Your Spanish Fling
You sign up to Tinder, because you’re trying to get over someone else. Even though you despise meeting people online. You swipe mostly left, not knowing how the app works yet, and have very few matches. You’ve heard the Tinder rumours, so you update your bio with a disclaimer: “I’m not a one-night stand or rebound [you’re thinking of the someone else]. But if you’re looking for an awesome human in your life who laughs like a hyena, doesn’t give a shit what people think of her, and is ready to love with all her heart, then cool, J.”
You go to bed, not feeling up to the cute small talk required.
You wake the next day, alone in your bed. You switch on your cell phone. You have five new matches. You check the IM and read through the messages:
How r u? Wt u doin 2day?
You have a beautiful smile, wanna meet?
You have a very interesting profile.
Don’t delete. Investigate new match. Smiling man, dark beard, glasses, friendly eyes, open face. Likes cycling, dresses well, is Spanish.
You reply. Thank you, so do you.
You talk on Tinder for hours. He makes you laugh, he works in digital advertising too. You run out of battery and decide to delete Tinder, 24 hours after signing up. It’s distracting you from writing. You give the Spanish your cell phone number before deactivating your account. You continue to chat via WhatsApp for more hours. He asks you on a date, and you say no, not yet. Another 24 hours later and you say yes.
You pick your outfit carefully. You wear the one item of clothing from Spain that friends bought for you on a recent trip, a pair of flower printed stockings, with midi-heel boots, a tight-fitting lacey skirt, a flowing black top, which shows just the right amount of cleavage, a red jacket, your favourite bird necklace and a leopard-print scarf. You feel faint the day leading up to the date, telling yourself to calm down. You smoke too many cigarettes and worry about coughing wine over him. He tells you he is working late, so you have another hour of angst. You finish your hair and make-up and pour a glass of wine. Just one, to calm the nerves. You smoke another few cigarettes. The wine tastes like toothpaste. You tell a friend you’re going on a Tinder date, just in case. You give her the time and location of meeting the Spanish. The hour is up and you call a taxi.
You arrive at the hotel and he is waiting in the reception area. He wears his smile as perfectly as his white Spanish outfit. He takes you in his arms and hugs you as if you’ve always known each other.
“I feel like I already know you,” you say.
“But you do,” he says and mirrors your smile.
When you enter the hotel he guides you with his hand on the small of your back. You’re glad you’re wearing matching underwear, but you’re trying not to think about that. You’re a good girl and good girls don’t sleep with Spanish on the first date. Or any other men.
You sit on the terrace overlooking the immaculate hotel gardens. There are art pieces in the garden. That’s why you picked the place, knowing that the Spanish is new to Cape Town and also loves art. The stars are aligned above your heads. There are heaters nearby, it’s going into autumn, but you’re flushed from head to toe. You remove your jacket and scarf.
You order a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc and it tastes like poetry. You feel like a cliché but you don’t care. He listens attentively and touches your leg every now and again.
“I can listen to you all night,” he says. He looks straight into your eyes and you’re convinced he’s not lying.
“Bless the Spanish,” you say and laugh.
“What does that mean?” he asks. His face honest, true, so Spanish.
“Just… Thank you.”
You smile into each other’s faces and the world looks more beautiful than any other night of your life.
You talk about your lives; yours in South Africa running parallel to his in Spain, until you intertwined on Tinder. You say “Salut” to Tinder and drink to the successful match. You finish the wine and smoke cigarettes in tandem. He gives you his full attention, never looking at anyone else, but focusing on your mouth as you talk. This makes you laugh and you laugh often. You feel light and fuzzy and not sure if this is real.
After a shared meal of finger snacks and an after-dinner cocktail, you notice that you’re the only table still occupied at the restaurant. You ask him if he wants to see the art in the garden. He says yes, of course.
