Finally they went to their first date, blind date, following more than a month of talking on the phone.
His name is Ungke. Her name is Yanti.
This is the story how they were introduced: A friend of Ungke mentioned Yanti for the first time. He just laughed at the suggestion, at the thought of having a long-distance relationship. And the idea of blind date, which for him was as dark as the blind date itself.
Several months later, however, out of the blue, another friend of Ungke mentioned about her for the second time. Intrigue, he decided to get to now about this woman and where all of this leading to. He believed everything happened for a reason. He didn’t believe that Yanti was introduced to him without some higher purpose. It was indeed a sign, he thought.
Forty five days after he contacted her for the first time, he flew one hour to meet her in her city. She was to meet him in the hotel lobby where he was due to stay and then they would go to the cinema afterwards, to see a movie Yanti very much wanted to see.
He asked her first whether she was Yanti when he found out that she, among several women in the lobby, was more similar to the photograph she sent him. She was the one. But he also saw the look of surprise on her face. “I thought you were darker.” She said later on when they had left the hotel.
When they shook hand, he was a bit groggy. He excused himself to go up to his room to get the present he had brought for her. In fact, it was more about saving himself from looking like an idiot in front of her.
In his hotel room, it suddenly occurred to him what, next, after watching movie, he would like to do with their first date: playing pool with her. He loves playing pool and it didn’t matter whether she knew how to play the game or not. He could teach and instill the love of the game to her, he thought. It was a bit unusual, he knew, but that was exactly the objective he wanted to achieve at first place. First date and more dates thereafter, by having dinner, even by the candle light, or in their case, watching a movie, sounded too ordinary, common, easy-to-guess and too routine. Why didn’t they have something different but yet at the same time memorable?
He chose a separated air-conditioned room and booked it for just two of them. It didn’t only look more private but also a way of showing her, by having them separate from other guys in smoke-filled hall outside, that he cared. Inside the room there was lounge where they would continue talking when finished playing, he planned.
“You don’t know how to play the game?” he asked upon realising that she just sat on the sofa and didn’t make any move. “I’ll teach you.” But she even didn’t want to touch the stick he offered.
“You play, okay, and I’ll watch you from here.”
He played by himself and every now and then he would go to her table taking a sip or two of the cold drink he ordered for them, talking with her briefly and continuing playing. For the entire game she just looked at him passively until he felt bored and they left the place.
They never went to another date.
Ungke didn’t realise the mistake, fatal mistake, he made until he told the second friend where they had spent their first date. It was the look, something like the look of terror, in her friend’s face that he remembered very well. “What’s wrong with playing pool? Here, as you know, pool bar is a good place to distress ourselves after a long day of work. It’s not necessarily a place for preman (thugs). It’s not necessarily a place for people to gamble or a place where bad-reputation women come to spend their time,” he defended himself. But his friend brought him to his senses about the importance of first impressions: “Yes, in our place but not in HER place!”
“Why didn’t you just tell me that you didn’t like being in the pool bar because the bad impression it creates in your area and well, in your culture?” He confronted Yanti seven months later when he was back to her city, that time, for a holiday. “We could change our plan and went somewhere else instead.”
“I had an impression that you were a guy that’s not happy being criticised or told what to do.” She answered him.
“How could you make a conclusion like that?” he frowned, “If I knew it, I wouldn’t bring you there. I just enjoyed playing the game and I thought you might also feel the same way. In fact, in the future, if I’ll have a house of my own, I’ll arrange a special room for a pool table. My apology for bringing you to a place that troubles your conscience, for not realising that it was only me that enjoyed being in that place, for not being sensitive enough.”
“It’s okay,” she said assuringly, “we can’t turn back time. But at least today I know what happened. Thank you for telling me that.”
“Thank YOU,” he said, shaking her hand, “for so kindly allowing me to meet you again. I wish you a very happy future.”
Finally they went to their first date, not a blind date, five days after they met for the first time.
