The other day I found myself surrounded by chums and colleagues and friends and strangers too. Thirty years ago this would not have caused me to write a column about the occasion. However in August 2020 we were ALL PUZZLED MALES.
A mixture of young talkative, energetic graduate cads. Divorced and married blokes. Plus older males like myself who still think they are (still) good enough to sprint; or lift a few stones and put them down and pretend they are in the Gym.
WE had masks on. Or at least began the encounter with fully masked bearded faces. Black and white masks. Hospital masks. N95 masks. Cheap light blue masks. Homemade. All types. Two Rasta friends had the Ethiopian flag colours. Black, gold, red and green. Someone had a tiny, whining, complaining dog who wore a RED mask too.
Few weeks back a cat was found to have been infected by Covid 19. Certain pet owners are not taking chances. No m’aam.
So we were at this massive London Park.
But it was not just a park. It was a pub and restaurant close to a magnificent beautiful place filled with flowers, trees, shrubs and green, green lush grass. Someone had called a meeting. The title nowadays is “social distance” meeting. The purpose?
Chill out and wish each other a happy ending of this crazy European summer. Plus most of us.... knew each other- although there was a certain estrangement. As though we did not know each other THAT well. All you saw were several pairs of eyes and skulls that resembled another sort of human being. The 2020 Corona Homo Sapiens.
No wonder some individuals hate wearing masks. Suffocated, blurred speeches, comical, squirrel like expressions.
“So people you know why we are here...”
Began a quick, bullet speech.
We were requested to take out THE masks. Sip our drinks. Suddenly the older world we knew in 2019...resurfaced. Smiles. Noses. Teeth. Then sip. Then sip. Then sip again. Huge belch. Suddenly it was quite awkward to hear a loud belch. Usually the mask covers our burps. Even sneezes and yawns and light coughs. To hear and see these normal human nature acts was unpleasant. Your mind played games. You thought of contamination, SALIVA and viruses. And...
And we drank.
The masks were put in pockets. Some hang like dirty socks on chins. Or were held like wet baby nappies. It seemed dirty to see these masks held in hands. You did not want to slap high fives. We have come accustomed to bump elbows instead.
Long story short we started talking about ladies.
First to speak was a tall twenty two year old University lad. I know him since he was a baby. His dad (passed away few years ago) was a good friend from the days of September Eleven when we met fearfully...to pick our youngsters from school. Back in 2001 the fear of terrorists and possibility of Osama Bin Laden appearing like a mad charging ostrich on the streets of London was as big as mount Everest.
So that little boy -now a testosterone filled handsome male -with a bushy beard was making a speech FEARLESSLY in front of his mates, uncles, dad’s friends and pals and...Dear Reader, please ask WHAT WAS HE SAYING?
“What is gone into our women’s heads? How did you older guys do it in your days? I would have liked to live in 1970 or 1980 or even 1990! When you guys did not have to download dating Apps and swipe right to get laid. Now I scout the streets and see a HOT girl. I wanna say hello and cuddle her and tell her how much i love her...but she is not paying attention. She is not even aware I am there. Her face, her fingers, her mind is on her phone. She is busy texting or looking at some giraffes on her phone....”
Followed roars and rows and rolls of laughter.
Some other younger male cut in, sharply, screamed:
“AND IF FOR SOME REASON SHE NOTICES ME BECAUSE AM TALL OR GOOD LOOKING SHE HAS A HOSTILE LOOK AS IF IAM GOING TO RAPE HER. THESE WOMEN THINK ALL US MEN ARE RAPISTS!”
More rumbling roars, rows and rolls of laughter.
Not that this rumbling guffaw was derogatory or to jeer at our opposite sex. But because it is really a very hopeless, pessimistic time we are living in.
I told Mike- my friend currently in Dar visiting his ill dad - that as I strolled home later that evening, I kept remembering how at twenty two, all I had to do was see a female on the street, approach and start chatting. No phones. No rape demons. I thought how lucky.
And I wish Mike’s 80 plus year old dad well. That is another generation. The generation that had two, three wives and many children. And these twenty two year olds? What will they be talking about sixty years from now?
Published in Citizen Tanzania August 2020