Growing up at 21 Jump Street (in Nko-wankowa, Limpopo, that is), it was the norm for our crew to declare which girl we fancied in the neighbourhood. The declaration was the easy part, because we did not actually envisage summoning enough courage to approach the objects of our affection.
We were 14 and 15, but all we really cared about was playing sports – until on one Saturday afternoon, when the joviality and camaraderie on our street corner was replaced by fear and anxiety.
A member of our clan came galloping down the road to inform me that the girl I was fond of was walking in the other street with her sister and one of our friends. The idea was that our friend would keep the sister busy while I tried my luck with the pretty girl. I had no choice but to attend to the matter, despite my impending nervous breakdown.
So there I am with this beautiful, sought-after new girl with absolutely no idea what to say.
Kulani: “Hello.” (I stuttered.)
Beautiful girl: “Hi.”
Kulani: “So what’s your name?” (I knew exactly what her name was).
Beautiful girl: “What do you want to do with my name?”
At this stage I was shaking and because I had no game plan, I had no idea how to answer that question.
Kulani: “I just want to know your name.” (now I’m mumbling).
Beautiful girl: “What exactly do you want to do with my name?”
We walked a while in silence and then my older friend and I left the two ladies. He had witnessed the pathetic exchange, but chose not to tell the rest of the gang. All I told them was that it did not go too well. Nobody laughed at me, but instead patted my back and congratulated me for my bravery.
This early encounter with rejection taught me two things. Firstly, things don’t always go according to plan, and secondly, what matters is the effort.
Now, with more experience and, occasionally, the aid of a drink, approaching women is not as daunting. And rejection? Oh well, you just move on to the next one.
I once saw a movie where the main character pointed out how men and women differ in their approach to handling rejection. He said that men, once kicked to the proverbial curb, wouldn’t come back for more, while women would continue to try and change a man’s mind.
I don’t agree entirely with his opinion that men simply brush rejection off . They take a bit of time to behave like idiots and nurse their bruised egos back to health – and then they move on. I do think he’s right about us girls. We’ll analyse every word that was said, trying to find a loophole that leaves us with a tiny shred of hope.
We’ll then cling to that shred long after its has shrivelled up and died. I never noticed this horrible quality in myself – I choose to blame it on my ovaries – until I started having more male than female friends. The reaction I get from them when I tell them about a rejection is simple: sorry, one to the next one!
The same story told to my girlfriends would be met with a strategy and planning session that would put the US Army to shame.
The loophole would be found and a plot would be devised to exploit it to death. This would be followed by weeks of the careful execution of this intricate master plan, generally followed by its failure, more rejection, and a few evenings of Bridget Jones-style drinking, eating and watching of seriously depressing movies.
I’m sure every woman reading this is shaking her head and insisting that she doesn’t do any of the above – and if that’s genuinely the case, go put on Independent Women and do a victory dance. If you’re human like the rest of us, though, take a page out of the boys’ book: spend some time licking your wounds and then lose his phone number.
To borrow some wisdom from the book He’s Just Not That Into You by Liz Tuccillo and Greg Behrendt: “While there are some exceptions to the rule, always believe the following: honey, you are the rule!”