It’s been a week since Jill’s invite and only three weeks away from the big day. I just don’t understand what the fuss and hullabaloo about a wedding ceremony is in a woman’s life.
“My wedding day will only be complete when I arrive at the venue in a horse carriage.” Jill reflects idly, as she bites her fingernails. What a hullabaloo THAT will be, I think, smiling. Jill, I honestly believe, has been planning her wedding since she was old enough to speak.
“Really?” I tease her. “Who is the unlucky fella? Are you even dating anyone important, let alone THE ONE you keep talking about?”
“Oh shut up,” She admonishes me sharply. “Just because you can’t keep a man by your side doesn’t mean you should playa hate. I will get married. Just you watch… and YOU should start dating. For real. You’re getting tired.”
I love my friend very much, but her rather honest remarks always rub me up the wrong way. I somehow pity her; her desperation and near-manic attitude towards marriage. What foolishness!
“How is Amos?” I change the topic swiftly.
“Finally! You ARE coming around!” Jill smiles as proudly at me as if she were my mother and I’d brought home an ‘A’ in maths. It makes me so uncomfortable, I can barely go on in with my strategy.
“Ummm… Is he still working with that IT firm in Westlands?”
Jill is no longer able to contain herself. “SPIT IT OUT!!!” She cries, “Ok. I’ll answer you: Yes, he is very single. You two would make a perfect couple.”
I’m disgusted with both her and myself. “I’m not interested, really,” I begin vehemently, “I just don’t want to go to the wedding by myself and I thought…” I trail off as in a swift, graceful movement, Jill swoops down on her cellphone taps a button with a perfect nail, and is in mid-speech before I’ve closed my mouth.
“AMOS! Looong time!!!!… Yes, she WILL accompany you to Kris’s wedding,” I hear Jill confirming with the confidence of a professional hooker-upper.
“… Perfect. Pick us at around 9am. See ya!” She rings off sweetly, and turns to me excitedly. “It’s all set. You have a date with Amos!… and I will NOT take ‘No’ for an answer.” She adds sharpely, perhaps catching my expression. I sigh. There is never any arguing with Jill anyway. It would take MUCH more energy and drive than I ever have, these days.
“Fine. I will accompany Amos to the wedding. Happy?” I throw at her with a modicum of severity. Jill ignores it completely, and waves her hands in the air for a while in victory.
The days that follow are filled with shopping sprees for my perfect dress. Jill’s knowledge of every boutique in town comes in handy. For a moment, I’m turned into a auditioning ‘model’ and forced to change from one outfit after another till Jill finds ‘my’ perfect dress. As D (or should it be ‘W’?)-day draws closer, Jill invites me to Ashley’s bachelorette party.
“Did you know we’re having a male stripper?” Jill yells back at me as she barrels out of her tastefully decorated apartment. In two minds about this unforeseen eventuality, I mumble something back, trying to keep up with Jill’s clacking heels. Jill lives a relatively comfortable life that’s largely financed by her hard work as an account manager with one of the leading advertising agencies in Nairobi.
As we drive into the cover of darkness to Ashley’s apartment in the Fedha estate, Jill (of whom it has never been said that she could keep either quiet or still for more than 2 seconds) keeps up an excited monologue… which is why, when we arrive, I feel like the short drive has been a leisurely cruise to the Coast. Ashley’s apartment is bathed in a reddish hue from the carefully covered lights, which lends the living-room a warm, rich, and inviting atmosphere. On the walls are beautiful African motifs, including a tall wooden carved mask… which smiles at me somewhat ominously. Seating has obviously been increased to accommodate the party of many women, not all of whom I am familiar with. For the moment, I am not that interested –I’m looking for the goodies on offer.
There is enough finger-food to make me happy, and the hard liquor, wine and beer behind the bar serve to turn my smile into a grin –until my eye lands on the lethal concoction that the bartender has prepared. I am curious enough to sample it, and realize that it’s winning formula is that it leaves one 99% comatose for the minute or so following your first sip. To my consternation, my usually effective flirting formula comes up against a wall, when I ask the barman to tell me how he’s made the cocktail (which I’ve privately named ‘Lethal Weapon 5.”) His professional, no-nonsense attitude makes me certain: He must be gay. What a difficult life, I muse to myself, as I wander away at a slight angle…
Beginning to mingle, I count about a dozen or so ladies in serious party mood… or is it? There is a tenseness beneath the smiles, the lights of which don’t quite reach the eyes. Mmmh. I see it. It’s envy. Beneath the excitement is a definite sense of envy, and so perceptive am I, I must contain the urge to chuckle at the occasional silent cat-fight beneath shared laughter and discussion about the wedding! But Ashley has began to open her presents.
“Ladies, I can’t wear this!” She cries in delight, lifting out a slinky sexy negligee from a tastefully wrapped gift box.
“Of course you can.” Jill hoots from the midst of a small group at the other end of the room. “Don’t be such a prude! You are getting MA-rried!!!”
As Ashley eagerly moves on to her next package, the male stripper is announced… by whom else?
“THE STRIPPER IS HERE!!” Jill sings out operatically from the front door. For the first time since I’ve known her, I actually see her fall silent –in admiration of the well muscled, well toned, well oiled body that walks before her, approaching the rest of us confidently. I am afraid to tell you that if there were a line-up, and this man were placed amongst just three fellows for identification, none of us could make one… from his face. We never took notice of it. Not even I.
When the stripper began to show us (exactly) why he had been so well paid for, there was a sudden but sure metamorphosis of the beautifully dressed, polite ladies… into a bunch of wild raunchy screaming lunatics. The show went on for a cool (or agonizing) thirty minutes, within which I enough debauchery to last me a lifetime. I cannot begin to write about it, and so will leave it to your imaginations. A startling shameless indulgence from the bride-to-be, however, did it for me. The sight of Jill leading the next charge had me out of the door, without so much as a good-bye.
I quickly hopped into a cab, but all the way home, my mind throbbed with questions. Do people truly understand the purpose of marriage? It’s sanctity? Do they make the decision based on the right reasons? A flashback of Ashley at her party makes me feel pity for Kris, the groom. Will they last?
My last thought that night, as I tucked myself into the warmth and familiarity of my bed, was for Jill. Was she still at the party? Was that what she would want for her own wedding, if and when it came…? I certainly wouldn’t. Oh no. DO I believe that my own wedding will come? Somewhere deep, deep, deep inside…?