Gentlemen, by a show of honest hands, how many of you have ever taken a girl home from the rave? I haven’t. But it usually fascinates me how someone can just pick up a complete stranger and take her home. The score for me is not in the convincing the girl to have sex with you. It is in trusting somebody you have no idea about with your personal space. As an unwritten code, if I do not know your mother’s maiden name, chances of you entering my house are slimmer than a Yaya Center parking slot. I can understand taking home Phyllis from Marketing – the one you have been eyeing ever since your first day as an intern. That Funky Friday office hangout you finally shoot your shot and it’s a fucking bull’s eye. Atta boy! By all means, enjoy. Lakini ati a mama you just met at Scratch…aaaai. Ngori small. Me even before I began zero grazing, I could not take a chile home (well, that was mostly because I was still staying at my mother’s place, but that is not the point here).
I found myself thinking about these chipo storoz this past week. I thought back long and hard (lol) to see if I have ever even hit on a chick at the club. Nope, nothing. I, however, cannot speak for the ladies I have interacted with at the club – maybe they thought I was chasing. Which is unfortunate, because the only thing I chase is Rum. Why did I not hit on random girls at the club when I was single? Well, and this rather embarrassing to admit, I usually got cold feet at the thought of walking up to a girl I do not know, beer in hand, and then asking her whatever it is Lotharios ask women. In my head, cutting for a woman at the club is like navigating a mine-riddled field: chances of coming out alive do not even deserve to be called chances.
All kinds of scenarios played in my head, none of them ending well. The first one was being told no. Humiliating. And then ati you have to pretend you are not even hurt.
Scenario 2: You might approach a chile and she is in a bad mood (or you are so horrible); you may either get slapped or a drink on your face. And you know when this happens, nobody will ever be on your side as a boy child. You will always be considered the asshole – you are the one who must have done something – you deserve it.
Scenario 3: Walking up to a girl, everything going on well, halafu somewhere in between the conversation, you realize that she uses Facebook as a verb. Nyasaye wuora! I would rather keep my dignity.
Scenario 4: You do all the things in the playbook, and because you survive on the borrowed prayers of your devout mom, good things tend to happen to you. You manage to convince her to go back home with you. Everything is looking up, especially your groin. Situation is on lock. Or so you think. You get home and she has changed her mind. She is too tired, she wants to sleep. This is the moment you curse and wonder when exactly did her bits dry up? Is it that the Uber ride was too boring? Is your diggz so dull it swallowed her mahanjams? And then what do you do with that menacing hand brake pulsing underneath your khaki?
Then you start plotting little revenges. Nothing too drastic that may end up with you either in jail or as a Twitter Trend. Just something small, but mean enough to assuage the grief of your blue balls. So do you ask her to leave at that time of the night, or does she get to crash on the sofa (without a mosquito coil – so that even though you are never getting any, then at least your blood sucking house mates get a taste..because that would still count as a win for the house)?
Scenario 5: This is a legend that has been told too many times. Often we laugh it off, until it happens to somebody you know then it stops being funny. It happened to someone I know (I still laughed).
This is the point I have to put a disclaimer. The following story might be true, or it may be full of shit. But it is what got me thinking about this chipo manenos. So we are at Mwendas, hanging out with my fellow bachelors. Mwendas, with its usually quiet, calm charm, provides a perfect breeding ground for stories. And the fact that we had not seen each other in a while meant that there were enough tales to go round from everyone. This particular one is about a former classmate from campo. For the sake of his personal preservation, let’s call him Kings. Currently, of course, grinding as a young lawyer, trying to make an extra coin by holding briefs for others in court.
The thing with studying law is that it makes you up. By default, you will sound intelligent to laymen. Legal speak is too full of itself. Wordy and long winded to a fault. Pepper all that braggadocio with a hint of nemo judex in causa sua Latin and any other meddlesome interloper might regard you a second Daniel. Even when you are basically just pulling shit from your rectum. And that is just with the language. Now add the suits – pin striped, complete with a pocket kerchief, and you can get away with anything. You can rock up at Caramel and blend into the smoke and mirrors. Lakini kusema ukweli many lawyers (we are talking of the young ones here, newly admitted to the bar) are super broke with not more than two coins to rub together. They may look good and sound good, but their wallets tell a different story. Out of no fault of their own, though. Seniors in this town are too stingy bana. And there is nothing as bad as being given an account to handle, you can see they have billed your hours kitu 10k per hour, and then at the end of the month you get as much as Jon Snow knows.
