I don’t have a lot of experience with guys. Sure, I’ve had an online boyfriend and a bunch of twitter crushes, but I’m clueless about routine girl-boy dynamics.  I have a ten-year-old daughter, so I know what goes where, but I don’t get asked out a lot, possibly because I ask before the hot boy gets a chance to.

Still, after a few ill-advised liaisons and some self-inflicted heart-break, I’ve decided to take the back seat and see what it’s like to ‘be the girl’ for once. Only … being the girl is hard, and I’m still trying to figure out whether situations like this are common-place. Last night, I was leaving town after a sandwich date with a friend when I bumped into another weird dart. Well, at least I think it was weird, but hey.

I was walking along Kimathi street, and I kept feeling someone tugging at my bag, so I stopped, looked around, and gripped it closer. The third time it happened, this guy siddles up to me and says hi. He had a purple shirt, black jeans, supras, and he couldn’t have been more than sixteen.

Girl at bus stop

At first I thought he might be a thug, but he looked too clean and tidy for that. Also, he was standing on the wrong side of me, the side without the handbag. He had this vacant grin on his face that had me more amused than frightened. The street was full of what I imagine were revelling children. I could see them forming queues and getting searched at the entrances of several clubs. I didn’t know they do that here. I’ve only seen such scenes in the movies. Perhaps, I should get out more, but that doesn’t really interest me.

Anyway, my vacant purple friend had to yell for me to hear him, and he was standing uncomfortably close to me. I imagine it’s because I was walking really fast and we were crowded on all sides. He asked my name – three times – and each time, he said it was a pretty name, even though I’m sure he didn’t hear what I said. Oddly enough, I don’t remember him giving his name in return.

I’m not a people-person and I get nervous in crowds, so I was a tad edgy. Besides, it was noisy, and we were walking right next to a busy road. I wasn’t worried by the boy though – he seemed way too spaced out to do any harm. He asked where I was going, and I said ‘home’. He asked where that was, then claimed I was going in the wrong direction, at which point I assumed he was absolutely high.

When I crossed the road, he followed, clinging to my side and almost getting smashed by a bus. I kept looking around to make sure I wasn’t being followed, robbed, or, you know – smashed by a bus – and he asked me why I was so sly. Sly? Dude, you materialized out of nowhere, you’re higher than a kite, you almost got yourself killed, and you think I’m sly? On reflection, it was probably a direct translation from mjanja which would explain what happened next.

Man and woman talking

He asked my name again, and asked if I could give him the time. The time? I glanced around for a city clock, because really, it was the first thing that came to mind. I asked what he wanted with the time, and he corrected himself, saying he wanted my time. I asked what for, and he said ‘to talk’. I said ‘We’re already talking.’ He asked again where I was going, and I said, again, home.

He asked why I was refusing to give him information, and I said I didn’t know him. He said I could get to know him, if I would give him a few minutes. That surprised me. His walk was pretty steady and he didn’t smell of booze or space cake. He was too refined to be a mugger, and he certainly didn’t seem like a conman. If anything, he was more like a smitten teenager, except that it was dark and we had just met.

I laughed and suggested he get off whatever he was smoking. ‘Hiyo kitu unavuta, wachana nayo, sio poa.” Oddly, rather than being insulted, he relaxed at the chance to switch to Sheng’. He said he wasn’t high, he was only nervous because I was so cute. I don’t know why, but the alarms in my head go off the second someone suggests that I’m attractive. And anyway, who calls a grown woman cute? What am I, a puppy?

I kept walking, but turned to get a better look at this deranged little boy. We were in a very well-lit place, next to the Tom Mboya statue, but when he suddenly grabbed my hand and started caressing it, I went into defense mode. I stopped walking, pulled away and asked him to back off.

I told him not to go touching random women. ‘Kushika-shika wanawake wa wenyewe sio poa. Unaskia? I don’t like it.” I mean, he’d known me for what, five seconds? And yet the child looked genuinely confused. I thought I sounded cold and detached, because that’s how I felt. But I suppose I sounded threatening, because he immediately sobered up, apologized, and melted into the crowd.

Confused girl

The whole experience was so bizarre and  surreal that I stopped to check my bag, just to make sure everything was intact. I sped up the walk towards my stage, looking around to make sure the strange Purple Boy wasn’t following me. He wasn’t, and I got home in one piece, unmolested, but utterly confused.

I’m a girl. I’d like to be romanced and charmed and swept off my feet. I’d like to meet a decent guy that treats me like I’m special. But between this guy and my random purple charmer, I’m starting to worry about the whole male-female scene. I mean, seriously, is this typically how guys show interest in a woman?

I know that dating is a game, that nice guys finish last, and that the only people that are really good at it are players. I’ve been with a few, and even though you feel special while you’re in the starring role, the rounds don’t last very long. That’s why I don’t want another player.

I want a nice, decent human being who has some respect, a touch of charm, and can treat me like the woman that I am. I haven’t been around enough to know if this is a typical scenario, but I hope there are some guys out there who aren’t players and have some real game. Because these two clowns, well, they’re enough to turn a woman lesbian!

I know that girls meet guys like that all the time, and that good guys (and girls) often end up in the friend zone. I’ve been there a few times myself, and its not fun. Still, is it too much to want someone that genuinely likes you, wants more than just to get into your pants, and isn’t a cluelessly high potential psycho? Am I so sheltered that I don’t recognise a typical date when I see one?

♫ I am so sad. I am so very, very sad ♫ Crash and the boys ♫

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