Sometimes in life, we do things that will inevitably come back to bite us in the arse. One of the biggest lessons I've ever learned is: don't shit where you eat. I'm constantly reminded of that. But I'm getting ahead of myself again. Let me start from the beginning...
We were driving between 140km and 160km's per hour for 5 hours straight. Literally zooming past hills, mountains, rivers and valleys on highways and national roads. And on more than one occasion I wondered to myself, "how the hell did I end up here?".
Indeed, how did I end up in a car with my 25 year old cousin; watching him belt out word-for-word every.single.track that Chris Brown and Usher ever recorded, and listening to him debate the merits of the latter's career after he decided to go commercial while leaning over every once in a while to check that his wife and baby were still fast asleep in the backseat?
Well, I guess we should thank FC for that... my 32 year old uncle who's visiting from Amsterdam (Holland) who incidentally just got married in Copenhagen (Denmark) and decided instead of having a reception in SA for the family (like normal folk would) that it would be apt to cart the entire family up to the northern province of Mpumalanga to climb mountains and look at waterfalls instead.
There was nothing unusual about it but out of the 11 cars in our convoy, I had not intended to be serenaded for 5 hours straight... seriously the dude is more than qualified to take the karaoke championship anywhere in the world... and more importantly, it was not how I ever imagined the weekend would end.
The ride wasn't that bad though. It was certainly better than the lecture I endured from said cousin and another considerably younger male cousin of mine, on Eid Day, on how to attract a guy and sustain a relationship. I mean, really, that was just humiliating. Afterall am I not supposed to be the one giving them advice? I am the second eldest of them all, I should know something valuable by now dammit. He did have a point though. Most South African women are very dominating and the men are generally weak. It's just a part of the SA culture. So men here tend to become more intimidated by women than usual... but I digress.
Anyway, what I didn't bank on this past weekend, was that FC's definition of family includes the people who helped him get to where he is today, which in simple terms is his best friend and his best friend's family.
Insert first of many awkward moments here.
Thing is, this best friend and I...well lets just say that we have a history of sorts and that it did not end well. But in all fairness, we were both young and very very stupid. I'm talking a solid 15 years ago. Much to my uncle's dismay at the time, I became the adoring female with a major crush on said best friend, and while said best friend liked me too, he loved the fact that I liked him. And even though there was quite a distance between us geographically speaking and there was no actual dating, we were seeing each other on quite a serious note.
He called me every single day, and I saw him every few weeks at some or other family event, but the distance soon proved too much to bear and in a matter of months I remained the naive doting female while he lapped up the attention of almost every other available female in a 10 mile radius. And before we knew it, it was a few years down the line, he was less interested and I resented him for stringing me along, not wanting to let me go but not willing to commit to something more tangible either. He was an asshole. A pathological liar. And I had already spent waaay too much of my precious time on him.
And so I cut all ties and refused to speak to him when he called and avoided him like the plague whenever there was a mutual family event. Not long after, I moved to London and he moved to Spain and we lost all contact, and I was perfectly ok with that. I didn't want to know about him. He had taken up too much of my life, I wasn't willing to give him 2 more seconds.
Fast forward to this past weekend, and it was inevitable that I would once again have to face him. But it was my own fault see... never ever shit where you eat. As my uncle's best friend, there was no way I could escape him forever.
So I was dreading it. I'd been dreading it ever since I heard that he was going to be there and that there was no way out of the weekend that was already booked.
The moment I saw him, I cringed inwardly and instinctively looked for somewhere to run to, someone to talk to or something else to do. There was no escaping him though because even though I managed to slip through the cracks at lunch - surprisingly easy with over 60 people in one place at one time - I wasn't so lucky at dinner.
And as always, Murphy was working overtime, thinking of every conceivable way to screw me over and leave me lying sprawled on the ground, dying from humiliation, because that's how we roll...
Dinner was a formal affair and I got dressed up in a satin blue dress. When I walked into the resturant, his entire family stared at me while I found a seat at one of the tables in the restaurant. The place soon filled up with other family members and then he arrived... wearing a blue suit. And being late, he attracted all the attention and catcalls... everyone (including his Mother) wanting to know why he was so dressed up and who he was intending to impress and if he was ready to propose... ALL with insinuations towards ME. I sank down in my seat, trying to hide my inflamed pink face, trying not to hyperventilate and DIE from embarrassment.
