HE called himself “Gregarious Guy” and my word was he witty…on paper. To put you in the picture, my internet dating profile goes a little like this: “Secret Agent…I could tell you the truth that I am secret agent Natascha from Minsk, but then I’d have to kill you. Let’s just pretend instead that I’m a down-to-earth Brissie girl…”
And I loved his response. “Dear Natascha, very clever to disguise yourself as a down-to-earth Brissie girl. I think the last time I met you was in Amsterdam on the M15 cover up job. Do you remember me? I had a moustache at the time. I would have loved to have taken you out for a drink but I was teamed up with that tall Armenian woman Rhona. She was a real handful! Yes, I am also stuck here in Brisbane. Those American idiots in the CIA will never think to look for us here. Let me take you out for a drink. Do you still have a weakness for Vodka?”
To writers, word play is like foreplay. Punctuation is our porn. And if you are any good at alliteration, I will have your children. And with Klaus, I was hooked. He had me at hello.
And then we met. It was a cold, wet winter’s night more suited to secret agents than a slothful Brisbane girl who was slightly resentful at having to surrender her pajamas and hot water bottle for dress-up gear, but never let it be said I don’t give things a go. And so off I trotted into Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley to meet in a dimly-lit wine bar.
I was the first to arrive. I ordered a champagne and perched myself on a bar stool. I was aware I looked a little like a “working girl” waiting for a client. I tried not to look like a working girl. His first fatal error was he was late. I don’t care if you’ve just passed a kidney stone, you don’t turn up late for first dates or job interviews. In fact, a little early is pretty good in my opinion. There were so many opening lines he could have used, but instead, he stared right at me and simply said: “So, here you are.” I looked back awkwardly. “Yes, I am.” By this stage, I had almost finished my champagne, bar a drop. He walked to the bar, and ordered himself a drink. There was no offer for me, which wouldn’t have been quite so bad if “gregarious guy” wasn’t so dull. It occurred to me 5 minutes into the meeting that I’d need to be rather intoxicated to survive this evening.
He was 52. He spoke about power lines and moving back to live with his mother to save money. Red flags were jumping out all over the place. He told me about his second cousin. Forty-five minutes into the date, he asked me to dinner. By this stage, I was stone, cold sober.
“Yes, I am hungry but I’m going to go home as I’ve got an important meeting tomorrow,” I replied. And at the same moment I went to shake his hand, he went to kiss me in another of those awkward exchanges you wish you could erase. I dashed out of the bar and made my way home, starving. I stopped at my local Ceylon restaurant and ordered a champagne and a takeaway prawn curry.
“Where shall I sit while I’m waiting for my curry?” I asked the lovely waiter.
And right in the front of the restaurant full of diners he motioned towards a throne. A carved wooden throne. Perfect, I thought, climbing up onto the regal perch, careful not to spill a drop of champagne. I may have started out the evening as a secret agent (if you ignore that brief stint as a “working girl”), but at least I ended it as a princess.
As for Klaus, he texted three days later. He told me he loved my “energy” but didn’t feel any chemistry between us. Then he asked me out again. I’d love to Klaus, really I would, but Natascha has been sent to Dubrovnik on assignment. Indefinitely.