Thursday, July 29, 2010

Intervention by… Nobody (Part 3 of 4)

Angela is a vivacious dancer.
I discovered this anew at her sister’s wedding’s after-party, when, under the influence of beverages, I joined her on the dance floor. We got to busting moves in full view of her family and in laws. I can’t comment on our dancing, but as a result of it, many of the young partygoers loosened up considerably and joined in the dancing. Then the party really began.
Consequently the dance floor became too crowded. Reluctantly, I left Angela to dance with a too-enthusiastic gyrator of his pelvis who had been hanging around her rear for a while. Leaving her to her fate, I walked away from there in search of space to be on my own.
I found myself at a balcony, and was passing time and reflecting drunkenly upon the cars passing in the street below. My thoughts roamed. Maybe I now underestimate the extent to which I was sober or drunk. Whatever the case, right there and then, my alter-ego came into existence. It inaugurated itself by insulting me and arguing pointedly - albeit in a calm, measured, factual tone.
Mr. Feelings. Do you think that by letting them go, that you’re doing them an act of charity? Well, hello, you’re neglecting MY NEEDS!
The hit-list is a trail of neglect. Angela is a year overdue. She serves it to you on a platter and all you do is blink at it.
I began to understand that my alter-ego didn’t like me.
GalPal back there should be a shoo-in. You’ve seen it in her eyes. And she’s drunk as a fish.
I hated my alter-ego immediately.
 Angela and GalPal. Ménage-a-trois I bet they’re up for it.
I struggled to neglect those thoughts.
You can’t even remember when last you got some.
I struggled to remember. (!)
But you can remember all the women you let slip from your clammy clutches; each and every one.
I struggled to cast them out of my mind. Sensing this, my alter ego started to list them by name.
The Ex. The Sister of the Ex – that one’s a short bus ride away, right now. Jennifer is an ”Enemy with Benefits” if you push her a little; it’s not too late for that.
I struggled to ignore my alter-ego.
The neighbor! The Church Freak! The Tall Classmate! TWO soccer team ladies! How many swimmers?! The Upstart Model! The Liberal! The Library Buddy! The ‘No’ Camp supporter! The petite one you can’t figure out but are foolish and timid around! If you’d kept your heart out of it she would have tried to break something else!!! Look; the admirer of your art doesn’t really LIKE your stupid notebook sketches God-damn-it!
I wanted to run away. I considered starting by jumping off the balcony for a headstart.
The Best Friend. I’ll bet if you get a little alcohol in your veins she could become a one-night stand, Mr. Feelings. Best friend my ass. Hit and run. You’ll forget her name in the morning.
The suggestion incensed me. I addressed my alter ego directly for the first time. “That’s outrageous! You are mad! I’ve known that girl for ten years!” I even gestured.
You’re ten years overdue, then, aren’t you? Nothing special about that…Right now, though, there is Angela and there is GalPal. Live a little, Mr. Feelings.
Even as I spewed invectives at my alter-ego, I knew that it had retired back into the depths of darkness (alright, my subconscious) with the satisfaction of knowing it had poisoned my mind already and I would never find peace again. Turmoil stewed within me as I stood at the balcony.

I didn’t have much time afterwards to recover. Shortly, someone’s silky arms wrapped me from behind; then her face pressed against my cheek. It was snug, natural even - decidedly sensual. She stayed silent but her heady perfume gave her identity away. I’d spent most of the day with GalPal, so I knew it was her by that scent.
We stayed alone on the balcony and swayed gently to party music.
 Say something sleazy, you idiot!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

When Intervention was most needed there was none to be found (Part 2)

“You’re the quiet type, aren’t you?!” GalPal shouted at me.

She needed to shout; we were at a nightclub for the after-party of Angela’s sister’s wedding, and music was loud. I needed to be quiet; firstly because sobriety was a vague, distant memory, and secondly, I was staring at the dance floor where Angela kept threatening to break something in her lower back with her energetic gyrations.

Apparently, Angela prided in her role as the family’s black sheep, because no one in her family tried to match her feat. I knew Angela too well to be surprised by such daring. I also thought that her newlywed sister was glaring rather angrily, but I may have been seeing things, being already in a certain questionable state of inebriation myself…

I turned to GalPal and made a half-serious joke about finishing my quota of words for the day. I’d spent all afternoon chatting with her anyway. I don’t talk as much in a week as I’d talked with her on the first day of meeting her, and still, I’d managed to leave the impression that I’m the quiet type. Worrying.

