By Tabitha Makumi,
I have a friend, let’s call him Matthew (except that’s not his real name) He didn’t fancy the use of his name for this article. Relax buddy, I am not writing some scathing expose for New York Times) Apart from being a douche and all touchy feely about his real name which by the way rhymes with “Gen-eric” (Hahaha) he is a Travel Writer for Caxton Magazines in South Africa.
‘I am in town for a few days, can we meet up for drinks or something?” he calls on a Wednesday night, but I am kinda busy, already in my pyjamas, watching a repeat of TechKnow on Al Jazeera with a glass and a half of some cheap wine down. I agree on a Friday after work kind of thing. We’ve known each other for a couple of years and met while interning for the National Museums of Kenya.
Back then, and I don’t know why I am telling you this...but what the hell....We both dreamt that in two years time, we would be writing for GQ or Esquire, where our “Off the cuff” style of writing would finally find its sweet home. Aint that every writer’s dream? To write like you talk? Curse like a drunk sailor without fretting about “what are my audience going to think”...hahaha (Well, well, look how that turned out...we are still young to pursue the dream...right? a big fat LOL)
My friend is “good people”, so I don’t stress much about what I am going to wear or say to kill some awkward and “deathly” silence when we both run out of things to say. Is it just me, or don’t you just hate meeting up with old friends and twenty minutes into a conversation, you are both wishing the proverbial earth would open up and swallow you whole. Like, “Here I am world....take me NOW!”
After the pleasantries, them talking about their kids and hubby, you talking about your rocketing and fabulous career (cough) Again, them talking about their hubby and their two beautiful kids, you again talking about how getting a degree in Disaster Management would be a great push for your writing career (Hahaha), it hits you like a hummer, “you have nothing to talk about with this person.”
Sure, you can start dissecting ‘out of nowhere’ topics, I don’t know what about. Donald Trump? That Philippines Durtete guy you once thought was cool, but you’ve come to realize he is a certified nut-job. Or you can talk about much lighter and gratuitous subjects, “Like oh my gaaaaawd, did you see Kim Kardashian’s lace dress on the red carpet last night?” or “OMG, do you freaking believe R. Kelly started a cult and is keeping those young women hostage?”
I will tell you what, once your friendship gets to this sad and pathetic state of going on from one topic to another, just pull the plug and count your losses.
Where was I? Oh yeah, Friday night out with a long lost friend whom I may have or may not have much in common to talk about with. I will find out soon enough. We meet up at the Corner Affair Steak House, a cute cosy restaurant just off Rhapta Road. If you love to eat your grilled fillet steak in a quiet and unpretentious environment ...wait, they didn’t pay me jack for a review, so imma stop right there.
Here is what the evening boiled down to. “Gen-eric” showed up with two of his South African co-workers. A short, petite white lady in her late twenties and a black guy donning a Trevor Noah’s, “Born a Crime” t-shirt. No, he does not know Trevor personally and he didn’t appreciate my ignorance in me asking such a naive query. “What, you think we all know each other?”
It also came down to a lot of meat eating, some booze, career talk that veered towards “Where “we” are at right now”, a lot of bullshitting each other with our little found successes and what we’ve done with our lives since we saw each other last, and finally talking about the current political situation.
The “Are you voting?” question was thrown around and I might have shrugged my shoulders and breathed a heavy “Meeh” as I sipped my drink and hoped “Who are you voting for?” question wasn’t next in line.
“Have I said something offensive?” The South African was staring at me
“Huh?” I might have blacked-out for a second or two....or maybe I was making a mental calculation of how I was going to get home. An Uber or Star Bus?
“You look mad, like did I say something to annoy you” he goes on
At this point I am thinking, what the ef is this guy talking about? The topic of discussion was politics, it’s open season of “getting your feelings hurt” by someone’s opinion on the current state of affairs. But that’s not it, I wasn’t even listening to the conversation so I am not butt hurt about anything political.
“Oooh, that’s just her face,” Gen-eric joins in.
“What do you mean my face?” I start getting defensive and hot under the collar.
“There’s this face you always make without realizing it. If I didn’t know you well enough, I too would presume you are/were angry.”
At this point I laugh, throwing my head back.
“It’s called RBF,” chimes in the white lady who is now scrolling through her Instagram.
I know what RBF means, and it’s not the first time I am hearing this. But they do not have to know that.
“The whaaaat now?” enquires Gen-eric
“The Resting Bitch Face,” answers the lady but not without adding, “Almost all re-known models have it.”
“It’s more like “Don’t mess with me kind of face,” I hear myself say. They look at me, more like examine my face, I stare back and start chuckling....and we all burst out laughing. Oh, the hilarity of discussing my face and finding humour in “it”.
“You should smile more often,” says the South African guy and at this point I am too tired to argue with him. I want to tell him to shove it (his advice) up his you know where but I catch Gen-eric’s eyes which plead, “please don’t make this a thing....let it go...”