“I’m sorry, I can’t stay a moment longer; let me out!” Dr Philosophy, sitting opposite me on the couch, suddenly looks very pale.
“I know women like you . . . I know who you are!”
He whispers the word and it hangs between us like a curse. I half anxiously reach for the little dagger hanging around my neck. He immediately grabs at his neck. The man can’t be serious, surely.
At the door he glares at me, suddenly brave again in the cold night air. He whispers the word again, this time with more venom:
“You’re a vampire!”
I close the door softly behind him. I don’t know if I should laugh or cry. That, dear people, was my second piggy date (of the three piggy suitors I began to meet last week, hoping that the piggy with the house of bricks would be among them) and I can honestly say that I kept my hands – and my teeth – to myself.
The night actually began quite well. In his photograph Doctor Philosophy didn’t look too attractive. His nose was too big, his eyes too small, his hair a bit too frumpily combed back in curls. But I overlooked this because a degree in philosophy means the man has brains and I would be able to talk about something other than ex-wives, the latest rugby and the fact that it is still raining in the Western Cape (in the rainy season, sigh).
When I arrive at the restaurant it’s immediately clear that the problem with Doctor Philosophy’s picture is that he is not photogenic. In real life he is particularly attractive – and charming.
Chairs are pulled out at the bar, fingers are snapped in the direction of the waiter. I shudder slightly about the colonial gestures but keep silent. Now isn’t the right time.
“My man!” he bellows in the direction of the waiter. “Which are your best wines?” The waiter’s jaw drops with shock and a few beer bottle tops shoot panic-stricken into the air. The few bottles of wine half hidden among all the brandy bottles look nervous.
“This isn’t a fancy restaurant. They have only six different kinds of wine as far as I can see,” I say quickly.
“Oh, well . . .” he says, puffing himself up importantly. “Then we’ll take the most expensive bottle. It’s always the best.”
I want to help him by pointing out that expensive doesn’t always indicate the quality of a wine, but decide against it. Now isn’t the right time.
Then he pulls away and shows me that brain I longed for. He throws the names of philosophers around like rose petals at my feet. I eagerly pick them up. He discusses life, reality and love . . . oh, love . . . in such a clever way that shivers of pleasure run down my spine. He sweeps me off my feet with his theories and I succumb to his scintillating smart-aleck humour.
Then I get hungry.
“You didn’t say you wanted to eat. The date was for drinks only!” Doctor Philosophy glares at me darkly – as if I’ve tried to trick him.
Ah . . . of course . . .
“I’ll pay for myself,” I say. I’m a veteran in the world where men aren’t prepared to pay for a meal if you’re not going to become their soul- or bedmate.
Immediately his face brightens. His eyes again look too small and his nose too big. I order sushi. He orders a huge fish. Twice the price of my meal. At the end of the evening he precisely divides the bill between us. Including the “good” expensive wine. I decide to say nothing. Now isn’t the right time.
“Can I see your place?” he asks.
We’re a stone’s throw from my house. I waver between being attracted and aloof. If life were a snooker table the ball could fall into any hole at this stage.
He’s barely in my house when he charges down the passage.
“Where are you going?” I ask.
“To your bedroom!”
I fly after him.
In my bedroom he’s busy opening wardrobe doors.
“Hey, what are you doing!” I ask angrily. I don’t like people scratching through my things.
“Oh, I’m getting to know you. I’m seeing how you order your clothes. What you regard as important and what not. How neat your wardrobe is.”
I shoo him out of the room. No one gets to know me without my permission.
Back in the lounge I pour him a really good wine. Selected according to the year and the type of wine, not the price. He knocks it back like a cool drink.
“So tell me about these books you write,” he says. “Where do you get the inspiration? Who’s your Muse?”
Tired of the exertion of the night, tired of the right wine and the wrong wine and tired of explaining, I say exactly what’s in my head.
“Men inspire me. Their attention and admiration inspire me and I use them as Muses. The more men, the more stories I have.”
His face turns ashen.
“I know women like you; my professor had a whole theory about you. Women who go against the norm of the male artist/female. You’re vampires. You suck out men’s energy and use it for yourselves!”
“What are you talking about?” I ask with a laugh. Secretly I think it’s not at all a bad idea.
“Stay away from me! Women like you just devour men like me and spit us out. You’re not going to have my ideas!”
He jumps up and walks backwards towards the door. I start wondering how much wine he’s had. With his eyes glued to me he walks backwards out the front door. I want to warn him about the big pot plant and steep steps right behind him but decide not to.
Now isn’t the right time.
– Erla-Mari Diedericks
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.
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