GalPal said something about it being “okay,” but it was lost on me, because in so doing she turned her intimate pair of eyes on me and smiled. The effect of this? I felt a helplessness enveloping me that I didn’t feel like I had the inner will to fight. So I stuck around and looked deep into her eyes – and dozed off.

Only briefly.

GalPal would have none of it. She nudged me towards the dance floor, and I found myself on it, unsteady, and next to Angela. The reality of it hit me so late and so suddenly that I felt a sudden headrush and became almost fully alert. The dancehall strobe lights didn’t help. I looked over my shoulder and saw GalPal flashing me a mysterious smile and a not so mysterious go-ahead thumb-up. Now, I’ll be the last one to call myself wild, but a certain blend of hops, barley and alcohol, ceaselessly consumed for two hours, had brought my inhibitions to the point where they could only watch and weep. Ineffectually.

I could feel eyes on me; many eyes; even Angela’s eyes were a puzzled question. A dark thought crossed my mind and solidified into action. My inhibitions screamed in unison… a cold, hard logic replied with the idea that nobody knew me here… And then my hand found Angela’s waist as if under the forcing of an alien marionette’s remote,

Friday, July 23, 2010

When tabletops intervene (Part 1)

I cannot dwell on how it was that I attended the wedding of the elder sister of Angela. (We hadn’t talked for three months when, suddenly, my “most hated friend” Angela dragged me to it one cold dark morning.) Anyway, she abandoned me at a table with her friend and went to attend to her bridesmaidly duties. It was one of these garden parties at which the groom strikes you as an obnoxious character even before opening his mouth so God help the bride.

(The bride was very attractive and so maybe I think that was my real beef with the groom.)

I was minding my own business and hoping this whole charade would end quickly. While I was fidgeting with impatience and eyeballing all these crazy idiots who were sold on the wedding environment and smiling inanely at everything (while minding my own business and bothering no one), I realized that Angela’s friend –across the table from me- had distinctly fixed her eyes on… me. She was not letting up on the eye contact. I saw it in my peripheral vision and evaded those eyes – some eyes are just too intimate to look directly at – until the feeling of intimate eyes on me made me want to shed my skin like a snake.

“What?!” I spun on her. She giggled. Such guts.

A spectrum of emotions was busy confusing my mind as I sat across the table from Angela’s GalPal. I considered speaking my mind. However, certain statements are taboo at certain social events. So I kept the conversation in safe waters. It turned out she knew me from campus; she’d seen me around, and I was guilty of the grave sin of not seeing her around anywhere or even remembering it faintly. She suffered delusions of self-importance, this one.

In the movies, the guy and the girl stumble through topics in very random fashion, and the girl or guy agrees vehemently with whatever the other just said. (Let’s be clear: I mean in chick flicks.) The thread that connects one topic to the next, that train of logic, is not apparent to anyone. They go along blissfully with shiny eyes and nervous smiles and their hearts are racing for reasons not associated with the conversation because, if anything, the conversation itself is the least important part of the conversation. My conversation with GalPal carried on for a while in this typical Hollywood fashion. I don’t remember when exactly I made that shift.

In the movies, the talkers inch ever closer together, and in a flourish of grand sissy-music, press faces. In my case, yea, indeed, wedding music was rampant and incessant, being bravely howled out by a confident live band; but then, there was a tabletop between GalPal and I. Eventually, alas! The moment was lost as I snapped out of my teenage bout of unchecked romantics and remembered that I was at a wedding and was probably being indoctrinated into the prevalent ideology.

Thoughtlessly, I made the conversation awkward; no, painful.

“I hate weddings.”

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Babel (free poetry click now!)

Itching to write, and wading through ideas,

Confused by the sheer wealth of options available.

Sorting cause and effect, action and consequence, victim and perpetrator;

Muddling them up in orderly fashion.

Casting out a net for fishy prospects, finding them unviable -

And releasing them dead.

Finding loopholes and getting knotted up in disentangling them.

Chasing the wind to clutch at straws.

Breaking a leg to kick up a storm.

Because I’m itching to write;

To find something and explain it,

Insert innuendo and loaded language,

romanticize and criticize…



To hell with it. I’ll write nothing.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Best Friends for-like-Ever

I often trick myself into believing that I an expert songwriter who kindly and virtuously opts out of the songwriting industry for vague humanitarian reasons. So, whenever I happen to steer my thoughts down that path, I sit up and write songs. The melodies are too genius to bother reproducing and the lyrics can always be passed off as poems.

