Expectation – that’s the perfect word to describe a first date. The first time I meet someone I always experience some degree of expectation. That he’s going to be sexy. Or interesting. Or, contrary to my expectations, he’s going to steal my heart.
Every time I meet them – tall or short, rich or poor, friendly or grumpy – I have butterflies in my stomach, my heart ready for the theft. But I always go home alone, my expectations unfulfilled, my heart still mine.
A while ago I simply gave up. I no longer expect. I just pitch up. Smile. Eat my food, drink my wine, listen to their stories. I’m charming. I steal hearts, I win points, I sit with men who suddenly want me forever, but me . . . ? I feel nothing. And in particular – I expect nothing.
Sometimes between my non-expectations I contact someone. Just for the hell of it. He’s not really my type, but I like something in his profile. “I’m looking for someone to dream with.”
Who still dreams? I wonder. I dream. I do know that, but no one I meet still dreams. They’re too disillusioned or too fresh from the nightmare of a previous relationship to dream. But this one wants to dream.
I contact him. And then forget about him.
“Hey, what happened to you?” he writes after a while. “Let’s meet . . .”
It’s a rainy day. I’m busy and don’t feel like showering and dressing up but decide to do it, because you never know.
On the way there I think how looking for a man has become very much like looking for a job for me. You go through all the routine questions, you don’t even hope you get the job anymore, you just hope there’s another interview after this one.
We meet outside the restaurant. And no, he’s not what I expected. He’s tall. Big. Looks conservative. Very serious. My heart, I know, is safe.
As the rain falls outside he tells me about his doctoral thesis. I feel tingles of interest. But it’s when our eyes suddenly meet that my heart begins to pound. And it’s when I can’t and don’t want to look away that my heart goes into hiding. Because she knows when she’s going to be stolen.
Erla-Mari Diedericks is the author of the book Sin, Sushi & Survival and her latest novel, Still Standing, is now available in shops countrywide as well as at kalahari.com. She also offers online writing courses. Click here for more information.