remember learning choreography and preparing for shows with the Company. We would train late into the night and just when we thought we couldn’t run the piece one more time, Lliane would make us tap our sternums and we’d find the energy again. Clare made us simple company t-shirts and we cut out the necklines as dancers do. The work was always profound – from dancing with teacups to the words of Elliot’s Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, to exploring the myth of Orion and Artemis over an anti-apartheid backdrop while learning to move like salmon, to exploring the idea of being strangers in a strange land. Lliane helped us throw ourselves into every sliver of choreography. My family and friends always sat in the front row and my brother always teased me about our body-slapping, breath-filled moves. I loved every minute.

Every time I stood in front of the audience for curtain call, I was thankful. Because somewhere inside I knew that being able to dance was a gift on loan and I knew that it wasn’t a journey that would last forever.

I chose to leave Flatfoot Dance Company for a few reasons – some of them utterly stupid – like love (or what I thought was love). Today, I work in advertising again and I don’t feel regret or bitterness because I had my time in the spotlight. But sometimes I do wonder whether I will ever feel as fulfilled as I felt as a dancer. I wonder if my mission to make good conscious dents in the world can be achieved while I look after brands. I wonder if the choreography I do in this world will move people. I wonder if after suspension, I can still find my release and I wonder if I am allowing my soul to dance.

Flatfoot Dance Company is an amazing creation born out of a true Goddess that challenged the idea of who can dance and how. Flatfoot Dance Company, you are in my muscle memory. You have a permanent space on the dance floor in my heart. Thank you for giving me a space in yours.

Thank you Lliane, Clare, Wesley, Marise, S’phelele, Sfiso, Ntokozo, Caroline, Seren, Musa and Wells.

Love and Chukkas.

Tagged

WANTED: Handsome Apartment With A Good Heart

Finding an apartment in Cape Town is like finding a man. It is, at any given time, both daunting and heartbreaking. And all the good ones are taken.

It all begins with the first sighimagesting. There’s hope, expectation and as the viewing approaches, a little bit of a thrill. Then you walk through the rooms and project yourself into future DVD nights and dinner parties in the space. It either beckons you, leaves you underwhelmed or totally repels you at a single glance. If you love it, your heart starts to race a little and outwardly, you try to appear calm and cool. If you hate it, you thank the person politely and make a quick exit.

Anyone who has ever gone in search of a medium to long-term rental in Cape Town can vouch for this – finding a shoebox to live in requires patience, tenacity and a gut familiar with rejection.

This was my list of suitors:

  1. No. 23 Arthurs Road. Tiny, modern security complex. Absolutely devoid of character. And the current occupant keeps her shoes in the kitchen cupboard. It went to a Brazilian student who offered 6 months rental upfront.
  2. No. 8 Milford House. This was love at first sight. Bright and airy, charming and delightful. I got down on one knee for this one. But the owner commanded God’s blessings on me and gently informed me that there were still other viewings taking place in the week. I made my intentions supremely clear but a few days later, the owner picked someone else named Jennifer. Why not me? Maybe this was the dialogue that went down between the Milfords: “She’s young and single. She’ll probably party too much and bring boys over.  She says she often works late. Hmm, we don’t want a racket late at night now do we dear? She’s Indian. They make a lot of curry.” Or perhaps it was as simple as this: They just weren’t into me.
  3. 189 Main Road. Just above Luv Land.
  4. Arthurs Road (again). This date took place on the phone and it was a break up long before it was even a hook up.
  5. No. 404 Rockaways. 3 couples (and me) rocked up to view this one. It was a game of “Let’s see who’s best at buttering up Mr and Mrs Buchinsky.” And I wasn’t happy to play. Also, the non-existent washing machine outlet was a decider.
  6. No. 9 Glenyln Court. I was greeted by an odd, unkempt old man. I tried to imagine this spacious apartment without 500 pieces of furniture in one room. The rooms were big and underneath all the clutter, beautiful parquet flooring revealed itself but the smoky, mustiness of stale living, misery and whiskey lingered on my shirt long after the viewing. Something was not right about that place. Still, I thought I could scrub the walls with ammonia, sweep up years of depression, polish away the discomfort and fix the broken things. That night, I dreamt that as I was getting changed in the bedroom of No 9, the old man appeared in front of me as a ghost, naked. I awoke screaming.

The Cape Town Universe has been somewhat weird with me this week. It has had trouble deciding between the ridiculous and the remarkable. It served out a messy,  ‘ex’ scenario, overzealous hormonal tears (from accidentally taking the active instead of inactive pills), having my phone nearly stolen and recovered by heroic strangers called Taz and Jerome, taking in dollops and gulps of inspiration from the Design Indaba, stupidly calling sweet Sanjiv, Rajiv, getting my hopes up and having them crushed, feeling an enormous pressure to be brilliant and epic. And finally, tasting the most sumptuous macaroons in the world, courtesy of Priya and Shaun.