But that is the grind, man. At the end of the day, they get onto number 125 javs to their ka-one bedroom in Rongai, waiting for the day they will get their time in the sun. They wait for it, more than the watchmen wait for the morning. Characteristically, it is not unusual to find that this rookie’s apartment is so small he has to step outside before he can have a change of heart. Boy child still thrives on the items he moved out of campus with. That bed, mattress, carpet, suits (there has to be a suit he wore during Clinicals in third year), an Ampex subwoofer and, for the lucky ones, a hand me down Sony screen that has been around for so long, it must have televised the original Passover Feast.
Now, in this story being peddled at Mwendas, this boy child of ours is one such lawyer. Of course, when it gets to Friday, he joins some of his jamaas for a pint at Ladida – the throb of The Republic’s heart. Whatever happened here, everyone else knows except him. Imagine, for a second, that you are Kings and that the following events happen between 10.30am and 11.00am.
It is the cold that wakes you up. You try to open your eyes but the light from outside has other ideas for you. So you squint and seduce your eyes to accept the avalanche of sun descending upon your face with the wrath of God. You can still see the red behind the lids, then a slit opening to reveal your eyelashes still distrustful of whatever the hell is on the other side. You touch around you. There is nothing but cement. That is when you startle awake, uncaring of whatever your eyes feel about the sunlight. Eyes wide awake, brain trying to process the environment. Your first guess is that you have been kidnapped. But by who? You are not the scion to some empire. For Chrissakes, man, when did criminals become this stupid, they cannot even do market research? Your old man had to sell a portion of your inheritance for you to go to KSL, how the hell do they think they can afford a ransom?
A second examination of your current disposition puts you in an empty bedroom, closet door flung open, metal hangers dangling from the closet rail. You are in nothing other than a white vest. Balls shrunken as if in shame. You are sitting, knees folded at the center of a square patch of the floor that is cleaner than the rest of the room.
‘Aki ya Ngai usiniambie!’ you say to nobody in particular. You walk into the next room. Nothing. It must be the sitting room. The kitchen has a few things that look somewhat familiar. Like the green Milo mug, a non-stick sufuria whose inner layering has faded away white. Farasi match boxes and the metal standing for the meko gas cylinder. Just adjacent to the kitchen is the bathroom and toilet, both are in the same room. On the door hangs a blue Cowboy boxer and on the window sill, a half used Imperial Leather soap lying next to a plastic cup containing Colgate and toothbrush.
Where the hell is this? Whose house is this? You are in a house that seems not to have yet decided whether or not it is yours. Absent minded, you walk outside and into the corridors of the plot. Yeah. This is where you live. This is the building. But this is not your house. Perhaps you came home drunk and passed out inside an empty apartment. Your apartment must be the one next door. It only makes sense to try the door. Locked. Ala!
It is Boyi, the twelve-year-old kid next door who comes to see who is at the door, but one look at you through the glass door and he screams bloody murder. Shit, you are still butt naked. You cover your mhoigos with your hands and run back into the empty house. Now you are fully awake.
Moments start trickling back. You were out last night with the jamaas. There was a spice at the bar in an abbreviated dress, half-turned toward you yet pretending to be dancing by herself. You stole away from the boys and did that thing you do where you sneak up on a chick, put your crotch on her buttocks until you two are ‘dancing together’. Surprisingly, she did not object as the others usually do. In fact, she bends over and lets you do as you please. You danced as if trying to memorize every inch of each other’s body.
Now you are at the bar. You order for another Tusker. The waitress brings two, accompanied with a tall glass stamped with a Guinness logo. Sir Arthur would be pissed, but Sir Arthur can go fuck himself with his fancy signature. Your girl only asks for water. Halafu when your first bottle is popped, the bottle’s white breath gliding out into the music, she pours your drink while asking your name.
“They call me Kings,” you say, your eyes never once escaping the grasp of her gaze. She does not ask you who they are. Perhaps because she sees the bullshit right through you. Your name is actually King’ori.
After that, everything fades into oblivion. No more memories can flow through. You try, but keep ramming into a wall. Your head goes blank.
Everything else is black. Martin Luther black.