… Bond is being snooty while ordering a watered down drink.

He was a Commander in the Royal Navy” I grumbled from the corner of my mouth to the dinner guest to my left, “Not a bloody Captain from some Banana Republic!” It was said in jest, of course, as one of the party goers walked past our table heading outside for a cigarette but to me spoilt the theme of the evening a little. Yes he had made an effort but that much polyester could be labelled ‘fire hazard’ rather than ‘black-tie’ as the invitation had requested.

She almost choked on her mozzarella salad as she chuckled and just like that all the others became fair game as we hunted our way through the party list. Here to celebrate a mutual friend’s 30th birthday party at a seen-but-not-seen restaurant in Illovo that had been resplendently restyled for the evening everyone knew everyone but few were friends. When the party-circuit in Jo’burg is as small as ours you are bound to bump into one another over and over again and it’s easier to nod than it is to be knobbed.

Earlier I had tried my hand at the cards table and while the game of the evening was not Black-Jack but Texas-Hold ‘Em I bluffed my way through the game as if I knew what was going on. As we struggled to catch up with the other tables which had been served first I was about to start my plate of food when my presence was requested back at the table once again. It seems that while I wasn’t at the head table I was at the heart of their circle and hurried off without having finished my fillet, grilled veggies or creamed mash potato.

Of course by this time many of the men around the table had removed their clipped on bow ties, unbuttoned their shirts a little and rolled up their sleeves to a serious game of cards. Back and forth the little discs representing money flowed between the players. Higher and higher the buy-in became eventually separating the wheat from the chaff as the players tried to show-off their gambling prowess. One by one they flew too high in the betting stakes and with weaker hands fell to earth as Ickerous.

As the numbers counted down from 7, 6, and 5 and finally down to 4 I was the next one out of the top 3. Which was a good thing since dessert was now being served and I had been looking forward to my Crème Brûlé and double espresso. With many of the guests equally split between the dance-floor and the card tables I walked among the groups outside and briefly stopped if I knew someone to catch up. Although I had recently moved to a smaller town the conversation made me feel like I had moved to another universe.

As I stood there watching all the people as they sat around the various tables playing cards from a distance, or even catalogue couples reunited through drinks orders or desserts being passed around on silver trays, I got to thinking about the gamble we take when we date. In life People go to casinos for the same reason they go on blind dates: hoping to hit the jackpot. But mostly you just wind up broke or alone in a bar. As I sat looking at my bête noir winning I had to ask: if we know the house always wins, why gamble?

This question hit home as a friend of mine told me he was in the middle of ending a 14-yrs relationship because of a boy that he met while in Europe a few months ago. His leap of faith towards the unknown leaves me in awe because at 55-yrs old he wants something more than a comprise that he’s settled for. But it’s not just him. Lately everyone I seem to talk to all seem to be falling into love whether it’s Cooper in London, Ethan in New York, Peter in Zurich or even more locally Mike in Cape Town. They all seem to be over the moon but some cynical part of me remembers the courting stage.

That magical time in the first few weeks or months of the relationship when everything just floats past you, as you sit there disconnected from the world holding hands, or kissing in a park, and talking through dinners that last late into the night. Frenetic love-making under the stars and lazy Sundays in bed with nothing but the papers, crumbs from that croissant you fought over and the smell of coffee mixed with sex. Hours apart seem like days that will never end and weeks separated seem an eternity.

But then slowly it falls apart as brick by brick you heart slowly starts to build that wall around to protect you from the car crash that will become your life shortly. When you get that call when a frustrated voice says ‘… we have to talk’ or a SMS that once excited your heart now breaks it. It’s over. These are memories that I try and avoid every time I go out on a date set-up by a well meaning friend or couple. And after that great first date all the euphoria comes back as your body remembers the tingle of being in love again.

And that’s what it’s all about isn’t it? The frantic scramble to find someone to start a family and to grow old with. But the older you get the less frantic the search becomes as you become comfortable with quite Friday or Saturday nights in your own company and knowing that you can do whatever you like without having to check with someone else first. And then from across the table in your own secret garden you look up and smile at the crumbs of toast that are caught in his stubble. Affectionately you brush them away. He’s comfortable enough to let you do that without it meaning more.

After all the Bradley Cooper-esq guy might tease you like a friend, help fix a damaged wheel spoke like a friend or even butter your toast like a friend but sometimes even friends fall in love right? Not that that’s my angle but I wouldn’t say no on Christmas morning. Because let’s face it: it’s easy to wish for the perfect job, townhouse or boyfriend to come along but sometimes in life you just have to play the hand of cards you’ve been dealt. Who knows that King of Hearts might be the card you need for a Casino Royale Flush.

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One Response to “… Bond is being snooty while ordering a watered down drink.”

  1. Hi GD

    thanks for the comments. And the blog. I am so glad you are back. I was worried when the last one ended.

    Your writing is amazing.
    more, more!

    G

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