I am sitting at my desk having one of those rough days; the kinds where deadlines are hanging around you like a bunch of degenerates threatening to stab you if you do not meet their demands. I can’t even look at my phone; not because I don’t want to but because of how time is flying. And it is funny how time flies when you have deadlines to beat. It won’t fly on a boring Sunday when you’re broke, hangovered and just want to die. It won’t fly on a Monday afternoon after Ugali Sukuma at mathe’s – but by Hernandez (because we’ve used George too much and I think the Hernandez’ of this world need a phrase for themselves) it will fly when you’re sitting in traffic late for a meeting and on your second warning. Time.
My phone beeps; actually it pings, that little ding that tells you someone somewhere on Zuckerberg’s platform sent you a message. For a guy it is exhilarating; ladies cannot relate because they get the weirdos. The guys in Mumbai in a single room with a rotating fan, surviving the blistering heat and smelling of stale pepper sending pictures of their genitalia like it was some sort of antidote to boredom. I mean how does that work? How does a chap look at his Mandingo and decide “ah this will make the day of some Kenyan lady out there”? Or what reaction do they expect? A marriage proposal (because I hear that’s how it works there)? Infinite declaration of love? That their genitalia will be worshipped like the numerous gods they have out there? A temple built for it? Or maybe it is the solution to world peace because (wears helmet) the penis mightier than the sword?
Anyway I check out my phone and it’s some chap we used to school together back in the day; all the way back in primary school. Actually, saying chap might misrepresent her, it’s a lass. But she’s one of these lasses that use a totally different name from what I remember. You know the names that have up-scaled? Names that go to a college, pick up an Artcaffe accent, eat salads and use Uber even to go to the bathroom. It does not help that I also have a bad memory; or I just don’t give a potatoes tuber about how or what you’re now doing with your life.
“Hi, I know you don’t remember me. It’s S (Because I am kind hearted and do not want to embarrass people).”
So now S is S but using AEIOU as her name. To be fair it was an upgrade of sorts. But even with her saying she was S I could not remember who that was. Or if we had met. My memory needs special triggers; like your nickname. Or what you were known for. Tell me you were that girl that everybody made fun of because you bloomed early. Or you were the guy that had the terrible farts that smelt like Trumps toupee. A trigger.
Look; even before I reply to a message I have to go to the account, sifted through photos, snooped around your friends, and checked out your wall. At this point I probably know your blood pressure, sugar level, waist and shoe size, favorite color, what you are allergic to and even what your future husband/wife might look like. I did not know S. All she had on her profile were dresses, skirts, jeans, handbags, bracelets and earrings. The photos she had of herself were as sketchy as my memory of her.
“Ummh no I don’t. We’ve met before?”
“Yeah we went to school together…”
I went to a boy’s high school, and high school is the standard when it comes to how far back people should reach out. At least you can both reminisce on your mutual hate for chemistry lessons in the afternoon. What do you talk about with peeps you shared the same primary school with? What? Those were awkward years where interest tittered between cartoons, manywele comic books and supa strikaz. But I do meet them; from time to time. Some catch cold ones with me, others just wave, nod and smile, and others deem it appropriate to call me by my two names. Both of them. Like they only remember me from when the teacher would call the class register.
We go back and forth with S; me not quite getting who she really is and what she wants. Those conversations bore me to death. Conversations that are pointless, conversations whose parents gave up on them, took them out of the inheritance and are used as a bad example. I bet there’s a bunch of mannered conversations who look at this conversation with disdain, nod their heads while secretly pointing then whisper to each other “don’t be like that guy”. You’d have to be a really bad conversation for conversations not to want anything to do with you. To avoid you like the plague or tax returns. Damn tax returns, do you guys know it is almost that season again? When the honchos at KRA decide it is time to remind you just how measly your earnings are and how much better it could be if they did not exist? That a percentage of your cash is fueling a chopper to commission the opening of a wooden bridge? I believe there is a section in hell for these tax guys; where their punishment is charged excise, customs and slapped with VAT. I don’t think they would see heaven; I mean I don’t know much about you but they might just start questioning big guy himself on why streets are lined with gold and if he paid import duty. We all know there are no mines in heaven; so it would definitely be coming from Pattni’s company.
Where were we? S? Okay. S finally tells me she misses me; I have no idea who she is yet. But she goes into such vivid explanations of how much she misses me I begin to miss myself. She calls me cute and handsome. Which we all know don’t go together; you can either be cute or handsome not both. You know while we have gender fluidity (where a girl can think she is a man trapped in a panda’s body) we don’t have compliment fluidity. Cute is saved for; I like you but not in that kind of way scenarios. Handsome on the other hand means you should play your cards right. Getting both is mixed signals and reads bullshit. Reeks of it.
