I will explain the picture later… Keep reading.
I always wonder if there are people out there waiting for me to walk into stardom, and do something worthwhile; because really, I am the epitome of man-childism. I am the surest sign that growing a beard has no relation whatsoever to maturity and that hair grows in other parts of the body anyway. I am perfectly fine hanging out there as long as I’ve had enough tomato crisps to eat and episodes of ‘Son of Zorn’ to watch. I am at the time of writing this, the world’s least helpful nigga. But here’s the thing, I’ve been matured into life by the regular system. First, after going through the years of our public education system I figured out the most important lesson: how to sit in a place you don’t want to be for eight hours at a time, the one skill that will always qualify me for any office job in Kenya. At a public school you have extensive experience at daydreaming about early retirement, sleep and swift death. This is what I’ve eventually grown into: a daydreaming human being. Now, the danger is, I think I am in the most torrid age of adult life, torrid here being to everyone else other than myself; the age where I really think it takes a load of effort to make me care about anything.
There are things that mess you up later in adulthood. A bad haircut is one. Sometimes you walk into a barbershop hoping to look like Usher: His haircut is inch perfect, and his hair looks perfectly gelled at a uniform 2.33 millimeter length. But then an overexcited barber does his thing and beside a not so straight cut, he damages your head. And you look instead like a balm of crushed dreams. There is no way back after a bad haircut. Ladies, you see with a bad day at a salon, you can undo it in 3 hours. We have to balance between going bald and walk with a head that looks like a company logo, or live through 3 weeks of the pain as you wait for hair to grow back. You ask yourself so many questions looking at the mirror after a bad haircut: What is life; how bad is death; am I really a human being; can I start a business looking like this; is it worth being an Arsenal fan… 25 years of such travesty, you eventually get used to it and nothing much scares you. Still it doesn’t stop you from looking for the best barbershop in town… Which is what landed me right in the CBD. I should have stopped when I saw the ‘Salon and Barbershop’ part of their name… But who is Irvin without poor decision making? I am also an Arsenal fan… which is a hardening experience. I have no idea why I gamble my emotional well-being on a bunch of strangers I see on TV. Sports should be a pleasant distraction from the misery of life, but each season ends in crushing disappointment for Arsenal fans. For every other year of their lives since 2003, this club has been a source of annual trauma that keeps them on a first-name basis with their liquor store attendant and pharmacist… So I am sorta hardened.
I walked in through an ‘All men are trash’ committee boardroom (read Salon), straight to the shaving section. There are exactly 3 instances when a man is humble: First, when taking Holy Communion (ever seen a man waving eerily or playing with their phones and taking selfies at a Holy Communion queue? If so, you need to switch churches. Usually, it’s a face down, hands on crotch march); second, after losing a huge bet and you have to hide your shame in constructive conversation (Who talks about the dangers of ordinary fertilizer after losing a bet? Really…); third, when walking past a group of six good looking women. When your physique looks like mine, it makes things worse. You see things people do not see about yourself (I believe I am one of those individuals whose muscular growth has been skewed by old age, pizza, 37 hour typing and ill-advised procreation alternatives). There was no barber, but one of the ladies told me he was on his way (There was a lady willing to shave me, but I prefer a man. Of course there are ladies who will read this as sexist, misogynist and a person who was not hugged enough while growing up. The latter is accurate, the other two aren’t. I just prefer male barbers. There is no sexism, misogynism, Russian influence or political statement in that). So I sat to wait.
I am quick at getting people’s names without asking them. It only takes listening. So in between their “Aki Alice huyo mwanaume alikuwa na…” and “Lakini Patricia nilijua huyo mwanaume ataku…” I knew the two loudest were Patricia and Alice. Alice was the salonist, she had this bib apron and softer than usual oily hands. Under a hair drier, there was a quiet lady… So I didn’t get her name. She looked great by the way, only she looks the type who will tell a guy with an unrequited crush on her that he’d “make a great guy for someone,” and text him this message from her new boyfriend’s phone (Y’all who do this won’t go to hell… No. You won’t even go to heaven. You’ll stay alone on Earth in Madagascar without electricity and a never ending Timmy Tdat playlist miraculously controlled by Angel Michael. You won’t switch it off. And the only liquid available will be Guava Juice. It tastes like feet, but you will bathe and wash your hair with it). She was constantly on her phone, and she was taking a lot of yoghurt. A lot of it. I sank my face into my phone too, looking for joy on Instagram photos of people who rarely look like they do in those photos. Then there was commotion.
I could see smoke coming out of the drier, and the girl now more animated than Mike Sonko will be when he doesn’t get the Jubilee ticket. She was screaming,
“They want to kill me… Mnataka kuniua nyinyi? Eeeh? Mnataka kuniua?”
Problem is she was screaming this while looking at me, and I was looking right back at her with a face bereft of any emotion. I felt like a kid, in school. There was this teacher who used to tell the whole class “Sitaki kusikia kelele hapa, mnasikia?”, but she says that looking right at me. I wasn’t going to be bullied into saving the life of a lady who willingly pout her head into an electrical bowl that magically dries your wet hair in the hope that your brain will not burn itself out. Moreover, it only needed switching off a socket. So I stared right back at her screaming self… I decided to fulfill my selfless mission: to take a picture of the botched hair-drying and send it to everyone I knew. The world needed to know that sometimes, beauty melts your hair like wax, and smoke comes out of everything including hair.
Here, I added the signature piece to my burgeoning and sublime collection of remarkable gaffes. Only I realized it didn’t move me. I believe that the world is growing petty by the day, and we have to adapt. Currently I am writing a book on why I believe World War III will be waged between the armies of off-white and eggshell, or battles over toothpaste flavors and the names for various shades of white. So when I sense petty, I am happy to be part of it. She came with all sort of words, though she didn’t utter a thing. Has a woman looked at you with her eyes and you can hear the thoughts in her brain? She looked at me with “What type of guy is this looking like a round throw pillow, who can’t come to the rescue of an electrical fault” eyes. And I looked back at her with “Woman, I won’t die first because you think affirmative action stops at political seats and job opportunities when you can’t switch of a damn socket” eyes. I do that a lot, with so many people even when they don’t mean a thing. I have countless wordless eye conversations that span up to 7 minutes with people just by throwing eyes at each other. I learnt this when I was a kid. Do something wrong and your mother turns looking at you and you can see her eyes saying “Do it one more time little dad-looking nigger that’s already suckled the life out of my once glorious chest and see if I will not punch the gas out of your throat”… Just by a look, you spoke with your mother and understood what she said and you recline to your finger sucking position at the corner of the verandah.
Nobody likes to be wrong. I don’t have any personal experience with it since I’ve never made a mistake. We all have our burdens. Mine is being perfect. I choose friends and confidants who agree with me because it shows they are wise and knowledgeable. Unfortunately, not everyone recognizes my infallibility, and I always walk out for being so right. Here, I did the same. After our eye conversation, I picked myself up, and walked out. I don’t care what you think, I was right. I would only help if she was a famous rich princess with a magic wand that spews Dentine mint gums, but even then I’d get tired.
You don’t always have to be a hero… Real men run away from problems. Superman never got Lois Lane, just as Spiderman never married Mary Jane Watson. You just need money. Beauty and the Beast: the rich monster with Stockholm syndrome gets the pretty chic. There’s a reason why the old man at HR gets all the pretty smiles.
The picture up there is how I look at you when you expect me to act like Superman… Now you get it.
Enjoy your week.