The joys of online dating

The truth hit you like a ton of bricks after the disaster that was your friend’s wedding in Scotland – see discrimination of the singletons post. Your new year’s resolution was, therefore, to get hitched by any means necessary. You have suffered enough at the hands of well-meaning friends who keep sending you memes depicting single people as losers and marriage or significant relationships as the epitome of happiness and fulfilment. You swear to never again attend a wedding as a single person.

The easiest way, (apparently), to secure a boyfriend of substance is online, and not in bars or clubs. You know a few couples who met online and, evidently, they look happy. Short of shouting from the rooftops on how happy they are, they tell you in great details how they landed Mr Right, which websites to register with, and how long to expect before clenching a deal – it’s like buying a car. By the way some of the encounters they narrate sound like scenes from the fatal attraction series or #murder. Word to the wise – be on your guard and don’t create a profile that will lead people to tears. Armed with this knowledge, you create a profile summary to die for. You list the dos and don’ts for the potential future boyfriend (PNB); then you create a summary of you – who you are, what you are about, what you like or don’t like, your level of education; your ‘don’ts’ are explicit – in bold, italic and underlined that time wasters need not apply. On your profile you quote a bible verse in a desperate covert bid to ward off evil, but all that did was invite deviants and perverts who were more interested in the situation down there than your faith; these ones you report, delete then block. Worse others start off by asking if you have kids their gender and ages – these ones you report (even anonymously to police), delete, curse and block. Others you arrange to meet but once you walk in the designated meeting place you are faced with people who deserve to live underground, so you pretend to receive a phone call, walk outside to talk and disappear. Others, oh worse others, talk to you like they oversee the milking of the lionesses of the Tsavo – these ones only ‘talk to the hand’ gesture will do.

Your subscription is for 6 months. Your advisors told you that it was the cheapest (true) and with your charisma, charm and good looks (true) you’ll be snatched away before the six months were over (false). You decide for your own sanity (and peace of mind from your nagging attached friends) to try it out, and if in six months you haven’t met anyone worthy, you can safely attribute the monetary loss as contribution to the singleton’s charity that you will pioneer soon – there are just too many singles out there not to warrant a ‘societal problem’ in need of addressing. On the bright side, you see yourself as a good judge of character who can weed out the Toms Dicks and Harrys with relative ease.

You soon discover weeding the online dating garden is no walk in the park, it’s like walking in a minefield searching for treasure. Your advisors encourage you by reminding you of lame sayings like ‘hurry hurry has not blessings’, ‘no one said it would be easy’ etc so you soldier on. You put on your business hat on, and sort people based on appearance (shallow I know but it’s the only way) – you categorise as potentials, meetables, dateables or future use and their responses decide their fate. This works well, and you’ve narrowed down to a manageable number – amazingly most of the cutest turned out to be the creepiest. However, you’ve gotta faith – for every 10 losers, there’s bound to be one nice man whose mum didn’t fall asleep at the wheel.

One email from a guy hailing from some unpronounceable place in Wales who likes exotic women catches your eye. He’s respectful unlike some vulgars who go straight for the kill by asking your bedtime routines – “too soon” you think before deleting and blocking them. You email Mr Wales and he emails back almost immediately. After a few emails back and forth, he says he wants to meet face to face and or exchange phone numbers. You decide face to face first in a very public place – keep to emails until further notice. He’s blown away by you. He tells you “your profile picture does you no justice – you are so much more beautiful in real life.” You get on like a house on fire. The evening ends well, you exchange phone numbers and you go your separate ways. He texts you from the train and tells you how much he’s enjoyed your company and how he can’t wait to see you again. You are not 100% sure about him but he’s saying good things and God knows what’s out there. Your advisors tell you what you already know – “you are not going to know if someone is the one straight away – you have to kiss a few frogs, but trust your gut!” So, you do, you chat for a few more weeks, and meet for dinner twice more. By now he’s googled enough about Kenya and is throwing at you some choice words that melt your heart. Like the day he called you and asked in the most broken Kiswahili if you’d be willing to make him some ugali and matumbo. You laugh heartily and loudly despite being in the middle of Sainsbury’s and everyone looks at you like one possessed. You don’t care because you are falling in love. “It’s a date” you announce in your newly acquired posh accent. ‘Being sensible’ is quickly replaced with ‘live laugh love’, and you are loving every minute. You can’t understand why it’s taken you this long.

The one thing you’ve learnt from your online dating is that some relationships give notice to quit, so you see that coming, you can mourn the death of that relationship, bury it and move on. The worst ones are the ones you don’t see coming, the ones full of promises that make you let your guard down, the ones that make you think you could be as happy as can be. One moment you are basking in marital bliss, the next you are a hopeless singleton back to square one – minus a few pounds and sometimes a sore soul because you may have mentioned to one or two trusted friends that you are in a relationship – woe unto you if you put it on Facebook. The backlash is unrelenting, and you are left feeling either suicidal or homicidal and you can’t remember why you thought singledom was such a bad thing.

***

Time for Mr Wales to come to your house for a homemade Kenyan dinner. You’ve sourced the best matumbo money can buy in England, mind you, you haven’t eaten matumbo since you left Kenya because 1) you can’t be bothered to cook them as it takes too much time with the cleaning, 2) You have no idea how they are cooked. But with this PNB and probably future husband, you intend to learn, make good impression and sow seeds – your attached friends have advised you on this. You troll the net for the best Kenyan matumbo recipes. You go to east London market because apparently that’s where they sell the authentic tripe – never mind that you have to spend a small fortune on petrol and take a day off. You decide to surprise him by making mandazi for dessert – you’ve never cooked this before for anyone, but he’s never eaten them before either, so he has nothing to compare if yours are extremely bad, and they are – they are so hard they might as well be rocks. You pretend to like them. You decide to buy tusker from some afro foods corner shop you saw on your way to Peckham. The last time you bought a Kenyan beer was in Kenya. You can hardly contain yourself. Not only do you make him matumbo and ugali, but you also make some nyama choma, chapati and some spicy salad [kachumbari] – they say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.

Dinner is served promptly as agreed. After the usual chitchat he digs in. To your surprise he eats like he lived in some famine ridden country the last couple of weeks. He clears his plate and asks for more. You serve him with a smile. He gulps the tuskers you bought as you salivate because you have to make do with some cheap rose wine that tastes like sulphuric acid laden with ammonia – note to self: never buy wine from a corner shop. While he eats, his ooo and aaahs are lined with words like “I’d love to eat this for the rest of my life” which translates to your single loser arse “be my wife.” Later you cuddle up and watch sex and the city movie and make love or have sex, whichever is better. He says he can’t stay over because he has an urgent business meeting very early the next morning. He hugs you tightly and adds “we have to do that again my love” and you answer by kissing him on the lips…. hard. That the last you hear from him. His phone is switched off; he was last seen on what’s up the night you had dinner; he’s no longer a member of the online dating app you subscribed to, he’s vanished into thin air after eating your food and having his way with you. You are devastated beyond words. You promptly add a new box and tick – idiots-who-date-exotic-women-to-eat-exotic-food and you move on. “999,999 to go, oh the joys of online dating” you sigh heavily as you contemplate your next move.

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