After a week of playing the Cape Town scene, I leave alone. I’m still single and there is no suitable lap to rest my head on. But as dear Mandie so aptly points out, “It’s not you. It’s Cape Town.”

So I finally take a deep breath and a long walk on the Promenade and decide to calm down and start again. Being single is hard work. You don’t want to appear desperate and you don’t want yet another problem case. You just want somewhere bright and lovely, safe and with a good energy; you want to see your unborn mornings on the porch, drinking coffee and staring up at the mountains and most of all you just want a place you can call Your Other Half. Your home. Your sanctuary.

With the sun beating down on my shoulders and the breeze cooling my heart, I feel like I could still be in love with the Mother City. Cape Town, I’m not done with you. One day, the right one will come along.

 

 

Tagged ,

When my Maker comes…

 

When my Maker comes for me, will I be ready? Will I have “lived juicy” as Sark says? Would I have thrown caution to the wind so many times that it knew my name?

Everyone says, “You only have one life. Make the most of it.” We lip-synch these words and chase them with a tequila. But what does it mean to really live your life to the full?

I think it’s about rolling. I think it means that when tears come, you let them roll and soak in pillows, when laughter tickles your throat you let it roll down to your belly, and when conflict comes you wrestle with it and roll with the punches.

I think it’s about sifting. When you get sand and rocks, sift till you find diamonds and the precious stones. When you’re making roti, sift out the weevils and cook with love and be glad that you started out making maps and learnt to roll spheres. When the words come heavy and harsh, sift through them to find the real meaning, the real intent.

I think it’s about walking. I think it means that you have to walk around in your mind and open the doors to new thoughts. I think it means walking towards fear and away from darkness. I think it means that when thoughts spill over, you have to walk through it and let the ocean lick your feet.

I think it’s about leaning. When the skateboarders fly over railings, lean against the wall and watch. When the sun sets and you are always in awe, lean against the mountain and be glad it is there. When you dance on the stage and all the world is watching, lean on your partner and trust that he will catch your weight. When all the blood has rushed to your head and your feel you might sink to the floor, lean on the strong ones because one day they will lean on you.

Pushing, Pulling, digging, running, flying, working, searching, finding. I think that living life to the full means being full of life. Sometimes full of nonsense, full of mischief, full of eighteen helpings of dessert. I think living life to the full is a verb – it’s an ‘ing’ word.

When my Maker comes, I hope he won’t wear a white suit or arrive in a stretch limo or have greased-back hair and look like an angel. I hope that I too would have been diving and that he would be sitting on the shore waiting. I hope he would smile and say, “Wow girl…you’ve been busy.”

Live Juicy. Rest in Peace.

Tagged

Should Assholes Have Babies?

antique_baby_shoes_1_4608d6beae15036712b8b29cd38566ed

They stand over the crib taking in their newborn baby with awe. “Ohhhh loooook,” coos mum, “he has your eyes.” Dad beams, “But thank goodness he has your nose.” Together they chuckle and bathe in the glory of this proud moment of procreation. And amidst the crowd of onlookers bearing flowers and good wishes, no one says out loud, “Wonder if he’s going to be an asshole?”

I recently found out that someone I find morally repugnant just had a baby. I was completely repulsed by the idea and even though I knew my karmic energy would suffer, I quietly apologised to the world for this man who felt the need to unleash his genes upon us all.

Okay, okay, I hear the Oliver-Twist discourse in my conscience telling me that every human being has the ability to rise above his upbringing. Sure, a child born of dysfunctional parents can lead a completely successful and upstanding life. That is the beauty of growing up, being an individual and being accountable. Even clever people like Dr Michael Wiederman (MINDing theMIND™) confirm this: “Even though we each received our genes from our parents, we are not an exact copy of either parent. Each of us is a unique combination of genes received from each parent.” Good, there is hope.

No, I’m not convinced. What if ‘assholeness’ sticks to your genes like superglue in the cracks of a porcelain jar? What if a person cannot escape ugliness in his mum or dad’s personality? What if the disgusting, cheating, lying, cruel, immature, disrespectful DNA threads get so deeply entangled in your makeup that they are perpetuated for generations to come?

I’m afraid this is where we have to look to the proverbial ‘village’ that it supposedly takes to raise the child. Village…it is up to us. When yet another asshole emerges from yet another womb, we must do our best to make sure we lead by example. This means that we, ourselves, must stop being nasty pieces of human specimen. We must be beautiful and strong and generous and caring and full of integrity. We must neatly tear pages out of the Tiger Mom’s book. And we must work hard at making sure that the future assholes unlearn their genetic bad lessons.