But alas, Murphy was not done with me. Since I happened to be seated at the main table with my uncle and his new wife, he had to come and sit NEXT to me... in his blue suit. From ALL of the tables in the entire restaurant, he just HAD TO come sit next to me. At this point, I was ready to barf all over him. And to make things worse, I had everyone, EVERYONE of my cousins and aunts and uncles and sisters telling me how nice he is and how good we'd be together. No one could get it through their thick skulls that I wanted nothing to do with him.
I honestly didn't know what to do at that point. Sinking further in my seat wasn't going to help. Ignoring him wasn't going to do either. And so I decided to react differently. I bit the bullet and began a casual conversation around the table that included him. As the night wore on, we chatted with only a tiny glimmer of awkward between us and then it dawned on me that I was holding on to my resentment and anger towards him for so long, that I hadn't noticed that he had changed over the years. That he was no longer the narcissistic, egotistical attention-seeking whore he once was and he was actually pretty decent. I was finally ready to let go of the past and what happened between us and accept it for what it was.
Not that I was ready to trust him again...or anything like that.
At the end of the evening, I walked back to my chalet with my uncle, aunt and sisters and was surprised when he joined us. It was quite cold and when I complained about the chill in the air, he took off his Jacket and handed it to me. I could NOT believe he did that... seriously, and in front of everyone too. So I said "No thanks, I'm fine", and he said "No, take it", and I said "No thanks" and he said "Here take it"... really it went on like that for a good 5 minutes much to everyone elses delight and entertainment. And in all the time, I kept on denying it, saying that it was fine, he insisted that I take it. I cannot begin to describe how embarrassing it was.
Anyway, so we get to my uncle's chalet, and he invites us in for tea. I had to pick my jaw up from the ground... this is a guy who would rather dunk me in a swimming pool... and he's inviting me for freaking TEA. At this point, determined to put this right before I left, I accepted the invitation and soon my aunt was making us tea and all the other guests had mysteriously disappeared leaving the four of us to engage in small talk. It was surreal. And by the end of the night, I actually felt sorry for him. I decided to leave first - because everyone was tired and I didn't want anyone to feel obligated to be there.
As I left I felt a twinge of regret. See, this is men... they never realise what they have until it's too late because they're always looking for someone else to make them feel better about themselves. I guess some women are like that too, but it's mostly men. And then 10 years down the line they want to fix it and they can't. And what grates me is that most of them know, they know that they will never meet someone as great or wonderful or attentive but that doesn't stop them from being assholes.
Like my 34 year old friend Jenna. Just yesterday she told me about this guy Scott that she's seeing who explicitly told her that she can never bank on him being the one for her or that there was a good chance that their relationship might not go anywhere important (a snetiment which she accepted). But then when she made a joke about her future husband taking her to Paris for their honeymoon, he got upset and asked her if she was just using him and if he wasn't good enough for her. She got angry and told him that maybe it would be better if they remained friends and then he called her that night, CRYING on the phone, telling her that he can't go back to being friends and that he can't live without her and that he loves her kids like they're his own blah blah blah.. and I was like, dude, YOU told her that there's no future for you guys so why are you crying about it now?!?
I told her not to make too much of it... that it seems like he had good intentions, he wanted to take things slow and he wants to be cautious while taking their relationship towards marriage (because most people in SA get married - particularly amongst the older generations - it's a part of our conservative culture) but that things seem to be out of his hands and what he says and does is two different things... it's just that he doesn't realise what exactly he wants.
So I told her all this... and it makes sense to me. But I can't believe the same about my uncle's best friend. I know he's changed. I know he's a different person. I know everyone else likes him and they all think it's a great idea for us to be together. But I can't help feeling that the only reason that everyone is so invested in this idea is because we're two single people that have known each other for a long time. I've forgiven him for lying to me, and hurting me. And I do feel bad for being so harsh on him all these years. But even though my cousins want to stalk him this weekend, I'm not so keen to jump back into that pool. Aside from not wanting to make the same mistakes again, I will NEVER run after a man... unless he's Damon and Damon doesn't exist. If he wants this, he's got to put some effort into it.
Maybe I'm being unreasonable...