You walk slowly on the winding trail through the installation pieces: a 3D chair, a women’s face, an object you can’t name. You follow the path to the swimming pool to show him a piece you saw on a previous night of a big whale. The whale is gone and there’s a patch of yellow grass where it used to be. He tests the pool water, you test the water, and you look at each other. The water is steamy.
“How wild are you?” he asks.
After a bottle of wine? “Very,” you reply.
You remove your clothes, and stand in your underwear, freezing. He removes his clothes, and then everything. He runs to the pool and gets in. His ass is strong and muscly. His back is as smooth as a dolphin’s. You tiptoe over the grass to the pool in your underwear. You tell him to look away. You remove your underwear and take the few steps into the pool. The pool is lit from the bottom and you see the dark triangle of his pubic hair. You don’t know where to look. You’re a good girl, remember? You focus on the water’s surface, where small circles are forming around his body. You submerge your body into the lukewarm water and tentatively move around. He is behind you, encircling your body. Before you can feel his penis on your back, you swim away. You’re not ready for this.
“We’re going to get caught and thrown out of the hotel,” you say.
He laughs and splashes around.
You run for your clothing and wrap yourself in a towel. He is behind you again. You’re worried he’s going to push his luck. You’re not a one-night stand. You’re not, you’re not, you’re not.
He hands you your clothes and dresses you slowly. Then dresses himself. You shiver and he wraps a towel around your shoulders, then enfolds you in his arms.
“Can I kiss you?” he asks.
You answer by kissing him. He is soft, and hard, and man, and beard, and tongue, and delicious. You kiss like teenagers. You move to a bench and kiss some more.
“You’re so beautiful,” he says.
“Do you say that to all your dates?” you ask.
“What does that mean?”
“Do you take women from South Africa on dates and tell them they’re beautiful to get them into bed?”
He laughs. “Do you have problems expressing intimacy?”
Now you laugh. “No. Yes. Maybe. I’m South African and I guess I’m not used to such a passionate man.”
His reply is a deep kiss. You feel yourself melt against him.
“Can I take you home?” he asks. “In my car, I mean. I will give you a lift home,” he adds quickly when he sees the look in your eyes.
“Yes, thank you,” you say.
You walk arm-in-arm back to the hotel and through the restaurant, where a cleaner is vacuuming the carpet. She smiles and waves at you. You smile and wave back, thinking, “Yes, I am on a date with this delicious man. And yes, I just kissed him and want to kiss him again. All over.”
You remember the library lift and pull him towards it. “There’s a lift here with books cut into the walls, let me show you.”
“Why are you so amazing?” he answers.
You smile, smile, smile. The lift opens, you enter, it closes. He smiles, smiles, smiles. He pulls you close, pins you to the mirrored wall and kisses you. You feel your mind slip away. And imagine your panties slipping slowly. But the lift ‘pings’ on the ground floor and you pop out.
You make it to his car without falling apart. You close your legs as you direct him to your house. He drives slowly, and decreases to 10 km/h as you get closer to your house.
“I don’t want to take you home. And I don’t want this date to end,” he says.
You laugh and put your hand on his leg. He takes your hand in his and kisses it, slowly licking your fingers.
“Focus on the road,” you mock-scold. But you’re putty.
He brings the car to a stop in front of your building. He pulls you from your seat onto his. The steering wheel is fighting with your midi-heel boots but you don’t care. You kiss like you might never see him again. You feel yourself getting wet. You have to leave now, or it will be too late.
You come up for breath. “Goodbye, I have to go.”
“You don’t want me to come up?” His puppy dog eyes plead.
You shake your head. “My head is saying no, but my vagina is saying yes.” You move to the passenger door. “Yes, I just said vagina.” You open the door, jump out. “Goodnight.”
You place one boot in front of the other to make it to the front gate. You only turn back once as you unlock the gate. You wave and blow him a kiss. He waves and blows you a kiss back.
