My first date was at the cinema. We’d agreed to meet after slow dancing to Whigfield’s ‘The Summer is Magic’ a week earlier and I felt good. It’s hard to remember where I got the confidence from. I had taken my mom’s advice and gone for a chino, blue denim shirt and tartan waistcoat combination that made me look like a 43-year-old midget. My hair was cut short and brushed in a middle parting, which made my ears stick out.
The venue was Blue Route Shopping Mall on the outskirts of everything. I arrived an hour early. I walked around the mall with my hands in my pockets, my leather shoes squeaking on the tiled floor, trying to act nonchalant but coming across shifty. I checked my watch far too often and reading the Spur menu three times. I think Dr. Alban was playing on the mall PA. “It’s my life,” he sang.
She arrived. With nine of her friends. I counted them as they approached, giggling and pointing and whispering into cupped hands. They walked in goose-formation; my date at the front. We shook hands. They giggled. I went for a hug. They giggled louder. I offered to buy her ticket; one of the girls burst out laughing.
We filed into the cinema, four friends on either side of me. She talked to her friends while I watched the trailers, my ears burning magma-hot and my throat dry with panic. The girls on either side leant forward and threw popcorn at each other. My mind was blank; I mustered a few dry platitudes and considered the yawn hug. Not with this entourage.
We sat in silence; the girls threw the rest of the popcorn. Some of it hit me in the face, so I had to turn to them and smile to show them I didn’t mind. This also showed them I had braces, which made them giggle.
When my Mom picked me up I had decided that I didn’t like dates. She explained that it was unusual for a girl to arrive with nine friends. I didn’t care about unusual. I wanted to go home and take off my waistcoat and for my ears to cool down and to get the popcorn crumbs out of my hair.
The cinema has since been my favourite place in any city. I’ll watch anything, anytime, with anyone. Just not with nine girls. This month we interview Adam Sandler, star of You Don’t Mess With The Zohan, travel to Grahamstown for the Arts Festival, reveal the joys of decorating in monochrome and wonder how Brangelina’s twins can help to save the planet.
Elsewhere, our money expert caresses his beard and looks at our dire inflation rate and, in the music section, we direct you to what is at once the most pointless and entertaining website you’re likely to see.