I’m a guest at Jasmine’s place for the celebration of the Chinese New Year – the Year of the Rooster. “Also known as the Year of the Cock,” she adds, making us, the mixed crowd that is mingling in her living room, giggle mischievously.
Jasmine (32), is a Chinese expatriate with a PhD, and I find her quite cute, funny and smart.
Single, she tells me she’s never even had a boyfriend, but is currently looking for her husband-to-be-slash-one-true-love, all in one package.
While he doesn’t come her way, she occupies her life with hard work, loads of international friends, dance courses and cooking.
I, on the other hand, have already enjoyed the bliss and all the sorrows of a longish-lived marriage to my teenage sweetheart. From the age of seventeen, when we started dating, until the Year of the Goat, when I turned forty.
Gosh! Twenty-three years with the same man. Isn’t it selfish of me to want more while some of my friends haven’t had it at all, yet?
Truth be told, I’m feeling afraid. Disturbingly terrified of ending up alone.
Helping myself at the buffet table, what a relief to bump into Tony, a handsome friend I’ve made in Kamppi through the MeetUp app, just as I have Jasmine.
“Long time… So great to see you here!”
“Oh, hi Anna! How are you doing?” he responds in his cool, typical Finnish style.
We start chatting, glad to have found an acquaintance to keep company at the party. Sitting side by side, we small-talk for a little while.
“My knee is much better now, btw, so I’m going to go back to the dating game again,” Tony updates me and, “How have your dates been?”
More about that, i.e. the knee, in a future chapter. As well as my thoughts on Jasmine not having had a bf yet at her age! What are these two thinking??
“Hmm, that’s good!” I comment. “I’m glad for your, uh, knee…” — then answering his question — “Me? Ah, you know me. Too many dates. But the last was the worst ever!”
“Really, how so?”
I’ve been terribly sad lately, but I don’t feel like ruining the evening, so I evoke a light, superficial mood for our conversation.
“Oh, this guy online has some good profile photos. Climbing, walking on a wire… So, Hmm. He sure is the confident type! And not bad looking, either.”
I’m recollecting the details. A German living in England, he claims he’s looking for people to go jogging with…
“Running with a huge smile and a Santa hat – his third pic is priceless.
“In the snow! With nothing but a small red Xmas gift box tied with a golden bow around his private parts.
“Ha-ha!” — Storytelling fires me up — “I figure, Jogging? That’s innocent enough.”
Hi. Happy 2017!
And if you ever visit Helsinki, maybe we could go running together?
Hey, I’m here in Helsinki on business.
“So we agree to meet the next evening opposite Töölö Bay, a popular workout track in front of his hotel.”
An online dater himself, Tony’s into my story now. In fact, every time our group of friends meets, the subject will resurface as surely as the Finnish morning sun.
“Cool. Jogging on a date could potentially turn out to be an interesting first?”
“Exactly!” — pleased he gets my point —“However… I confess I’m just being friendly with the guy. Not interested. Just chatting, feeling like socializing and maybe even making a new friend, who knows.”
Alas, my heart’s just not ready! After all, I miss my Christian like hell. Feeling like a lost sheep. What’s going on with him??
But I can’t tell Tony that. Always keep a happy, brave face, right? Dignity at all costs!!
Like most Latin Americans, I’m waving with my hands, blabbing excitedly — “OK, listen to this, Friday evening comes and it’s way too easy to spot my date: it’s freezing outside, but the guy is wearing…” — drum rolls — “…Shorts, a bright orange running jacket, and best of all, a flashlight on his forehead!”
For a date?! The bright side is Tony and I get to roll in the aisles.
“So there I am. Hmm. Sigh. Here we go again. My, my! Seriously?” — feeling disappointed.
“Skit!!” — admittedly bothered — “Bad start.But, in the spirit of not judging a child by its dirty face and running nose, let me give this guy a chance.
“Then, uh-oh. Oh no! He opens his mouth and his English sounds so natively…
“But Anna, you speak American English!”
“Yeah, but I love when guys speak British English!”
Classy, sexy, dreamy.
“Besides… I’m expecting a cute German accent. But OK, OK, off we jog.
“We’re on our way – and I’m fighting to keep up with him – a frequent marathon runner.
“So I go ‘Could-you-please-do-most-of-the-talking-as-I-can’t-run-this-fast-and-chat-at-the- same-time?-puff-puff!’
“Detail, the guy is towering 30 cm above me – he’s got long, long strides.”
“And then?” Tony wants to cross the finishing line.
“Can you believe it?
“The one and only topic my gold-medal date talks about is Donald Trump??
“Run, trump, trump, jog, trump, trump, stomp, trump, trump, trump, trump.
“He doesn’t ask me one single thing about my life. He shares nothing about his. All I get is 4k of frumpy trumping! Ha-ha.
“And since I’m struggling to match his pace, panting like a pug, I can’t really find my breath to try and change the subject,” — I giggle, reprimanding myself for not being in the habit of training harder.
“As we’re nearing the end of the track – between one trumpy second and the next – he leans way down and steals a kiss. ‘Now let’s go up to my hotel room, shall we champ?’
I dramatize the memory to express my outrage — “Just like that!”
“Ha-ha. Seriously? I envy the guy’s foreplay skills!” — Tony is enjoying himself — “He thought Trump talk would have turned you on?! Ha-ha-ha. What a winner. Ha-ha.
“Oh, was he for or against Trump, btw?”
“He was against him,” I answer, noticing the girl sitting close to us staring at me with a funny expression.
We all introduce ourselves and, “Luckily, my dates have mostly been fine. People out there do seem to be pretty nice.”
Feeling vulnerable, all of a sudden, at a much slower pace and with a sweet feminine voice, I remind Tony, “I did meet my boyfriend online last year, remember?” — I sulk, not able or willing to refer to him as my ex.
No, no, no! Can’t be.
So, turning the focus of our attention to the new lady, I ask, “What about you? Are you single and possibly on the lookout?”
“Yeah, do you also go online dating?” Tony inquires.
“Yes. Yeah. Not yet,” — but Niina quickly dismisses the chance to discuss her own love life with us — “Your story is hilarious, Anna! Do tell us, how did you react when he invited you up like that?”
“I told him to go trump himself, of course!” — admittedly, not exactly in those words.
“Come on, Anna, you’re so naive! The guy has a pic of his gift-wrapped private parts and you can’t guess what his present to you is gonna be?”
Keep laughing to keep from crying.
“Gosh!” I exclaim.
“OK… to be fair, turns out my flashlight date is half-American, so cut him some slack, will you? Our jogging takes place on Trump’s inauguration day, after all.” — We’re all nodding with empathy now. Yeah, right.
“Hey, Anna, why don’t you write a book with all your online experiences? A separate chapter for every date,” Tony suggests, as many of my other friends have before.
“Hey, if you do, let me know. I’d want to read that!” Niina encourages me some more.
“No, seriously,” they keep at it, “That could a nice project for your Year of the Cock, ha-ha-ha!”
So now my friends, without any further ado, let’s rewind the story to Xmas 2015, when this specific tale begins.
Back to the real Anna. Not this silly temporarily lost case, but the real me. And maybe, just maybe you’ll understand…
For more of these wonderful and intriguing tales in the Chronicles of a happy divorcee, pls visit tinderellaanna.com