Posts Tagged ‘Dating’

Like most women I know, I am self-reliant, independent and opinionated. These are three characteristics that scare the heck out of most men my age.

I’m not a rabid feminist. If you must label me at all, call me a pragmatist. When I’m alone I open my own doors, slay my own dragons and gladly make my way in this world on my own terms. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy having a man hold the door open for me, stand when I enter a room, schlep my luggage, make me dinner or tuck me in at night. I do!  And lest the guys out there think it’s all one sided, I reciprocate!

It’s just that if there aren’t any readily available men in the vicinity – well a girl’s gotta do what girl’s gotta do.

Take this most recent trip for example. The last things to go into my suitcase are my accessories, like the colorful costume jewelry I wear to dress up an outfit. As I was packing this week, I noticed that my red rhinestone bracelet was missing a few stones. Luckily, I found the missing stones in the bottom of my jewelry box and got out the Krazy Glue.

As I was in a hurry, I performed the delicate operation on the top of my highboy dresser, standing on tippy toes and using my fingers – which narrowly escaped the fate of Siamese twins by a fraction of a second. I recalled hearing about people who glue their body parts to objects − or other body parts − then have to go to the hospital to get unstuck.

“What kind of crazy idiot does that?” I asked aloud.

I looked at my reflection in the mirror, said, “This crazy idiot.”

One rhinestone fell out of its setting, but I didn’t see it until it was too late. A little red rhinestone was solidly glued to the top of my dresser and nothing I could do would remove it, short of ruining the veneer. I tried nail polish remover and olive oil. Oh, I don’t know!  It was all I could think of at that moment. And with a taxi on its way, time was running out.

Now, I’m certain that a man would have thought of some way of removing the rhinestone without damaging the furniture. He’d figure it out just like the way he assembles barbeques, changes leaky washers in the faucet, sets up new stereo systems fully integrated with the TV, the computer and microwave so that we can watch movies and eat popcorn all at the same time.

I didn’t brood for long because I had a bigger problem: Tilda. What would my Portuguese cleaning lady do when she came later that week? She’d be dusting the dresser, see the rhinestone and try to pick it up. It wouldn’t budge. She’d pull, and push, and prod it as I did without effect. She’d apply cleaners and other concoctions as I did and still nothing.

With more time than I had and dogged determination, she might try more radical means until she perhaps would go too far and ruin the finish. Then, she’d be so overwrought with guilt and remorse for having ruined a cheap veneer finish that she’d probably have a heart attack right on the spot. And not only would I have a rhinestone stuck to my dresser, I would have killed my cleaning lady.

The clock was still ticking. I was sure the taxi had already pulled up to my apartment building.

What to do?

Oh, the pressure. Why hadn’t I performed the delicate jewelry repair with tweezers and at the table where I could see what I was doing?

So I did what any self-reliant, independent and opinionated woman in my position would do: I put a Post-it note next to the rhinestone:


Please do not remove the rhinestone. I put it there for good luck.   Obrigada (Thank you)

Well what else could I write? A Post-it note wasn’t big enough to explain the ridiculousness of the situation in which I now found myself. Besides I knew Tilda to be superstitious like most southern Europeans and all Irishmen.

Next, I phoned a girlfriend because I really wanted to share a laugh even if it was at my expense. Only she didn’t laugh. She took the situation very seriously and came up with the following suggestion, “Cat what a great opportunity. When you come back you go right out and buy some more rhinestones and turn that red rhinestone into a starting point for something beautiful and unique.”

Her unique approach and imaginative answer made me realize that while there are some days I miss having a man around – this wasn’t one of them.

photo: © istockphoto.com/Yuri_Arcurs

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Little did I know when I wrote my previous post, Bird in the Hand that my week in Johannesburg would be a real life variation on the same theme: birds. How strange is that? What was Mother Nature trying to tell me?

First there was my early morning wake-up call at 6:00 a.m. Somewhere in my jet lag induced unconsciousness I could hear honking. I’ve heard of cell phones that chirp but never hotel phones that honk. Now fully awake, I realized the noise was not coming from inside but rather outside on my window ledge.

