By: LIZ LUNDI
You know, I’m not really feeling all that well, all of a sudden,” I tell Harry after taking one look at his get-up. There is no way I am going anywhere with him looking like that.
“Oh, come on, the fresh air will do you good,” he grins widely.
My eyebrows crinkle with worry; I know how insistent Harry can be. He’s not going to take no for an answer. Besides that, I haven’t left the house all weekend, and I am rather craving a drive and some nice scenery. Perhaps if we drive far, far away – somewhere where I am unlikely to bump into anyone I know – then perhaps this experience will be a little more bearable.
On the other hand, why am I being so shallow? I really should give Harry a chance – he’s got a kind heart, and besides, clothes can be changed.
“Okay,” I say through gritted teeth. “But can we make it a really long drive?” I stretch the ‘o’ to show just how far I want to get out of town.
“Anywhere you want, baby,” he says. Ugh. He just used a pet name. I hate it when they come from someone I have close to zero affection for.
Anyway, a few minutes later we are in his car, zooming down Mombasa Road; we have agreed on a meat-eating excursion in Kitengela, and I am confident that no one I know would be spending time there.
His favourite country music is blaring on the stereo and I am almost out of patience when Harry turns to me and asks, “Are you ok? You don’t look ok.”
How perceptive. But I choose to lie. “Yes, I’m fine,” I say. He takes a long look at me, and in that pause, I wonder to myself how wise it would be to want to tie my life to someone as incompatible as he is.
“It’s the music, isn’t it?” he says. I turn to him, an eyebrow raised in surprise; I didn’t think he would be that perceptive. “I noticed the last time you were in the car and I put it on you cringed, and today you got immediately irritated when it started playing. We can play whatever you want – I have jazz if you want some. I even have some soft rock and some eighties and nineties classics.”
“Some jazz would be nice, thank you,” I say gratefully, and smile at him – and this time it is a genuinely warm smile because I am touched by how considerate he is, and how much he listens! What a rare man!
After fiddling around with some buttons on his stereo, the sounds of some absolutely exquisite Latin American music come through the speakers. “This is such beautiful music,” I say, relaxing into my car seat and letting the sounds soothe me.
“It’s a lady called Bebel Gilberto, heard of her?” he says. I shake my head. “I’ll get you a copy of this – and some other stuff you might enjoy. I like to collect world music and this is one of my favourites. I’m glad you like it.”
I am enjoying the music – and a part of me is hoping that perhaps I might be able to switch his fashion sense as easily as I did his music taste. Perhaps there is hope for us yet!
An hour later, we find ourselves a clean, quiet, colourful little nyama choma place and settle down over drinks as we wait for our goat ribs to cook.
“You know, you surprise me every day,” I say.
Harry chuckles. “How so?”
“You’re like an onion… so many layers. And each is as surprising as the last,” I say, thinking about how he went from being totally self-centered on our second date to selflessly nursing me to good health the next day – and how he made that switch from country music buff to jazz expert in a few seconds.
Harry clears his throat and leans in closer towards me. “So, um, is this an onion you would like to get to know better?” he asks. I see his Adam’s apple bob nervously up and down, and even though he is not exactly dark-skinned, I detect that he is blushing distinctly. “I mean, well, you know…” he gesticulates widely, nervously, “…I mean, get to know in a, ah, special way.”
“Define special,” I say a little cheekily. I want to give him a hard time, for some reason.
“Liz, you know I am attracted to you,” he finally confesses. “I want us to see if we can be more than just friends. I want to know if you are attracted to me too.”
What am I supposed to say to that?