Author: Kevin McCallum
Publisher: Two Dogs
Cape Town, 2006
Soft cover, 130x200 cm, 192 pages
Every single man is in search of the perfect woman – and they need all the help they can get. As the ultimate sports-loving single guy, Kevin McCallum is the archetypal South African bachelor. Here, as he charts his tortuous path through our dating highways and byways, from dingy bars to more respectable social occasions, there are lessons to be learnt, pains to be shared and laughs to be snorted down with an ice-cold beer. Does the perfect woman even exist? Of course she does! Er, doesn’t she?
IS SHE OUT THERE?
TAKE A TRIP THROUGH THE HIGHWAYS AND BY-WAYS OF THE SA DATING SCENE TO FIND OUT IF THE PERFECT WOMAN EXISTS
- Will being a nice guy actually get you anywhere? (Yes. But being a bad boy could get you further...)
- Where can you find yourself a decent woman who isn't a gold-digging psycho? (It sure isn't Camps Bay...)
- Is that your mate's girlfriend on that internet dating site? (Quite possibly. Everyone's doing it...)
- This book is for you if you suspect the perfect woman doesn't exist - but think it will be good fun looking anyway
Before giving up his desk job, Kevin McCallum was sports editor for the Saturday Star and The Sunday Independent. Now he gets paid to travel the world, drink beer and watch sport.
Some years ago, I knew a man who told me he drank beer every day, every night and most lunchtimes, not merely because he I liked the taste, but because he was a man with a mission.
"I have heard," he slurred, "that South African Breweries has made a bad beer. I am trying to find it." We lost touch shortly after that so I'll never know if his quest for the unholy grain was successful. I hope it was. He did find something else, though, a prize even more precious than beer and rarer than a bad bottled lager. The last time I saw him he was dipping his head towards his beer with the tentative squint of a scientist, the smile of a saint and the audience of a quite delicious-looking woman.
I had seen her on the periphery of our group for a while: striking face, naughty eyes and body and, from the little I spoke to her, I recall her voice had a slow gin-and-tonic sashay. One day she sat down on the seat next to my friend's, ordered a drink and the two got to chatting. Their bar stools got closer with every passing day and pretty soon they were a couple, content to spend their best waking hours together in a dreamy haze.
He spoke, she listened, she spoke, he listened, they laughed, held hands, gave each other pecks on the cheeks, shared cigarettes and, in an act that signified true love, bought rounds out of that small pile of change that builds up on the bar counter in front of seasoned drinkers. He had found his perfect woman.
Or rather, she had found him, because the only thing he was looking for was a bad beer. (Funny, I never have problems finding a bad beer. It's always the last one of the evening, the one that makes you feel atrocious the next day.) She had identified him as her mate of the species and had made a wonky beeline for him.
While they were hardly Mickey Rourke and Faye Dunaway, and their life was hardly Barfly, the two of them did make a quite perfect couple, both of them holding down decent enough beers - sorry, jobs - both witty and intelligent and, quite importantly for my friend, she was beautiful, even before he started drinking. She was, to use a marketing term, a complete fit for the product he had to offer. She was the perfect woman for him.
I would be telling a monstrous fib if I were to pretend I wasn't jealous of my bad-beer-seeking friend, because I was and still am outrageously dirty that he discovered his perfect woman simply by sitting still on a bar stool for hours on end and doing what he does best. Even if they are not still together - I think the pub they met in has closed down, so if you see a couple in your local that fits the above description, buy them a drink from me - damn it all, it was the closest thing to an arranged marriage as I have ever seen among grown adults.
I'm surprised the barman didn't ask for lobola.
Finding a mate isn't supposed to be that easy; or rather, it is, but it isn't. And because it isn't, I have been able to compile an entire book dedicated to the heterosexual man's eternal search for the perfect woman.
"Perfect woman." Those are two words you will hear a lot as you trip along through this book. They are two words that make no sense, because there is no such thing as a perfect woman. I know this because every woman I know has told me so, some with more glee than is necessary when discussing the devils of dating with a bachelor of long and proud standing, as I have been these 30-odd years (yes, that's right girls, still under 40).
"But, what about Bo Derek in JO?" I whine. "She wasn't too far off perfect. She was beautiful, had bits that bounced in a gold bikini when she ran on the beach in slow-motion, and was well educated."
"Kevin, just because she liked to shag to Bolero does not make her well-educated," sighed one imperfect female friend, but I wasn't listening by then.
In fact, I've just made up her retort, right now. I was lost in that scene where Derek runs naked to fix a stuck record player while gagging to boff a confused Dudley Moore. Why, oh why did he turn her down when she said she wanted to "do him a favour"? And why, oh why, did he wear a full cotton tracksuit on a Mexican beach?
I offer other potentially perfect women to imperfect women for appraisal: Famke Janssen?
"Could you call out her name during sex?"
(She's the mommy in Spy Kids, thank you very much, and hey, she does it for me.)
