Handle Your Business

 

So, in my quest to find a decent barber, I walk into this place off Westlands Road that doubles up as a pub, barbershop, hair salon, restaurant, real estate agent and car wash. I think the only business they didn’t dabble in was organ harvesting. Or maybe they did.

At the barbershop/hair salon, there’s this talk chick in a short dress, terrible weave and lots of makeup. And long fingers. I have a thing for hands, so I notice these things. She was the barber. Or barberess, a term I was recently introduced to.

The haircut was actually one of the best I’ve had. She took her time. Ensured every follicle was the right size. She even cut my hair down to a good length, concealing my aggressively developing bald spot. That devious bald spot. And it’s at the back of my head too, so everyone sees it except me. But I can feel it, smooth and conniving. Like a politician.

But Ms Barberess had a good word for that bald spot. She told me it was sign of wealth. That I’ll run into money, if I haven’t already. I looked at her through the mirror and she smiled and winked. I’m waiting on that loot I’m to run into. I’ve gotten a few texts with the news that I’ve won some millions in various competitions I haven’t entered. Maybe she’s right. Of course I have to send some money via M-pesa to a particular number before I can claim my prize. Nothing comes for free I guess.

Then came head massage time. Yes. It was one of those barber shops. The experience though; pitiful. That massage was as disappointing as a vegetable samosa. Or worse, a minji samosa. Especially if you’re expecting a meat samosa. I felt so cheated. Like I had bought one of those packets of crisps, that when you open is half air, half crisps. Or when you order that quarter kilo of meat, and the quantity displayed raw doesn’t compare to that of the end product. I really thought those long fingers would do it. But clearly, they’re probably only good for picking noses or ears. Hers, not mine.

I only bring this up, in case you’re wondering from my previous post if I found a barber. I haven’t. Just like finding out who killed Tupac, the search continues.

Now on to why I started writing this post. I recently moved house. From the leafy suburbs of Kiambu County, which was more leaf than suburb, to the concrete jungle of Kileleshwa? Now this was a decision made in my home based on changing dynamics concerning transport to my workplace and the missus who had just changed jobs. The decision was made jointly, which means she suggested it and I said ‘Yes’.

I didn’t bother looking for a house to move to because any decision I made would be shot down. Even if the price was right and the location perfect, the home would have too many windows and thus there’d be the need to get new curtains, and the old one’s would not complement the walls. Or the kitchen would not have enough cabinets for the missus new set of pots and pans. As a man, I would not win that fight. So, I delegated. And the missus came upon a house she fancied. With the right number of kitchen cabinets. The price tag though, my bank account didn’t fancy.

It just so happened I was meeting up with the chief and I had a discussion with him on my impending decision. As soon as I described the situation to him, he looked away from his newspaper, put on his glasses and sighed.

‘You “men” these days. You’re so weak. Maybe it’s because you paint your nails and know things like cuticle’

‘Surely. It was one time only, and it was because I was in a wedding line up,’ I tried to defend myself

He grunted. An ox like grunt. Then he went on.

‘Oh baby, let me cook for you. Oh baby, let me rub your feet. Oh baby, akiang’owa’

He made a terrible impression of us ‘new age men’. The mockery run deep.

‘Here’s the thing my friend. You’re married now. You have to provide for your family. Physically, emotionally and materially. I don’t care how much your wife earns or if she earns anything at all. And neither should you. In fact, be happy if she earns something, because now you don’t have to pay for her hair, or her clothes. Or her nails…. Clearly you already have yours to think about’

He let out a guffaw and slapped his thigh as only old men do when they laugh at their own jokes.

‘Do everything within your power to provide my friend. There are no limits. Don’t buy into this new age thinking. This 50/50 concept you people have of relationships. Handle your business and handle it well’

Those words cut deep.

‘But….but the house is expensive,’ I whined

‘Money is not everything my friend. You say the new house is close to your offices? Meaning you save on time and fuel. Time is the only thing that’s universal to all men. Wise men know how to use it to better themselves, and their situations. Time is money.’

He then sat back in his couch, proud of his words. I think he shocked even himself. I know because he rubbed his head. As if to confirm it belonged to him.

It seemed this old African chief possessed some wisdom. I thought all he did was communicate through gestures and grunts and that emotionless face.

He was right though. The new house would cut my daily commute time by 80 minutes. Enough time to write and edit this post.

‘Life is too short to think of why not to do things, rather think about how to do them. And then do them….Except paint your nails’.

He really wasn’t letting that manicure incident go.

Life is unfair. It only starts making sense the less of it that remains. But I guess there’s no time to sit around trying to figure out why, but to forge on ahead and make that new-found sense make cents. Or whatever makes you happy.

