Friends call me “the fast-love professional”, and they’re not far off. I fall in love easily and quite often. And it’s often with the wrong type of man. Sweet and sensitive, Dick bought me flowers and opened the door for me, before turning out to be a psycho Harry, screaming at me for calling other people “darling”. Apparently, that word was to be reserved only for him. I didn’t get that memo! Then there was Christopher absolutely and totally French, with an appetite for the absolutely and totally weird. I won’t go into details, but I felt that if, in my short life, I hadn’t seen it all, I’d certainly seen most of it!
But all that was all before I met Him. To respect his privacy (and to allow him continue his ways), I shall from herein refer to this guy as “He” or “Him”. I met Him, not so long ago, on the Internet. I was trying a different approach to dating, and when my eyes locked on his profile picture, I swear it was magical! Tall, dark and ruggedly gorgeous; his profile said Italian. A beautiful man who took more care of his car than I did my hair. And foreign. I’m a sucker for foreign accents, the more pronounced they are, the higher the chances of a budding relationship. We spent long hours chatting about various issues from the civil unrest manifesting itself through xenophobic attacks across the country, to the kissability of white women versus black (the latter, with their pillow lips coming tops).
So when he invited me to spend the weekend at his house, I didn’t think twice about the distance (he lived in East London, while I was Joburg). So I forked out R1 503 for a return ticket – which, by the way, is a fortune for me. Ah… the life of a penniless writer! Before I left Joburg, he’d sent me a text asking me what my favourite colours were for a car and on a guy. Without hesitating, I’d responded black, not really expecting him to be swathed in the colour head-to-toe when he came to pick me up from the airport. Especially not in the sweltering 28 degree-heat that was East London. But he managed to pull it off; a light cotton, almost see-through Pierre Cardin shirt hanging loosely over well-worn black jeans. Were those Dior boots? Unruly dark locks, lipid pools for eyes, sexy stubble… Brava machismo!
While there, when we were not sitting on the patio of his log cabin on the Eco Nature Estate, drinking red wine and watching the sun set, he was showing me the view from his bedroom (wink, wink!). He cooked for me, took me for picnics on the beach. He read my work and praised me, declaring he’d found the woman of his dreams. This is exactly the type of man I’d been looking for, it’s no wonder I never settled for less! He was ever the gentleman; sure without being pushy, confident without being cocky. And sexy without – well, he knew he was sexy.
The weekend went by too quickly, but when I arrived back home, I was glowing; I had a handsome Italian boyfriend. He was 17 years older than me, but who cared? I picked up my phone and dialled his number. No answer. I left a message. I tried again later that night – still no response.
For the next three days, I kept trying until I finally got the not-so-subtle hint. I vowed not to make a fool of myself, yet I was unable to resist the temptation. Every now and again, I picked up the phone and called, but he still didn’t answer, and I still didn’t understand. I racked my brain – he didn’t have a wedding ring on, and there were certainly no signs of a woman in his house (I’m very observant like that).
Was this what they called a power flip? In the world over, before men enter their eligible 30s, women control 99% of the relationship. Come their 30s, and joie de vivre, men hold all the chips! Had I finally met the Modern Man in all his glory? Had I had been rudely welcomed back to the age of innocence? I finally realised why there were so many great single “gals” out there and no great single guys! I like to think I’m a great gal. I travel, pay my bond, pay my taxes, pick up the tab every now and again, and even buy the occasional Louis Vuitton handbag. So what the hell was that?! Of course, it was refreshing to meet a man who was actually very confident in his manhood, confident enough to wear a pink shirt (and look damn good in it), let me pick up the tab (even when he knows he damn well earns more than I do), and let me drive without snapping instructions every 30 seconds.
“Maybe that’s the problem,” one of my girlfriends insisted when I moaned about Him for the umpteenth time that week. “Men are becoming more comfortable with the independent woman. They’ve even come to expect it, financially and otherwise, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to be needed. You should have let him open the jar for you.”
Ah… the proverbial jar! “Even when I can open the bloody jar myself?”
“Yes, even when you can open the bloody jar yourself.” She was adamant, but I was unrelenting. “OK, but that still doesn’t explain why he didn’t return my calls and answered only seven out of every 10 SMS’s I sent him.” I’d made a royal fool of myself for this one. It seemed the more He ignored me, the more I went on edge. Abandoning all reason and all dignity, calling insistently, sending marathon texts and Facebook messages. Where He was concerned, I had become those women I dread; the borderline stalkers, Edie Britt of Desperate Housewives, Alex Forrest of Fatal Attraction. My friend looked at me like I’d just asked the silliest question in the world and replied matter-of-factly: “So, he says he’ll call and he doesn’t. You send him text messages, which he doesn’t reply – not even to ask you to leave him alone? That’s just bad manners.”
As simple as that? Bad manners?! I had thought of every reason in the book – even made up quite a few that aren’t – but I had overlooked the simplest of explanations. He had bad manners. So today, thanks to my girlfriend, I still appreciate the beauty of a man. Not just his intrinsic knowledge around the bedroom, or the living room floor, or even the back seat of his black Mitsubishi Outlander. I appreciate and celebrate the evolution that is man. My name is Zeli, and I’m addicted to the modern man.