Why do I feel like I should start with “hello, it’s been a minute, where are you with your 2017 resolutions, did you stall as I did? Covertly, I hope you did. There is strength in numbers you know. How is the help and the kids, can Sam call you dad yet? Has Brenda graduated from preschool? Anyway I’m good too, remember the girl I told you about, the leggy one with a smaller forehead than the rest of them, she dumped me; on grounds that I don’t like her purple wig. I have moved on but she was so good I am waiting for her seven year old sister to grow up.
An email pops up, “Dear Kamwega your domain name and hosting is due to expire in three days, kindly make a point of renewing your subscription before then. Warm regards, Domains Kenya.” It is then that I realize I have written less this year than I have visited the Great Wall of China. I know I have always promised to write more every time I post something new but I never do, so I am no different from the boy who cried wolf (do you know the story? C’mon Christine kwani when were you born? What did your grandmother narrate to you when you gathered around the fire…oh! I see you never gathered around the fire. I am so sorry, we could catch a fire next weekend and I will relate the story, look for a nice forest, the kind with hyenas, storytelling is always good with hyenas around. No sheesha please, we will have enough smoke.)
I am a good procrastinator, that is if there is any good in procrastination. Every time I seat around idle and clueless about life I think of writing something but then I resolve to write later, later at 3:12 am when everybody else is asleep and it’s just me and the Greek god of writing. I never do, I guess it’s what that pastor at Aghakan walk calls “the devil working overtime”. This one time I meet a guy in the gym’s cloakroom and he starts a random conversation about the supreme court and the conversation escalates from Maraga to weaves to mother’s union to a perverted society. Later on I ponder on it and I am convinced I should write about it. Nice title ‘Locker Room Banter’ but I never do. I sit next to this lady in a matatu as I head home ‘from the office’ she drops a few coins and I collect them for her because she doesn’t want to display her cleavage when she bends. She thanks me and tells me in a thick Kamba accent, “thanks” she smiles so broadly I swear I see the roots of her last molar. Again I think I should write about that smile but it appears the smile was not only broad but also deep enough to swallow the story together with the title.
Then there is this one time when the devil decides to go for tea break and I meet this bald guy with a shiny scalp worth a story. It’s one of those midmonth days when you are chasing happy hour. Who else loves bald guys who tuck in collard T-shirts and have a heavy accent, there shirt is in the middle class but their hair cut is deep in the upper class. That’s like living along Thika road but paying rent for a pretty young thing in Kilimani. Okay this is not a sad story about a young girl leaking money off a bald guy’s head. I’ve never had a chance to hold a candid conversation with a bald guy, ask him how it feels to oil his baldness, if it produces an orgasmic effect. How many pretty young things touch his head and take selfies with his baldness and post them on the gram #baldvibes? Do his kids love playing with it and tell their friends in school that they have a cool bald dad. I want to know whether it’s what makes him tick.
Tuesday night and I am seated in this quiet bar in uptown Nairobi, Luther Vandross ‘never too much’ is playing on this tiny speakers above my head, cool bartender with a big forehead the size of elephant shit but a nice bowtie too, I am guessing they must have a fashion designer on their payroll too. What am I doing in an uptown bar midmonth while Wallstreet is not doing so well, companies are retrenching and kids want to go to school where they call teachers by their first name and pull bags with tiny wheels instead of carrying back packs. Hell, these bags only carry crayon kits and a drawing pad. Kids these days will surely never know what it means to carry a bag and books the weight of a potato sack from a farm deep in Kinangop with half the weight being that of the bag. As aforementioned this is all courtesy of the brilliant marketer who invented happy hour.
My bald guy is seated at the edge of the counter, just what I need to end my Tuesday. The problem is that I don’t know how to approach him without posing like an insurance sales guy or someone who is selling a 50 by 100 plot in Mweiga. I could go rub his bald head, compliment his barber and actually ask for the barber’s number then keep the conversation going about the presidential petition, corruption, women, cancer and erectile dysfunction.
The music has changed from 80s RnB to 90s classics and a couple is taking a place in the middle of the club and slow dancing to ‘end of the road’ by Boyz II Men. Everyone is pretending not to watch them but we are all stealing glances a second after each. They must have had a good life together, or they just got the doctors results that she is pregnant or the small lump around her breast is not characteristic of a looming cancer. Such a lovely couple! Even the bald guy is stealing glances. This is just the perfect time to approach him.
Lovely couple aye!
(Sipping from his glass while stealing another stare this time quite prolonged) yea celebrating love they say.
You don’t sound like one who believes in it..
Believe in what?
