My first warning should have been how we met.
It was on Badoo, one of the dating apps that cropped up back in the day. I had been single for a year or so, and I was lonely and feeling sorry for myself. I was looking for excitement, friends and possibly love on Badoo. Here you could find the people only interested in a good time, the forever type and the ones that just wanted someone to talk to at 3 am in the morning. He seemed like a mesh of all three.
My second warning should have been his grammar. He wrote like a toddler, as if he’d never been to alphabet school and couldn’t spell a word right to save his life.
“Wat r u up 2?” His 3 am text.
“Nothing really, just getting ready for sleep.”
“Wao, si unisongee tulale pamoja?” (Third warning right there. I mean, what does that even mean? Is it a line that is supposed to work?)
Anyway, a few of the same weird back and forth exchanges later, numbers were exchanged and we had set a date to meet up and get to know each other better. I’ve always loved discovery, and I look forward to meeting people so that I can find out things about them through their stories. The day we were to meet I was dressed to impress. After all, his writing game was wack and his lines were sloppy, but he had a good voice and it was the least I could do.
We met in tao on Moi Avenue. He didn’t look at all as I had pictured him in my head. For one, he was a lot older than I’d expected. He wasn’t ugly, but let’s just say he wouldn’t win any beauty awards. Regardless, my mother raised a polite girl and I was all effusive greetings and smiles as we decided where we were going to have lunch and started walking there. My third warning should have been when he kept walking very fast in front of me, not caring whether I got hit by a bus or not as I struggled to keep up. At some point, I lagged behind on purpose, and it took him a full minute before he stopped and looked around for me.
I was excited about the restaurant we were going to. It was a place I had been before and I knew they had wholesome, pocket-friendly food. When we got there it was almost full with the lunch crowd. My fourth warning should have been when he insisted we sit at an already occupied table while there were one or two free ones. I was still being nice so I went with it. This was the kind of restaurant where tiny chairs are stuck together to form one bench-like one, and there’s no way of sitting with touching your neighbour. He took it to the next level by plastering his body all over mine so that I was practically hanging off my chair.
Him: *looking at me weird* You’re so beautiful, you know.
Me: *laughs uncomfortably* Thanks….
Him: *drapes an arm behind my chair* I love you.
Me: *barely holding back a snort* I don’t believe you. I mean, we just met.
(Narrator’s voice: This should have been her fifth warning.)
I was saved from any further conversation by the waiter who’d come to take our order.
“Utakula nini?” He asked.
“Well,” I said, “wacha nijaribu hii chef’s special.”
“Unaweza kula kitu yoyote unataka, lakini ujue niko na 150 na lazima nikunywe chai.”
The chef’s special was 150 and chai was 50 bob. He was basically telling me that he could only spend Kshs100 on my meal. Granted, I had my own money and could have bought anything I wanted, but I’m a firm believer that the first date should always be paid by a man unless otherwise agreed. So I ordered something else. It should have been my sixth warning.
After my meal and his tea were brought, he continued the conversation, “Unajua nimekuwa natafuta bibi, na wewe uko na kila kitu nataka. Nitakupeleka Kisii uone mama yangu, atakupenda sana. I love you” All that time I was trying to eat as fast as possible and move away far enough so that we were no longer touching. I was like a statue, something he commented on when he praised me for my good posture. The lady seated across from us had given up any pretence of eating and was openly staring at us as we provided her with a show.
After the meal, he insisted on escorting me to my stage. I showed him the wrong one as I wasn’t quite sure that he wouldn’t stalk me in my neighbourhood. Only when I was sure he had left did I go to the right matatu, go home and try to forget.
He texted and called a few times after that, declared his love a bunch of times and mercifully went silent. I may have been single and a little desperate, but even I had limits.
***The Singlehood series a collection of real-life stories and opinions from different women. It looks at the current world of dating in Africa and experiences that ladies have gone through. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the contributors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Potentash.com.