Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Change You Can See

“To Arthur”, Alex toasted and we all muttered in unison as our frothy glasses endured the ritual and made known their disapproval with a clinking sound.

Whoever Arthur was, he had brought us together as we drowned ourselves silly on this Friday evening. Some misguided people called this our grouping the Committee of Sexperts. Me? I just saw it as a group of friends who were always there for each other during happy days and crappy days.

Alex was the Patron but deep down, I knew he had never forgiven me for a toast I had made at his wedding when in the presence of the Church, I had misspoken and made a jest about how he was marrying the lovely Martha and would therefore be officially a Martha Effer.

For a man whose name rhymed with sex, it seemed appropriate but I learnt my lesson that you were not allowed to judge people by the rhymes of their names.

Furansisi, Martin, Don and Romeo were also in attendance at the table. Amidst all the imbibing of beer, I was hoping that I would get them to give me some advice.

But when I said the ‘Guys, I have a thorny issue I need discussed’, line, Don was quick with the retort.

“You bet! We can always discuss your horny issues”.

Don. Sometimes I wished I could get him to observe a lifetime of silence. He was a childhood friend that had gotten me into a fair share of trouble. Sometimes, it also amazed me that he was not Nairobi’s biggest gambler. Even the loss of my virginity was subject to a bet he had placed.

Romeo jumped in with his contribution.

“Give the dude a break. He probably fell for one of his beautiful and recently divorced clients.”

Romeo. Teetotaller whose body craved booze like Eric Benet craved sex but his polished mind always told him it was just pointless, didn’t taste good and you would sober up anyway. He had been an acquaintance since high school days and had lived up to his high school nickname ‘Fossil’ as he now worked for the LAPD. Life and Pensions Division.

“What is it?” Martin jumped in. “You can’t get it up anymore without the blue pill? Try eating vegetables”

Martin. Newlywed but he had still insisted that he joins us at the strip joint. He always had a permanent smile still on his face since his marriage and now you could pin it on vegetables and mborgasms. Though he wanted it to go on record that he just wanted a night out with the boys, he probably was excited about the venue. If I hadn’t proposed on his behalf to his wife, he would probably have thought about something as romantic as taking her to this joint and asking the strippers to hold up Marry Marti placards.

“Did you knock up Monique… or some girl else?”

That was Furansisi. That name. He told us that his school teacher had completed his Primary Education registration with the wrong spelling of his original name Francis but he had decided to stick with the misspell one that he now claimed was unique and African. He looks as always, like an opera singer, a bit overweight and happy.

Beer, sex, illicit love, erectile dysfunction and pre-marital pregnancy. It was another wake up call that I really needed to change friends.

I had to tell them. Yes, I told them that Monique had proposed.

“She what?” Alex was in a fit. “Huuuuhi”

Yes, she had proposed.

“She asked you to marry her?” Romeo barged in laughing. “Or she asked to marry you?”

Before I could answer, and as a cue that these were just rhetoric questions by the boys, Furansisi could not contain himself and tears poured into his glass of Guinness. His glass, was as always, half bull.

“Gosh. Our Kid. You are our kidding right?”

Of course I wasn’t. I narrated to them in all details the incident that had played out at my digs some days past. They were listening to this as if it was something out of this world. Neanderthals.

“So what did you say?” Martin posed.

“I bet you he said ‘No’” Don interjected.

I told them I was in shock, momentarily after that question was posed.

“She gave you CPR?” Alex half-asked and half-guessed.

No. Was I the one telling the story or were they flies on the wall when the proposal went down? I had taken a few breaths and said ‘Eventually’.

“Bring more beers!” Romeo shouted, knowing very well that he wouldn’t touch even one. “You are lucky to be alive, Our Kid. She asked ‘Will you marry me?’ and you told her ‘Eventually!’?”

Well, I had to let them know, that Monique actually surprised me by jumping up and down and then jumped on me and shouted ‘We are going to get married’ and after a few wet kisses run down the stairs to tell Cilla that we are going to get married. And within no more than two minutes, she had changed her Facebook Relationship Status to Engaged.