S decides she wants to meet me. This decision is hers alone because; I am only sending back smiley faces and vague one word answers. She’s very convincing; saying it has been almost a decade since we last met. The icing on the cake is that she cannot wait to show me how much she’s changed. I want to ask her if she’s grown horns or a second toe. To be fair, that’s change that would interest me. But, I do not want to be the asshole guy that turned down coffee from a former classmate. These people talk and the streets listen. One day I am refusing a coffee date the next I am vying for governor and a bastard child shows up to claim I sired them. People would want to believe me but who would believe a guy that turned down a coffee date from a girl that went to the same class as them? So we meet up for coffee.
The rendezvous is one of these coffee places in town. They are so many of them now. It is like the average Nairobian lives on coffee, black forest cake and Instagram pictures. I am the first to arrive; at least I think, because I spend like five minutes scheming the room in case she’s already there and I do not recognize her. But no; I am just early. The meet was set for 6.15. At 6.40 she’s a no show. She’s not replying to messages or picking calls. Go figure. I sip my almost lukewarm cup of hot chocolate giving her another ten minutes before I dash out.
6.47 She calmly walks in. I can tell it’s her. She hasn’t changed as much as she’d insinuated she’d changed. I’m not disappointed or anything; just that it was underwhelming. You expect the moon when you are promised the sun not a flashlight. We exchange brief pleasantries, a forced hug and awkward smiles. The waiter comes and takes her order; she then places her bag on top of the table. Smiles again. And sighs, heavy, like she’s walked eight hundred and fifty three flights of stairs with a baby on her back.
“You haven’t changed much” she says
“Neither have you…” I want to say but instead I smile and sip on my drink.
“Well, there’s the beard… and the voice. That should count for something.”
“No, you know what I mean. Like you’re the same guy I knew in primary.”
“”That was almost ten years ago; you’ve met me for barely five minutes. Don’t you think you’re making a dangerous assumption?”
I usually make such statements with a sinister smile in my eyes and a raised brow.
“What? You are a serial killer now?”
Okay she did not say that. It would have been to perfect.
“Nope. I am making the proper assumption. How are you?”
“Well, unchanged. You?”
She did not get the joke. There was a slight grimace on her lips.
“Couldn’t be better…”
“You mean that this is it? Like you would not like to be having this cup of coffee let’s say on the Eiffel tower in Paris?”
“Of course I could be better, you know what I mean.”
“No I do not know what you mean. But anyway, you were saying?”
“Can I ask you something?”
“Yeah, though technically you’ve already asked me something by asking me to ask me something.”
“Are you always this rude?”
“Rude? Me? No. This is just how I talk.”
I don’t get it with people; they have this assumption that conversations should be boring. I like my conversation rife with sarcasm and a little bit of humor. I like to have my balls busted and some raw unflattering comments thrown my way. I like the bitterness of un-chewed words and uncensored comments. But guys see this as rude. For fucks sake. It is conversation not a loyalty pledge. Make it random. Make it fun. Make it unique. Bring your sense of humor and sarcasm hat not your feelings and two cents emotions. We can’t all be the normal hi, how are you doing, your hair looks nice – cliché types.
“Oooh. Aaaaanyway…” she starts with a smile. Another smile. Again. “…there’s something I want to talk to you about.”
At this point I kind of know what she is going to talk about. It is always one network marketing thing or another.
“Is it W?” I ask
Her eyes light up. She feels like her work has been cut out for her. Like she gets to save her breath with all that introductory sweet talk. I let her. Not because I care about W; but because I want her to pay the bill. It was her invite after all.
The conversation went on about world travel. About how there are so many opportunities out there to travel at cheap rates. Stuff like how accommodation would be discounted and that if I one day woke up and I decided I wanted to go to Greece; it would be the cheapest decision of my life. Not that my bank account was welcome to the conversation. It could not even afford the bus trip to there. Of course after her whole pitch I turned down the offer and left.
But the thing that pisses me off about these conversations is how you get there in the first place. I was called handsome and cute. No. Cute and handsome to get me there. A decade of absence and a connection that was never there was leveraged to bring me here. The saddest part is that they expect me to part with around thirty thousand on the first date. For buying coffee and promising me that I will own a BMW and travel to the Maldives come summer.