Red and White Dress

Feels like I was ten years old two days ago. Pebble white teeth hanging out of my pink gums and energy levels higher than the current inflation rate. Fantasizing about my first kiss and wondering what the fuss really was about two people locking lips. Gross if you asked me, then.  Getting excited by trips to the museum, supermarket, the animal orphanage and the occasional burger at Wimpy. Wimpy was the shit. I had my first date at Wimpy. A wimpy burger, fries and a vanilla shake to be exact. Actually, two wimpy burgers, fries and a vanilla shake. I only had one shake because other than being romantic, I was a broke teenager with a misguided sense of fashion and an overactive imagination. It was how they did it in the movies and it was how I did it.

Wimpy was my Java back in the day. Not that I have a Java now, they are just not my cup of coffee. But Wimpy was my Java back in the day. My first kiss, I must admit, was from a Wimpy burger. They just had the right amount of moisture. Kidogo sloppy to make it interesting. The toppings were fresh. The buns soft. For an adolescent boy with a wild imagination, this was as close to sex as I got. And every time it was good. Every damn time. But I was a boy and you know sometimes we stray. So a few times I had an affair with the mighty steer but it was just not the same. It lacked intimacy. That wimpy burger and I connected on an interpersonal level. That burger was the Juliet to my Romeo. The Dom to my Leti. A lower capital ratio to the survival of chase bank. A good odd to a sure Sportpesa bet.

If we went to a wimpy together, you had part of my soul.

Then it broke up with me. Decided that we were no longer the perfect fit. It needed space, to see other people. Fill other stomachs. Just like that, Wimpy was gone. A memory as fresh as its burger buns etched in the happy corners of my mind right next to fella… never mind.

Those were good times. Back when we had a station called TV Africa that had all those awesome cartoons. Cartoons like Men in Black and ghost busters and even the magic school bus. Not the psychedelic chowder and its flare for no plot. A cartoon that’s just as bad as porn with a storyline. Back when boxed wine was a modern concept. Not a standard to determine who’s cool and who’s not. When the closest I’d get to alcohol was the barbers purple methylated spirit stinging the fresh cut on my ‘box’. When the only pain I knew was the slap from a red slipper hitting hard on whatever body part was easily accessible and depended on the temperament level of my mother.

At around that time is when I got introduced to a new lady. She wore red and white. Elegant and poised. Carried herself with an air of aristocracy. The kind to drive a Musso. Go to church and sing in praise and worship. The kind to grace a young boy’s dream at night.

It was a Saturday evening. I remember because I had on a black leather jacket that I only wore if we would stay out late on a Saturday. It had a furry collar and dozens of pockets. I’d lose things in those pockets and find them days later. I was attached to this jacket. It was almost unhealthy. This jacket had a personality of its own. I’d walk into a room with my head down and the jacket would introduce itself then me. It was like my cloak of confidence. That’s when I saw her, Uchumi hyper. I was mesmerized by her beauty. Her size. The number of cars in the parking lot. And the first thing that flashed across my mind is what kind of sweets she had. Even back then I was only interested in her goodies. Who wouldn’t be?

When you know you’re the shit you don’t have to prove anything. Uchumi knew she was the shit. She did not have to post pictures on the internet with a short dress, pouting lips and hanging cleavage. She was independent, she didn’t need a sponsor bankrolling her activities. She was just her. Simple, elegant and beautiful. And people came in throngs to see her. She was the new chic in the hood. Some just wanted to wave hi, others wanted to have a conversation and some wanted to marry her. And she was considerate to everyone’s needs. She’d wave hi back. She’d have that conversation with you. And she’d politely turn down marriage proposals. Maybe she wasn’t ready, maybe she just hadn’t found the right person yet. Maybe she was gay. But she turned them down either way – politely.

For years she was a darling to many. Until it happened. Rumors started flying around. But people like me, still reeling from the heartbreak of Wimpy, didn’t want to believe them. She was a childhood darling. The venue of many a family shopping spree. But hanging on to something that isn’t really there is pointless. And like that she was gone. There was no more red and white dress. No more waving hi. No more cars in the parking lot. No more fantasizing over goodies. No more late Saturdays with my black leather jacket. Then just like that she faded into oblivion. A forgotten memory. A one night stand that had to leave before the sun came up.

Soon enough rumors started flying around again. She would be back. Uchumi hyper would be back. And I wanted to see her. Would she be fat? Would she still have her red and white dress? Would she still be polite? Did she get married? Kids? Would I have to look for a new black leather jacket with a furry collar? Had she aged gracefully? Would she still have that spring in her step? A welcoming smile? All I had were questions in my head. Echoing and resonating louder each time. Until I went. To see her. And I was shocked. She was a shell of her former self. Sad. She was sad. She felt like the middle of July in September. She felt like the steers burger. Unimaginative. She looked beaten and worn. A Musso in a world of X6’s and Sports. Life had not been good to her. I felt sad too. Knowing she will never be what she used to be. Knowing that she might not even want to be what she used to be.wimpy burger


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