Can We Do Lunch?


The world had just crossed over to a new millennium; it was now the year 2000! Everyone had held their breath to see what would happen when we moved from the nineties. What with all manner of spooky prophesies of the apocalypse. Everyone, for some reason believed that the world was coming to an end at the turn of the century. There are those we dug huge underground bunkers and hid, others sold everything they owned and waited for the savior to come back and take them to heaven and others sat and waited to inherit the earth.

I just wanted to go to campus!

I had lived in Machakos for a whole 18 years of my life and I needed a change. I had just come off high school and my parents, specifically daddy dearest, had religiously decided to ship me off to the big City (read Nairobi). My dad abhorred idleness. He always related it, for some reason, to a despicable transgression that could cause someone to be a resident of the pit of hell.

Daddy believed that I was one of the brightest human beings on earth. To tell you the truth, I have no idea why because my school reports really suggested otherwise. Don’t get me wrong; I wasn’t that bad, I was an average student. The ones who balance the equation; we are neither hot nor cold; we are normally just there. Because dad believed I was a bright young man, he chose to send me to study a foreign language-French. This he did in spite of my economical grasp of the native languages-in fact, my Swahili was and is still atrocious! But dad, oh dear dad, felt that I would become a better member of the society if I studied French. I have no idea what French and morality have in common.

So, off to Nairobi I went.

I became a student at the Alliance Francaise. Up to date, the only memory of Alliance Francaise that lingers in my mind is that of miserably failing the French Diploma exam thrice reminiscent of Peter’s denial of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is after the third attempt that I decided that this was a sign from the gods that this was not my destiny. I can now confidently tell you that the gods were right.

But Nairobi can do you things, very bad things in fact!

So, a friend calls, for the purpose of this story, let’s call her “Pal”. She, unlike myself, had been in the city longer; she knew the ways of the city. I was really a shags guy; I knew just four places, in town; Bata Hilton, Afya house (like all Kambas do), Alliance Francaise and where to pick mats to Nairobi West.

So after pleasantries, Pal asks a question which became the genesis of all my predicaments. She asked, “can we do lunch?” I was like, “of course we can do lunch”. Because why wouldn’t we want to do lunch? Who in their right mind forgoes food? Who? So, we pick a date. When the day came, Pal, being more “Nairobian” than I, picked the meeting place. I followed suit.

I came armed with cash, lots of cash according to me anyway.

My wallet, a precious accessory that I had inherited from my father, had a total 300 Kenya Shillings! That was a lot of money back then and considering where I came from. I thought to myself that even if I got possessed by the spirit of gluttony, I still wouldn’t “finish” it. Aaaaiii! Kwani what was I going to eat that would cost me that much? I was loaded, as a boys need to be when going out for lunch.

So I went for my classes up to around quarter to one then walked from Alliance to Bata Hilton, the hook up point. I waited patiently for my date to come. She finally did. We exchanged pleasantries that included a warm embrace and then she led the way. I made the same mistake that my fore father, Adam, made in the Garden of Eden; I followed.

Pal led me to a restaurant, one that I had never been to.

We head straight to the counter Pal leads me. These are the kind of restaurants that you pay first and then get your order done. I think they figured that people have the unfortunate habit of defaulting on their bills. There are quite a number of young people queuing, money in hand. We keep chatting as the queue moves. We finally get to the counter. The attendant looks up.

“Yes! What will you have?” The attendant asks.

Pal is literally in front of me so I let her do the talking.

“Nipee fries, chicken, salad na fresh orange juice please.” Pal responds. She then turns to and gestures at me to make my order. I oblige.

“Pia mimi nipee chips, chicken quarter na fanta baridi” I say.

I didn’t know that hotels sold anything else other than chips, chicken and soda. Why would a whole hotel in Nairobi even think of having something like ugali or rice on its menu anyway? Can’t people make those things in their houses?

So, the attendant keys in the order and yells out the amount due. I instinctively give out my 200 bob broad smile on my face. But the smile fades away very fast as I realize that Pal and Attendant are giving me blank stares!

“Waaaaait! What’s wrong?” I wonder.

Before I could summon courage to ask or even answer my own question the attendant shouts the amount due again.

“Nimesema ni 980! Please don’t hold up the queue!” She says in a rather vexed manner.

It quickly dawns on me, as fast as the dew in Makueni disappears, that I am supposed to pay the entire bill. It also occurs to me that at that moment, I am holding up the queue and also making Pal look very bad.

So what does boy-child do? Since my father taught me to always pay my dues, I reach back into my pockets and chuck the remaining 100 bob. I am now penniless and still the bill is unsettled. Now I am sweating profusely! Pal, seeing my predicament, reaches into her wallet and quickly chucks a 1000 bob. Bless her soul! Attendant grabs it, sneers, and hands over the change, which includes my 300 bob and motions us to move on.

For the next few minutes, as we eat, I can barely breathe. My sweat glands seem to be doing an El Nino on me-the discomfort is real. We finish, thank God! Pal says bye and now I need to go home. That’s okay but there is only one tiny problem; I have no single cent on me! There are few times that I thank God that I was born a Kamba, this was one of them. So I follow my great grand parents footsteps, literally, and walk home.

What’s the moral of this story?

Mister Man, when a girl asks “can we do lunch?” She means that you are buying. Carry truckloads of money because you have no idea what kind of appetite she possesses. Also, cut the cloth according to your coat. In other words, choose where you will buy her lunch. Make sure you can afford it. And to the girls, when you are “doing lunch” with a guy, carry your own money. Some guys don’t know that a gentleman never lets a lady pay. Others, like yours truly, could just be broke.

Lastly, Mister Man, tafuta pesa nanii! King Solomon, in his wise counsel once said, “Money answers all things”. I believe him.

  1. Ha ha ha…ati as fast as dew in Makueni drys….lol…I am taking this personally…ha ha. That is a great read as always. Very funny and entertaining monsieur!

  2. 🤣🤣🤣inabidi tutafute pesa ju we🤣 … The struggle is real. That was quite a story 😂😂

  3. Awesome story! Another possible lesson; ‘Check your hangout company’. Pal should have had emotional intelligence to know what you can or cannot afford. Most recently, a ‘Pal’ or mine took to a hangout place. A whooping Ksh. 7,000 came out as the bill, AFTER the feast. I would have loved to be born Kamba (pun intended)!

  4. Woi!Where was pal brought up?She should have known you didn’t have fare back home,given the predicament at hand.Kanairo is hard aisee!😏😂

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