I’m naturally sharp-eyed, I tend to match people to hypothetical situations or habits, i can’t help it. At times I may be overly critical, for instance; A Nairobi guy wearing a newsboy or flat cap hat and loafers on their feet standing somewhere around Kencom or Kimathi Street would possibly be a swindler, might not always be the case but don’t you think it’s a possibility? There’s a high chance some white dude somewhere has already placed a scientific name on my ‘disorder’. Whatever, it helps me look out for myself.
I gaze around the bistro trying to assess escapes. A few tables away sits a big boned woman sipping her milkshake-she must be new here I can tell, a man flanks me on the right – wearing a smug on his face, phone on the side (he probably got that ‘kuja leo niko solo’ text), a heavily expectant woman walks through the door, this one’s assertive from the way she walks in and…
“Hello Sir, how may I help you?” a preposessing waitress interrupts as fresh minty breath hits my face, she awaits donning a graceful smile, her dress cutting mid-thigh, traces of stretch marks peeking, a tag ‘Atieno’ clipped on her bustline, so you know she was born at dusk to illuminate light, now on me. Me, I’m the Sir? For starters I need to get married to you and live a happy ever after life with 15 kids, too much, 12 kids somewhere nice and quiet and I’ll be the one taking your orders. Of course I don’t say that, I don’t have the guts. Take that off my street cred score card.
I jerk back to reality on realising I was spending an awkward amount of time on her face, “I’ll have a 3-piecer chicken, medium chips (fries for coolkids and people who despicably look at us when we spread tomato sauce on our
chips I mean fries instead of dipping) and a Coca-Cola soda,” I reply.
“Coming right up,” Atieno replies as she walks away.
Now, the reason I’m at the restaurant is because I’m a third wheel. I accompanied a friend, Maina, a skinny bloke who has a penchant for dating sites. This was his fifth date in a month, but the first in town so I tagged along since I’m cognizant of the best food joints around and most principal I get free food. Third wheeling has its cons; like them walking slowly holding hands as you pace closely with resounding loneliness, always having to be the photographer as they bombard you with ‘ingine’ ‘tena’ ‘rudia’ ‘si hivyo’ or coming up with ‘creative’ excuses to give them privacy for some nooky or something. The free food part is worth the hassle anyday. Overtime I finessed my art and learnt how to block out the isolation that comes with it.
Maina and his date are seated on my left digging into Hawaiian pizza (crime against humanity). Focus. His date eating so meticulously trying not to mess up her lipstick/lip-gloss,(I don’t know) as they catch laughs in therein. Good for them.
A ruckus sets off a couple of tables away. Everyone’s attention switches to the melee.
“I’m the man here, don’t tell me what to do!” someone exclaims.
“A man? What kind of a man? One who’s not able to man up and take care of his unborn baby? That kind of a man?” The expectant woman counters, slams the table and storms out, leaving the man jittery in his seat, prying eyes peering at him.
Youngins didn’t miss the opportunity to immortalise the moment by capturing videos and photos on their phones that will probably grace corny captions like ’50 shades of embarrassment’. The air quells down and everything settles.
“Buda! Hey, take a picture of us,” Maina says to me, the two of them already posing.
Ah shit here we go again.
Anyway, third-wheeling services here. Ever found yourself clueless on the verge of a potential date? Services include but are not limited to minding my own business, giving amicable advice, taking good pictures and whatnot. I should also probably adopt a corny slogan like ‘Taking the stigma out of third wheels’. Who’s up, anyone? No, bad idea?
For what it’s worth
Song Recommendation: Najuta(cover) by Xeniah Manasseh