Well I had a dream one night. It was a strange sort. Apocalyptic and forbidding in the early stages, the dream greatly improved its attitude as it unfolded. As it ended, I was in some type of jungle paradise (visualize beautiful scenery, flowers, trees, an intervening river and absolutely no hungry otherworldly creature giving chase or even visible etc). In this pleasant setting, I began to hear a lady’s charming voice reciting the most beautiful, heart-warming, uplifting, amazing poem my ears ever heard. The voice was disembodied, sort of all over the scene, like a real life voice-over commentary. The poem was about myself and my virtues, romantic qualities and many admirable attractions. Ahem.

(I can not dwell upon how accurate the dream has been scientifically proven to be.)

At any rate I woke up suddenly, forgetting vast swathes of the dream immediately. Strangely enough, my initial reaction was to wish that those adoring words were being spoken by my Best Friend, or at the very least, were her secret inner thoughts. Suddenly I wanted her. Or “I thought that maybe I felt like I, like, wanted her, perhaps, or just something yucky like that.”

At the thought, a brief anxiety attack started but quickly resolved itself.

Strangely, before the dream, I’d never allowed myself to think of her in those terms. Here I was. She would be visiting soon, my Best Friend of ten years.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Shiny Rhetoric

Time heals old wounds. I decided to let time do its blessed work.

Therefore I steadfastly avoided Angela for a very long time. Her influence in my life was confusing and unpredictable – suspicious in a neither-here-nor-there kind of way. One is left wondering “what did she just do?” Call me paranoid. She stands out and so is easy to avoid. And is now a close friend of The Ex. My beloved mother should move expeditiously and warn me in no uncertain terms about cavorting with people like her. I mean, who walks around with an unexplained black eye and makes no effort to hide it behind her pair of dark stunners?

A new semester began in due time. The usual lot of self-styled and genuine buddies made good their perceived obligation to get into my business (read ribald jokes about how and why I was still single.) I characteristically professed my time-honored tradition of preaching about the uncomplicated life and its perks. They rolled their eyes. I resolved to rid myself of their bad influence and thus let time do its healing work on them.

As it turns out, inconvenient friends are harder to shake off than enemies.

Anyway, life marches on irrespective.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Forswearing Plagiarism (Part Four)

Angela was upbeat, for one whose eye had been ravaged by I-don’t-know-what. She evaded the question without tact, simply ignoring it whenever it arose. I wished I could give her a pirate-style eye-patch. She cared less, being more interested in tagging along to the arranged breakfast showdown with the Ex. She then took her time getting ready in her own bedsitter, and emerged looking vaguely attractive, but for her now purple black eye.

On the bus to town, I asked her to turn back and go home, catch some more sleep and overcome her hangover, leave me alone. I was getting confused as to who I was having a date with. “Who will you say you are? What are you going there to do?”

Without batting a blackened eye, she said, “I’m your attorney. I bet she’ll have her own chaperone around to protect her from your devilish charms.” Her wink and her placid way of phrasing it only made me angrier, but she hadn’t yet riled me to her satisfaction. “If you really wanted me to go back you would have left me behind while I was showering. So relax Negroid, get with the program. Let’s prepare a story. What’s your version of events?”

I narrated despite shock at being called Negroid.

By the time we got to Nairobi’s CBD, a tentative plan had been devised. The broad strategy was to deny liability for things which emerged in my journal, to convey regret nevertheless for any harm done by unauthorized access to said journal and to clarify the relationship status between myself and The Ex. It sounded like a good plan - except that Angela continuously referred to The Ex as “Our Wife”. (As it turned out, I should have read the portents and dropped this attorney like a bad hot potato.)

As we walked the streets side by side towards Burger Dome, pedestrians who saw Angela’s black eye turned to me with sour looks. She noticed that I was receiving undue credit for it and did nothing to correct the impression. I got angry, so that people who looked at me seemed to confirm that I’m a hotheaded beater of headstrong women, disrespecting of persons. Luckily FIDA doesn’t patrol the streets.

There was a smattering of patrons at Burger Dome. Two girls seated in a corner grabbed by attention. The Ex and her sister sat side by side in stony silence. The Ex looked stunning. Angela chose this moment to turn her swag on; she cat-walked majestically-ostentatiously towards their table. Sister of The Ex fixed me a glare which could only mean “who the blazes is this?” and I shrugged as if that would help anything.

I took the seat across from The Ex, who didn’t look up at all. To my left, Angela settled down with the announcement, “We have a situation and we hope to resolve this one amicably.” She sounded businesslike.

“You’re late. Who the blazes is this?” Sister of The Ex asked me with minimum cordiality.

“I’m his attorney,” declared Angela grandly, “We won’t have you two ganging up on him; I’ll let you know early.”

“Her name is Angela,” said The Ex to her sister, still looking down at her hands.