When you’re inside your flat, you dare to breathe. You’re walking on a cloud and loving it, but hating yourself for being a cliché. At least you didn’t sleep with him, you think smugly. Good girl. You check your phone before getting into bed. He sends a pic of him alone in bed, smiling. He wants you beside him, he says, but he will wait.
You go through three days of working on a fluffy cloud. Your colleagues enjoy your extra laughs and sexy swing of your hips. He sends you constant messages of cuteness. He is thinking of you. He can’t wait to see you again. He is so happy he met you. He wants to see you again, and again, and again. You try to hide your happiness, but you’re just a girl wanting love. You try to keep it casual in your head, “It’s just a fling,” you say to friends. But somewhere in the back of your mind is the idea of a match. A companion that lasts. That makes you laugh all of the time. That skinny dips with you one day, and holds back your hair the next when you’re feeling sick. Who is just as likely to bring you a cup of tea in bed, as he is to order you a cocktail on date night.
Two days after your first date he asks you to keep the following night for him. He sends hourly reminders of the date, only so many hours to go. And then 24 hours, and then it’s the next morning, and then it’s that night.
You choose your underwear more carefully for the second date. Just in case. You shave your legs, de-hair your bikini area, and spray perfume in all the strategic places. You are so proud of yourself, because you haven’t thought of the someone else you’re trying to get over, and you’re putting yourself out there after being single for more than four years. You coax yourself to take it easy and play it cool. To be yourself and to just have fun.
You meet at a wine bar in town for pre-dinner drinks. When you see each other, you fall into each other’s arms. He picks you off the ground and keeps you there. You feel small and special in his embrace. He kisses you like you’re his. You love it and don’t care who sees you or not.
You sit on wooden benches outside the bar, your legs wedged between his. He asks you about your week and wants to know everything that’s happened since you last saw each other. He nods and smiles and hangs on every word. You ask him in return to share about his life, and you nod and smile and love the sentences coming out of his mouth. He is smart, you think, and nothing is more sexy than a clever man.
“I have a proposal for you,” he says.
“Yes?” you ask, sipping on a cocktail. You take a drag of your cigarette, look back in his honest eyes.
“Will you marry me?” he asks.
He laughs. You laugh.
“No, honestly. I have this great idea. My friend runs a Spanish magazine in Madrid and she wants me to write articles for her. I thought maybe we can do it together? You write in English, and I translate in Spanish? What do you think?”
You think it’s the best idea since two-for-one cocktails. You would love to have your work translated in Spanish. To collaborate with this creative man and run around Cape Town writing articles about art, graffiti, cocktails, coffee, wine, life, everything!
“I think that’s amazing!” you say.
“I think you are amazing!” he says and pulls you to him for another delicious kiss.
You hop from bar to restaurant to bar on this perfect night. You eat fresh Italian food at a true Italian restaurant. He switches to Italian when you enter the restaurant, and you nearly trip over yourself.
“You speak Italian too?” you ask.
“A little,” he says.
He orders you the most beautiful food of your life. You eat like there’s a party in your mouth and kiss in between every bite.
“Your hair is an explosion of beauty,” he says.
You laugh. “Thank you for the compliment.” You feel free with this man. He is not like any other man you’ve ever met. He punctuates every sentence with a smile. He gives out compliments like sweets. He laughs at your silly jokes. And he tells you how much he loves your style, your hair, your voice, your mouth.
You feel your inhibitions starting to slip. You want to take him home, and make him yours. You want him in your bed, between your legs, smothered in your sheets.
You end the night at a busy bar close to your home. As you enter the bar, he stops to talk to a tall, blonde woman and a man. You are not introduced to them, and wait on the side. You order a round of whiskey and sit on the street. A man comes up to say hi to your Spanish and you want him to go away. The Spanish introduces you as his friend. You don’t take much notice of this, because as soon as the random man is gone, the Spanish encircles you with his legs.
“We should have breakfast together tomorrow morning, yes? So, should we go to your place with a bottle of wine now?”
