How to Go on a Date in Pretoria (and Joburg)

As I’ve been recently reminded by more than one person, the chances of going on a date with someone again, ever, at this point in human history is going to be pretty remote, at least for the foreseeable future.

Which is why I thought I’d share my most recent experience of how to go on a date in Pretoria (and Joburg).

This is mostly for entertainment purposes, but also to take myself through the experience step by step, so I can better understand what actually happened and (hopefully) make better decision in the future (when human beings actually interact face-to-face again).

How to Go on a Date in Pretoria (and Joburg)

1. Go to a wedding in Cape Town

As pretty much the only single person in my entire family and group of friends, the thought of hooking up with someone at a good childhood friend of mine’s wedding in Constantia didn’t even cross my mind.

The truth is, I was too busy trying to negotiate a midday tequila-shot-and-glass-of-champagne-on-reception-entry buzz, a fiercely raging summer sun in a well watered Southern Suburbs garden, and many conversations with people that I hadn’t seen since I was a teenager.

(As well as a Bobby Brown lipstick pencil, which judging from one of the photos, I clearly hadn’t used for a while).

There was also a lot of eating of delicious food, moving speeches, feet in the pool and a secondary buzz after eating several celebratory dessert shots of tequila-spiked-chocolate-mousse after the toasts.

If that wasn’t enough, there was also the outdoor dance floor, where I didn’t manage to convince the lead singer of the band to let me play the drums, but I did have front row access to my brother Jamie’s friend singing wordlessly into the empty mic stand along to the blaring post-band playlist.

It was at this point, barefoot and oblivious to the fact that there were any single men, anywhere, that someone came up to me to ask if I was, in fact, Jamie’s sister, and after that, to assure me that don’t look anything like him.

2. Forget about what happened at the wedding in Cape Town

After a brief text exchange the next day, and one of those awkward hungover conversations with an Uber driver on an early Sunday morning, I didn’t really expect to hear from him ever again.

Yes, it had been fun reliving my previous drunken journeys through Newlands forest on the way into town, making out and drinking more whisky at The Shack and listening to someone drunkenly tell me for hours how amazing they thought I was, even though they had literally just met me.

It was fun, but my past experience has shown me that sometimes people act a certain way when they’re away from home, including me, and that these experiences don’t often translate into sober, day to day life. Especially when you realise how drunk you both actually were, even though you did kind of semi-believe that his compliments were sincere.

So when I got a new follower notification on Instagram a week later, I was surprised. But not so surprised to get a text from him a few days after that.

3. Go on a date in Pretoria

The initial texting conversation was really fun. A lot of banter and talk about travel, our interests and some other random entertaining bullshit, which was a welcome change from so many of the strained early text conversations I’ve had with guys before.

So I was stoked when he asked me to go out for drinks with him that weekend. And even more stoked when it became clear that he was actually going to make the effort to come to Pretoria from Joburg (and that I didn’t have to think of any scenario A/scenario B logistics plans).

But the day before our Pretoria date, things started to get weird. Maybe he felt insecure about the apparently magnanimous gesture, and if he did, I felt equally insecure when on the Saturday morning, the day we were meant to meet up, he still hadn’t confirmed a time and place to meet.

(Call me old fashioned but this was red flag number one).

We did end up meeting up though, and despite my initial reservations, we had a great time. I mean, how can you not have fun drinking watery Aperol Spritz in the top room above Culture Club in The Village, hitting it off over someone’s repetitive playlist, or over tapas in the downstairs seated area, talking about your families and reminiscing about previous travel experiences?

4. Go on a Date in Joburg

The night in Pretoria went so well, and it was so sober, relaxed and tame in comparison to our previous post-wedding night out together, that I felt a bit bad about being so forward about him not confirming plans in advance.

But that was before I made the effort to go to Joburg to see him, after he suggested a mid-week date, and assured me that I could stay at his place but that he would sleep on the couch.

Of course, if I’d trusted my intuition all along I would never have spent any time with him in the first place, but then I wouldn’t have gotten to see the impressive interior of We Work in Rosebank and have to wait 15 minutes for him to come down the elevator to meet me in the lobby, after another round of semi-vague plan making.

I also wouldn’t have had the experience of being one of the only two people drinking flavoured gin and tonics at Workshop 55 on Seventh Avenue in Parktown North, looking out over the parking lot at the sunset. Or a having to negotiate a brief and incoherent mumbled reaction after I reached out to rub his shoulder during our conversation.

(In my defence, his plaid shirt material was really soft, so my initial gesture to demonstrate some kind of affection may have gone on for a bit longer than planned).

After that, things definitely took a turn for the worse, judging by the fact that he also almost turned into the parking attendant on the way out of Workshop 55.

All this before his confession that while I thought that we were having a pretty decent conversation while eating deep fried caulifower “wings” at the bar at Royale, he was distracted by thoughts of doing something else.

5. Be upfront (well, try to be)

In hindsight, there are many points along the trajectory of a bad dating experience where you realise you could have tapped out and saved yourself a lot of unnecessary disappointment.

Unfortunately, having been a bit out of the game for a while, I’d forgotten about this. Also, with a somewhat reformed concept of the shortness of life, and with a severely low alcohol tolerance, I tend to roll with whatever is going on at the time and just be present in the experience.

Which in this case, involved becoming painfully aware of the fact that this wasn’t the kind of dynamic I was looking for, after a drunken attempt to be honest about how I felt about the situation, which I thought might pave the way for a reciprocated response.

However, this only led to serious awkwardness. And even more awkwardness the next morning when he only spoke to me when he felt it was necessary to look up from his phone.

This might have also been exacerbated by the fact that the cauliflower “chicken” wings at Royale were so good, that I ate so many, and that because of these I may or may not have sleep farted in the bed next to him, loudly, before waking up (because I definitely dreamt that I did).

6. Go home, disappointed

Either way, when I walked towards the Gautrain after a “pretend everything is okay” car ride to Rosebank, and a super strained kiss on the cheek-“chat soon”-goodbye near the We Work elevator entrance, I knew that we wouldn’t be hanging out again.

(Even though he incomprehensibly texted me immediately afterwards to say that it was a fun night, which I also incomprehensibly responded to in agreement, even though presumably for both of us, it wasn’t really that much fun at all).

Have you ever had a super awkward dating experience in either Pretoria or Joburg, or both? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. Any other advice on how to go on a date in Pretoria also welcome.

4 thoughts on “How to Go on a Date in Pretoria (and Joburg)”

  1. I sense writing this must have been wonderfully cathartic! Loved reading it and had a good chuckle at the cauliflower fart in bed bit :’) :’)

    1. Haha, thanks Nadia! And yes, it was, somehow felt like I needed to share the story, even if it was just to help someone not do the same 🙂

    1. Haha, glad you enjoyed it and thanks for reading Cynthia! And yes, I agree, I definitely learnt a lot from the experience 😀

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