When a Man Comes Out of His Shell

If you have been following the silly things I write on the internet then you probably know that I live in a small town. This is the compensation I get for wanting to live in an island. The thing about living in a small town is you have to make new friends because your old friends aren’t around and because you need someone to at least watch over your drink while you dash to empty your bladder. Old friends understand you. These are people who know you so well that they can never be surprised by your antics. And they are kind enough to feign a laugh when you tell the same stories for the seventeenth time.

And you also know your old friends all too well. You know who the moral compass is and who the poster child for debauchery and bad behavior is. When out in the bar, you know who to enforce alcohol regulation for because otherwise you’ll have to carry him home and send a delegation to appease his girlfriend the following day. You understand those who go MIA when they have a new love interest. Old friends know that having two left feet and a croaky voice will never stop you from moving to the beat and singing along to music you only know two lines of the lyrics when you have spent your evening( and sometimes morning) sipping the secret elixir of happiness. Old friends are the perfect definition of a stable relationship. No surprises.

Making new friends, while exciting, is like courting a lady–you just don’t unload a bucketful of crazy on her. You never admit that you lick yoghurt off the aluminum seal of yoghurt cups and that the only reason you carry the cups home is not to use them as glasses or toothbrush holders but to get some privacy while you scrap the residual yoghurt off the walls of the cup with a spoon or your fingers. You also don’t tell a lady you barely know that sometimes when you cook meat, you evaluate and monitor progress so much that by the time the meal is ready you are only left with an empty sufuria so you make strong tea then go to bed.

The rules of seduction suggest that such classified information can only be released after three months of cohabitation.

Because my old friends are not around and I’m no hermit, I have since joined a new rugby team. No better place to know many people with whom you are certain you share at least one common interest. It helps with slowing down my expanding mid-section. Fantastic lads these ones. Very talented young men. Passionate about the game. They train in what is essentially a quarry. Zero grass cover. Every tackle earns you a bruise. I got tackled there last week and came out with a nasty bruise on my upper lip and nose, which when I showed up with in the office the following day, was the brunt of lewd jokes by the libertines. It looked as if I had caught something from putting my mouth somewhere Getrude Mungai would applaud but which the puritans would spit out in disgust. But I like it here.

People here have funny nicknames. Strange monikers. I have wondered what someone drinks and how much of it he must have had before he comes up with a name like Pinchez. We spend 5 minutes after every training session (and sometimes during the sessions) chanting war cries and slapping our chests like baboons, led by Pinchez. A welcome change from the other teams I have played for where we went about our business with stoic bravery.

On Fridays they call to enquire, “Buda leo unachill tu na bibi ama form ni gani?”
I find the suggestion that I have put someone in the family way flattering. At least, there are people out here who think well of me. I seldom go out on Fridays. If women who put on heavy makeup, wear forests of wigs and dangle on high heels were days of the week then they’d be Friday. Fridays are dramatic, and I don’t fancy anything that involves raised voices and euphoria. I’m sure there’s a study out there that can confirm that 95% of bar fights occur on Fridays with the remaining slots taken up by Arsenal fans disputing soccer results on Saturday.

I am not a Friday person. Of course, they don’t know this because they’re still getting to know me. (Wait, that sounded a bit romantic so I should perhaps add “no homo” just clear that up). If my throat demands to be irrigated on a Friday evening then you’ll find me in those establishments that have so much space but are always isolated, because the people who used to be patrons there are now battling arthritis snd erectile dysfunction. You know, those bars that used to be cool way back when dignity and virginity were still precious, that’s where you’ll find me on a Friday night sitting at the counter typing on my tablet. The only word I say is, “Leta ingine.” When the thirst is quenched, or when my pocket pinches my butt to remind me that I can’t order any further, I leave silently. Without a fuss.

Mondays are my days, though. While this is a day that’s unbearable for most, I regal in it. Nothing can spoil my day on a Monday, not even my neighbors’ undergarments dripping water on my head. Maybe it’s because I was born on a Monday. It’s easy to get a “yes” from me on a Monday than on any other day.
So when an old friend called last Monday to say he was in Coast and that he wanted to be shown around, he got a resounding yes. A man with whom many battles have been fought; most won and a couple lost. This was despite having work up to here (points at forehead).

