Follow your heart always, but take your brain with you
Lovers of Tinder and any cool dating apps/ sites listen up.
There was a point in my early twenties that i was hooked to Online dating. I was on at least 7 online dating sites.
The folly and beauty of youth is that you are fearless and bold. And you think you are so cool you want to try out the coolest and latest sites and apps.
I was on Afro introductions, Badoo, 2go and Qeep (these two apps were the Whatsapp of 2006 – 2008), Match.com, Kenyan cupid.com and a few more.
The first thing I did after joining a dating site was to check out the success stories. Couples that had met online and were now happily married or engaged made me warm up to the idea that this online dating thing was not too bad.
I confess that I have a few male friends that I met via these sites that are my good friends to date. Hi Dennis and Bantu! But this is about the one guy that duped me and made me hop off the online dating train.
Andre. Dre in short.
We met via one of those sites above.
Dre was a witty, intelligent and by far the most good looking man I had ever seen. I say good looking because his shirtless photos under a palm tree in Wasini and on a boat enjoying a boat ride with some locals had me googly eyed. Then there were photos of him in the Congo handing out relief food and he looked even more dashing in slacks and a plain blue shirt. And more photos of him at a work convention in Marseille. This man was very light skinned, lean, tall and extremely good looking.
He had checked some of my then must have qualities in a man.
- Good looking (abs and a killer smile)
- Working class ( a journalist based in Marseille, France)
- Cultured and well travelled (Wasini. Congo DRC. France and so on)
- Charitable (regular relief food donations)
Who knew all this could come in one package? I had never dated a journalist before. There was that phase that I really wanted to be one. But date one? Never. So he told me about the stories he did for several media houses based in France. He was a freelance journalist. Half French, Half Kenyan. He told me he was still on the bottom rung of the media ladder and he was working his way up by doing extra time – trying his hand at both print and electronic media. I challenged him to try news anchoring. With his good looks, he was sure to be a phenomenal news man. The women would not listen keenly to any heart breaking news stories, they would all be smitten by the good looks, and he would sustain viewership night after night.
He mentioned that he could not because good looks aside, he was camera shy.
I could have listened to him talk on and on about the stories he did with Reuters that paid him handsomely, or how amazing it was to cover untold stories in Madinah, Jeddah and Saudi. He was a modern day feminist, passionate about Saudi authorities not allowing women to drive, and he was trying to change all that in the littlest way possible. One story at a time.
He loved his job, but in a way, he had not settled at 37 because he was always travelling and most women could not handle the long distance relationship. I was 20 and did not mind. The long distance or the age difference. He seemed to want to know all about me. That to me spelt an attentive man. A good listener. He was tired of talking about himself and his life. For his sake, we talked about boring me. I was 20 and in college studying web programming and database design. Geeky tech stuff. We used to chat at the computer lab in school over my two hour practical lesson and after 3 weeks I gave him my number.
And so he called. Right away after me texting my number. I was excited and had to step out of lab class to pick his call.
‘Hi Penny. Its Dre.’ His voice was rich and husky. (Made me think of maple syrup and pancakes)
‘Oh. Hi Doc!’
‘Yes as in like Doctor Dre!’ He laughed at my cheesiness.
His laugh was heartwarming just like his voice. 15 minutes of sweet nothings later, I hang up and dashed to catch up with the programming and web coding in class.
Weekends were the hardest because he was out of office doing field work, and I could not sit and wait at a cyber cafe for hours waiting for him to be done. So we only chatted on Tuesdays and Thursdays – the days I had access to the internet – and the days that he was on leave. I loved that he was well traveled and a hopeless romantic like me. He lived for nice intimate dinners – cooked by him and sunset walks on a beach. He owned a villa in France. He spoke of blueberry pancakes and swimming in the ocean at day break.
He spoke fondly of France and in all this, I pictured us together; me and him locking eyes, listening to his rich voice, thick and complete with a French accent on a romantic getaway in Paris under the Eiffel Tower. And later on a picnic at a French botanical garden munching away on baguettes.