A pair of bickering black-billed geese, husband and wife, no doubt, had pitched up on my window ledge high above Sandton City on the 14th Floor of the Sandton Sun Hotel. It was my own personal (wake-up) call of the wild.

Bird with a View

How in the world did they get there? And just what were they arguing about at this hour? And why had they picked my window ledge? I got up and went to the window and looked down the ledge to where they sat bickering.

I watched her walk off in a huff. (I guess some things are universal.) He followed her down the ledge honking as if he was trying to convince her of something. By now they had arrived in front of me. It certainly looked like I was in the middle of some domestic squabble. Geese may mate for life but they’re not necessarily faithful so maybe there was another goose – or gander – involved.

I pulled back the curtains slowly trying not to frighten them so I could get a better view of the unhappy couple. Sensing the presence of an intruder, they turned their ire on me. I was about as welcome as the paparazzi at a Hollywood marriage meltdown.

Determined to keep their argument private, he puffed up his chest and spread his wings in an attempt to intimidate me. And then united as a couple they began to peck at the window. I was impressed, and then I realized they weren’t attacking me. They were attacking their own reflections in the window. Having spent their anger on something other than each other, they waddled off to other end of the ledge and I heard nothing further from them. They were back to being lovebirds.

The next day I packed my bags and headed for the comforts of home – my friend Julie’s home in a city suburb – the same Julie whose thought-provoking comment was the genesis for my book, Any Color but Beige. (See Chapter 25) The same Julie who generously whisked me away to the Veld for some much needed downtime last year. The same Julie who hosted a Girls’ Night In to celebrate the launch of the book in South Africa. (More on that later).

I was content to sit in her garden and soak up the summer sun while I watched the brightly yellow-colored birds called weavers build their nests. That day there was one weaver who had just put the finishing touches on his new nest when a curious female alighted on a nearby branch.

(The females are a dull brown but that doesn’t bother the males. Oh to be as free as that female weaver and have the male of the species chase you in spite of your dull plumage. I mean really, ladies, try getting away with a mousy color on the top of your head or half an inch of regrowth showing at the roots.)

At last someone with whom he can share his love nest. The little male weaver wanted to strut his colorful stuff and so he hopped onto the branch next to her and started to make small talk. Like a good female, she studiously ignored him.

When another male tried to muscle in on his girl, our brave little weaver ran him off. When I second male moved in, our little guy ran him off too. How’s that for defending your home and your castle? I heard him chirp. When he returned to put the moves on the female, she failed to return his romantic overtures. He flew up to the nest to invite her in to see his etchings but no dice’ she wasn’t budging.

He looked dejected. The tree was full of nests and so maybe she was waiting for a better offer. Finally, tired of waiting, for what I’m not quite sure, she flew off. I felt sorry for the male but Julie told me that it just may have been a blessing in disguise. Had the lady accepted his offer and flew up to the nest she might have found it lacking and tore it apart bit by bit. He would have to start over and try again until it pleased her. How like life.

And so the little yellow weaver went back to decorating his pad and waiting for the next pretty bird to come along. It’s like his mother once told him, “There are plenty of fish in the sea and plenty of birds in the sky.” How like love.

So what was Mother Nature telling me this week? Life, like love, is for the birds.

Photo: © iStockphoto.com/amrishwad

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I’ve been thinking a lot about old sayings –you know – the ones we use to help us make decisions.

For example, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”

I used to think that made sense until experience proved me wrong. It’s always better to keep both hands open.

Not too long ago I had a lovely golden bird in the hand. I was so happy and pleased that this golden bird chose to alight in my garden and stay awhile that I became oblivious to all of the other beautiful birds visiting my garden that summer.

One day the golden bird and I had plans to rendezvous at a little love nest in the south of France. I decided to take a day for myself in Paris prior to joining him in Nice. I stayed in the very posh neighborhood, at the lovely L’ Hôtel de Banville in the 17ieme. It was a beautiful summer’s day and I decided to take le Métro to the Les Tuileries and walk in the gardens.

