I like to think of myself as a certain kind of man. An old school kind of man. I like my things done a certain kind of way and my women to behave a certain type of way. Call it whatever you want to call it but I believe a woman must cook for the man. If she can’t cook – either because she doesn’t know how to or because too much Chimamanda Adichie has gotten to her head – then she best take a walk. I also believe a woman must not drink alcohol in more quantities than a man, we cannot go out and I drink 7 beers and you drink 8; that’s not sexist, it’s just common sense. Finally, I am a product of my own environment, I did not grow up in a household where people said ‘I love you’ to each other, so do not expect me to be throwing the word around. My parents (before the old man kicked the bucket two years ago) were married nearly two decades and not once did I ever see Mzee kiss my Mum on the forehead and say, “I love you.” Or my Mum, after preparing my Dad’s bath, call out, “your water is warm enough, my love.” Not one freaking time.
But they both knew the other loved them and that was, somehow, always enough. At best, they showed affection through their actions. Because words are overrated. My Mum would go for her teaching seminars in Tanzania and come back with a nice shirt and tell Mzee, “This would look good on you, si you try it on we see if it fits.” Or Mzee would be off to Nairobi, also for some teaching thing (teaching may not look like a rosy job but those chaps travel a lot), and return with a big ass television set and give my Mum the remote and say,” Here, now you don’t have to go to mama nani to watch El Cuerpo del Deseo or The Bold and the Beautiful.” See, that was love back then. Real, raw, effortless love. No fuss. That’s what I picked up.
And so it is in this spirit that, a while back, I called this mami I was kind of in a relationship (using that term very loosely) with and told her “si we do lunch on Friday” and she said, “sawa, wapi?” and I said “town, Bihi Towers top floor, Views Restaurant” and she said “Great.” I was introduced to Views Restaurant by another lady friend of mine with whom I also had a thing but it kind of went nowhere because of long distance blah. But that place stuck with me. It is on the 14/15th Floor and the view from up there – as the sun sets – is as breathtaking as Gabrielle Union in a bikini on the cover of any magazine.
We were to meet at 2pm, I was seated by 1:30. I have this habit of showing up early for things so I can size up the surrounding and get the best window seat and the kindest waiter and go through the menu just to avoid any surprises. At 2:30, she hadn’t arrived yet. So I call her and she says she just got out of class at some computer college on Kiambu Road and that she’ll be here in 10 minutes. I say, “10 minutes? Really? With that Kiambu road traffic?” She goes, “Hakuna traffic sai, just give me 10.” I say “sawa” and go back to minding everybody else’s business on Instagram. Over an hour later and she has neither arrived nor called informing me that she will be late. So I beckon to the waiter and ask if they sell alcoholic drinks and she says “No” which is kind of a deal breaker for me because dripping wet cold beer slaps different on that Friday afternoon sun. I order a Vanilla Shake and sip as I wait.
3pm comes and goes. 4pm passes by. 5pm, with a nice old flirty smile trying to remind me that it is a Friday, also slips by. By which time I am now just beginning to get pissed off; not because she’s late, but because she got me drinking a goddamn Vanilla Shake on a bloody Friday! I call her again and she says to give her “another 10 minutes.” I say “10 minutes is what you said last time and, since then, two rats could’ve been knocked up and given birth. If you’re not coming just tell me so I can move on with the remaining bit of my day.” She says, “No, I’m coming, just 10 more minutes, niko kwa hii jam ya Ngara.” I hang up, order another milkshake, drink it till 6pm (still she hadn’t arrived) and make up my mind about three things: foremost, that I have been stood up; secondly, my time has been completely wasted; and, finally, there’s something about taking a milkshake on a Friday that is just disrespectful to the millions of men and women that toil every day, breaking sweat and bones, to make us beer and distill our whiskey. It’s just not right.
I call up a former classmate and buddy of mine, Roy, who happens to be a serial drunkard (which is how I guessed he would be in town on a Friday) and also one of the most thorough Math chaps I have ever met. In second year of campus, the boy once drank until 4am, woke up for a ‘Maths for Science’ CAT at 8am and still topped the class with 27 out of 30 marks. He picks up the phone on the other hand, with a slight growl, and says;
“Fiti oya. Uko wapi?”
“Niko tao hapa Avenida na siz tunakula samaki tukiteremsha na beer. Wewe uko wapi?”
