Online Attraction

By Michelle Dennison/Julianne Alcott

So last week I did something I said I would not do…

I joined an online dating site. One of those over 35 ones that keep popping up on my Facebook  newsfeed.

“Join for free” it said. So I loaded a recent photo, tried to think of something creative and witty for my subject line, and then the impossible paragraph that encapsulates all that I am and am looking for in a man, in under 150 words.

Something must have worked, because I received a whole line of messages and winks in my email inbox the next day. I went back onto the site, and realised that my profile photo has had the bottom
shaved off, and my strapless dress looks like I am bare. No wonder I have so many messages in my inbox!

I have caught Sipho’s eye. Marius winked at me. Glen sent me a private message.

I open the first message and screw my eyes up to see what the person looks like in the photo. He isn’t really my type, and he wants to know if I like really tall men. I am really short. But if I don’t answer, will it make that poor man miserable, and make him feel like last week’s bread crusts?

So I do answer, just a friendly message, but it won’t go through.

It is then that I realise that the “Free”part is just to capture a person’s interest. To actually do anything on there needs a subscription. It doesn’t cost that much, so I sign up for three months.

So I have been a member of the site for just over a week. I have had a few messages from some nice sounding men.

I have wondered why someone would put a photo on the site where they look miserable.

I have blocked a man who insisted that I give him my cell number before he showed me what he looked like.

I have come up with several creative ways to put off men that I wouldn’t go anywhere with. I can’t just ignore their message. I would hate it if they did that to me.

The worst thing about this site is that the men can see when you have looked at their profile, so there is no chance of any secret reconnaissance. And even worse, you can see who looks at your own profile, and then never messages you.

A quite attractive man winks at me. I wink back, but it doesn’t seem to register, so I do it again. Then I worry that I have now winked at this man twice. What an inane thing to be worried about.

This is all rather like buying shoes from a online catalogue. And what happens if one meets one of these men? It’s backwards to how life normally works. There, you meet someone and then get to  know their details. Here, you learn all sorts of things about a person and only after a while, do you get to meet them. Imagine if you really like someone on email, and then find out there is no attraction once you are face to face.

I suppose then, you have just made a new friend.

I look at all these photos of men and I wonder what I’m doing here. I have just had my heart trampled on by a man that  I loved more than any other man in my life history. Am I really ready for

I just don’t know where else to meet men my own age. Everywhere I go in my normal life, I seem to attract men who are much younger than me. Why am I complaining, you ask. Because they are fun to be  with, but run a mile after a few months JUST IN CASE you are thinking about a commitment, even if you aren’t.

So I am in this for three months, and I am not taking it too seriously.

And I have a date this weekend with a 42 year old IT guy who plays action cricket and has a very fun sense of humour.

Who knows…



by Penny M 

Have you ever been lost?My definition of lost goes something like this.  What should be there is not.  Either I moved, it moved, or somebody else moved it.  When it comes to little things like earrings or car keys, frustration evaporates like the squeak of a bus at the end of the line when you find them.  The brakes hiss and the engine sighs.  The driver shifts his hips around the gear stick, pulls his bag out of the cubby and releases the doors.  It’s over, the ears are balanced, the keys jangle and I disembark.

Losing bigger things isn’t quite like that; the missing bit can endure several bus trips.

I was lost myself recently.  My mobile phone was of no use; the people who would look for me didn’t have their phones switched on so I couldn’t tell them I was lost.  Nobody had moved the walkways, shops and restaurants.  The car was still in the same place wherever that was.  I wasn’t.  To make things more confusing, shops of the same name were positioned at opposite sides of the centre. I walked fast for a good three quarters of an hour in various directions but couldn’t locate our borrowed vehicle amongst the vast open air car park beyond.

My mother always told me to wait by the door if I got lost.  This shopping centre didn’t have any doors.  It was a configuration of little streets.  There were no security guards, no familiar faces.  Nobody could help me anyway.  Although most drawled in English, I couldn’t even tell them in sign language what my destination was.  A sea of faces, t-shirts and baggies merged into a kaleidoscope of moving carpets.  I willed the roundabout in my brain to stop.  It complied after a few deep breathes.

Reason began to return and I realised that I was a moving target.  It would be wiser to stand still. Somewhere in my subconscious was a glimmer of direction.  “All roads lead to Rome,” was a little off-the-wall given the century we live in, but it dawned on me, after taking four or five different paths, that each arrived at the fountain in the centre.  The doors theory wasn’t working for me and neither was the Apian Way but the patter of water spouts, splaying their drops in the afternoon shadows, was enough to lead my missing person back to sanity.

Ten minutes later, with eyes adjusted to the dwindling crowds, I spotted my rescuers sauntering towards me.  How had I got lost?  I’d walked out of the mêlée on the wrong side of the centre.

The bus stops here …

Travelling tribulations

By Sue Trollip

I have been stuck too close to strangers for almost thirty hours and now the woman behind me is eating trail mix – crunch, crunch, crunch – it’s taking all my willpower to refrain from leaping up and hurting her.