The closest Métro stop was Porte de Champerret  in a well-to-do treed residential area  with small shops and restaurants. Thinking and smiling to myself about my upcoming tryst, I happened to glance up and catch the eye of a very attractive Frenchman.

He wasn’t too tall – I’d say about 5’10 – and dressed: very French in his summer slacks, form-fitting white Lacoste shirt, and a cardinal red sweater tossed carelessly over his shoulders, the sleeves looped in front of his chest. His eyes were the color of cornflowers.

He rested comfortably against the hood of a high-end performance sports car, his Gucci-clad feet crossed at his tanned ankles. He was talking on his cell phone.

He returned a smile that wasn’t intended for him. That caught me by surprise, and I smiled back. I guess you could say we had a “moment”. But what to do about it? I was not going to start a conversation with a total stranger, especially since I already had a man waiting for me. I didn’t need another devastatingly handsome, and charming (all Frenchmen are charming) European man.

And so I walked straight into le Métro and headed for the platform. Somehow I knew he would follow me. Sure enough, when I got to the platform and turned around, I saw him walking toward me, like he had every intention taking the Métro that morning. I walked farther down the platform curious to see if he’d get in the same car. I momentarily lost sight of him when the train pulled up. I walked into the car carrying my guidebook and, there he was, he came in right after me. He sat across from me and made eye contact, looking for some sign of encouragement from me. I smiled but I was determined to play it cool. If he was that interested, and he looked like he was, it was up to him to approach me. I was done doing the modern girl thing. Plus I was in France; I was determined to play the coquette – short of batting my lashes.

We continued to exchange meaningful glances all the way through the next stop but nothing happened. We rolled into a third stop and exchanged fleeting eye contact. I knew I should proffer something more than passing glances, but the golden bird was waiting for me so I was more than willing to let this one get away. Unless of course he came up with an introduction, a beau geste, that would make my heart skip a beat.

The fourth stop came and he rose to leave. Dejected, he glanced back over his shoulder as the doors closed and I shrugged as if to say, “It was your move, why didn’t you make it?” With a hint of unexplainable sadness, I waved goodbye.

A day later I was in Nice basking in the Mediterranean sunshine with the golden bird, and a month after that he flew the coop without so much as an email or tweet goodbye.

I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I had only been a bit more receptive to the mysterious French stranger. If I had given up the bird in the hand, or what I thought was a sure thing, for the potential of two in the bush. Had I made a cardinal mistake? I guess I’ll never know. He will forever remain the one that got away.

Photo: © iStockphoto.com/Johnny Greig


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Here they are as promised, a selection of opening lines to help you capture the moment the next time you bump into a potential Mr. or Ms. Right. Since they were inspired by my friend Lara, I have dubbed the list: Lara’s lines.   

One word of advice, it’s important to be light with your approach and don’t take things seriously. Remember the idea is to have fun.

The Moment

YOU:  “Did you feel that?  (Pause for his reply).

He’ll usually say something clever, like… “Feel what?”

YOU:  “I think we may have just had a moment”

If he says nothing you can finish his thought for him.

YOU:   “This is where you say, I think so too.”

If he’s receptive, you can introduce yourself.  If he’s not, you can always say over you shoulder as you walk away, “Well it was nice not quite meeting you.”


Compliments are always a safe bet. I mean who doesn’t like receiving a compliment.  Obviously the more sincere they are the better they will be received and the less superficial you will sound.

“That’s a great color on you.”

As women we’re already perceived as experts.  This line leads to several possibilities of follow-up conversation.  You can ask about his favorite color.

If he’s not good with color, you can joke and describe the difference between men and women when it comes to color.

YOU:  “Count on men to know at least two colors: black and brown.  Most men are satisfied with the Crayola 8 pack while women require all 64 colors.”

