“How long has it been since you last went on a date?” my friends asked me, trying to be kind.
I made a noise that sounded like “Um-I-don’t-know” but it was apparently so pathetic they decided I needed a plan.
I was ordered to write a list of four people in my life whom I would not be adverse to dating. Playing along, I listed the four most beautiful men in my life – a shallow and entirely physical list that ranged from our doorman to the guy who refills the office coffee machine.
“Now you’ve got to get a date with one of those people. By the end of the week,” smirked my Texan friend, who was busy compiling a list of his own.
I figured he had the advantage. Here in Colombia, it seems, women are not supposed to ask out the men. We are instead meant to stand around and look alluring. Making the obvious suggestion – a date – is apparently ’emasculating’.
I was still trying to reconcile this perplexity with my surging competitive spirit the following day, when one of the men on my list asked me to go dancing with him.
“Yes, of course,” I smiled hurriedly, a bit too happy to have succeeded at what had seemed an impossible task.
I gave him my number so he could call and arrange a day, forgetting momentarily that he does not speak English.
“Um, maybe you could email me,” I mumbled.
“My Spanish is really bad on the phone.”
He shook his head.
“I don’t have a computer,” he laughed.
“I’ll call you. It will be fine.”
Obviously, it wasn’t. The next day, when he called, I was in a loud bar with some friends, celebrating the Royal Wedding.
I battled valiantly before handing the phone to Cesar, my dear friend and translator. It was decreed that I would see him later, in person, to arrange our date.
We settled on next Saturday. I don’t know where we are going and I haven’t been able to be my usual control freak self, because I am too busy worrying about having to spend that much time with someone who can’t speak my language.
“I always try to speak really slowly and formally with you,” he smiled.
“But how much do you understand?”
“Um, maybe ninety per cent,” I lied.
“I think it’s more like sixty,” he lied kindly in return.
Oh God. Next Saturday is going to be a disaster. Let’s hope he is a proper Colombian and a) forgets b) suddenly has a more pressing family engagement or c) is so late I give up hope and scuttle back to a night out with my English-speaking friends…