Also, I don’t yet own a car so I don’t enjoy the convenience of travelling on a whim. I could own one but I’d have to sell a kidney or both kidneys, a portion of my liver and auction a sizeable skin off my ass to a burns victim or a cosmetic surgery patient. Uber and matatus save me from that. But none of those were as much a hindrance as the fact that this guy doesn’t partake of the devil’s piss. Not that I have issues with individuals who choose to keep their slow brain cells. In fact, far from it; I admire people who choose to soldier on through life without occasionally deluding themselves with temporary madness.

But entertaining teetotalers is harder than keeping a TV girl in the family way. You see, if a drinker is your guest, the only hassle you go through is finding an establishment which sells their poisons at the recommended retail prices, or has a magnificent decor and ambiance, or has loads of women with a resistance much lower than that which Nabongo Mumia offered the British. If you have a place that offers all of those, then your guest might just overstay their visit. Drinkers are much easier to impress and entertain than toddlers. Just offer to cover the bill and you have yourself a happy visitor.

Citizens who think they’re high when they’ve had three cups of coffee, on the other hand, are not as easy to impress. My guy, who has never had a drink ever in his life, and who thinks brandy, whiskey and vodka are all the same thing is such. I suspect he doesn’t also know that Whitecap drinkers are only slightly above Balozi lovers on the hierarchy of beer enthusiasts but on the same level with mogoka boys on matters ratchetness.

Here was a man who, back in campus, would wake up to bake maandazis and fry pancakes while the rest of us were goading our livers to break down poisons, doing our times on morning glories or sending people on walk of shames giving me the onus of showing him around Mombasa while keeping him entertained.

Problem is I am not used to doing things for other people’s amusement. Probably the only reason I am not a DJ. Okay, aside from the fact that I have the dexterity of a salamander and that I would populate my playlist with Timmy Tdat songs and gets bottles thrown at me by Khaligraph Jones’ fans. Inaweza Haiwezi! Not that I don’t have other interests apart from perching on tall stools and writing silly things on the internet. It’s just that when someone tells you they want to be shown around, they don’t want to go to the library. Or to the public parks to sit silently and write bad things about the people there. Or go from restaurant to restaurant taking cups of tea to determine how many you can have before you break a sweat in the hot weather. (What? I love tea and waiters give you a suspicious look when you order your fifth cup. It’s all for science, I swear).
Because I am not a man to speculate, I straight up ask him what exactly he wants to see around Mombasa. Since he had been to the beaches the last time he was around, my guess was that he was going to join in on my tea drinking spree and probably ask me to write a thing or two about the joys of spiced tea. His verdict on tea is that tea should be left pure and adulterated and the only thing that should be added to the beverage from Kericho is sugar and milk. He didn’t want to spend his evening totaling tea either, plain or spiced. In his words, he wanted something lively, or rather, live.

That’s how I found myself in a strip club. On a Monday night. Talking about stoicism, discussing the possible causes of the disproportionately enormous abdomens in some of the humans and listening to a DJ who hadn’t mastered his craft, with a sober man. It is common for us, people who don’t spend their evenings drinking water, to confess to a lot things like crushing on a friend’s sister, or the one time you got caught strangling the snake, when under the influence, but it’s a whole new experience when a man drinking Fanta Orange in a club confesses their love for big butts. And that they’d never touch a woman without a sizeable backside. That the first thing they look for in a woman is what’s behind them.

For the almost one decade I have known this guy and from the fact that those who steer clear of sin in a bid to earn themselves a ticket to the land of milk and honey call him “brother”, I could have sworn that he one is those who want to see what’s inside a woman. And probably sings “Mwanamke sio urembo, ni tabia aah” in the shower. These are the moments you get to truly know a man. When they are somewhere they don’t have a reputation that can get ruined, where people do not know or recognize them.

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