The thing is, I’m single again, and quite honestly, I don’t even believe it. I say I’m single again like it happened last week, but it’s actually been an entire year since I was set on this dark, dank road of dating in Nairobi. I wish someone had given me the disclaimer that I’m about to give you: dating in Nairobi is the absolute pits, or, as the Twitter streets like to call it – the ghettaux.
And I say this with no disrespect to the actual ghetto, hence the difference in spelling; but truly, the pickings are slim. When you get past all of the muck and grime and you’re actually trying to find someone who you like, or love, or who you can build a life with, who won’t use you as a guarantor for their loans and then disappear or introduce you to his boys as ‘wifey’ on day 6…you better praise your ancestors that they’re wide awake and looking out for you.
For the beginning of the chronology, refer above: you’ve just been dumped. Or, you’ve done the dumping, because he really was never serious about that whole ‘I see you in my future’ or ‘I wish I met you before…’. You know the drill, and you’re tired of it. You drink a bit. A lot. You moan to your girlfriends, who, are, of course, in functional happy relationships and don’t have time for this energy vampire version of you. I mean, who wants to hang out with the chick who alternates between crying, rages and trying not to say ‘mtaachana tu’? No one, that’s who.
You read all the books! I Kissed Dating Goodbye sijui Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man (which is all well and good to say, but you can act all you want but can’t date yourself). You go through the church cycle and start that again. Eventually, your heart patches itself together, somewhat, mostly because you realize that at an elemental level, below the daddy issues, endorphin charged romcoms and anger, you do actually want a companion. Is that too much to ask? It isn’t. So what do you do? You get on dating apps, thinking that life is a movie and the answer will be that simple.
You are quickly disabused of that notion.
First of all, almost no one is selling a product you want to buy. And they are all so confusing. Some have bios, some don’t. Some are very clearly lying, as there are other people in their profile pictures who they are forming a family with. Some are selling actual products, using the app for another platform to market charcoal or shoes, which baffles you, but you understand the economy. Some are on there to have the gratification of someone swiping on them, because you say hi, and then they go silent, and unmatch a few days later. They enjoy the thrill of no chase whatsoever.
You narrow in on two options, and decide to go on two dates to see which one is the better one, for a couple of reasons; mainly, that you’ve spent a lot of time being remotely rejected and you figure anyone who actually has the courage to set up a meeting must be willing to go a bit of an extra mile ahead. You don’t hope for the best, because you’ve only just gotten back in the game, but you shrug, shake off your doubts and decide to have a good time.
The first guy looks…ok, actually, and you’re surprised. He doesn’t look like a psychopath (what does a psychopath look like?), and he does look like he showers, so that’s a plus. He stands up when you walk in, and that surprises you further. The conversation is ok, promising, even, except sometimes he mumbles, and you can’t seem to hear what he’s saying, but that’s ok, that isn’t a dealbreaker, right? You settle down and order a drink and his phone rings. He glances at it and then turns it over. You think, maybe it makes sense to put your phone on vibrate, during a date? It doesn’t, and it’s fine, really, and you keep talking. The phone rings again. He takes the call. It sounds like a catch-up session that goes on for 10 minutes. You’re confused and you pull out your phone to text about awkwardly pulling out your phone to text.
At some point, he gets up to walk away and talk some more. Are you being too stuffy? Already you can feel yourself compromising. Something you told yourself not to do again. You wait for another sign to chalk this date up as a failure, and it comes when he comes back to the table, hangs up and asks you to reschedule because ‘his boy has just come into/is leaving (you don’t care) town, and would you mind if you reschedule?’ You smile and wave him off. He leaves you with his bill. He texts you that night, asking where you are. You block him immediately.
This doesn’t give you a lot of hope or gumption for the next one. You don’t dress up, much, and you pick a coffee joint so that it doesn’t have to turn into a long, drawn-out meal. He’s early. He looks normal too, but you’ve seen this before. He smiles when he sees you, which is nice. Different. He’s interested – it’s immediately apparent in how he, for one, doesn’t take someone else’s call while talking to you. He’s also interested in you – what you do, what you like, and what you think is funny. Humour is always a plus. The coffee turns into a happy hour and the talk is free-flowing. You’re still a bit thrown by how easy it is. When he asks for the bill, he then asks if he can see you again. His intent is honest and transparent. You’re buzzed – not from happy hour, but from a genuine, honest interaction. You’re almost willing to believe again, just from this one time that someone acted like you were worth making time for.
Shopping for a man is a funny way to put it, but that’s kind of what it is. Weighing out the best fit for you – at the best price, with value for money. No one wants a mumbler, or a guy they can’t reach – or both! One is manageable, but not both. The process is the same – doing research, comparing with others in the price range and in the market – you know the drill, right?
Kind of like choosing what phone to buy, or what mobile network to get on.
The one that actually listens to the customer and gives them what they want, or the one that blabs on the phone all day without paying attention to the customer’s needs. Like when Safaricom figured perhaps it isn’t such a great idea to confuse consumers with too many USSD codes, and so they reduced it to just two: *100# for general inquiries and *544# for data, voice and SMS bundles. Oh, and if you buy any amount worth of talk time and you also automatically get 50% more. Queues too long at the Safaricom shops? Sawa, we will be done with you in 5 minutes tops. Then they said, you know what, if you do not want your data to expire, then we will make it optional because for some people, the only thing allowed to expire in their lives is milk and memories of your ex.
People tend to forget that simplicity and honesty are such winning traits to have. Those two make a great bundle. A bundle of joy, so to speak. The kind that makes it easy to believe in something again – something that sounds like you are worth making time for, you know?