On the first flight I sat next to a scholar who was on his way to Beijing to play soccer. Although a pleasant lad, he had no idea about personal space, granted it’s difficult to contemplate personal space on a plane but dude you have to keep your elbows to yourself. Thank goodness for the inflight movies. Then I spent three hours at an airport which was not as much fun as I’d been led to believe. Shopping heaven, they said to me, but I thought it looked like the usual too expensive goods that are found in every airport. I walked until I could feel my toes again, then found the Calvin Klein counter in the duty free shop and doused myself with a ‘tester’ for my favourite perfume.

When I boarded the next flight, I got an aisle seat with an empty seat beside me. The dreadlocked woman, sitting on the other side, and I were suitably excited at the extra room as this flight was sixteen hours long.

My nose always wrinkles and not in a good way, when I wake up and smell the airplane eggs someone thinks is a good idea to serve for breakfast. Soon after I’d gulped the orange juice and several refills of coffee (Why are those cups so small?) I stood near the toilets to flex my muscles and look out the window at the snow covered world below. I had a conversation about the snow with an Osama lookalike. Later I watched him clear immigration and he was there for a quite a while. At customs I noticed his luggage being searched and I thought if I were him, I’d have worn jeans and a t-shirt, but I guess that our differences make life more interesting.

On the first flight we were sprayed like roaches and on the second flight we were warned not to collect in groups near the toilet. I wondered how many take-over plots were convened in five minutes around the loos, but kept my thoughts to myself.

Climbing off my almost last flight, I stumbled on numbed feet to the next check-in counter only to discover that my flight had been booked for the following day. Oh jumping jellybeans! Although I got onto a standby flight I had six hours to stagger around that airport. That’s when I realised that familiarity, albeit vague, is a wonderful thing. Ooh Starbucks and Peet’s coffee and most wonderfully the many chairs with plug points, now that’s what I call customer service.
I sat with my computer, coffee and chocolate and wondered how we survived airports before technology. Everyone around me has a cell phone, tablet or e-reader and no one is talking to anyone else, which is fine by me because I’m feeling grumpy!

Finally, exhausted and over caffeinated I boarded my last flight where I promptly fell asleep and woke up as we landed.

The entire journey was hell.

My hair is lanky, I can feel the blood pumping into my feet and my head is woolly. I’m dreaming of a bubble bath and am glad that where this journey ends excitement begins. This trip is all about the destination.

As soon as my adrenaline settled I slept for ten hours and woke relieved to find the me that I’m familiar with.

Anyone for trail mix?

Damned with fond praise

by Deanna Vineall

Are we creating mediocrity? There’s no arguing that there’s a history – in the Western world – of harsh criticism. Current – new age-wisdom declares this destructive/unproductive/stifling.

Is it possible though, that we have swung too much in the opposite direction?  You got thirty percent in your exam – well done, here’s a shiny pass certificate!

The over-riding concern for self esteem to be maintained may be costing us competence. It’s a fine line and it would be fine indeed if we could find it.

I’m all for encouraging your children, praising their special talents – all children have a gift of some kind – and ensuring they grow up confident of their capabilities. I’d just like to see them grow up confident of their incapabilities too. My father once cheerfully said to my mother, in the presence of all three children, “Do you know, not one of them can hit a note?”

Was I destroyed by this absolute truth? No, and what’s more I didn’t do anything silly like entering Idols. It amazes me how Simon Cowell and his critical counterparts are drawn as the villains for telling people they can’t sing. In a singing competition. By the time the softies of the group – yes, I’m looking at you, Unathi Msengana, SA Idols – have finished saying no, it’s quite possible for the wooden spoons to wander out of the audition believing they still have a future in singing.

Having interviewed, employed and managed more millennial babies than I care to recall over the last 10 years, I never cease to be amazed/amused by the expectations with which they’ve been allowed to grow up. Favourites would be:

The 22 year old who didn’t manage to finish her tourism diploma, wants a job with a financial corporate, and when asked where she hopes to be, career-wise, in five years time, says, seriously,
“I think I would be a director, possibly CEO.”

The 20-something call centre agent who marches into the MD’s office and declares himself ready for promotion to team leader…based on his average of zero sales per day.

And Julius Malema, just a small boy at 30, who never dreamed that the nasty old NEC would hold him accountable for bringing international disrepute aknocking.

Someone told them all they were marvellous, exceptional and untouchable. What a terrible shock to find out the world doesn’t concur. Worse still, the world doesn’t even care. If you’re incapable of recognising your incapabilities, the world turns out to be not so much your oyster, as your mussel: it’s tough, chewy and could make you sick.

What a loss too, especially to the world of writing, when criticism needs to be veiled in marshmallow. If Dorothy Parker were born now, what would she say? Certainly not: “This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.”

And Mark Twain would never say:  “I haven’t any right to criticize books, and I don’t do it except when I hate them. I often want to criticize Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can’t conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Every time I read Pride and Prejudice I want to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone.”

Criticism is only information, I was told once. It’s true. Do we really want to raise a world of  children who believe they are perfect in every way? One of the best Dr Phil-ism’s I’ve heard is you’re not raising a child, you’re raising an adult.

In the grown up world, when mom and dad are faraway, junior is left all alone with his/her expectations. Be careful what they are. You probably don’t want people like me and Simon adjusting them.