HIM: Hello Paige, how are you? Shot for accepting my friend request, will be grand to read more of you.
ME: Very kind of you to say, thank you for reading me.
HIM: Keep it coming Missus. I could do with more laughter in my life.
ME: Couldn’t we all.
HIM: I always wanted to ask you, why do you not have a regular piece in Lifestyle any longer?
ME: Well, a while back they cut their budget and fab Ndumiso Ngcobo was the only regular columnist they kept on. So now I write when there’s space for me, which is becoming regular again, which is great, because I love it. I stopped the weekly around 2016, I think.
HIM: Ndu is pretty good, the pair of you worked off each other well.
ME: Anyway as we speak I’m mustering up the oomph to write my next column about who knows what. By which I mean I’m surfing the net and eating illegal chocolate waiting for inspiration to strike. Yes, Ndumiso is amazing, I loved being alongside him every week, but I guess all fun things must come to an end eventually. Which means I shall have to stop eating chocolate and start writing this thing any minute now.
HIM: Christ… you need to muster up the oomph? I thought you wrote hungover (winky face). Ahem koff… finally… why are your DM’s such a stretch from your work? Almost seems as if another is doing this for you (winky face).
Wait, what? What’s he talking about?
ME: You mean that my two-sentence direct message responses to your questions sound different to a carefully thought through 800 word column in the newspaper, is that what you mean?
HIM: Yup… two totally different women. Your Lifestyle pieces are fun and of the type that could get nuns blushing. And now this…?
I break into a sweat. Writers have imposter syndrome at the best of times. I suppose I’m not being gut-bustingly funny in this DM string with this stranger at all. Is this it, have I been found out, is the gig up?
But what does he want me to say? I take a sip of my procrastination tea. Hard to know? He did insinuate that my columns are funny, maybe he wants a joke? Problem is, I’ve only ever been able to remember two jokes. That old one about the man who has to tell St Peter something about Xmas to get through the gates of heaven, so he pulls a pair of knickers out his pocket. (Spoiler alert, they’re Carol’s.) Or the one about the reason guard dogs do it doggie style; so they can both watch the gate. But it’s nearly impossible to drop a joke into a casual written conversation, and make it funny, for jokes to be successful, one needs a good segue and a lot of tequila.
Oh wait, that comment about me making nuns blush, is it a hint? Oh I get it, he wants me to drop my knickers and tell him something dirty. For crying out loud buddy, it’s two twelve on a Sunday afternoon.
That’s the problem with writing about sex now and then, people do tend to get a certain impression of you. Which reminds me of a third joke that I forgot I remember. That one about Dimitri the Goat F*****.
Oh sir, I’m so sorry to disappoint you, but I’m afraid if you want me to give you a hard on, you either have to buy the newspaper, or buy me dinner. I’m a writer, you see, I can’t just give that stuff away for free.
ME: I’d better get back to my column, I think I know what I want to write about now.
HIM: Okay, be good, and thanks for the brief encounter.