Sister of The Ex regarded Angela’s purple left-eye-area for a while, such that my ears became hot. “I didn’t do that,” I muttered. This statement made The Ex look up and naturally she located the center of attention. “Oh my God!” she exclaimed, staring straight into Angela’s eyes. “That wasn’t there yesterday.” Her concern was plain.

Then she turned to me and asked me to excuse them. The request came to me as a surprise, and I hesitated. The Ex then demanded, “Go away, we’ll call you when we need you.”

I skulked to the counter, ordered a burger and juice and went to a corner from where I could warily view the three girls from a distance. They seemed, surprisingly, to be having a good time, and laughing rather too much for what I perceived to be a life threatening crisis. My burger tasted like sand in these circumstances, and the juice like saltwater. They mixed unconvincingly in my mouth and scraped and corroded their way down my throat into my stomach. Anger or suspicion or fear or self-consciousness mounted as I watched Angela lean forward and whisper something, and then all three girls flung their heads back with raucous laughter. They’re making fun of me, I thought, I have a good mind to just walk out and go away. I think I’ll do that. Oh no, I still have a mountain of food to clear. Maybe I should just toe the line and apologize to The Ex and take her home... that’d be nice wouldn’t it. Wow, look at her. What the hell are they talking about? One movie comes to mind, 'Chris Tucker (or suchlike names) Must Die', in which girls conspire to harm or kill a guy – I don’t know. The time is nigh for big bites and little chewing, boy. Run away, fast – or do you want to DIE? Hey, what happened to Chris Tucker eventually? I should watch that movie…

I forget the rest of my mental process.

After a while, all three girls moved to my table in greatly enhanced moods. The Ex could now afford to give me eye contact; consequently a knot tightened in my chest – apprehension. “A deal has been reached,” she said, oblique and confident. I opened my mouth to protest not being consulted about any deal in which I was implicated, but The Ex raised a finger to my lips and said, “You can write what you like in your journal about anyone you want. It’s your right. I guess I overreacted. ” I sighed with relief because, technically, she was right, but I shortly found out that this wouldn’t be all.

Sister of The Ex gave her interpretation with a self-assured smile and a cocky delivery: “You won’t remain single forever.” What a thing to say. The premises and conclusions of that statement suggested a lot. The implications were obvious to all present. Angela went as far as to chortle.

The Ex: “Our wife here will keep an eye on you for me.”

Panic flooded my head - I turned to Angela, my attorney, now Our Wife Here (?!?) and met her smug smile. Angela: “No pressure.” I was searching her eyes and she insisted on smiling self-absorbedly back at me as though we were on the same page of a wildly successful hostile takeover. A realization was mounting that something had long been decided and sealed as final, so that my understanding or consent was deemed immaterial to the inexorable forward march of destiny.

The Ex: “Now if you’ll excuse us we’ll have a ladies’ day out.”

Perceiving that I was being sent away, I forgot my snacks and asked, “Hasn’t it occurred to any of you that my input matters in this matter?”

“That’s a good question,” said Sister of The Ex, “but… Objection overruled.”


“Actually,” said my attorney Angela, “Your name has been cleared. You conducted yourself splendidly. You can leave! Acquitted! Toodles!” She waved her fingers at me in a gesture I instantly deemed to be disrespectful and aimed at minimizing my stature, a lackadaisical signal. The stab of betrayal caused me to scowl and set my jaw and clench my fist, even as I felt that I couldn’t quite place my finger on what exactly that betrayal was - if any. (All I know is that everyone was smiling mischievously for reasons not unveiled to me and so, logically, I had been betrayed, right?)

Somehow, I actually left. I heard laughter in my wake. A dark, dark thought in the blackest depths of my heart urged me to promote Angela to two black eyes. I regretted allowing her to come along. What had just happened?!? Was it good or bad?!? There wouldn’t be answers fast enough. I went back “home”.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Pragmatism (interlude/ Part three and a half)

Dragging furniture is hard and noisy work. I would have woken up all my neighbors at an ungodly hour – if there had been any neighbors around to wake up. It’s not that 4am is an optimal time to arrange one’s room; rather, that I’d woken up and walked straight into a wall! So I was undoing The Ex’s reorganization of my room for the integrity and longevity of my knees and forehead.

An angry knock on my door cut my efforts short. I opened the door with a matching facial expression and came face to face with Angela – with whom I have a strange sort of acquaintance midway between indifference and the occasional unwelcome remark. Glowering, she asked what I intended to do by “making a racket at this time of the night.” I started the whole tale about how I walked into the wall using GPS coordinates from before the room’s furniture was moved, but she wasn’t quite so interested that I had to finish explaining. She pushed her way in.

