Today a complete stranger thought I was planning to propose to him after I’d known him for roughly 50 minutes.
Or, at least that’s what he told the waitress.
I’m not sure how this happened, but I’ll try to explain. I recently took up CouchSurfing. For those of you who have not yet signed up for the site with the blue couch surmounted by the confusing blob, which turns out on close inspection not to be a Rodin sculpture (the Thinker, I believe) kissing a Brancusi (I’m not sure exactly which), but actually a map of the globe tastefully portrayed in orange with white outer glow… Oh dear, I’ve written a sentence too confusing to complete.
Right. As I was saying. Couchsurfing.org is the Facebook of travel. The difference being that you actually have to have met someone before they can become your friend on CouchSurfing. You don’t have to go anywhere near a couch, or even know how to surf one. In fact, couches have figured very little in my CouchSurfing experiences so far.
This is what they have been:
CouchSurfing Experience #1: Had lunch at Mr Pickwick’s with an Extremely Intelligent Fellow from Berlin who has the misfortune to think JM Coetzee is The Greatest Living Writer and is writing a book about him. EIF told me he has never met Coetzee and doesn’t want to, just in case Coetzee has to go to the loo, thereby demonstrating that he is human and not, in fact, a god.
CouchSurfing Experience #2: Invited a Brazilian Network Engineer from Minneapolis to come to my friend’s farewell party. BNEFM had spent the last week installing facial recognition networks all over Cape Town for the government, but fortunately everyone else at the party was a geek too. The BNEFM chatted up a pretty blonde geekette and seemed to enjoy himself very much.
CouchSurfing Experience #3: A South African tour operator spotted my profile on CouchSurfing and recognised me as a Former Getaway Journalist (although, like everyone else, he’s never actually read anything I’ve written). He wanted to buy me coffee so we could talk about travel. Very kindly he bought me coffee AND a burger.
I’m still unsure how he thought I could be useful enough to earn my lunch, but we did at least succeed in entertaining each other and freaking out the waitress. CouchSurfer #3 has an endearing way of using words inaccurately, incorrectly or just plain indecorously. His friends call this phenomenon ‘Mikeopropisms’.
Lulled into a false sense of security by his pronunciation of the word ‘facade’, I told Mr Malaprop all sorts of ridiculous stories about my life, cricket scores, and the family trees of people he may or may not have met. By the end of lunch, he was suggesting psychiatric treatment and scaring the waitress with the possibility of an impending proposal on her shift.
But, as I informed Mr Malaprop, I have already met Someone Rather Delicious* and proposed to him. (Although I’m pretty sure he didn’t notice.)
* As it happens, Someone Rather Delicious proposed to Someone Else not long afterwards. Oh well.