“You’re not going out like that, are you?” Mom asks as she holds the front door open for me.

“Sure I am,” I shrug. “Why not?”

“Those old jeans with the paint stains all over them? And that brown shirt. Hau.” She clicks her tongue and shakes her head.

“Ag, it’s just a group of friends – nothing special.” 

I don’t tell my mother how I thought it WAS something special. How I thought that Jayden was asking me out, just the two of us. And how stupid I felt when one of his friends walked past and said, ‘See you on Saturday’, and I realised we were going out as a group.

So now I’m deliberately wearing my grungiest outfit, with a scowl to match. Mom drops me off at the Vida E Caffè in Parkview and I slouch against the wall with my arms crossed.

I straighten up when I see Jayden coming towards me. He’s wearing a pair of new black jeans and a leather jacket. His hair looks cool and he’s carrying flowers. And he’s on his own.

“Hi, Latoya,” he says, leaning down to kiss my cheek. “These are for you. You’re looking very, um, pretty today.”

This is obviously a complete lie. I look like I’ve just been painting my room. For a moment, I just gape at him, speechless. In my defence, the sight of Jayden Depaul in a leather jacket would take any girl’s breath away. Think Taylor Lautner on a good day.

“Thanks! So … uh …” I hesitate. “When are the others coming?”

“Others? There aren’t any others. It’s just the two of us.” He gives a little laugh. “I don’t normally invite anyone else along on a date.”

A date? I’m not sure whether I’m thrilled or completely taken aback. Isn’t he supposed to be dating Amanda? What were they doing together last weekend? And what about that friend of his who said he’d see him on Saturday? Oh, okay, maybe he meant Saturday morning. Duh, Latoya. Queen of jumping to conclusions.

“I thought we’d have dinner here,” he says, pointing towards a restaurant next to the coffee shop. It looks quite slick, like the kind of place that might have a dress code.

“I can’t go in there!” I say in horror. “Look what I’m wearing. I thought we were just going to hang out.”

“Okay…” He thinks for a minute. Then he brightens up. “Hey, I’ve got an idea. Let’s go to the zoo!”

The zoo? I’m dubious at first, but we have the most brilliant time. We eat ice creams and candy floss, and buy each other little plastic windmills on sticks. We spend ages wandering around looking at the animals. And when it gets dark we take a Night Safari, where a guide takes us out on a tractor to see the nocturnal animals. By the end of the evening, my tummy is sore from laughing so much. 

“Right,” Jayden says as we step out alongside the busy double-lane traffic of Jan Smuts Avenue. “Now let’s go and see Amanda.”

Image: SantiMB, CC-BY-NC-ND-2.0

WHAT DO YOU THNK?  Latoya’s perfect date happens at the Zoo, much to her surprise. What’s your idea of a perfect date?