"Well, besides the whole Brad Pitt thing, she's a skank. Also, she has too many tattoos. And she married an ugly old guy and she carries vials of blood around. You know, she's such a bad judge of men, she likes girls as well and she'd only be using you for sex and that's the last thing you want, isn't it?"
Er, yes, that's right. I wouldn't want anyone just to use me for sex, particularly anyone who might bring her girlfriend with.
How about Jennifer Aniston?
"Too nice and she's Greek. You know how much trouble you'll get into if you mess her around. And her hair's too nice. You'll mess it up. And as for the whole Brad Pitt thing..."
Paris Hilton? This was a double bluff. I think she's heinous, but for the sake of the experiment, I wanted the female perspective.
"I've seen bigger tits in a bird bath. And she's just a rich skank."
Ah, a better class of skank, fair enough.
"Her mouth's too big, she laughs too much and she sleeps with young boys. I mean, she's like totally too old for Justin."
Yeah, but skank can be good, can't it?
What about Jessica Alba?
"Can't act and she snogged Bruce Willis."
So, that's one thing cleared up. Just as there is no such thing as the quintessential Mr Right, there is no such thing as an utterly perfect woman - not even celebrities! I must confess that deep down inside I have known this for some time, but as one who always looks for the good side of people and believes that one woman's imperfections are the next man's perfections (particularly if that man is a plastic surgeon), I believe that there is a perfect woman out there for me.
Mind you, there was also that one time I believed I could fly, but that's not a story you want to hear and not one I am allowed to repeat, although I so nearly did fly, I swear (I even tried to forget to hit the ground, just as Douglas Adams wrote, the lying sod). But I have faith that one day I shall happen upon a good soul with whom I'll be able to lovingly split that large pile of change on the bar counter without so much as the smallest bitch about the fact that her gin and tonics cost more than my lagers. My perfect woman is out there, I tell you.
My faith that Miss (or, in the case of Bo Derek, Missus) Perfect is out there waiting for me is still strong because of the encounters I have had with women who have had elements of what I am looking for, though this faith of mine has been sorely tested over the 30-odd years of my life (there it is again, ladies: under 40! Act now! Contact the publisher for my telephone number and other vital statistics before I head off into middle age).
These encounters, some of them of the third-base kind, have all been special in their own particular and peculiar ways, some more peculiar than I would have liked, and the particulars of others will remain under wraps lest the women in question buy this book and run screaming to their lawyers that I have done them a disservice by mentioning our mutual servicing.
But I am a gentleman and have resolved that throughout this book I will change the names of people involved in various situations to protect the innocent and, more importantly, the guilty. To all the girls I have loved or even vaguely met before, who've staggered in and out my door - yes, all of you - your secrets are safe with me. However, should someone guess your name and tell you, then I wish to state here and now that I distance myself from those clever clogs and wish to inform you that all royalties of this book have been locked up in a trusty fund should you think about taking me to court.
For this is not a kiss-and-tell book so beloved of retired rugby players; this is an educational tome for modern single men. This is for men who dream of finding the perfect woman, but don't know where to look, and don't even know what parts a perfect woman should be made up of. I have sent out search parties to the far ends of the Earth, as well as to Boksburg, in the making of this book. Pubs have been frequented, clubs have been lounged in, gyms sweated in and supermarkets loitered in. No rock has been left unturned and no, she is not to be found under a rock.
I have seen men sacrifice themselves selflessly in the making of this book, surrendering their hearts to imperfect women who have suckered them in with a facade of flawlessness under cover of darkness only for the cracks to start showing at first light when it was too late to run. That such deviousness exists in the world still brings a chill to my bones. Some of those loyal lads escaped to search again, but the others... their names will be engraved on the wall of remembrance that will be erected with all the profits made from this undertaking.
This is not, however, merely a book for men looking to get involved in a relationship or even, heaven forbid, married. In Search of South Africa's Perfect Woman is also a reference book, both for those wishing to jump into a gene pool for a quick dip, put in a Roland Schoeman-like 50 metres before heading off for a splash somewhere else, and those who would like to know just how warm the water is before getting in. That said, it is also a work that non-single men should read, just so they know what hell the world of dating and singledom has become and, at times, how lucky they are to be out of it. Hell, it's a book for their wives and girlfriends, as well. Measure yourself up against the perfect woman; do not fear if you fall short, it is nothing to be ashamed of. Perfection is, er, perfect, and very few of us are perfect.
However, if you are several levels away from the standard that is set in these pages, do try and shape up, there's a good lass. I am a bachelor of long and proud standing. Many of my best friends are bachelors, even those who are married, and especially those who have just got divorced. It's a state of mind, you see, a way of looking at the world. Bachelorhood is merely a description of freedom that we should all have, a freedom that, for men, is restricted and confused by only one thing - the search for the perfect woman. It's a never-ending topic, an eternal journey that never reaches a conclusion. It's almost as long a search as the quest to find a bad beer.