I’d ticked the box that said White. Caucasian, actually. Didn’t give it a seconds thought, until my girlfriends yelled at me. "Come on Violet, its 2013, get with the country girl".
Sheepishly, I’d changed my dating profile. Marked the black box. Happy, ready, can’t wait to meet men of all size, shape and colour.
"Hi Violet. This is Thabo, you seem lovely. Join me, Saturday, grab a bite?"
I’d spat out my cappuccino and choked on my muffin. A message within minutes. From a much younger black man. He looked nice, his profile was interesting. But he was black. And young. And possibly well hung.
I stammered, I stuttered, I said okay, then I said No, then I said okay, then I thought I better be clear before I got fired from the dating site.
"Thabo, I’m unsure, I've never been out with someone like you. I’m white, I’m complicated, I’m newly divorced, I dammit, I’m just complicated, it’s not you, it’s not about colour, it’s just..."
He seemed mildly amused. "I understand," he’d said, signing out. "Call me if you change your mind".
That was it.
My friends were horrified. The more I tried to get them to understand where I was coming from, different culture, language, values, the deeper the hole I dug for myself. For the sake of friendship, I went on the date. I got hold of Thabo, told him that I was taking a long hard look at myself and prejudice, and said "Yes. If you still want to, let's hang out".
I over-thought this date so much, Thabo made it clear to me that it was just a date, not a marriage proposal. I started wondering if the complications that I spoke about were perhaps brought upon by myself.
We went out. I changed clothes a hundred times, couldn't decide on shoes, and found it even harder to choose underwear. What panties do you wear when you lunch with a Black man – g string, briefs, nothing? I had so much to learn.
We had lunch and it was surprisingly fabulous. Of course we had a few differences. He supported Pirates. I support Man U. He drove a convertible, I like station wagons. He lived in Soweto. I’m a northern suburbs gal.
But he drank French Champagne. And so did I.
The conversation was good and he was incredibly sexy. I found myself moving closer to him, wanting to put my hand on his exceptionally strong, muscular leg. I was sure he felt the same way.
Until my mothers bridge friends walked in. They looked at me. Looked away. And looked again.
"You look remarkably like Sarah’s daughter" the one said. "You can’t be" said the other.
"Let me introduce you, Thabo." I now felt completely confident with my new found younger did I mention, black, boyfriend.
"This is Hilda, and Sylvia, this one's Betty...". They shook hands gingerly. And as they walked away, I could already hear Hilda phoning her friend. "You'll never believe...".
Who cares. I was completely smitten. I laughed telling Thabo about my choice of shoes, underwear, and panic at finding the right restaurant. I didn't really notice him looking at me with one raised black eyebrow.
I was a little surprised when he didn’t tear my clothes off after dessert. He pecked me on the cheek, even when it was clear I was ready for a full on snog.
He left, muttering words like too old, too white, and too sexy. He also used the word ‘ingrained’, and I think he was saying that prejudice is ingrained in all of us, whether we think so or not. I may have imagined the ‘too sexy.’
I never heard from him again. But I did hear from my mother:
"I believe you’ve been out with a man".
"And I heard from my friends..."
"He isn’t Jewish, how could you, such shame..."
My relationship with my mother may never be the same again. But at least I redeemed myself with my friends.
To be continued.
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