It was around 6 PM and with one hour left on the clock to the end of happy hour I walked into a popular joint along Ngong Road. The parking lot was full but that didn’t bother me, mostly because I don’t have a car. I walked past the fuel guzzlers and the fancy sedans that have tinted windows and ‘tembea Africa’ decals. These decals usually fascinate me, the owners probably think that a sticker on the back window will give their car a ruggedness. That maybe people will see the car and the sticker and think “This guy is adventurous.” But it’s like putting a large silver ring on a manicured finger to look gangster.
I came across this black Land Rover defender with a roof rack, two spare wheels mounted on the back door, and black rims. It also had four spotlights mounted on the roof. It looked like it had come straight out of an Indiana Jones film. In its spot sandwiched between a hatchback Subaru and a luminous green Demio it felt out of place. It felt like Kevin hart in an NBA game, a straight guy at a gay bar or even the main chick hanging out with the side dishes. It looked like a transformer laying there for the right moment to morph into an alien and take over the world. It looked mean, it looked rugged, heck it looked like the guy in the old spice ads.
I wonder what a guy driving such a car would look like. Maybe he’d have brown timberland boots, and faded denim jeans scuffed at the knees with just the right amount of dirt to make them look sexy and rugged. A long sleeve shirt folded to the elbows and with the top buttons open revealing coiled strands of chest hair. He’d probably have shaggy hair but the kind of shaggy that has some effort put in and a moderate stub on his face for a beard. He’d reek of Cuban cigars and hints of cool perfume and have a voice as deep as the midnight moon over the pacific on cool summer nights. He’d be the laid back guy unperturbed by the ruckus around of him of drunken young girls ordering cocktails and taking pictures. He would just sit on his table with only one beer in hand or a whisky glass thick at the bottom with two fingers of the finest blends sitting on three blocks of solid water. He’d talk with his eyes, never raising his voice. He’d just look at the waitress and she’d know it was time for another beer maintaining an air of mystery around him. His table would always be empty and a smooth wooden box with his cigars would sit next to an ivory white lighter.
A guy driving such a car doesn’t strike me as someone that would order a Panini and a passion juice at a bistro. This is a guy that would probably kill his own goat, skin it, smoke the meat and make his own burgers all before getting ready for work in the morning. He’s the kind of guy that pays more attention to his car than his woman. He knows when each service is due and can always hear the subtle sounds like a creaking crankshaft or squeaking gear box. He can feel when the clutch doesn’t press right and then that slight delay when changing into two. He’s the guy people often invite to road trips because his car comes in handy when their dainty sedans get stuck in muddy roads trying to look butch.
He cares nothing about the city roads and the bullies that come in the form of mini bus drivers with blaring music. He has a bull bar that could send shivers of fear down the most hardened khat chewing dreadlock keeping reggae loving high school girl courting driver. The low rumble of his engine muffles the drone of D4’s and he laughs at the boosting sounds and anti-lags of turbo charged Japanese race cars. He thrive in the outskirts of the city where dry river beds act as roads. He has liters of spare fuel in large tanks mounted at the back and the occasional shock absorber in the back in case he breaks one attempting death defying climbs on monstrous rocks.
The basic Nairobi girl wouldn’t be able to date him, he won’t let his defender anywhere near a spa. His idea of a romantic night out is a tryst in the bundus camping under the stars and listening to the wild sounds of gazelles making love in nearby bushes. In the bush there is no flowing water to shampoo her delicate hair or warm water to soak her pedicured feet and using cologne ill most definitely attract the wrong kind of insects and she’d scream for all the wrong reasons.
I stood there for a while admiring the car, a car that oozed masculinity. Then the hazards blinked twice, characteristic of that beep thing guys usually toot when they want to open their cars. A lady was walking up to it, elegant and chic. She was in blue jeans and black heels, well done hair, nails finely manicured, and talking on a phone probably bigger than her face. I looked behind her, hoping maybe the rugged guy was close in tow. A mistake, maybe the Mazda should’ve beeped but it did not. She walked up to the car and opened the front door getting in, getting comfortable. She let down the sun visor thing-a-magig and used the mirror to adjust her make up.
I wouldn’t say I was disappointed – I was more awed. I have had the luck to live in two generations. One that knew equity as a bank branch in Kawangware for the little people and one where it was a balance of the genders. Oh, your guess is as good as mine, a rugged guy owned the demio. The matatu driver won’t respect this guy, he will be cut off and bullied of the lanes despite the loud hooting and mean faces. He’d command more respect wearing a tutu. It’s what happens when you pick up tabs for ladies at bars and hotels. They use their money to fuel guzzlers while we struggle with fuel economy nonsense. But what do I know, I walk.