When the Mrs is mad you want her to blow up. You want her to let out a loud sigh. Disappointment. And to look at you and shake her head. And purse her lips. Then raise her hand at the same time let it fall. Like the weights of the words she’s just about to unleash are too heavy. You want to be called an ungrateful good for nothing boyfriend. Maybe get slapped once or twice on the right cheek. Never left. If it’s not right it feels wrong. Then you will know she has boiled over. Let it all out. Working through it. And you can breathe. Be happy. Give room. And make the same mistake again. Because, men.
It’s never even really a grave mistake. She didn’t find you on top of Nyaboke sweating it out like the summer of ninety three. Swearing upon your ancestors names that it was the best you ever had. Or maybe you’re a bit more suave. Polished. So you’ll say something smart. Witty. Not even sexy but Nyaboke doesn’t care. So you’ll make a line up. Something about her parts being a legend. Because, best you ever had. Does it help that they call junks jon? No but it wouldn’t be something that huge. I’m talking about the mistake. People. Get your head in the game. It would be something stupid. Stupid because you’re a man.
And you’d be there trying to sing her a lullaby. Or a ballad. Or songs of Solomon. Saying baby this and baby that. Tongue in cheek. Your cheek. She won’t let you anywhere near hers. And she’ll storm off. And you’d have to chase her down. Make things better. Buy her a chocolate fudge cake. Three glasses of wine. A diamond necklace. That night when she says goodnight you’ll hear it in her voice. You’ll see the sparkle in her eye. Or maybe it’s the diamond necklace. But you’ll see something. And you’ll wonder if really forgetting her auntie’s cousin brother in-laws dogs puppy was turning four months.
Men have it worse in relationships. We walk on egg shells. Anything can and will be used against you. It doesn’t matter. Look too long at the wrong brand of milk at the supermarket its an issue. So you think the brand of milk I buy is not good enough? She’ll ask. No babe it’s… You’ll start. Don’t no babe me. She’ll shout. Interrupting you. Go date a cow. And just like that you’ll realize you can’t stare at the wrong milk at the supermarket.
When you’re in a relationship you’re on a leash. A very short temperamental leash. A leash that cries. A leash that loves cake. A leash that texts you. A leash that calls you. On your phone. Babe. Sweetie. Out on your bullshit and lies. When you’re out with the guys. When you’re sleeping. When you’re at work. And you love that leash. It gives you a feeling of order. Some direction in life. Keeping you in check. Stopping you from straying and staring at the wrong brand of milk. But the leash doesn’t come with a manual. How to work it. It’s trial and error. Mostly error.
I don’t remember how it happened. I was at this local. Bad music. Warm beer. Shit place. Service even worse. It’s my third time here. For some reason I keep coming back. This place is that song you hear once. Only once. And it keeps playing in your head the whole time. And you can’t get it out. Might have something to do with the underpriced beer. The beer here is so cheap it has esteem issues. It probably goes to see a psychiatrist. Or counsellor. Talk about its life. The dad that left when it was only two. The mum that only let it feed on the left tit. Some crazy shit like that. And it would lay on the couch. And go on and on about its life. You almost feel sorry for it. The beer.
I have two. Beers. Sorry beers. Beers so sorry they should’ve been on Bieber’s video. I steal a glance from some bloke at a corner. Smartly dressed chap. Taking his warm beer like a champ. Not scrunching up his face as it goes down. He looks prime for marriage. He has the indifference that comes with committing your life to one woman. Walking down the aisle. And spending the rest of your life with the same weave. Okay I’m sorry. But still he looks like he’s contemplating proposing to his girlfriend. He’s just not sure which one. He gives me a nod. I don’t nod back. Because I’m a bitch sometimes. And he might come over to my table. Start conversation. Ask me who to marry between some Nyokabi and a Lucy.
I summon the waitress. Ask for my bill. I pay and leave. With change. That’s how you know beer is cheap. When your change comes with coins. I walk out. Warm beer sitting in my tummy. It’s been raining. A lot. So the place is half road half swamp. Potholes are mini lakes. Roads are streams. Pathways are river rapids. It’s hectic. I somehow find my way across. Feeling like a wildebeest swimming across a crocodile infested river. I’m unscathed. Walk into this joint. It’s just called the club. The name itself feels like it has an attitude. Like it knows it’s the shit. Calls the shots. Steals people girlfriends. It has heavy metal doors. Careless graffiti scribbled across. Loud music playing from the inside. Two goons standing guard outside. They didn’t even have wands. They haven’t even been to Hogwarts. They just stare you down. Hard stares. Stares that’ve had two pills of Viagra. And done time. One opens the door. The sound the door makes sounds exactly how the gates of hell would sound. The metal clinked a bit louder than it should’ve.
Inside it smells of sweat. Dark bodied beer. And private parts. A stage in the middle with three poles and men lined along the couches. Hungry. With their eyes. And intentions. I find a seat. Summon the waitress for a beer. She whispers the price and I recoil. 310. Feels like I’m in some dingy church along river road. Where they sell miracles. In packets. Depending on how much you can give. The starting price is 310. For that you problem is partly solved. God does some and you do the rest. I ask her why. Why it’s so damn expensive. She says its for the show. And the dancers. I ask if I will get cheaper drinks if I promise to close my eyes. She laughs. It’s irritating. Her laugh is a torture technique in Guantanamo that’s here in Kenya for holidays. Finally she asks if I’ll have the drink. She looks like she has somewhere else to be. I nod and she goes.
Right behind me. Where I’m sitting is a corridor where the girls come from. One walks past me and gives me a stare. She stops mid way to the stage and turns. Doesn’t say anything she just puts herself on my lap and leans her head back. She asks if she can sit there. I shrug my shoulders. She gets comfortable and starts asking questions. Her weave is in my face. I feel like I should introduce myself to it. She turns her head and I realize she asked a question.
‘What’s your name?’
‘If I told you will you tell me yours?’
‘The real one? Not a funny one like Shanice.’
She laughs and says she will.
‘You don’t look like a Mike.’
Now I know I don’t look like a Mike. Mike’s are loud. Sometimes obnoxious. Always worrying about how much they spent last night. And they drink white cap.
‘I know. I get that a lot.’
‘My name is Jamila.’
‘Really? I don’t think so.’
‘You don’t look like a Jamila.’
She laughs. A song comes on and she starts to grind. I tell her to stop. She’s only there to sit. She looks offended. I tell her I’m not a fan. No one likes strange behinds grinding on their crotch. She asks what I want instead. She says they have rooms. I laugh. Tell her I also have a room. If she wants to exchange rooms. Then she says something random. You have a girlfriend. I look at her. Or her weave. Then ask why. She says she just knows. Doesn’t believe my shit about not liking dances. I tell her I do. She gives me a look. It’s more respectful. As respectful a look as you can get when there’s a strange girl in her minimums on your lap talking about your girlfriend. She gets up turns around and hugs me. Tells me thanks. Then walks away. I don’t question it. I just let it go.
On my way out I see her. She waves. I wave back. She gets off the stage and walks towards me hugs me again. And makes me promise to see her again. I promise then walk out. At least now I know how far my leash can go.