“Oh man. That woman is a woman, bwana!” Don offered. “You are lucky. I know a man who went to the post office and found a Wedding Invitation Card in his box. The wedding he was being invited to was his girlfriend’s. And she was getting married to him!”

Some stories Don gives us. Alex was highly amused.

“I guess I should make another toast!” he said.

And you will be toast.

Just because Alex and a few other men had made a change from ‘going home to masturbate’ to ‘Welcome Home Honey’ didn’t mean that this was change we could all believe in and we should embrace.

In any event, traditionally, men do the proposing, as Furansisi was quick to point out. How then was my life panning out? That I couldn’t even be the one who proposed to a woman in some rather macabre way such as calling Gaetano Kugwa on Capital FM to let me propose on air.

“Look on the bright side,” Romeo pointed out. “As a divorce lawyer, you obviously know that a woman can initiate a divorce. If a woman can initiate a divorce, I don’t see why she can’t initiate marriage.”

When Romeo starts making sense, it usually is an indication that with his exception, we are all getting drunk.

“Romeo is right”, Don made his contribution having taken his glance off the girls who had just left the stage. “Most marriages are initiated by women. Even when the man actually proposes, he has usually been forced into that situation. That is why all weddings are girlie affairs”

He should know. He probably had won something from a bet he had placed on the first amongst us who would have been propositioned by a woman because he was the first one amongst us who had fidgeted with his phone after my rather heartrending news.

I later learnt that he was trying to get some girl to join us later for drinks but she was sick of his stalking and was answering the phone and blowing a vuvuzela into the phone instead of talking. I would have taken a bet on that one that Don would be the first to have something like that happen to him.

“Is she going to pay dowry?” Martin interjected as the table burst into laughter.

“I also hope that doesn’t mean you have to change your surname to hers!” Alex added. “That would be change that we can truly see!”

The boys were unanimous that marriage will really change a lot of things and I will have no control over that.

“You won’t even be able to blow your nose on the bed sheets, pee in the sink and drink milk out of milk cartons”, Don explained and he was immediately ruled out of the running for Best Man.

Monique has practically been living in and out of my house the past few months. She said that prefers separate bathrooms and then went ahead to take over the Master Bathroom and shunted me to the other non-bath-tubbed bathrooms.

“She took over the Master Bathroom?” Alex exclaimed.

If she thinks she is the Master, you can show her she isn’t by taking a mistress,” Don advised. What is he? The Don Kill-You-Me-Now-Then?

The truth is that since this girl and her chic pals started staying around with a measure of permanence, I am not even able to clip my toenails on the sofa with my other foot on the coffee table, and I am not able to shave your beards over the sink changing it from the All Whites to the All Blacks. She caused about the socks strewn all over the living room and horror of horrors, bought a laundry basket whose attempted use has made me realize my basketball skills need polishing up.

That is pre-marital bliss for you. Marital bliss may even get worse. If it does, that is why I have that slogan for my clients in my office: Things To Do By the Time You Turn 40. Get A Divorce.

“You will get used to it”, Romeo jumped in. “Marriage may be tough but it is an institution that is built. Like they say, Rome wasn’t built in one day.”

Much like Romeo was killed in one day. I think he just got the Best Man’s job right there.

“Look on the bright side,” Furansisi chipped in and we all wondered what silver lining he had just spotted. “We are all gonna get new suits as Groomsmen!”

I had to tell them. Monique had said she didn’t want any Groomsmen. It was just a Best Man and a Maid of Honour and the way things were going, that had already been taken up by Romeo and Cilla.

There was silence. The mood changed.

“Let’s drink!” Alex said again.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Will You Bury Me?

Tahidi High is on the TV, rain drops are in the sky, love is in the air, Usain Bolt is in the country, the constitutional process is in disarray, history is in the making, Jeremy is out of the Big Brother House, Success Cards are in all shops, the KCSE examination is in progress, weddings are on the horizon, AFC Leopards are on the prowl, Tom Cholmondoley is out of prison, a very sardonic smile is on my lips and you -my friends- are on my mind!

It must be November.