“Niko tao pia, nangoja mtu huku sides za Bazaar na hafiki.”
“Si ukuje huku basi ndio tujue.”
Now, remember, by this time I had already accepted that I had been stood up and just really wanted to drink. But, because I’m a nice human being who waited for four hours while drinking milkshake on a Friday, I decide to do one last noble deed and text her: “I’m leaving Views now. If you’re still coming, find me at Avenida with friends.” And then I settle my tab and head over to Avenida where I narrate my story to Roy and his sister and they laugh their asses off before buying me three beers and rum to take the edge off. Then we’re joined two other friends – Eric and Ken – who also buy more beers because “what were you thinking even waiting for over one hour?”
Around 8pm, after we have made all the fun about that story and completely moved on to drinking and I’ve forgotten that I even had a date, guess who I see walking towards us. Miss 10 minutes! In a white top, the tightest pants ever, Yeezy-ish sneakers, and two kilograms of makeup, strutting like she’s on the runway of a New York fashion show. See, that would’ve been enough, I was beginning to get a little high by then so all was forgotten, I still would’ve gone on with the date and probably tried to smash later. But No! Shawty walked in with two other girls cat-walking behind her. They hug me, as well as the rest of the crew, I introduce her and she introduces her friends, then they go sit at the furthest corner of the two tables we had joined together and start talking amongst themselves. All of a sudden, that rage and the sudden realization that I had been kept waiting from 4pm to 8pm now comes flowing back and I decide, you know what, if you’re gonna walk in here like you own the building and not feel the need to explain yourself then y’all do you and we gon’ do us. So me and the chaps keep drinking and engaging in our silly conversations, not minding them at all.
About twenty minutes later, when they have noticed that their mighty presence here has not shaken us one bit, one of my date’s friends – whom I absolutely did not know – gets off her seat, walks her pretty little legs to me, puts her arm on my shoulder and says, “Sasa Ian…si utubuyie food.” I’m still mad, but I’m not a monster…at least not yet. So I hand her the food menu, call a waiter and tell them to make their orders. I kid you not, these three mamis ordered…wait for it…chipo na kuku na fanta. Ladies, chipo na kuku na fanta is food you order at Sonford or Altonas and those other fast food places, not a restaurant/bar on a Friday night, that was the most ghetto shit I have ever seen.
Anyway, so our very highly honored dignitaries eat to their fill and then keep sitting there, alternating between their phones and small talk. We don’t mind them; we do the same. Another twenty minutes later, the same girl comes back, puts her arm on my shoulder again and says, “Ian…si sasa utubuyie drinks.” I say “what do y’all want?” She says “whiskey”. I ask “which one?” She says “I don’t know, yoyote.” I say “sawa” and she goes back to their corner and sits her pretty little ass down.
By this time, the fellas and I had had enough of beer anyway, so we order a bottle of whiskey and decide we’ll split the bill later. The bottle comes and the mami, the one who kept coming up to me, grabs it and pours a finger into each of their own glasses and they toast and drink up. And again. And again. So the guys and I decide to get another bottle for ourselves so as not to ruin the fun of Queen Elizabeth and her entourage over there.
Around 10pm, my supposed date/girlfriend (again, term used loosely) comes up to me with one of the other ladies and says they’re going to Jamia Mall to check up on something and that they’ll be back in 10 minutes. In my mind I’m like “10 minutes? Again? Well, here goes déjà vu.” But I’m not in the mood for an argument so I say Sawa. The friend she left with comes back circa 30 minutes later and when I ask where she left her, she says “ameenda home.” I’m like WTF?! This mami kept me waiting from 2pm only to show up at 8pm, didn’t say a word past ‘Hi’ to me after she arrived, ate ghetto food that I now have to pay for, and now she just gon’ leave without saying goodbye? And she’s gon’ leave me with her two friends to keep spending money that I do not have?
I try to call her for an explanation but she doesn’t pick up. And I could have sworn I called at least 7 times before giving up. So the lads and I settle the tab and resolve to head to Jiweke Tavern, leaving her friends behind to sort themselves out like she left us.
The next morning, I again try to get an explanation but my calls still go unanswered. So I draft one simple text and hit send:
“Don’t you ever think of talking to me again. Ever.”
She called a thousand times after that, and every time she did I would hang up and text back, “Give me 10 minutes, I’ll call you back.”