When you’re sitting at the bar counter there’s mindless chitter-chatter that goes on around you. There’s a sly waitress leveraging her short dress coercing an almost incapacitated man into buying a bottle of brandy. He cannot take another sip of alcohol but this girl dangles her goodies in front of him and the thought of a chance with her sends him to his pocket. He now sits there, alone, with opened brandy that he won’t or can’t drink. Poor chap.
Then there’s the guy trying to close a deal or get a contract. He has his black Dell laptop sitting on the table and a whitecap – the beer – next to it. He scrolls gracefully making a pitch to a potential investor who is having a Guinness. He will throw words around, words like “technically the initial cost was…” or “ideally the price was xx but the dollar is volatile so now…” He will signal for the waitress and add another round. His idea is either win the guy over with his smarts or get him drunk enough to see things his way. Occasionally his phone will ring and he will switch to fluent luo – and here I thought business minded folks all hailed from the central part of the country.
He has an expensive phone – it’s an apple I think and he lays it on the table next to his drink. I think it’s part of an act – people are often swayed by what they see. You can’t close a million shilling deal flaunting a techno whose vibration is loud enough to qualify as a ringtone. No one will take you seriously. He goes on about his business often breaking into laughter and patting the other chap on the back before ordering another round. They now have four bottles each and three are unopened.
Behind me is a family – I’m not sure why they are at a bar because it’s a family of four – two young boys (barely ten), their mother and the dad. The dad has a bottle of water and a glass with a slice of lemon inside it, the mother has two cans of Smirnoff and is visibly tipsy. The boys are being boys they are jumping around on the couches and she is having a hard time controlling them. It does not help that there is lingala music playing at high decibels. I don’t think her children should see her drinking, it might send the wrong message. There’s something about having your children in a bar that’s wrong. Here things happen, they might see something they are not supposed to see. They will hear something they shouldn’t hear. They might ask their father why the waitresses all have short dresses and if they don’t feel cold. They will want to know what it is the mum is having and why they can’t have it – after all if it’s good for the gander.
To the table next to me is a lonesome guy, kind of like myself. In front of him sits two beers one unopened. He seems pensive – must be the day’s sermons getting to him. Every often he punches into his phone furiously, my guess is that he is waiting for someone. He does not look like the patient kind, he looks like he wants to finish his drink and leave. He was here before me and I can feel his agitation. Even when he sets his glass down he does it with a bang, it feels like it might break. A few minutes later another guy walks in he approaches the table but the guy signals him away. He says the seat is taken.
My lime and tonic is almost over – I am having lime and tonic because I once heard someone order for it and it sounded exotic. It had an air of sophistication around it. People stare at you when you summon a waitress and ask for ‘two parts lime one part tonic please”. The waitress too looks perplexed, she goes to the counter unsure if they have what you asked for. If she only knew I didn’t know what I asked for maybe it would have made her feel better. The guy next to me buying the beers also paused, he almost looked like he wanted to ask me what I do, why lime and tonic, or if it was better than beer.
“Boss, what drink is that?”
“Mate…” because if you’re drinking lime and tonic you have to talk the part. So you start with mate. “… you need to try it it’s the best thing after whiskey.” You’ll say as you take a sip and smack your lips to affirm.
A lady saunters in and heads in my direction. She doesn’t give me a second glance though – maybe she should hear me order for a lime and tonic. She goes over to the impatient guy who is now half way done with his second beer. She offers profuse apologies but the guy doesn’t respond. He gets up and leaves for the bathroom. She must be thinking why he has such attitude after all it’s only a local pub – this doesn’t qualify as a date. She looks in my direction and notices the green glassy liquid in my glass. She eyes it suspiciously then smiles – not at me though – it must be a thought that crossed her mind. The guy comes back and takes a swig of his drink before taking turning to leave.
The balls on this guy – he left his date there. She too seemed surprised, she watched him walk out before shaking her head and whispering something. I turned my eyes away from her because the last thing I needed was someone venting out their frustrations on me – plus the guy could come back and figure I was making moves on his woman. He would want to know if drinking lime and tonic gives me the right to be a jackass. He might break a bottle with my head and I might end up in hospital having a hard time explaining to my friends that I wasn’t even drinking.
“Boss, the guy just hit me.”
“Kwani why did he hit you? Were you drunk? Si unajua how you get?”
“Boss I was having a lime and tonic” I figure if you are having lime and tonic you let the whole world know. You even put it in the police report, and the doctors interview.
“Lime and what? What is that? Umekuwa socialite kwani? Hupendi beer tena? Ndio maana ulipigwa.”
I can’t have my friends think I am a socialite so I avoided her gaze and ordered a second lime and tonic. This time I asked for a finger of gin in it just to pack a punch. The rest of the evening was uneventful – the kids had left with their parents, the business guys had stashed the laptop away and were now busy singing along to Nyadundo. The sun was rising elsewhere and the darkness had snuck up – dance moves were getting bolder, voices louder and reckless laughter filed the space. I took a swig of my lime and tonic (with gin) and left the place – the guy that had lime and tonic.