And it really is. Judging by my two posts in October which all happened to be guests, it was as if I had taken on Wyclef Jean’s Gone Til November. As anyone who has ever lost an opportunity for a quickie would easily tell you, time waits for no man.

Monique had been out of town to the Mara the last two weekends and I had realized how she filled a huge needy void in my life but that was quickly forgotten when she came back and asked me to babysit her nephew Marcus as she went to get her nails done. Or whatever it is women like to do at the salon.

First, this was something I could not say ‘Nooooooooooo!’ to granted that Marcus is a four year old boy who lost his adoring and adorable parents last year.

Second, I sensed this was some sort of test Monique was setting me up for and I was in the mood for tests with the hope that when she came back from the salon she would be in the mood for testes.

Third, I was avoiding another messy fight and having gone through a dry spell for the past couple of months, chances of Monique picking an easy fight were as high as chances of a hotel keeper in a dingy River Road hotel finding dirty sheets in the room.

It all started when Monique mentioned that I needed to see a shrink about my highbrow attitude after I casually mentioned that I was in the middle of a conundrum of submissions for a client who was paying maintenance for his son and wanted to have a clause stipulating that in the event his ex-wife had another baby with another man, he would stop paying maintenance for the son.

Under Divorce Law, children are called ‘issues’. And, boy, do people have issues!

‘Why would he stop paying maintenance for his son just because the lady has another child with another man?’ Monique had posed as she peered over her cup of pineapple tea.

Because he wouldn’t be sure that all the money he sent to her would be spent exclusively on his son and not the other kid.

‘You seem to be siding with your client on that one like you believe he is doing the right thing?’

Oh no.

Before I knew it, the idea of me spending time with Marcus had been conceived and born.

I didn’t mind it at all. Marcus turned out to be quite exciting company.

‘Mbona unapenda ku-watch gazeti?’ he asked me as soon as he realized I was paying more attention to the newspaper than to his self.

He went ahead and doodled with a marker pen some writings on the wall. At least he will be remembered by my landlord for that. Or even better, by the unfunny Marangi.

Before long, he had fished some red thong from the sofa and holding it, he playfully asked whom it belonged to as he laughed. The poor kid. Like my grandma Rosa says, humour is the ability to laugh even when there is no joke. When he grows up, he will realize that taking off a woman’s panties is the most erotic thing anyone can do, sometimes even better than the sex itself.

But I digress. Seeing Marcus holding the thong was the last straw. I closed the newspaper and told him we had to get out of the house. We ended up having to go watch some cartoon movie at the theatres, but that didn’t stop the boy asking another million questions. My guess is that when this boy grows up, he would be a journalist.

So when that baby sitting session had passed and I thought I was a free man, Monique suggested that it would be a great idea to attend the birthday party for another nephew. That was bad for a Sunday that had started so brightly.

I had walked down the stairs to the kitchen wearing some bathrobe that I am being forced to wear in the house, when I bumped into Cilla wearing nothing but a t-shirt.

‘Hey you!’ she squealed. ‘You should check out the breakfast I have laid out for you. Truly fit for a king!’

Don King.

This was Cilla’s way of saying sorry for messing up my dishes after she sheepishly washed all of them using a hand-wash rather than the Morning Fresh dish washing liquid. If that was her way of saying sorry, perhaps she ought to make a few more blooming gaffes.

As I picked the newspapers, Monique walked in, wearing another white bathroom robe.

‘Put on some clothes!’ she barked at Cilla. You would think the t-shirt her friend had on was invisible.

‘Before I forget, I hope we are going for Prince’s birthday party’, she said it for the first time whilst looking at me as if she had mentioned this request before.

Are you kidding me? Prince? The one year old nephew? The sprog is one year! He wouldn’t even notice if I went for his party nor care if I missed it.

‘Sprog?’ she asked.

Well I tried to explain that it was an affectionate word for a child but she wasn’t buying it. It was like asking Wako to smile more. Not even a visa ban could wipe out the smile from his face just as no explanations could wipe out the snarl on Monique’s.

‘First you call children issues, and now you term them frogs!’

Frogs? This beauty queen could easily be crowned Miss Quoted!