His name is Ungke. Her name is Wawu.
This is the story how they met: Ungke was in a bookshop that specifically sells imported, English, books, when he overheard the conversation at the other shelve. As the luck had it, Wawu was inquiring, to a shop attendant, a rare book by an author he loved so much. Of course, Ungke had all the books that the author had written including the book specifically inquired by Wawu.
Intrigue, upon finding that there was also a person that shared his passion for the same cherished author, he decided to approach and talk to Wawu. When he was walking the isle, he had some kind of de ja vu because it was his ultimate wish to meet a woman that share his passion in literature and at the same time speaks English; and it was in a bookshop, he loved to imagine, that their first meeting would always take place.
He didn’t believe it happened by chance. He didn’t believe that Wawu asked that kind of question, just when he was nearby and could overhear her questions, happened like that. He believed, it’s been arranged by some higher power, a guardian angel probably, that cared about his destiny. It was at that time that he knew dreams could turn into reality as long as you believe in them.
The shop attendant could not answer her inquiry. It was too foreign for him. So he offered his help to the joy of Wawu. They afterwards were found talking and drinking coffee at the small café inside the shop in which he was aware of the full scale of Wawu’s intelligence.
He asked for Wawu’s number on the pretext of contacting her for the book she was looking for. And the destiny helped him succeed with the woman of his many dreams.
Three days later, they decided to meet again at the small café inside the bookshop for their first real date.
He brought the book with him and also other books by the same author. Wawu took also some of the books that she hadn’t read and promised him to return them as soon as possible.
He was excited at the beginning of the date but his excitement was short-lived. Not long after, Wawu, following him, also ordered a bottle of beer. He was taken aback at the request and couldn’t hide his disappointment.
Don’t get him wrong. He spent five years in Australia studied for his Bachelor’s Degree so he get used to women drinking beers. But he didn’t know, at that time, why he was disappointed when the woman he began to fall in love with ordered beer.
“You’re surprised, huh?” Wawu winked at him naughtily.
“I mean, don’t get me wrong, but don’t you think it’s more elegant if you order, say, wine? After all, in my view, beers are too manly for you.” He was very careful to offer the alternative and in expressing his disapproval lest to offend Wawu. This is their first date and he didn’t want to look judgemental and sound like a control freak. Nothing wrong, in fact, for a woman to drink beer, he had to admit. But sometimes there’s something that, although it isn’t necessarily wrong, isn’t discreet to do because time and place don’t allow it.
And for him it meant the lack of common sense and a challenge to the established order, which he could easily interpret as the sign of rebellious spirit. And for him this was one of the fundamental issues of his life principles that he couldn’t afford making a compromise of.
He was obviously very disappointed but he knew that he couldn’t change Wawu unless Wawu wanted to change herself; it would be considered unloving in his part if he insisted on his personal preference.
They never went to another date.
Seven weeks later, in the small café inside the English bookshop, Ungke was reading a book while eating a chocolate bar.
A woman suddenly called his name and approached his table. He looked upon the woman who was holding a glass of beer and, well, he was also surprised. He invited Wawu to sit at the chair in front of him.
“Love chocolate?” Wawu asked him.
“Do you want some?” he didn’t answer the question but offer his chocolate instead, “I’ve got more in my bag.” Wawu laughed.
“How do you enjoy your chocolate?”
“It helped me think. Perhaps, in the same way cigarettes do to the smokers.”
“Not beers to the beer drinkers?” Wawu laughed again and then continued, “I don’t say that I’m addicted to beers the same way as cigarettes do to the smokers but it’s the very smell of beer that my body longings. For this reason, I don’t even have to drink. Sometimes, I just sat and ordered the beer, smelled the aroma, felt satisfied and left. Do know you anything about this behaviour? Is it some kind of psychological disorder, do you think?”
Ungke shook his head. He didn’t have any clues.
(Jakarta, September 14, 2007)