26 January 2004

Meaningful overnight relationship?

When does a one-night stand become a one-night stand? When the phone does not ring in the next five days?

Recently I spotted a bumper sticker on the back of the car in front of me which read: “Wanted: meaningful overnight relationship”. The driver of the car looked like a most unlikely candidate for such a caper – 60, rather foreboding and with a hairstyle that looked as if it had been chosen from a catalogue at a hardware store. Maybe it was a borrowed car, but then again, maybe not.

When does a one-night stand become a one-night stand? When the phone does not ring in the next five days?

But seriously, most people have been through something like this at least once. You are a stranger in a strange land, or there is a stranger from a strange land at your sister’s birthday party and wine flows and sparks fly. A cup of coffee, the modern version of the etchings, is offered and accepted and before you get to switch on the kettle, one thing has led to another and so forth and so forth. Much fun is had by all, but the morning brings a certain sobriety, mentally, that is. The hangover will still be with you for a while, lingering like the last determined guest at Sunday lunch.

The harsh light of day has a tendency to induce guilt – for being rash, for possibly temporarily lowering your standards, for wondering how many people saw you leaving the party together. And then you start wondering whether he or she will phone you, talk to you if you meet in the street, whether he has left already, whether he is really leaving and whether she will recognise you in a year’s time.

And then, of course, there is the possibility that the overnight visitor might have left more than memories and a wet bathroom floor. But I am optimistic that anyone who can read or is old enough to receive their own electricity accounts would, for such occasions, have a stash of condoms handy – and let’s face it, it’s not the hands we are worried about. There should never be an exception to this rule, not unless you have strong suicidal tendencies. One in every five South Africans is HIV-positive. No Glove, no Love.

And just remember – a watched telephone never rings! But then again, this overnight relationship might be the start of greater things. Stranger things have happened. Like finding out that the old lady was not in a borrowed car.

(Susan Erasmus. Health24)



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