I do hate birthday parties. Especially those for children who reckon that the very birthday parties are an unnecessary interruption to their schedule of Kim Possible watching. Plus who doesn’t know that the ‘Happy Birthday To You’ song has a copyright and shouldn’t be sung in public until the year 2030. True.

Not that I can sing. When Marcus tried to get me to do a rendition of ‘Old McDonald Had A Farm’ it was clear that this voice has not been getting better ever since my distant-in-memory Class Six carol night as my performance was rather off the notes drawing giggles from the bemused but quite thong-fishing lad. Things change. For few decades ago when you said ‘the Sopranos’ I would’ve been one, but if you say it now, I will tell you I am not part of the mob.

So I mentioned it to Monique that I also had to stick around so I could watch ‘a Manchester football match’ later in the day. Since she doesn’t know the difference between Manchester United and Manchester City, she simply marched off, slammed the door and drove off.

Cilla came down the stairs having replaced the t-shirt with a pink bathroom robe and sat on the couch. Whoever bought those bathroom robes should really be shot.

‘I also get confused especially after that Carlos Tevez move,’ she said. The thing about her is that at least she gets the football thing. She however threw in a dampener when she sided with her friend by saying ‘You really should have gone for Prince’s birthday party’

Prince. The last time I saw that kid he threw up on me. But wait ... hold on. That wasn’t Prince. At the time, he was called Joseph. Then some village idiot claimed it was impolite to name a child after a living soul, as the mother of one of his parents was Josephine. So they changed it to Prince. He is only one year old and the boy has changed names more than the Zain network.

I believe if I turn out for his second birthday, he would be The Baby Formerly Known As Prince.

‘You know Our Kid, you have to attend functions such as birthday parties. Otherwise, when you die, no one will come to your funeral!’

I spilled my coffee and it poured on Cilla’s robe. The coffee was rather hot and must have scalded her as she instinctively disrobed revealing that she wasn’t wearing anything else underneath the robe.

I apologized but she told me not to worry as I hadn’t scalded her most precious asset: her mat. Whilst I wondered when she bought a matatu, she told me ‘mat’ was the short form of the Swahili word for bum. She went upstairs to change.

I was left wondering: Do people really attend birthday parties so that people can come to bury them? Would anyone want to come to my funeral? Would it hurt me if no one came to bury me? All uneasy thoughts but perhaps they are what keep so many of us hopping from birthday party to another or wedding ceremony to another.

The rest of the day went smoothly with me returning Cilla the favour by preparing our lunch within the breaks of watching some crappy football matches. This camaraderie was shattered when Monique walked back in and uttered four heavy words: We need to talk.

You know, this might be the lady who buries me. Moments after killing me.

I feebly attempted to lessen the heightened tension by asking her how Prince’s birthday party went.

‘What do you care?’ she retorted.

I was hoping that this wasn’t the beginning of another four word sentences disguised as a conversation. Then I spotted a book she was carrying. It was one of those demotivational books with a title Become A Better You. The author is a Joel Somebody.

‘I have been thinking…’ she said and paused. Ooooh, four words sentences. Apparently, she has been thinking that I am incapable of any form of serious loving. That I don’t seem to say the right things at the right time. And she has been taking all this crap until she came to a certain realization.

‘You are a robot!’ she said.

I am a what?

‘You are emotionally selfish’, she continued. Apparently, I act like I don’t need anyone, by which I guess she means herself. That I do things that are unpredictable in our relationship. Me? Unpredictable? I have worn a blue shirt each and every Monday for the last ten years without even once failing to do so!

But when a woman says WE need to talk, SHE needs to talk, and so I didn’t interrupt.

She demanded that I should read that book. I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but I hate books which have the author on the cover. And smiling! It is as if they are happy that another gullible one just made them inch higher on the bestseller list.

She said something about how she has thinks I need to find myself. How this relationship needs a mission and a vision.

What? This isn’t a venture. It should be an adventure. This was getting plain ridiculous.

‘You are so wrong,’ she said.

I am?

She was quiet. Not a good sign for someone who needed to talk. I spoke too soon.

‘Will you marry me?’ she asked.