I have been rejected three times this week by the fairer gender. The first one was in a petrol station. She was in newly done braids. Newly done braids always have that glow appeal about them. Like they have been dipped in oil for a lifetime. They are zesty and full of life. She was yellow, sun-yellow. Pretty, like she spent hours in front of the mirror, looking at herself, touching up blemishes and in a tab soaking in milk. She was in a black top, black pants and sports shoes, as if she was just from a run or was about to go for one. She had earphones on. I approached her. “Hi, would you mind catching a drink sometime?” I chirped like a bird. Immediately the words escaped me I knew it was a lost cause.
You see, dating is a game of status. We live in a society that has trained women to respond to men whose station they feel is higher than theirs. And men who have been trained to be comfortable with women who don’t threaten their position. Immediately you put a woman you want on a pedestal you have lost the plot, in the early stages of the mating ritual at least. She removed her earphones, like she hadn’t heard, and then turned her gaze to me. Hot damn. I had miscalculated how pretty she was. It’s like I was looking at the cover girl of some exotic fashion magazine. My voice went higher a few more octaves and I ended up sounding like Celine Dion. “Hi, would you mind catching a drink sometime?” Heck, that should be the tagline to diving headfirst into the friend zone.
She didn’t dignify it with a response. She just shook her braids twice and they danced from left shoulder to right—soft, delicate shoulders. Cuddling would have been fun. The sad bit about the encounter is that she stood there with me. As if waiting for me to say something else, a life boat to save us from the titanic. I pride myself to be a writer. Some writer who is out of words when he needs them most.
In retrospect, it could have all been salvaged. I could have said, “Look, it doesn’t have to be the ice teas you’re used to, we can have porridge for a change. I don’t know, you look like you love Wimbi.” And she would have thought, ‘The nerve of this boy talking to me like I’m his small sibling.’ And I would have probably been in. But I just stood there, my tongue tied in several knots, drawing a mess of the map of Africa with my feet.
After she realized this wouldn’t go anywhere, that this Celine Dion-talking chap was as boring as cold beans on a plastic plate, she put her earphones back on and galloped away like a fancy grasshopper and left me there. My tongue in knots. Staring at the gas pump. Christ. It was the pancakes I had eaten that morning; the syrup must have gone straight to my cerebrum, turning my brain to mush.
The second one came on the road. I will say it right now. What made me want to talk to her was the dress she was wearing. There was just a way that it fell on her body and behind her knees. Like it was grown in a farm somewhere in the quaint and picturesque Aberdare Ranges. Because such dresses are not made by tailors. Such dresses are grown in a farm where the land is fertile and well tilled. Where the farmer gets up before the sun checks its instagram likes and uproots the weeds before watering his farm and then saying a small prayer to the Almighty for a blessed harvest. And bless it he does, judging by the way it sat on her waist and climbed up her buttocks like it was hiking then went on to swing freely like a leaf in a soft breeze. Damn it.
I walked past her. I don’t like approaching women from behind, it’s the surest way to get pepper-sprayed. I prefer they see my profile first before I get to talk to them. “Hi.” This time Celine Dion’s voice had taken an exit. I would even say my voice had bits of Morgan Freeman in it. “Hi,” she chirped back. But before I could put in another word a drove of people intersected and we lost each other in the mayhem of rush hour. I looked for her in between the people and I saw her dress, now wafting like a leaf in a strong wind because of the speed she was walking with. I couldn’t keep up with that. Plus, did I mention I’m asthmatic? That is how you end up in an early grave. I did not look for her again but I think she eventually took off. She might be cruising at forty thousand feet somewhere over the Pacific as you read this. Keep her in your prayers for journey mercies.
The third one came on an errand in an office building where I used to work. It’s a girl whose pants I have been trying to get into for the longest time but I never quite get her sweet spot. I never know where I stand with her. Sometimes I feel as if I’m swinging towards the edge of her asking me to take her in the lifts. Other times I feel as if I have put her on too high a pedestal and I’m in her back pocket. Which is not a place I would mind living for the rest of my life if it wasn’t so close to the friend zone.
After I was done, I called her: “Ndi Chancery, niureda kugura cai?” Which loosely translates to, ‘I’m at Chancery do you want to buy me tea?’ She asked me to give her ten minutes and I dashed into the washrooms. ‘Oh, baby boy, you do look good.’ You have to remind yourself that you look good regardless. It’s not something that should be up for debate. I admired myself a bit more before leaving and standing on the corridors. She’s a tall one. Remember those legs I say go on and on like the southern bypass? She was the muse behind that line. I waited and waited. Old colleagues found me there and we had chats and she was still nowhere to be seen. I like to think time is precious; it’s the only thing we cannot make more of so I left while thinking, ‘Huh. You should really put out all your hopes with that one, she will be the reason for your early grave beside running after dresses that have been grown in the Aberdares.’
She called, about thirty minutes later. Asked me where I was. I really want to know: does time stop for women because it feels like you lot have thirty hours in a day, while the rest of us mortals have twenty four. I told her I just left. The connection broke up before she could go on. I thought of going back but then thought against it. ‘If you go back she will repeat it again.’ My ego boomed. She called again after ten minutes, telling me she was there. I told her I left a while back. She hung up and I wondered if it was me or she was the one playing games.
I have been reading your submissions on the budding creative. If I don’t respond to your email it’s because of one of two reasons: a) your work is riddled with grammatical errors; b) you didn’t reach the one-thousand-word threshold I requested, or both. Rejection almost always has nothing to do with you but your delivery. Rejection oftentimes means that you should try again and again until you reach or surpass the standard but our society has taught us that rejection should mean self-loathing and giving up. So if you want to give the submission another stab, be my guest.
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I like to think of myself as a reader who writes, a Pan-African who thinks with the tips of his fingers, but when I'm not molesting the keyboard I'm usually destroying yogurt (not Frusion) or staring into the vastness of space.