Love, celebrating love.
No I do, it’s practically what keeps me up on my feet everyday.
Kids or the woman?
Both, I am a family man.
How many kids…he stops staring at the couple and looks at me. If you don’t mind, I add.
One, just one, expecting another soon, in three weeks or less.
He suspects that I just judged him… I know she could be due anytime but my wife is strong enough and I am quite certain it won’t be tonight
What makes you so certain? Are you wearing your lucky underwear or something?
No actually today is one of those nights I am not wearing underwear.
I don’t want to look amazed but a bald guy in a bar with no underwear!? I just can’t help it and he notices.
Man, this is 2017, people don’t wear underwear every other night.
Where I come from people wear underwear every night of 2017…at least men.
Then move, move to where I come from!
Allow me to digress from this conversation for just a minute, I just want to be sure before I move to wherever this guy comes from. Do men still wear underwear where you come from? It could be me who is still lurking in 2010. Or it could be it’s just a bald guy thing.
I signal the bartender to fill my glass, I need a perfect shot to take in this new development. I could request that he does the same for my new bald guy friend but I can’t risk walking home or foregoing offertory on Sunday.
Back to our bald guy wearing no underwear.
Are you bald or your wife just likes you clean shaven?
No it’s actually my daughter, but it’s a family thing, my father, my grandfather and his father before him used to shave clean.
But I thought dreadlocks were the thing back then…during the time of your grandfather’s father at least.
Yea, true but I believe if it was up to him, he would have loved a clean shave, he just couldn’t go against it lest he was perceived a collaborator.
I am tempted to ask if he is ever accosted in midtown by innocent girls who want to touch his head. Whether he has ever made a pickup line from it. That would work well. “Did you know the first human being was bald?” or “I spotted you across the room and I swear I felt a whisker grow, right here in the middle of my head.” I look at the size of his fist and decide otherwise, I am quite young to have a disoriented dental formula. Instead, I decide to comment on his fancy wrist watch. It’s not a Rolex but you can tell it’s the only one in the room, you can only find a second one on Atwoli’s wrist if not Bob Collymore’s.
Straight from a store I can’t pronounce the name in Berlin.
Awww (don’t insert slay queen accent) I have always wanted to visit Berlin.
Well I haven’t visited Berlin, my boss gave it to me, as a gift for my loyalty.
Your boss must be royalty.
No, he is just some old man obsessed with golf.
And what do you do for him?
I am a caddie, his caddie.
Had to check that up, for the likes of me who were raised in a tiny village some place south of hell, a caddie is a golf assistant, that guy who carries a golfer’s bag. Now go use the new vocabulary on some village girl!
I have always wondered, how heavy is the bag?
Depends (why do Nairobians love this word, can’t we get another word for something that is conditioned?) He sees that I am disappointed in his use of the word, he can tell I thought he was different, that bald guys are different but he doesn’t care, he’s the caddie and I am just some stupid stranger who has never touched a golf club…depends on the number of clubs in the bag.
Is it something you can recommend…the job?
No it’s slavery, slavery in a free era, but it’s better than working for those Indians in industrial area. You get to taste wealth, eat and drink what your master eats and drinks. You never work late too…
Is there ever a bad day in the office?
Yes, nothing is perfect, except the precision of this mixologist (he points at the bartender). There are days my boss misses the hole miserably and he gets very grumpy.
…and he aims the ball at you and calls you a slave or an African peasant?
No! He wants to try all the clubs out and he fills the golf bag, now that’s a hell load. He then tries to aim from different positions so you have to walk around the golf course all day until he gets the closest.
That’s sad, don’t they have golf carts wherever he plays?
They have those but I always try to remain resourceful beyond those carts lest I lose my job.
He teaches me some of the vocabulary used while one is on those manicured lawns but we all get drunk, not tipsy, real drunk and none of us can pronounce their second name right. We make jokes about his bald head. I touch it a lot, I think I kiss it too. We joke about his wife’s pregnancy too. I joke about his expected child being bald and at this point he dials his taxi guy. I must have gone too far but I am too drunk to care. Time I hailed a cab too.
Why are cab guys so friendly to drunkards? This one is called Mwangi, he opens the rear door for me as I struggle to start a conversation amidst blurriness. “I kissed a bald head tonight, what a night to be alive!” …as he starts the engine “True, it’s a great night sir!”
Again readers, thank you for your loyalty, I feel I have betrayed you for promising to write often but always failing at it. I know you wouldn’t believe me if I promised again, that’s why I chose the title. Now Sam, please relate the story to Christine…the story about the boy who cried wolf.
Peace and Love!