This means brothers and sisters, grandparents, aunts, godmothers, friends, teachers and colleagues all have a role to play. We each have to stand at the door between childhood and adolescence and beat ‘assholeness’ off with the talking stick. The world is overpopulated. If this is what it takes to make sure that there are fewer assholes on earth, then so be it.

Until such time bad people have to take rigorous tests determining their decentness; until such time gynaes stamp forms with big black letters saying: “NOT QUALIFIED TO PROCREATE”; until scientists figure out a way to provide us with some Panados for headache-causing genes…it is up to each of us to nurture the unfortunate little ones. And it is up to the unfortunate little ones to realise that this life is long and intriguing and blessed with millions of tiny, well-lit passages of opportunity to be good men and women.

So, sleep well little asshole.

Tagged , ,

Speed Dating: Slow Torture

fake-smile

My face is sore. My sparkling water has lost its sparkle. And if one more guy asks me, “So…what do you do for fun?” as if it was rated the number one pick-up line of all time, I might just die, slowly and painfully. This is Speed Dating. And it’s not for the strong hearted.

As you walk in, you get offered an Apple Sours – appropriate considering that what follows is some sickly sweet lack of intoxication. You get a form where you have to write your name on the front and at the back, the names of all the ‘candidates’ and a short descriptor. There are 10 tables – the girls remain seated and the guys rock up for their interviews one by one.

First up is Ettiene*. Ettiene has one redeeming factor and that is his dimples. Other than that, he seems a little drunk. Ettiene likes wearing vests with little holes in them and enjoys pole vaulting in his garden. No he doesn’t. But that would have been more interesting. I write down “Bald. Stalkerish” because that’s the first thing that comes to mind.

Later on, there’s Theuns*. “Like tea – ns” he says. Theuns is wearing a newsboy cap and a turquoise shirt. He tells me that he likes massages in his spare time because he loves being touched. My hands are close to his and with stealth I move them away in case he feels the urge to suddenly stroke them. He enjoys the healing feeling of massage. “I’m not gay, I just love massages. You have such an open face, such open eyes,” he tells me. Now it’s my turn to be weird. He asks me what I do in my spare time, so I blurt, “I love anything physical.” Tea-ns giggles. Realising how it sounds, I quickly over-correct, “ I mean I love letting off steam…(even worse)…er…no – I mean, I love any form of exercise.” The bell – that sounds like the one priests ring during prayer in Hindu temples – rings and releases me from Awkward Hell. I quickly scribble “Hat, not gay, massage” before the next guy sits down.

His name is Dimitri*. I immediately want to say, “Spanakopita Spanakopita” but I bite my tongue. This guy leans back in his chair and says, “You ask me a question.” I throw him a light challenge and I say, “So…what would you do if you won the lotto? This is what follows:

Dimitri: “Well, how much?”
Su: “I don’t know…enough to never have to work a day in your li-”
Dimitri: “No, how much, give me a figure!”
Su: “Okay…about-”
Dimitri: “What, like 5 million or 20 million, give me a figure!!”
Su: “200 million”
Dimitri: “Shew, that’s a lot.”

Dimitri, who is not a greek god but more of a grumpy geek proceeds to give me a chartered-accountant report of how he would spend R200 million. My heart and soul let out a big, wide yawn.

The back page of my dating form contains words like: “Massage. Weirdo. Prudent. Touchy-feely. Scared to lean forward. Bald. Likes Ballet.” At the end, the Architects of Awkward Coupling then offer us all the chance to stay and mingle. My friend Max looks at me, widens her eyes and mumbles under her breath, “Please, let’s go!” We burst out the restaurant like bulls at a rodeo and take a breath of the fresh night air. Max and I bend over giggling as we compare notes. Never again, we both agree.

Perhaps one is not meant to apply a socio-anthropological analysis to an event like this but speed dating is just weird, man. I don’t like the way it makes me feel. I feel fake. My cheeks collapse from over smiling. I hate the way I describe myself. I feel bad that the other person is nervous. I’m embarrassed for judging people and imagining what their lonely lives look like. I’m wondering if they’re fading off while I ramble. I miss awkward silences and I wonder where my Ryan Gosling is.

Playing out a potential romance like a series of job interviews gone wrong is not my cup of chino. I want a slice of Hollywood and to be airborne by that swept-of-my-feet feeling. I want to see the man who makes my heart giddy walk across the room at 60 frames per second (insert smoke machine here). It must be least expected. It must be a story worth telling for generations to come. And it must not begin and end with a prayer bell. Sorry Speed Dating, I’m just not that into you.


*Names have not been changed to protect the identities of the people mentioned.
You should know about them…and run like Bolt in the opposite direction if you ever see them.

Tagged ,