Some men may be offended when you make broad based statements like this.  If that happens, you can always say that you’re just generalizing for fun.  However, if he’s that uptight run.


You can always stop and ask for directions or recommendations.  Obviously you know where you’re going but he doesn’t have to know that.  This line of questioning takes some advanced planning as it is situation based.  Are you home running errands?  Are you in a city on vacation or business?

YOU: “I’m so tired of eating in this hotel, would you know a good restaurant near by?”

YOU:  “I’m new to the city, I only just arrived yesterday, can you recommend a good way to spend a few hours in the afternoon?”

YOU: “I’m looking for Crescent Street can you point me in the right direction?”

Photo: © iStockphoto.com/MichaelDeLeon

Compliment what he is wearing and ask him where he got it.  Tell him you have a 30-year-old nephew or godson and you’re looking for a birthday present.  Never tell him you’re shopping for your father, as he will question his own fashion sense, or that you’re shopping for your son – save that for later. Conclude by saying that it really suits him. And if you sense things are going well then introduce yourself

Photo: © iStockphoto.com/visi.stock


There are days when you look good and you know it. These are days for taking chances with a more playful approach. Innuendo is a good approach with a man that you find very attractive and would consider sleeping with but nothing more.

YOU:  “How about a few fast furious rounds?” arch your eyebrows and smile mischievously.

Of course, you were talking about tennis; what was he thinking?


There is something refreshing about a person who is open and honest. It makes us pause for a minute and often times catches us by surprise. You begin by introducing yourself and then follow up with:

YOU:  “I find that there are too many “what if…” moments in life.  And I don’t want this to be one of them. Would you like to have coffee with me? “

The variation on the “what if” theme is that of regret,

“A wise person once told me that it’s the things that you don’t do that you end up regretting.  I think I should very much regret not having met you.  Would you like to have coffee?”

Parting Shots

Of course, there is always a risk that you run into a jerk or a man lacking a sense of humor.  Rather than feeling flattered, as most men would, he is offended. That is his issue and not yours. You can make a graceful exit with the following:

YOU:  “Are you always this charming, or are you making a special effort on my behalf?  In that case, please don’t put yourself out.” Make sure you say it with just a hint of sarcasm.


YOU:  “Oh by the way, the lost and found is just down the street, in case you’re looking for your sense of humor.”

So there you have it, Lara’s List of opening lines…Now go out there and capture the moment!

NB:  I was going to end the post here but I just couldn’t leave it without mentioning my all time favorite capture the moment line. Charlie McArthur a Chicago journalist and playwright said it the first time he met the legendary actress Helen Hayes.  They were at high-society part together when he approached her and offered her some peanuts.  As he put them into her hand, he said, “I wish they were emeralds.”


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Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.  ~Winston Churchill

Telling the truth to a stranger is easy. Telling the truth to a lover is much more complicated and delicate. And in the handful of relationships I’ve had over the last few years, I have yet to meet the man who could speak his own truth. I have always had to do it for him.

My brother Mike shakes his head in disbelief at the sorry state of manhood today, one that requires his sister to “man-up” and do all of the work. But on some level he gets it. Breakups aren’t easy and sometimes they can be messy. Still it’s as puzzling to him as it is to me.

In an attempt to get some clarity, I once asked one of these men why he just didn’t tell me he’d had a change of heart.   He said it was because he was afraid I would get too emotional because I got emotional just asking the question.  I will admit to watery eyes but at least my voice was steady.

The shift from boyfriend to let’s be friends happened so quickly I was caught off guard – thus the watery eyes.  Believe me; I’d rather chew broken glass than break down in front of a man. In most cases goodbyes come as no surprise. The signs are everywhere.

From the male point of view, it seems it’s much easier to be the gradually disappearing man, to show me rather than tell me that he has changed his mind.  As the daily phone calls, e-mails, texts evolveto every second, third or fourth day and then a week or two, you can hear him asking himself, “How much longer do I have to keep this up, so I don’t look like a complete jerk, and she gets the message?”

