The year was 2011. Seventeen year old me was fighting a losing battle with acne whilst trying to nurture the three strands of hair growing from somewhere under my chin. I was in my final year at some school in the chilly highlands of Nyandarua County. I happened to be pretty good at what we used to refer to as kuchora giza, so I spoke my way to the finals of the National Science Congress Fair with my good friend Douglas. He had big eyes, Douglas. So we used to call him Kamaritho. He had no problem with the name, as long as you did not call him that in the presence of a girl he liked. So Kamaritho and I found ourselves in Bungoma County where the fair was being held. We would be there for a week, doing what high school kids do at such school functions.
Kamaritho and I had never been to Bungoma. We had never heard such strong Luhya accents before. We had never seen sugarcane sprawling in acres like it was grass. Neither had we seen so many beautiful girls at the same place and at the same time. So we decided to do a little bit of hunting. Kamaritho was always good at hunting. He would walk up to a girl and just talk and the girl would talk back. Minutes would turn to hours and they would still be talking. Me, I would run out of things to say after three minutes of basic chit chat. The awkward silence would chase the girl or I would voluntarily leave to try my luck elsewhere. Meanwhile, Kamaritho and his new catch are still talking.
So I asked Kamaritho how he manages to talk endlessly with these fine girls and he responded with a Ghanaian proverb: He who wants to catch foxes must hunt with geese. Translation? Geese up the girl you are after. What is goose to a woman? Happiness. Women love being happy. So you have to first be happy yourself. Then excite her. Tell her fascinating stuff she has never heard before. Even if half (or all) of this stuff is not true. Make her laugh. Lead her. Suggest exciting stuff you two should do to pass time. Listen to her and pretend to like her stories. All these will make her happy and she will enjoy your company.
Kamaritho’s wise words came in handy when I bumped into this fine damsel from Loreto High School as we were having dinner on the final evening before the one week hunting spree came to an end. Jennifer. She loved astronomy and wanted to be the first native African woman to go to space. I broke the ice by telling her that if she married me, I would take her to space for our honeymoon. She laughed. I told her about Buzz Aldrin and how he was supposed to be the first man on the moon but due to his hesitation to climb out of Apollo 11, Neil Armstrong beat him to it. She was intrigued.
I asked her if she knew that the moon was actually shaped like a lemon and not as round as we see it. She did. But she was impressed that I knew that too. She told me the lemon shape is called oblate spheroid. I suggested that we should step away from the chaos at the dining hall and go gaze at that oblate spheroid thing. She obliged. It was a quiet peaceful night. Our shadows looked like skyscrapers in the reflection of the full moon above us. After talking for a small while, Jennifer went silent. She turned to face me and inched her body closer to mine. Like the stupid inexperienced teenage kid that I was, I continued talking, my hands in my pocket as my knuckles were freezing. I was on a roll. I went on and on. It took me a while to realise that Jennifer was no longer paying attention and that her demeanor had changed. After a short awkward silence, she bade me goodnight and disappeared into the night. I was left stranded in the middle of the school’s rugby pitch; a little confused yet excited to have had such quality time with a skirt wearer.
When I told my friend Kamaritho the story, he almost smacked me in the face. He told me that all I needed to have done was pull her in and kiss her. He added that women communicate via code and he promised to teach me, right after laughing at me. He said that Jennifer was probably too ashamed at her having given me the cue to kiss her and me having done nothing about it. That was probably why she had disappeared with no explanation. Women, huh? I never got to ask for her cellphone number or where I could find her the next time I wanted to see her. The following day, I searched endlessly for her, trying to spot her beautiful eyes out of a mammoth crowd of over two thousand buzzing students, teachers and hawkers. I swore to myself that I would kiss her on first sight. I never saw her again.
The next time I saw Jennifer’s face, she was smiling off my screen on her Facebook profile photo. It was six years after that cold, quiet and peaceful night. Her newly wedded husband had his arm around her. It was their honeymoon. He definitely did not take her to space like I had promised her, but at least he was the one with his arm around her. He was Neil Armstrong and I was Buzz Aldrin. It has now been nine years, and every other Jennifer I meet always reminds me of the one that got away. Reminds me of that cold, quiet and peaceful night when I hesitated.
Son, do not be like me. Do not be like Buzz Aldrin. Remember, half your body is legs for a reason. Move your hesitant ass into that DM. Ask her out. And when she gives you the cue, as long as she is of legal age, don’t talk. Just kiss her.