(ALEX KADZITU) In the bad old days of my tenure at an institution of higher learning we once went on what would turn out to be an infamous road trip to Dar es Salaam. Ostensibly it was meant to be a tour of our sister university. I have no recollection of being anywhere near the damn place.
It was on this trip that some of my strongest friendships were cemented. Almost seven years later I bumped into a friend I made on that trip (He still owes me some frothy drinks). He was in the company of someone he introduced me to on that trip. Again zero recollection.
The inevitable frivolous chit chat of catching up came and went as I struggled valiantly to catch up with these two drunks who had clearly been at it for a while. By the time the mundane humdrum of this cautious dance was done two hours had flown past and I was well on my way to hopeless intoxication.
Just as I thought I was on safe ground having skirted the issue of my unfortunate love life she dropped the match that would set one hell of an emotional prairie fire. With just one proclamation this woman who barely knows me waylaid me into a trap of such intense self scrutiny it was unbelievable.
It was as if she was conducting a verbal cavity probe that somehow managed to dredge out all the filth I kept suppressed at my core. “In all honesty I prefer the Alex I met on campus. What happened to you?” she queried. Dropping a piano or an anvil on my head would have been kinder.
The accumulated wisdom of all my reading failed to proffer a single coherent argument to counter her unsolicited provocation. The beer suddenly tasted bitter and its effects did nothing to assuage the ensuing pain coursing through me. Every word seemed to come crashing on my ears like wave after wave of indelible truth that the loud music failed to drown out.
My indefatigable psyche however was having none of it. Slowly my numb intellect began to flex its hitherto petrified muscles. The last thing that I allowed her to say was something to the effect that my eyes were dead and all she saw was something akin to a broken toy. I launched into the following soliloquy.
Yes I countered maybe my eyes seemed dead swimming around lifelessly in the midst of my ever deepening crow’s feet. Maybe the stress of the endless rat race I was running had dulled my humor and rendered my wit less than razor sharp. Maybe my aura had dimmed; maybe the ravaging effects of cigarettes, booze and stress had turned my face a little leathery (or a lot leathery, apparently what little vanity I had is still intact). Maybe all this was true.
Maybe it is more obvious to someone who has not seen you in a long time. Maybe it is easier for them to recognize the rotting carcass of the boy in you stiff with rigor in the dark recesses of your soul. But that is what life does to a man. With the aid of a woman who doesn’t take time to look at you critically every once in a while. Or the complete absence of anyone to nurture him; life kills the little boy in you.
You do not even realize that slowly you are always talking shop. Politics, sport, falling equities and the constant bitterness of the ravages of inflation become the staple of your conversation. Sex, women and philosophy are thrown on the back burner or deemed unpalatable. The vintage on your table or counter top may improve with every year. Your palate becomes more sensitive but culinary adventures exact increasingly dire consequences on your constitution.
You realize that you meet the same people every day for more or less the same number of drinks at approximately the same time. All this before wearily and often increasingly reluctantly heading home for the same perfunctory marital obligation (if you are lucky). You are increasingly getting used to the comfort of keeping your own counsel.
Even at the pub your eyes no longer rove in search of cleavage or tight bottoms. Gone are the halcyon days of cigarette twirling, audacious raucous conjecture much to the chagrin of other patrons morphed into measured tones log ago. That rambunctious fellow has faded into a shell. Numerous bad relationships have probably seen to that.
There is no longer room for tomfoolery or foolhardy horseplay. Roving hands on barmaid’s bottoms instead thumb worriedly at the comforting wad of cash in your money clip and grasp desperately for the soothing balm that burns down your throat. The little boy can no longer come out to play.
It is impossible to blame it all on lifestyle though. Yes age brings with it a somber tenor but the quality of life of a man is measured not just by his achievements but mostly by his relationships. That boyish charm that attracted the ladies doesn’t just jump off a cliff. It is slowly nudged to the edge of this precipice. The good book informs that it is better for a man to live on the corner of his roof than in the same house with a nagging wife.
Not just the roof but a corner of it (me thinks the furthest he can find or better yet a neighbor’s). Ladies chances are that what you take for driving him to better himself is slowly smothering that boyish charm that you liked when you first met. Forcing him to keep up with the joneses might be detrimental to him becoming larger than the joneses! For both your sakes give the boy in your man some CPR and bring him back to life.