Sadly, his thought process has nothing to do with me and everything to do with his self- image and his ability to look himself in the mirror every morning. It’s the age-old question of: is it better to rip off the Band-aid with one tug, or progressively, painfully peel it back?

I am an advocate for the former method.  Tell me and tell me now! Gradually peeling the Band-aid back allows all sorts of nasty things to get between your skin and that protective covering you called a relationship. It keeps me wondering, waiting and — worst of all — hoping.  I magnify every contact and examine it for hidden meanings.  Didn’t we just have a great conversation?  Didn’t he compliment me over dinner?  He just said “we…” But false hope is nothing but a false friend.  Don’t count on it.

If you allow the connection to linger, your confidence and self-esteem become infected by doubt.  All of a sudden, you’re questioning your looks, career, even your taste in décor.  And you’ll find yourself asking:  What could I have done differently? What do I have change in order to heal the wound?

Sure, ripping off the Band-aid does sting, whether you do it or someone else does it. But when it’s done, it’s done.  Tugging at it a little at a time only opens you up for a prolonged and painful separation.  Either way the outcome is still the same.

Given the fact that, today, there are so many ways to break up — e-mail, voice mail, texting, via your personal assistant (located in India), and the infamous Post-It note — it really begs the question: Is breaking up all that hard to do?

If you have a good/bad break up story, I’d love to hear about it.

*Excerpted from the book

Photo: © iStockphoto.com/jrroman

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I don’t think anyone can go to New Orleans and not leave without out at least having her cards or palm read. Psychics and readers abound, with a few of the more daring souls having set up shop with their folding chairs in front of the venerable old St. Louis Cathedral. As prognostication is a black art and usually frowned on by the church, I thought I’d play it safe and have my cards read around the corner on Royal Street.  But not before stopping into the old Cathedral, lighting a candle, saying a prayer, and making the perfunctory “first time” wish – granted to all Catholics every time we visit a new church.

Talk about hedging my bets.  Hey, we’re talking cards here, right?

Play the hand you’re dealt

I took the cards and shuffled the deck and laid out my choices before Shelley the Seer.  As I turned a card over and saw the very scary face of what looked like the devil – I wondered if I could trade in a few cards for a better hand.  I asked Shelly, and she told me, “This isn’t poker you know. You play the hand you’re dealt.”  Okay, okay I thought.  This is why God doesn’t allow us to see around corners, and why shortcuts to the future are only for fun.

Shelley gave me a dream reading, one that all single women would love to hear. The scary card was actually my karma card – uh oh!   And the card that went with it – some sort of tree with lots of branches – foretold a new love … a love like no other with someone I would recognize the moment I finally met him.  It was someone from a past life and thus the connection to karma. But she warned me that I had to be open.

What me, not open?  Of course I’m open – you only have to look at my recent dating / relationship history to see that I was perhaps a bit too open.  Upon further reflection, however, it occurred to me that there is a big difference between being open and being available.  And now fate was presenting me with a good opportunity to learn the difference.

In this case, being open meant looking at all of the possibilities regardless of who they were.  And since I have been wandering in a non-dating desert for several months now, any karmic strangers appearing on the horizon now would be hard to miss.  All I had to do was meet him for the first time – again.

The reading made me think of the newly released song, by Michael Buble about not yet meeting the right person.  It’s a love song about being open to the possibilities despite previous set backs in love.  It’s a song about keeping the faith with yourself and with the whatever the universe, or God, has in store.

Who knows if it’s really the cards or the candle that dictates one’s fate?   In the end it doesn’t really matter.  What does matter is the belief that secret hopes or silent prayers are always answered.  Perhaps it might not be in the way Shelley or I had imagined, but hey that’s the future for you; it’s always full of surprises.

Photo: © iStockphoto.com/creatista

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A little knowledge..


If  I’ve learned one thing since my divorce it’s  this —  When it comes to having sex,  men are like apples.  All you have to do is pick  one.  Having said that keep in mind what happened to Eve.


Photo: © iStockphoto.com/DNY59

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