Great Expectations

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I find that life is easier to live when you keep your expectations at arm’s length. You set yourself up for failure when you set the bar too high, higher than you can sometimes live up to. I find that it’s better to approach situations with an open mind. A mind ready to accept different. A mind not in a hurry to box things into stereotypes. A mind that loves and accepts life with the different shades of diversity it brings. But then again that’s a bit much to ask of people, because people are people: fickle, say one thing and do the other, walking contradictions. So expectations will always be there because there’s always a perceived image of someone or something in our heads. We have expectations even with people we know. People who we’re sure are forks but we want them to be spoons and we end up disappointed and injured because we refuse to take them as they are.

Come with me, let me take you on a trip. Let me tell you a story. A story of love. The ubiquitous that is endearment. How stale and malleable our standards feel at its mercy and how it can quickly turn into revulsion when wounded. Ride with me through the tide of this story. This story of love and the turbulence that it brings with it.

The first time he saw her after his arrival he thought she could have looked so much better. She was in a tiny, pink, alpaca dress which held taut on her broad hips and that she kept adjusting down her thighs because it kept climbing up, as if there was something it was reaching for as she walked. “What’s the point of wearing something short if you’re going to try to make it longer, every step of the way?” She had also shaved her eyebrows and drawn them back on at an angle that wasn’t quite symmetrical. He felt like bursting it all out but he didn’t want to ruin first impressions. He was a changed man after all, a man who had flown out, so he chewed his tongue and swallowed the thought.

 To be honest, she was uncomfortable with the glances that he kept throwing at her. Disappointed glances, you could have done better glances. He had always been a conservative man but something about him had tipped. He now had an aura about him, an aura of a man who wanted to control everything about her: how she dressed, where she worked, when she could speak. She felt an anticlimax. Maybe it could have been better if she wore something different. Maybe a trouser, maxi, a dira. Maybe she should leave. Five years was a long time. And not to fool anyone, nobody was waiting on the other but there was an air of pretense today. An act that was badly directed.

She pulled her own chair after waiting a second for him to pull it for her like he always did, while remembering the texts and calls they used to exchange on a daily basis. Texts that soon fizzled into a week and quickly into a month and later disappeared all together. She sat down, deciding to give him the benefit of the doubt. Not because of who he was or who he had become but because he was a flawed human being like everyone else. She was like any other girl, she didn’t want a finished product, she wanted something she could work with. He had always been confident and ambitious, with flashes of affection that she was attracted to. But there were instances of anguish because he was also an insecure guy and like most insecure guys, he tried to cover up for it through cruelty. Fiendish about small things, trivial things. She wet her lips and let out an, “Oh!” Wondering how long she would overlook that side of him before it came back to haunt her.

“Is that your weekday attire nowadays?” He said while forking a meatball with his legs spread out on the chair as if marking his territory.

“I know it’s hard for you to believe but a lot can happen in five years.” She said. Quickly getting tired of the condescending tone his voice wore when he spoke to her. And how he looked at her, not softly like he used to but resentfully, roughly. Like someone who had committed a crime that she wasn’t fessing up to.

He moved his shoulders on the back of his chair to get comfortable. He couldn’t recognize the woman who was sitting before him, her face as smooth as an egg under that heavy blanket of makeup and in that short dress that had the sides of her breasts exposed and her entire cleavage on display. That dress that said meretricious, reckless, nightclub more than what he would have preferred which was homemaker, subservient, mother of my kids. He left a woman who wore baggy jeans and long dresses. A shy woman who had difficulty looking at him, leave alone talking back to him.

“You must have been running around with everyone while I was gone.”

“And I suppose you were obediently waiting to come back to my loving arms?”

“Can I get you anything else?”

The waiter interrupted just before things started flying on the table. She smiled affably,“Not really, but if there’s a certain number you are burning to key in. Here,” she pushed her phone towards the waiter’s direction. The waiter was a slender guy with a sharp voice, nothing close to her type. It was a jab directed to him. He had already called her loose and she wanted to cut him the same way he had cut her, deeply to the very bone, but she felt doleful for dragging the waiter into it, the waiter who now stood there not knowing what to do with himself.

He stared knives at him. “You’re excused.” He bloated in a gruff, aching voice, coming to the realization that they were going down a dangerous path, a path that would lead them both to destruction.

“You don’t need to embarrass me in public you know;” he said, his heart somewhat softening. “I know none of us are saints but you know how my ego sometimes is? It just makes me physically sick to think you’ve been with other people and your makeover is the aftermath.”  

She looked at him with soft eyes and held his hands gently.

Their hearts were in a riot. Here they were two people who had affections for each other but who also had their own flaws. Love was work. And they both had been around enough to know that there wasn’t much out there to look forward to. It was always tedious date after tedious date. Game after game. They both wanted to remember what they had before. How crazy they were for each other; almost at the point of insanity. How one person would leave the room and the other would be antsy, on  edge wondering where the other had gone to and wouldn’t settle down till they were back. They wanted to remember that burning desire they once had even though time had lapsed and altered things. Maybe it was impossible, maybe it was a lost cause but there was a glimmer in their eyes, a wanting-to-try sparkle.

In life one thing is certain: there’s always a girl and there’s always a boythat person who gives you goosebumps and makes flowers bloom in your stomach whenever you think of them. That person you’re willing to bend the rules for. It might be mere dating or just an acquaintance but that person is always there at any given moment. So how are you holding up guys? Ladies, how was your Valentine’s? Did you wear something red? Did he step up beyond good morning texts and take you somewhere nice, a place with a gorgeous foyer and mushroom soup in the menu? The kind of place you want to take home and introduce to your family? And chaps, do you think the day is an overblown exaggeration or are you mending holes in your wallet? The Black Kennedy, are you thereand is that name some kind of marketing stunt? Because we all know how the fairer gender likes us; tall, dark and something—go on dark man, start us off.

 

Editor credit: Shiku Ngigi

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