I’ve got so much to report, but not all in one go because I’ve got an appointment in an hour. More of that later.
I was Skyping with my mate, Dani, who’s a couple of years older than me, in Canada the other day; she’s a veteran of the old internet scene who finally found her gorgeous Prince Charming. But by all accounts it was a bit of a rocky road to get there. Anyway, I asked her for her guidance and advice on how to proceed with this business, what I should look out for, what to expect etc. She told me the following, but I’ll paraphrase a little because, frankly, bless her, she does go on a bit. (Takes after her mother – my Mum’s best friend from the good old days. Hi Dani!) Of course, I’ve omitted my side of this conversation, otherwise we’d be here for ever; this is a blog not a play, after all. Here's the cautionary tale.
''There’s a sixth sense all women have and should listen to. It’s that little prickle you get in the back of your neck when you know something’s not quite right. I’d been chatting to Matt on the internet for about two months when he mentioned he was coming to Vancouver for business and would I like to meet him for dinner; he didn’t fancy dining with his business contacts and thought it would be nice to meet me. That was my first prickle.
A divorced father of two, an IT consultant, he was about to take responsibility for Vancouver for his firm. He said he loved Canadians, so open, so very accepting of all lifestyles. Prickle. So we arranged to meet at the Three Golden Horses, a rather nice Thai restaurant near his hotel. I was mildly concerned because although we’d exchanged photos earlier – his was a headshot of a middle-aged average-looking chap – would I be able to recognise him? He told me not to worry – his hair had changed slightly, but he’d be wearing a green scarf. Prickle.
The trouble is we weren’t specific about arrangements, and when I arrived a few minutes early, there was no-one in the waiting area. Had he booked a table in his name? Was he already in there perhaps? I scanned the interior, which was largely filled with groups of two or three and a few stray, solitary women, such as me, evidently waiting for their dates to arrive. But no single man sitting alone. Prickle.
I thought I’d been stood up, so I called the cell phone number he’d given me just in case. At the same time I could hear a phone ringing in the restaurant. A soft-spoken voice responded, 'Hi.' Funny, I thought – I can hear an echo. Prickle.
'Hi!' I said. 'It’s Dani. Have you stood me up?'
'No, not at all,' said the voice. 'I’m so excited to meet you. I’m inside already - I’ll come and get you.' I put my phone back in my bag. Maybe he’d been in the bathroom?
'Dani! So good to see you! And your jacket! Wow! Is it D and G? Love it!' I stood up, rather taken aback by the six foot woman, draped in a green shawl, who was giving me a bear hug.
'I’m Matt. Though, obviously tonight I’m Marina,' he/she said, adding in a whisper 'I know you’ll understand,' as he/she grabbed me by the elbow and manoeuvred me to the table.''
It seems that Matt was waiting for a sex-change operation and his frequent trips from home allowed him the freedom to test run the new, improved version of himself. Dani said she quite enjoyed the evening - well, in a surreal, parallel-universe kind of way; they discussed fashion, haberdashery, exchanged cooking tips. "Weird as it sounds, it's rather a fond memory," she said.