Thando and the hot chocolate
“Ugh, why is this taking so long?” Thando was at her local coffee shop drinking a cappucino and working on a project. “You have to make this deadline,” she told herself as she stared, aggravated, at her computer screen. Out of nowhere, a mug of Mugg and Bean hot chocolate arrived at her elbow. “This is for you,” the waitress said, scouling.
“Oh…” Thando looked up at the waitress. “Uh, Ok…?” I didn’t order this, she thought. The waitress put the hot chocolate down on the table and pivoted on her heel. “A gentleman over there ordered it on your behalf.” Thando paused for a moment, taken aback, that’s strange she thought. “Uh, no thanks… can you can send it back?”
Yes, she sent back hot chocolate. I saw Thando the following weekend for a birthday. During one of our conversations a mutual friend mentioned the story to me and said “Thando, tell Fran your hot chocolate story. She’ll love it.”
“YES!” I nodded; dating drama is my fix. Thando told me her story. As she talked everyone at the table started listening to the story. “No way?” “You sent it back?” “What would you have done?” Should Thando have sent the hot chocolate back?
The hot chocolate became a hot topic. Later that week I saw Thando posted about the hot chocolate on Facebook.
“What if the hot chocolate was spiked? lol #sorrynotsorry”
“Maybe the guy should have sent you a mojito instead.”
THANDO: “I was already having a cappucino.”
“They want you to let love in.”
THANDO: “Nah, the devil must flee guys.”
FRAN: “How did the devil get involved here?”
“Thando! It’s hot chocolate, you never say no to hot chocolate.”
THANDO: “All I’m saying is approach is everything.”
Thando’s story made me think: when is a guy’s move creepy… and when is it cute?” The hot chocolate seemed indicative of a deeper issue of frustration between the genders. When is it ok to do something for a girl and when is it not?
4 years ago I worked part time at a cafe while I attended Hillsong Leadership College in Sydney, Australia. Everyone pictures me in a Hipster coffee shop wearing a white apron, heating up 3 croissants a day and flirting with worship students. It was nothing like this. Let me help you: take Wimpy (South African Road trip friendly plastic everything diner, even the food) and mix it with the car wash underneath Canal Walk Shopping Mall. Add Australian accents. Remove the Wimpy coffee machine. Add me. Right, now you have the picture.
Star Cafe, as it was titled, was open from 6am-6pm. While a car got washed the owner could eat a toasted sandwich, have a coffee, or read the newspaper at the Cafe. I hated working there. It demanded 12 hours on your feet. If you were lucky you got a 30 minute lunch break. I usually spent lunch with my head buried in a borrowed fashion magazine trying, desparately and unsuccessfully to convince myself the pay I received (less than the legal minimum wage earned by a 14 year old Australian) was worth it..
To make it worse, my manager at Star Cafe didn’t like me. I told myself it was because Christians are prosecuted, but in reality it was a lack of competence and passion for the job. I have a gaping chasm in my head when it comes to anything I mark boring. 85% of my life decisions are filtered by the thought: “but… is this fun?” Making coffee #boring. What does this have to do with Thando and the hot chocolate you ask? Just wait, I’m getting there. Occasionally I would give a customer incorrect change because I was focused on mimicking his Australian accent. Or, I would burn coffee I was formulating an argument around predestination which Holli (my roommate) and I would discuss until 1 am that night.
All the dislike my manager held for me was offset by Raviv, the head manager of the car wash, who according to the grapevine, had a thing for me. I think Star Cafe only hired Indians for the car wash (which is really racist) because it took me a while to figure out which employee Raviv was when I heard this news. You see, Raviv never talked to me. Or barely. He would brush past me, mumble something to his shoes and run outside.
One sunny day (sunny days were the worst – the whole world wanted their car washed) a guy came by Star Cafe to sell hampers of bath products. Raviv, bless him, saw this as an opportunity to make his “hot chocolate” move. He bought me the biggest hamper of bath products you have ever seen. I’m telling you, this was the honeymoon suite and the pent house of all bath products. I would never smell like anything but lavender again. There was just one problem with the gift: I don’t bath (not as in I don’t clean, I’m the showering type). Bath products aren’t my thing- you can’t eat rose petal fizzing balls. Why would I need a sponge shaped like a sea horse? It was awkward, like Thando, I was taken aback- what was I supposed to do?
Most stories involving me and random males are horrible- this was no exception. As I left Star Cafe lugging my bathroom of products home at a rate of 0,2km per hour, I heard a car drive up behind me. It was Raviv’s friend Ramesh. “Hey Fran, Raviv wants your number.” Great…
“Hi Ramesh. Why?”
“He’s going to India next week. His family says he needs a bride”. I nearly dropped all the bathroom products on the street corner.
“A b-b-b-bride?! No.”
“But Raviv’s a nice guy,” he insisted.
“I know,” I replied, “but it’s not happening.”
Creepy? Or cute?
Like Thando, I didn’t see “the hot chocolate move” coming. I’m all about do-something-if-you-think-someone-is-hot, but here’s the key: great girls want confident men. They want someone who isn’t scared to talk to them. Great girls aren’t impressed by random gifts, they’re impressed by courage, communication and integrity. A guy once bought me 30 red roses, which was cool (I liked them more than the lavender stuff), but then he never responded to my text messages the next week. Adios. Should Thando have sent back the hot chocolate? I don’t know. I do reckon though, had the gentleman manned up and approached her in a polite, yet interested, way- I bet he would have got a lot further.