There was a time being wooed by a man was no dangerous space
Imagine being in your late 30s, that age where your skin reminds you that you should have eaten more vegetables and drank less alcohol in your 20s, an age where debit orders feel more painful than period pains.
You have your problems right? Some of them petty, depending on who you are telling.
You are single. Your friends don't understand why that's even an issue. You can live without a man, you've come out fine even after all the dodgy Siphos and Tshepos you've dated before.
You hear them and you admire them for their 'men are just an accessory" attitude. But deep down you know you want a man and you aren't even interested in that "tall, dark, rich and handsome" fantasy, you really just want a man with a good heart and great brain.
You daydream about meeting him at a random place like a supermarket where he helps you push your trolley to your car. He tells you his name before he asks for yours. He doesn't stand too close to you and he doesn't make any attempt to touch you or make comments about your body or your beauty.
And then, right in the middle of the daydream your phone beeps alerting you of a Facebook inbox notification. It's from someone you don't know and it reads "Hi, HUD", you Google and find out it actually means "how u doing?". You reply because you have time to spare, but you decide to write your reply in full proper words.
A smiley face, a red heart and a request for your phone number so you can take your chat to WhatsApp is what follows.
You are shocked, but you reply and ask him, sarcastically, if he's serious.
He replies and now he's calling you "baby" and "sexy". You take offence and tell him you are not his baby.
He snaps and tells you to voetsek, that you think you're all that.
You block him, and then you sit back and laugh at the madness of how by simply responding to his message he immediately assumed you were now his "sexy baby".
The whole experience takes you back to a nostalgic place where men, yes men, not the entitled psychopathic males who existed then and continue to exist now, were some kind of poets who charmed you with words far from "voetsek".
You remember that guy in high school who left a piece of paper on your desk declaring his crush on you through Tevin Campbell's Can We Talk lyrics, and you laugh because there was a time where being pursued by a man wasn't scary.
Of course it could be annoying especially if it was someone you knew there was no way in hell you'd ever be interested in.
"Urgh uyang'shela", was how you'd explain him to your friends.
There were no cellphones to hide behind so a man had to declare his undying love while looking you in the eye.
He would also make sure he looked good, smelled nice and kept his hands to himself. Of course there'd be lies here and there, like promises of marriage and vow to never break your heart.
Girls had a way of showing where the whole thing was going. Body language was all it took.
You could look a man in the eye and tell him "angikufuni" (hell no) and he'd take it and walk away, even if he had spent weeks asking you out.
But a man who had potential, you wouldn't even be able to look him in the eye. You'd brush him off while biting your lip because you'd be trying to hide that smile of a smitten girl.
Sometimes it was about testing his patience, how much of a hard worker he was. The man would know that success was possible, so he'd become more relaxed but more creative with words.
He on the other hand, would be there hoping you'd stop playing and say that "Yes" out loud.
Things had to be confirmed and sealed, that was the beauty of it.
Greeting a man back was still about just being courteous, not out of fear of how he might react if you didn't.
There has never been a time where men didn't have potential to harm you, but there was a time where they understood and accepted rejection.
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