You nod. You’re tired of being a good girl. You’re well over 30 and you’re fed up with being alone. Your bed is too empty and your body is wanting. To be touched, licked, explored, sucked.
You put on some music when you get home. You each have a glass of wine on the balcony overlooking the city lights. You smoke in silence and smile at each other.
“You are so lovely,” he says after every kiss. “Where have you been all my life?”
You make your way to the bedroom and he undresses you first. You allow him to admire you and position you on the bed.
“I want to kiss you from here,” he point to your head, “to here,” he points to your toes.
You smile an adult woman smile and allow him to do just that. When his mouth finds your clitoris, you’re already soaking wet. You come twice before his penis is even exposed.
You’re shaking and riveted and feel like a flower opening in the sun. You feel him inside you and move to his beat. When it’s over, you fold into each other and then drift into a deep sleep.
You awake with him smiling, looking at your face. “You’re so beautiful,” he says. You feel more alive than you’ve ever felt with a man. You make love again, this time in the daylight, you straddling him, your breasts swinging from side to side.
Afterwards you snuggle, his body fitting perfectly behind yours.
“You’re so amazing,” he says into your hair. “Where have you been all my life? This is exactly what I was dreaming about.”
When you awake it’s almost lunch time, your stomach ready for food. Your body isn’t used to this activity. Your legs are jelly, your vagina in delicious pain.
“Can I have a shower?” he asks before getting out of bed. “And you make us coffee, yes?”
You smile dreamily and make the bed while you listen to the water running. You brew the coffee, singing a strange song in your head.
When he comes out of the shower, he looks different. He is fresh, a new man. He pours coffee and walks out to the balcony for a cigarette. He looks at his phone and squints in the early afternoon light.
“What are the rest of your weekend plans?” he asks, but the question seems fake.
“Writing.” You look out over the city, the mountain beyond. You’re a big girl, you’re not going to make a big deal. “The answer is always writing. And you?”
He looks at his phone, not at you. “Dinner with friends tonight. Then maybe skydiving tomorrow. If the weather is good,” he says to no one in particular.
You pull on your cigarette. So no messages wanting to see you tonight, then, right? But you don’t ask. Or question. Or project. You’re a big girl, you should know better.
“I’m going to have a quick shower,” you say. Wanting to add: should we then go for breakfast?
“I’m leaving now,” he says.
You blink. “Okay.”
When you open the front door, he turns to you for a hug. So no sidewalk kisses and passionate goodbyes, then?
He hugs you, but not tight.
“Thanks for everything,” you say, not knowing the protocol. You’ve never had a stranger in your bed.
He blows you a small kiss before walking away.
You lock yourself in and walk to your bedroom. Another Tinder cliché. You feel more naked than you’ve ever felt. You place your bird necklace around your neck, position yourself in front of your floor-length mirror. You press the bird into your heart. It breaks through your skin, blood dripping to your navel, where his tongue had just been. You press harder. The bird escapes through your heart to your back. You press and press. The blood runs from your navel to your vagina, where it pools in your hair. It makes its way down your legs until your feet are bright red. You think of the someone else you tried to forget, the Spanish who turned you into a cliché, and all the men who have been inside you once or twice. You feel your back aching, your legs giving in. Slowly, two wings push through your naked back. You see blood in the mirror, the wings hidden from your sight. You turn sideways and see ugly, not the beauty of men. The blood darkens the wings and brings you down on your knees. You cry to no one, wishing you could fly away.
Jana du Plessis is a copywriter, lecturer and author living in Cape Town, South Africa. She has co-written, directed and produced a stage play and is the author of two popular fiction novels, Vat ’n gap (2011) and Mieke rock uit (2012) (both NB Publishers). Her poetry and fiction have appeared in various publications, and she is currently obsessed with her spirit-sisters, Lidia Yuknavitch, Kate Zambreno, Michelle Tea, and Chris Kraus.