I did not know French, he said he would teach me.
He asked whether i knew about the Pont Des Arts bridge. I had never heard of it before. He explained about how lovers visiting France would stop by that infamous bridge in France and attached two padlocks intertwined as a symbol of their love for each other, and they would proceed to throw away the lock keys into the Seine river – to symbolize eternal love.
I could not wait to meet Dre. But I would have been damned if I was the first to suggest that we meet. So I waited for two weeks and he finally came round to asking me out on an offline date. He was coming to Nairobi for a week enroute to his vacation in Kilifi (which I was to accompany him to).
I mentioned I would accept or decline in person.
Venue for the blind date? Bettys, Corner House, Kimathi Street, Nairobi (which now goes by another name altogether)
My naive mind was so impressed that he picked out the location from the get go and I could not wait to meet Dre. My Dre.
So on the material day I walk inside Bettys at 2pm, I am like 30 minutes late; Nairobi lunch time traffic. My phone buzzes, Dre says he is sitted inside by the bar at the counter.
I am nervous. My palms are clammy. My forehead is sweaty. The culmination of six months of chatting. I find myself up the stairs and into a dimly lit corridor and make my way towards the bar.
My eyes take time to adjust to my surrounding.
The bar is quite empty save for some guys sitted on some table laughing loudly and slapping each other’s backs like the way men do when they have made a really good deal. They must be celebrating.
I glance towards the counter. There is no Dre. Just some short, bald, dark guy, (feet dangling from the bar stool short) looking my way. He licks his lips lasciviously. I frown.
There is no Dre.
I turn my back to and call Dre.
‘Hi Dre! Where are you?’ I ask.
Someone taps my shoulder and I turn.
Its Mr. dangling feet who is all of two inches shorter than me. I am in heels and towering over the man. He’s also on phone. I am confused. He stretches his hand to greet mine.
‘Hi Penny, I am Andre, Dre. Nice to meet you’. He says
I am downright shocked. The voice is Dre’s. But he does nowhere close to resemble the Frenchman I had been chatting with for months. Tears flood my eyes. He continues to speak but my mind is foggy. Wait! That French accent I kept hearing on phone turns out to be a thick Kisii accent.
He tells me he is Andre Monyoncho. I am half listening half turning away to walk out. He declares his love for me and reaches for my hand. My insides recoil. I could not believe his nerve.
An extensive background search later revealed that Andre Monyoncho was not even his real name. It was an alias. He was a journalist yes but for a local media house, mostly handling local assignments. I could not believe that I had been duped! Only God knew his intentions. Though I am glad I did not live to experience them.
Its no surprise that most people – both men and women embellish their profiles once they sign up on online dating sites and apps. People portray themselves to be what they are not. Some even go to an extra mile to profile/ tailor make themselves just to land a nice catch of a person. In the case of Dre, he had fished for pictures from a random model’s profile. Yes really.
Its hard enough meeting a decent human being in this day and age. And should you decide to online date, that’s all on you.. Let no one judge. I deactivated all my online dating profiles after that experience with Dre, but what are my Do’s/ Dont’s of online dating?
I have only 3.
Always meet in a public place for the first couple of dates. Always. Until you feel comfortable enough to take it to a private place. And even then, notify a friend or a family member of your whereabouts.
Do not send nudes. You have your reputation to protect. I repeat. DO NOT SEND NUDES.
Trust your gut. Really listen to your intuition/ 6th sense. Its your natural inner genius – your common sense. By all means do a background check on the person. A thorough one. Ask questions as well. Where the person schooled, works, lives and so on. Turn your FBI skills all the way up. Its for your own good.
If he is only available on weekdays (but not after 6pm and never on weekends) , never answers calls or texts / chats after dark and he resurfaces with a reasonable excuse, Such as he keeps forgetting his phone in the office, or charges it while in the car and forgets to leave with it to the house once he gets home, or switches it off at night to fully charge, or he keeps losing it in his friend’s moti…
Guy is married AF!