“Where’s your wife?”asked Angela, looking around and under the bed (!?!),”I helped her to civilize this jungle-clearing of yours yesterday… Her name, I think, was [The Ex]. We talked for hours.”

“She went home,” I said very opaquely in a tone I hoped was upbeat and hiding nothing while simultaneously seeking to deadpan that line of conversation.

Angela laughed. “You fought. Tell me, was that before or after make-up sex?” A certain sinking feeling coincided with the realization that Angela and The Ex had talked for hours rather too well in my self-imposed soccer-playing absence.

“Can we talk about this tomorrow?”

“It’s already tomorrow, dimwit,” Angela spelled out, turning to face me squarely. I immediately saw that she had a black eye – worrying enough by itself, but also a chance to change the topic.

“Who did that to you?”I asked, “You have a black eye.”

She looked away.”What? Nothing.” Then she climbed into my bed quite innocuously (?!?) and fell fast asleep amazingly fast, because my many questions about the black eye were not answered. Eventually when I said goodnight in exasperation she corrected me (“You mean good morning”) and slept on. One would think I hadn’t even asked about black eyes or anything.

My new dilemma was where to sleep, seeing as my bed was occupied without prior notice. I considered joining her in there, and taking things to their natural conclusion, but I only went as far as considering it and smiling weakly at the idea. (My self-censorship is almost instinctual.) Eventually I found myself at a corner of my room I like to call The Office, watching muted TV when I wasn’t wondering what Black-Eyed Angela was up to – apparently, “sleep” was the limit of her intentions. Time seemed to pass languorously, the early morning silence was oppressive, Angela looked beautiful in her sleep, and I wrote things in my journal that don’t bear repeating here. Eventually the TV began to display 6am news and I started making breakfast.

Meanwhile, the rumor mill began to churn out results. My phone came alive with hot gossip texts about my activities of the previous day. In no particular order, some are listed here…

Carol: For covering all that distance I think she deserved better.

Jen: Hw cld u? I olwez knw u wr a gd 4 nuthn wannabe. Gud riddance fckr. She’ll gt ovr u.

Big Mac: Damnit big boy, you threw her things out and told her you laid her sister?! That’s just loooow! Did you hit her?

Myk: Please call me. Thank you.

Sam: You owe me a drink or ten. Nisambazie alafu tutayasahau hayo mengi.

Sister of The Ex: I’m in trouble with siz n she won’t talk. Wanna explain?

I sent a uniform response to all these friends of mine: “She read my journal without authorization and chose to leave. Don’t ask.” Each would interpret it differently but I wasn’t too bothered about that - not least what Jennifer would think, that “best friend” of The Ex who hated me um, mutually. Big Mac’s text was flawed in suggesting that I’d laid Sister of the Ex. All lies. I returned to making breakfast as “guilt waves” coursed through my conscience without good cause.

Angela didn’t wake up until 8am or thereabouts. At that time, she rolled onto her back, sat up and palmed her forehead in that trademark gesture perfected by hangover-sufferers. Her black eye looked most frightening because that particular eye was redder than the other. Her first words to me were, “I sort of liked her. Why did you fight?”

I served Angela breakfast in bed in the hope that she would shut up with her mouth full. Much as I wanted her to blab on and on and accidentally let slip the source of her black eye, I couldn’t deal with her talking about The Ex. Well, I was wrong. Angela talks no matter what is or isn’t in her mouth. “She suits you well. Her crazy out-there spontaneous style balances your reserved quiet mysterious style - not that you asked or anything, heck, I know you just don’t give a damn - but you need that sort of influence in your life or else God be my witness. Actually I like her. I think she likes me back… Can I have her? I mean, you obviously don’t know what to do with a good woman... [Etc, etc]” Believe it or not I was listening in awe. (How could anyone talk so much at breakfast? Didn’t her mother ever slap her for it?)

Sister of the Ex texted back: “Breakfast at 10. Burger Dome. You two have to TALK.”

I replied: “I’ve already had breakfast. Isn’t [The Ex] in Kisumu already?”

Sister of The Ex: “Ha. Breakfast is beside the point. Get there on time.”

It seemed The Ex hadn’t gone home yet. Her sister was arranging a meeting for us. It would be useful to talk. I turned to Angela: “I have to leave right now. It seems I have a date at ten.”

Angela went silent suddenly and focused on eating. I immediately became suspicious of whatever machinations were being devised in her head. My excessive paranoia was vindicated in short order: as soon as she finished wolfing down whatever remained of her breakfast, she said, “I’m coming along.”