So after that scolding, I made the decision to move. To the new house. And to move too, my thinking. From that of a boy to that of a man. A real man. One who handles his business.

 

I’m Still A Man…

 

 

It’s a new year, 2016. As with all New Year’s, it comes with hope and dreams of new beginnings, a new slate on which to right the wrongs of the previous year. Most people have resolutions, go to the gym, eat healthy, take out the trash. I’m in a similar boat, though mine are less glamorous.

The chief says a man must have three things: a good pair of shoes, a reliable mechanic and a regular barber; barber not shave. Those are my 2016 goals.

Now when it comes to shoes, I’m yet to get a decent pair. Only because the last pair I thought half decent cost me 2 weeks’ pay, a kidney and an unpaid cell phone bill. The quest continues.

This year for sure though, I need a new barber. A regular old school one. My current barber, Shiro is alright, but I need a change. My 2015 experience was one to behold. There was a time the barber experience for a man was a 30 minute shave, and rub down with methylated spirit. Lots of methylated spirit. Smokers had to beware, because you could not light a match right after a shave.

This doesn’t happen anymore though. The barber experience takes no less than one hour these days. They have head massages. Proffered by a female with an ample bosom if you’re lucky. If not, the bosom will not be so ample. Shiro’s bosom is halfway there. She, like many other head massagers at all barber shops these days, went to the same school of hair science. I’m not sure who taught them to massage heads, but that person should be shot.

Let me break it down. Shiro usually starts off slow. Standing behind you, she’ll unbutton your shirt till just above your belly button. Or, if you’ve run into money, just above the start of your bulging pot. She’ll then wrap a questionable towel around your neck, tucking it in to ‘protect’ your shirt for what will come next. Observing her in the mirror you will see her pour a dollop of massage oil into her palm. OK, maybe not massage oil. Most places can only afford baby oil.

She’ll then approach you, baby oil, cupped in her hand and then gently commence the massage. She’ll start at your now shaven head, and slowly work that baby oil into your scalp. Her fingers doing a dance on your head like members of a synchronized dance troupe. Then you close your eyes. Everyone closes their eyes. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s rude to keep them open. Like kissing with your eyes open.

The finger dance on your head continues, and then she moves to your neck. First on the sides. Slippery fingers getting rid of all that tension. Really? Tension? Because a haircut is very stressful and your neck is tense from the loss of beloved follicles. Then Shiro will do something strange. She’ll start ‘massaging’ your neck bone. I mean the vertebrae. You know those little bones at the back of your neck? Those ones.

Meanwhile she’ll say something like, ‘Aki una knots mingi’

Lady, those are not knots! Those so called knots keep my head from falling off my shoulders.

That’s what you’ll think to yourself but not tell her. As you wince, she’ll proceed with reckless abandon.

As she continues battering your poor neck, trying to un-knot it, you’ll be in half pleasure and half pain. Mostly pain. The ‘half’ is for illustrative purposes.

As if you thought that wasn’t enough torture, wait until you get the temple crush. Yes, at the end of the head massage session, Shiro will use her fingers to perform a clockwise-anticlockwise rubbing motion on your temples. That’s only to distract you from what shall come next. Without warning, she shall press against your temples with her fingers. Like she wants her fingers to meet in the middle of your skull. She’ll only stop once she can feel your brain. If you had nodded off, that shall surely wake you up.

Shiro is smart though. That ‘massage’ is a ploy. To get you to succumb to further torture.

Yes. In that dazed state, she will ask you, ‘Nikufanyie mani-pedi?’

Say No. It’s a trap. But you’ll probably agree. Because it’s 2016. And men have mani-pedis. Which i gathered is short for manicure and pedicure. Yes. You pay someone to cut your nails. Instead of using your teeth. Like the chief does.

Shiro will do this for you. She’ll pull out her implements for the job. You’ll sit there with a towel on your lap and your feet in a bucket of water. To soften your cuticles. I don’t know what cuticles are. The position you’ll be in shall not allow for quick evasive manoeuvres in the event of an emergency. Should armed thugs attack at the barbershop, all you’ll have to defend yourself is a nail file. And even then, you’ll be guarded, because you don’t want to smudge your clear nail polish. And you can’t run after them, because you’re feet are wet. Maybe you can blind them with your shiny nails.

After all is said and done, you will pretend to feel good. More confident. Modern even. You’ll proudly display your pristine nails as you hold your whisky glass aloft in the pub. To catch the eye of that pretty girl across the table.

It happened to me, but those nails caught the eye of the chief. Not some yellow as a sweet potato dame.  As we talked about politics, corruption and land purchase opportunities. The normal topics. He caught the shine off my nails and frowned. I tried to hide them, but it was too late. I knew I had to start defending myself once again. Despite my shiny nails, I’m still a man.

And I’m still looking for a new barber.