The 25 year old spent much of our date delivering informative monologues on various Capetonian topics (the architecture, the traffic, the weather, the people, whom he, like pretty much everyone else here who's brought them up, described as being "very cliquey"). Curiously, it may have been the first conversation I've had since my arrival in Cape Town where the subject of black people was never even broached.
That was on Monday, and I spent the next three days secretly hoping I would hear from him again before I decided to take control of my own destiny on Friday morning and WhatsApp him.
Me: "How's it going? I had a good time the other night. Thanks for bringing dessert."
More than 24 hours later, long after I had stopped expecting him to reply, he finally did. Sort of.
Him: "Hey stud"
For a few seconds, I stared at the name attached to the incoming text, blanking: Who the hell is Pieter? Oh, yeah! Pieter! It's about time!
Me: "Hey hot stuff"
The conversation that followed was one I couldn't imagine ever having with someone 10 years older than Pieter, unless it was in Buenos Aires, where I used to occasionally date a 35-year-old man named Martín who was still living with his parents in Zona Norte.
17:59, Mar 1 - Pieter: You well?
18:00, Mar 1 - Jeremy: i'm great. a little hungover but pretty good. how r u?
18:03, Mar 1 - Pieter: Not so great
18:03, Mar 1 - Pieter: In fact in a very shitty situation for the past 4 hours
18:04, Mar 1 - Jeremy: what's wrong?
18:06, Mar 1 - Pieter: My folks are in Durban for a wedding (why the fuck would old people renew their vows with a full on new wedding?!) Its friend's of theirs. Anyway, and I am in my car...the wheel fell off again...and I need to get towed...and I can't get hold of anyone and I've been trying for 4 hours and I can't walk home I'm miles away I would get there in 2 days and its becoming night and I am freaking out and frantic
18:06, Mar 1 - Pieter: And I'm so embarrassed telling you
18:06, Mar 1 - Pieter: :(
18:08, Mar 1 - Jeremy: wow. that really sucks. where are you?
18:09, Mar 1 - Pieter: Melkbosstrand
18:09, Mar 1 - Pieter: I'm frantic
18:11, Mar 1 - Jeremy: i dont know where that is, but it sounds far. what are u going to do?
18:11, Mar 1 - Pieter: I'm going to ask you this now and if you hate me then that would be a real pity just please forgive me but I'm just out of options so here goes: could u possibly please send me some cash so I can get towed home? I could come to you and pay you back in cash once car is fixed...please... :(
18:13, Mar 1 - Jeremy: i'm sorry, but i can't.18:13, Mar 1 - Pieter: Ok
The last time I sent cash to a 25 year old, I was 26. That guy's name was Brett. We'd met weeks earlier at a Basia record-release party in New York City's East Village, and unlike Pieter and I, we'd hung out more than just once. So despite the unlikeliness of Brett's story -- something about being robbed when he fell asleep on the beach in Miami -- I threw some glitter in the air and took a leap of faith. I went to Western Union and sent him $200. Brett vanished a few weeks later without paying me back a dime.
That experience didn't sour me on altruism, but in the immortal words of Pete Townshend, I won't get fooled again. Pieter was the second time I got to prove it today. This morning a woman who lives in the building next to mine knocked on my door asking if she could borrow a vacuum cleaner for 20 minutes. I politely turned her down because as the property of the owner of the apartment I'm renting, the vacuum cleaner isn't mine to loan. But most of all, I turned her down because I'd never seen her in my life, and there was no guarantee that I'd ever see her, or the vacuum cleaner, again.
If I wasn't going to loan her a vacuum cleaner, why would I just hand over my money to some guy who couldn't even be bothered to send me a text message the day after our date? If I've learned anything in the 18 years since Brett duped me, it's how to spot a con. I'll be holding on to my money, thank you.