Pandas heart Zombies

Pandas heart Zombies


Okay kids, time for another installment of Dilemmas with Emma. Today’s story springs from another internet-assisted meeting. One is ever-hopeful that this date will be different from the others – the absence of chainsaw and baby confessions surely isn’t too much to ask?

My curiosity spiked when I received a message from this particular guy, as he mentioned that part of his job required him to dress as a panda in public. Who knows, maybe this should’ve been my cue to move right along, but I was intrigued and wasn’t ready to count him out just yet so replied to his message.

Bing – another message arrived. “Hi Emma, hope you’ve had a good day. Work was full on for me. What’s your plan for the zombie apocalypse?”. End of message. 

What does one reply to such a question?! I thought he must’ve been joking and just throwing in a random question to offset the tedious ‘getting to know you’ obligatories. We had arranged to meet for lunch already, so I sent back some sort of witty reply and thought nothing else of it. 

Lunch date day arrived and we got off to a pretty good start. I got the low-down on the panda job, which turned out to be fundraising for a wildlife charity. Bless. The conversation was flowing reasonably freely, although he did give extremely detailed answers to everything I asked him. For example, I knew from his online profile that he wasn’t from New Zealand, so I asked how long he had been here. Without even slight exaggeration, his answer contained all of the following: 

  1. How many countries he had lived in
  2. The name of each country and which years of his life he spent there
  3. A list of each school he attended throughout his education – 18 in total
  4. How many square metres the last few houses were
  5. What his father did for a job
  6. A blow-by-blow rundown of every accident he has ever had, aided with sound effects and scar viewings

I tried really hard to stay engaged, but was resenting his apparent lack of self-filtering / conversation skills. When it was finally his turn to ask me a question, guess what it was?
           “So, what is your plan for the zombie apocalypse? You really need one you know.”

The guy was serious. His group of friends had conducted meetings where they documented ‘Plan Z’. It was at this point I realised I had made a huge mistake in laughing off the previous zombie-related question and needed to bring this date swiftly to an end. Conveniently my allocated parking time was fast running out, so I used this as my reason to leave. 

Here my friend, is where you learn that assertiveness is not my strongest quality. Mr. Zombie/Panda didn’t take the parking hint and decided to walk me to my car. Once there he asked whether there was a park nearby we could go to. Rather than asserting myself by ending things and going home, I tried to take advantage of how little he knew Auckland by saying there were no parks close by. Unfortunately he had GPS and found that Western Springs was only a few minutes drive from our location. Before I knew it, we were heading there in our cars. 

We walked around the park and he began to reinforce the pressing need for me to nail down a plan for the looming zombie apocalypse. This was really starting to creep me out! Thankfully he had a cousin’s birthday to attend, so after a lengthy stroll we returned to our cars, I quickly said goodbye and jumped in my car. As I was about to drive off (as fast as I possibly could), he approached my car window again.

Mr. Zombie/Panda had lost his keys somewhere in the expanse that is Western Springs! If it had been anyone else I would’ve insisted on helping to scour the park but there’s no way I was going back. I was not prepared to be part of Plan Z! I left him there and sped off.

I breathed a sigh of relief when I got home, and made a mental note never to go on another internet date ever. It was only an hour later though that I received a text message from him. He’d found his keys and just wanted to follow up on the zombie plan! I give up!

Lego men, balls and nana-blankets

Lego men, balls and nana-blankets

why aren't you in school

Though I seem to be perpetually single, one cannot say I don’t put myself out there to meet new people. Perhaps I do need to work on my suitability discernment a little, as Chainsaw Boy has already highlighted beautifully.

Perhaps my most famous gaffe happened about eight years ago but nevertheless continues to be a source of giggles and mocking to this very day. I was around 22 years old, and working for the same organisation I do now, which at that point was based in an office next to a construction site in Newmarket. Like any bustling construction site, this one was home to a tribe of workers wearing lego hats and armed with power tools. It was quite nice to have a change of scene from watching my fellow office dwellers with their nana-blankets and staplers (labelled of course, heaven-forbid somebody get it confused for theirs and take it to the next cubicle).

Whilst my interest in construction was somewhat minor, it began to be fuelled by the daily spotting of a handsome worker who stood out among the crowd. Each morning we both arrived at the same time and while he set out the road cones I would ponder ways to casually need to tell him something very important. I had enough self-awareness to know that I’d make a complete dick of myself if I tried to say something construction-related, so decided that wasn’t my best move.

One day, having been through this morning arrival routine, I surprised myself with a strange and unfamiliar feeling – confidence. It was like I’d grown balls overnight! Not actual balls thank goodness, I’m not sure that would’ve helped my cause. Ewww. Anyway, this unexplained, out of character boldness possessed me to approach the construction site (once all of the lego men had gone home, I wasn’t that bold/stupid), find the whiteboard with all of the site hazards written on it, wipe the hazards out and write:

Can the guy with the curly brown hair please call Emma on 021……… Thanks 🙂

My colleague took a photo of my ballsy artwork for proof and we retreated inside. Come the next morning it seemed that the entire office had received word of what I had done. No pressure. Our CEO paid me a visit to remind me that she had indeed already married the only decent builder in New Zealand so I should be careful. Not long after that encouraging visit, I was sitting at my desk when my phone rang:

Me: “Hello Emma speaking”
Caller: “Oh hey, it’s Dave. I’m from the site next door, I got your message”

He invited me over to the site office at lunchtime, which I obviously accepted. I really couldn’t believe  that (a) out of the 20ish guys they knew which one I meant, and (b) he actually called! Twelve o’clock came around all too quickly, and though I was quietly freaking out, there’s no way I could back out as about half of the office congregated in the corner of the building with the best view, eager to ensure I actually met him.

As I walked towards the site, Dave’s workmates started cheering and we both sheepishly introduced ourselves. I had been psyching myself up all morning to ask him out directly, and now was my chance.

Me: “How’s it going?”
Dave: “Yeah good thanks, apart from getting hassled by the guys all day.”
Me: “Oh, I’m sorry! Well, sort of…”
Dave: “Hey, um, there’s probably something I should tell you.”
Me: “Okay, sure. What is it?”
Dave: “Um, I’m 16.”

Yep, that’s right folks. I was all ready to ask him out for a drink and he announces he’s only 16. Too young to even get into a bar.

Me: “Wow, okay. Why aren’t you in school?!?”
Dave: “I didn’t like it.”
Me: “Oh, fair enough. I didn’t like it either. Um, okay, well, I’m gonna go back to work now but it was nice meeting you.”
Dave: “Okay, see ya.”

Seriously, that in itself wasn’t too bad although extremely annoying and embarrassing, but then I had to do the walk of shame back into the office to update those waiting in anticipation. Sigh. I hid my face and told them what had happened. At first nobody believed me as they were convinced I had chickened out and was just using the age-thing as a cover-up. If only!

Well, as you can probably imagine I regretted the entire process once the floods of comments started…

“Hey Emma, you guys could go get a drink sometime – oh wait, he wouldn’t get into a bar”, or “Oh, don’t worry, at least you’d save money because he’d get into the movies with the child price”, and “You could hang out with him, if his Mum didn’t mind dropping him off”…it seemed I’d earned myself a reputation and to this day I have not lived it down. But did I learn from this and hone my suitability discernment? Only time would tell.