“Vaa viatu twende,”
“Huh?” I shot back, puzzled.
Silence meant only two things. One, my father didn’t give a rat’s ass whether I heard him or not and two, he wasn’t about to repeat himself. He just didn’t like it.
I was 16 at the time. I didn’t go out much. I was just another indoor geek. A nerd. A wreck full of identity issues playing catch up with society. My Dad kept saying he didn’t have any favorites; we were not toys, as he used to put it, but I knew better.
I hastily put the damned shoes on anyway, and off we sped into the night. He headed straight for MIZINGA, a liquor store on Tom Mboya Street.
“You want to get me drunk?” I yelled, but really jumping for joy inside.
“Drinking Commandment No. 1, Son—thou shall treat all free alcohol as good alcohol.” He scoffed back at me. He had probably seen right through my façade.
A crowd was stranded outside the lounge. Just the usual bunch of broke dudes and ugly broads, my Dad explained.
“Mzito!” One of the bouncers exclaimed, waving us through the crowd. His face suddenly became stern before he put a firm fist across my chest.
“Tom, uyu ndio mjunior,” My father smiled awkwardly; the first time I saw him do so, I must admit.
“Si uwache tuingie. Alafu round hii nikuangalie.”
Tom quickly found a table for us and as we settled down my. Dad gibbered on and on about how important it was to greet the bouncers when you walked in, and that I should always remember their names and to tip them generously.
“Drinking Commandment No. 2—Thou shall treat the Waiters and the Bouncers like your best friends.” He said.
Normal Dads taught their kids to get straight A’s, grow up and be a dentist. Other Dads taught their kids how to really make money. Some Dads taught their kids how to get laid. And here he was, teaching me how to buy booze and how to get plastered in public. He called the entire family a bunch of drunks. It runs in the family, as he used to put it. I could get all the straight A’s I wanted and even make a shitload of money but one thing is for sure, I would always find solace in the bottle. I was built that way and he thought he deserved father of the year for filling me on this.
A clean-shaven gentleman emerged from the restrooms. There was a certain look on his face. Relief. Calm. Satisfaction. He was happy. As if he’d been relieved of all his worries. He briskly walked right past us to a table of two across the counter top. The couple was busy falling in heat with each other. A moment later, a young lady, probably in her early twenties, tiptoed out of the washrooms slowly, unsure of herself. She was trying to straighten out her hair and get a couple of buttons on her tight sweater right, at the same time. She wasn’t doing a good job. My Dad and I exchanged knowing looks before we both burst out laughing. Minds in the gutter.
“So, how long have you known about girls?”
“Long enough,” I said, matter-of-factly; a faint glimmer of pride showing underneath the edges.
“Oh! NO you didn’t!” He exclaimed. I could see his mind rushing back to the day he caught me sneaking a girl out of his own home. I wondered if he bought my flimsy excuse of her being my prayer partner from Jehovah Witnesses. Judging from the look on his face, I guess he had.
Looking over my shoulder, I saw the guy slumped over the counter top. He had some drool forming on top of his giant lower lip. I should really buy that copy of Why Men sleep just after sex. I saw it in the store. It was in paperback. Drinking Commandment No. 3—thou shall not drink yourself into a stupor, I guess. His close circle of friends must have seen him as ‘the man’ but the rest of the world definitely didn’t see it that way.
I looked around. It was a sea of blended whiskies and beer. Lots of beer. There were a couple of pink cocktails with straws and the cute little umbrellas. There were a few single malts too. Whiskey comes in many forms, and in many flavors and textures, I was told, and of course, I had to learn how to properly drink them all like a man.
It was time to leave. It just had to be when I was beginning to feel good. His timing was always perfect. Then, I saw her. She poked her head out and violently vomited her guts out just before firm manly hands pulled her back inside. She blacked out. A shady figure beamed pleasantly as he drove the red Honda Civic out of view. She was his woman now.
“Son, we may be a lot of things, but rapists is not one of them.” He said, shaking his head wildly in disgust. Turns out my old man was a player in his time. He’d bought a few drinks for a few ladies some of whom he took home and did a few naughty things to. Sure, some said no but he’d never spent all his money trying to get any one of them drunk and if they got drunk, he’d put them in a cab, not in his bed. Tipsy enough, was the magic word. Of course, I had no way of verifying any of this, but I took him at his word.
Thou shall let her go, if she has had too much to drink.
“Remember when I said all free alcohol is good alcohol?” We were speeding on Moi Road now. There wasn’t any traffic.
“I lied.” He said, looking straight ahead.
“There is no such thing as free booze. If he buys today, thou shall buy tomorrow.” He was staring at me now.
“You’ve got to buy me a drink someday, kid.” He smiled.
Looking back, I wonder how many Dads actually teach their kids how to drink properly. Thank God, mine did.
Happy Father’s Week.
If you like it, show your love for the author by sharing. Also feel free to leave your comments down below. And check out more articles by Douglas Mwangi:
- Jobs are sexist too. Click here to read it.
- Watch Out for Corona Con Men. Click here to read it.
- Schadenfreude. Enjoying the sufferings of others. Click here to read it.
*The writer can be found on Facebook as Douglas Mwangi*