Where I come from (Mexico), dating is a pretty straightforward affair. Assuming, for ease of comparison, that this Boy and Girl that Will Date don't know each other from childhood (very common in Mexico), this is what happens:
- Boy meets Girl.
- Boy asks for Girl's phone number, Girl says no. (Yes, even if she likes him. He's the hunter and she's going to make him chase her.)
- Boy embarks on crusade to get the number--find out who her friends are, see if any of them are friends of his friends, too, and might hacerle el paro (slang for "do a favor").
I moved to Curaçao in the summer of 2003, and two months later I met, through friends, an amazing guy. Funny, sensitive, good-looking, polite, educated, a professional, and very interested in me. He was Dutch, so throughout the hours we spent dancing (yes--he danced) and talking, I wondered. He wouldn't play by these arcane rules of mine--he'd have other rules, new rules--but how far was I willing to stray from my moral requirements?
Somewhere around two AM I finally announced I had to work the next day and I should call it a night. He offered to walk me to my car, and I thought, here we go. All the way to the parking lot I debated--should I let him kiss me? Yes? No? Yes. No!
At my car, I unlocked the door and turned, still without a clue on how to handle this. It was moot--he kissed me thrice on the cheek (the Dutch way), said good night, and walked away.
I was dumbfounded. And pleased. The Dutch way isn't so different after all, I thought. He's going to chase me.
We'd made a plan with other friends to meet two days later at a beach bar, but he didn't show. Just as we were getting ready to leave, my friend got a call from him. When she hung up, she explained that he got stuck in traffic coming back from the other side of the island and wasn't going to make it, but he'd asked her to please give me his phone number so that I could call him. If I wanted to.
My brain came to a halt, tires screeching. Wait. What?
He wanted me to call him?
I wrote him off as a pedantic idiot, berated myself for sucking at character judgment--he'd seemed so nice! So not the kind of self-centered, rude, and obnoxious man to ask me to call him.
It took my friend three days of explanations to bridge the cultural gap. "He doesn't mean it like that," she said. "It's the Dutch way. He's extending you the courtesy of--"
"Courtesy my [beep]," I scoffed. "Who does he think he is, that he can..."
On and on, until she convinced me. He really had seemed nice, not a pedantic idiot at all.
But I'd never called a guy. Well, I had, but--not like this. What was I supposed to say? Was I expected to ask him out? My face burned at the mere thought of forming the words.
I stared at the phone for the whole afternoon, and finally made the call at around eight. A higher power must have taken pity on me because I got his voicemail, left him a message saying we'd be out the next night at a friend's farewell party, in case he'd like to join us.
He did, with a smile in shining armor. Nine years later, we're still together.
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