The week had passed by in a laughter-filled blur, text messages flying back and forth and frantic phone calls in hushed voices.
David was a nice respectable man—alone again since his wife decided to file for divorce. So he says. My nose twitched with doubt when I learned about the ex-wife.
David pursued me, stealthily; with wanton lust in his voice and a head of greying hair on a small frame, his eyes devoid of emotion, just glassy and bloodshot.
He had seen my profile on the dating site and had sent me a brief email.
We had “talked” for three days before deciding the next step would be to meet up in person to see if we ‘clicked’ as the hip young kids say.
The day I was set to meet up with David crept up on me, a long tiring day at the office dealing with engineers and scientists buzzing around me, no lunch and the constant hum of the shredder reminding me of my obligation to protect the privacy of my country’s citizens.
To avoid being late, I hightailed it to the bar where we said we would meet.
At almost ten minutes over the meeting time, my Blackberry buzzed in my pocket.
I look at the screen to see David’s picture buzzing at me. I press the green handset symbol and hear his rasping voice on the line.
“Where are you?” he whines, and something inside me plummets to the pit of my stomach. He’s a whiner. Oh dear. I answer shakily, balancing my purse on my thigh and reaching into it for a pen and piece of paper, on which I scrawl ‘‘whiner’’ and tell him I am minutes out.
‘‘I’m standing where we agreed,’’ he bleats on, and I catch something in his voice; he has a streaming headcold.
Yuk. My first instinct was to run back to the train platform and bounce onto that train heading home in an adrenaline fuelled blur.
On second thoughts, no; I’d forever wonder what might have happened if I had not met him as arranged.
He hangs up the phone and I round the corner to find him standing in the doorway of the bar, cigarette in hand and beer in the other.
He puts out his cigarette as he sees me, and we embrace briefly, me trying my best not to inhale, he trying his best to kiss my cheek.
Neither of us made any contact; it was over and forgotten so fast.
I’m relieved, as I can smell the cigarette he discarded as strongly as if he was still smoking it.
We entered the bar and the dance began.
There was a race to see which of us got the table and which got the drink, I settled for the table getting, as David was already at the bar, gesturing to me and holding up a beer. And pointing.
I shook my head, mouthing ‘‘It’s still early.” He shouts, “You do drink though, do you?’
I cringe inwardly as forty-something people crane their heads to see who didn’t drink after four in the afernoon.
He orders an orange juice for me and comes over and sits down, slightly opposite but close enough for me to smell his cologne and hear his heart pounding in his chest.
I could handle it if he got overexcited and keeled over at my feet clutching his chest.
I know cardiac resuscitation.
We make polite “I’m good, thanks, how about you’’ conversation, it was stilted, I was tired, then the ex-wife came up in the conversation, how she had left him for a colleague and had taken the kids with her. For the next forty minutes. I’m sympathetic, and it becomes a psychotherapy session, but without the couch and the fee.
I try not to sleep, my eyes on stalks as I stare back at blue eyes with small pupils in the tiny crowded bar.
At some point, I had stop listening all together.
What was he saying about Cape Town? Did he say he had a daughter? Two daughters?
At this stage in the evening I had lost all interest and was daydreaming about my one true love—my four-poster bed, waiting for me to climb into its warmth, security, and comfort on my return home.
If I ever manage to prise myself away from The Whiner.
I must have completely zoned out because I realized he had stopped talking and was fingering the glass before him on the tiny sticky table, and trying to balance a beer mat on its edge on the glass’ rim.
My blackberry buzzed into life. I was relieved for the welcome interruption—one of the engineers, Sam; wanting to know if I was coming back to the office or would let him into the premises in the morning.
I looked over at The Whiner.
He looked melancholy; mulling over his failed marriage and children no doubt.
I spoke loudly into the blackberry: “Emergency, you say? I’ll be right there.’’
I make my excuses (emergency at the office, got to dash) and leave, after two kisses from David, and a “Take care.”
Relief washed over me as soon as I left the bar, and I headed to the stores for some last minute shopping before heading home.
Two days later, he emails to say he doesn’t think we are a good match.
The relief pours over me in waves.