This is another love story. It includes the following characters: Lydia, Spanks, Ja Rule, E. Bazanye and Genevive. Don’t worry about Ja Rule for now. He comes in later.
But why did Ja Rule look like a potato made of potatoes? I mean, his head? An Irish. His body? A pile of Irish. His little muscle bulges made him look like someone had tattooed a kaveera of their vegetable shopping.
But we will come to him later. For now we need to maintain a coherent narrative stream without random digressions. So Ja aside, let’s look at Lydia.
Lydia was the head waiter/cashier of a DVD library in the days before everybody got Netflix and she was very good at her job. She knew all the inventory and where it was located. Just say the film you want and she would find and hand it to you in the briefest of moments.
She was so good she could even completely conceal her contempt when you ordered a really really shitty movie.
Like this bullshit. This movie was not just shitty. It was a visual assault of shittiness. It was aggressively shitty. It was not fecal matter, it was fecal energy. It was as if the photons emanating from the screen had arranged themselves in the specific military formation that soldiers in the 1986 Bush War used for toilet breaks and then marched onto our retinas and shat on them in with the resolve, courage, violent and valiant sense of purpose of the NRA attacking aduyi, only instead of liberating Uganda from tyranny, they were liberating our brains from our love for Tobey’s Spiderman.
If a customer would slap-paw his hyena legs into the lib and mouth-fart mbu he wanted Spider-Man 3, or the toilet Scarlett Johannsen made of Ghost In The Shell, or the war crime M. Night made of The Last Airbender or anything starring Nicolas Cage, nothing in Lydia’s face would show the surging compulsion to immediately kill him for having such awful taste. She was stoic and composed and did not look homicidal at all.
Sometimes she would secretly signal me for my gun (I used to pack a Glock 45 back then because, at the time, I was about that street life) but I would always refuse. I didn’t want her to get caught up in the game, you knowmsayin, cos once you start down that path, yo, ain’t no comin back. That’s real, knowmsayin’. Gangsta for life.
I was one of her customers but most of the time I just came in for the air conditioning and the company; just to hang out, cos she was cool. Another regular customer was a young man we called Spanks.
He told us his name was Spanks. NIRA was to later reveal, many years later, that it was actually Severino Paulo Nkalu-Kiwalidde, and you will see his posters on Umeme poles. He is standing for youth MP. When you meet him, please advise him to step down because he is now 48 years old.
But back then he was young and idle and always at the lib with Lydia and I consuming AC and enabling the bad staff habit of drinking on the job by supplying Lydia with sips of the Bond 7 he always seemed to have on him.
It was one sunny afternoon when a new customer walked in. A very very attractive 2010s woman. She was kacute and even though she picked her nostril when she thought we were not looking– people forget that some shops have CCTV cameras so we saw her bad manners– she didn’t damage it and it remained a very nice nostril.
She didn’t pull her kapintos, though. I noticed, because I ogled her bum, that she should have.
She got to the counter and smiled and asked for the following films.
- Age Of Ultron
- Jurrassic World
- The Martian
At the time Lydia had gone to the bathroom. I am not going to besmirch her reputation by making any claims concerning what she had gone to do there. Probably marijuana, but how would I know? Spanks was around so my Eustachian tube was unable to detect and discern any scent but Bondo fumes and Nivea For Men.
The pretty lady assumed, when she saw only Spanks and I in the library, that we were the staff, and asked us for the movies.
I was about to say, “Sorry. We don’t work here. I’m just here for the AC and this guy is here because his developing alcohol habit has already rendered him unemployable. As a result, all he does is wander into other people’s places of work with his Bond 7s trying to spread the habit,” but he had a deft Ip Man move he could execute where he kicked your ankle surreptitiously and made you shut up before you had even started your sentence.
He put himself directly in front of the counter and beamed. “Hi. My name is Brad. How can I help you?”
I then got a headache because I have one of those brains that does not naturally focus effectively. Some of you are like trains on a track: Once you get started with a thought or mental task, you stay with it till the logical end. Me? I am like a dozen fleets of boda bodas. It is very easy to just introduce an unexpected item and create an accident.
And now the thought “Ouch! That hurt” collided with “Brad of where now?” Full Full Condition.
I decided the safe thing to do would be to go and look for Lydia.
She wasn’t burning spliffs in the back of the store, so Mr/Ms Government Agent monitoring sites to see if anyone is outchea promoting illegal behaviour, get off my case.
Since she wasn’t smoking in the back of the store, she was not able to help my headache, but when I informed her that Spanks was dealing with a customer she quickly paused the video on her phone, put away the other gadget and dashed to the counter.
“Hi Jane!” Lydia hastily greeted.
“It’s Genevive, not Jane,” the customer, who was apparently Genevive as per recent revelations, replied.
“Sorry. I always think of you as Jenny, and then my head confuses Jenny with Jane,” Lydia smiled then did that thing Kampala women do where she tosses her eyes to the roof as if that is where all petty confusion comes from and waggled her left hand manicure.
If you were able to picture the gesture accurately from that sentence, then please, someone send me a writer’s fellowship for African Writers Trust because it means I am the best ever. I just described the inscrutable.
You know I always suspected that I was, if not the one, at least one of them. The problem is that none of you take me seriously. You think I am here for jokes, yet I tend to be quite insightful and deliver significant intellectual tonnage in my work. Take for example, the last Chandler and Frasier Book.
It is a trenchant examimation of what it means to be African in a modern global world, and how Western culture has been repurposed by the cultures orphaned by colonialism.
Chandler and Frasier Vol 3 coming August 9th, by the way. Completely bereft of all intelligent content.
Genevive gracefully reassured Lydia that she had been taken care of adequately. She had all the movies she needed. She also had a few series. I did my part by asking her which ones, just to see if she would say “serie” or “series” and she passed the test. And then she left.
The next time we met at Lydia’s Lib, Spanks was wearing a more grown up deodorant. I am not saying you guys who wear Nivea are immature, I am jussaying that you, well, you wear Nivia. I understand; life is not a New York Fashion Show Catwalk and you don’t have to be glamorous all the time. Most of the time all you need to do is just not stink, and Nivea is fine for that. It makes you smell like a vacist but there are worse things to smell like.
Eg, an S4.
Me, as me, I don’t judge people who wear Nivea for men.
But there are some people who do. Jussayin.
Next time we saw and smelled Spanks he was fragrant as a garden of Gillette in hot weather. He had had a hair cut, tucked in his shirt and timed his arrival with precision. The movies Genevive had taken should be done by now, and the FOMO for the next seasons of the series she had taken should be bringing her back today, he calculated, so there he was, ready to receive her.
It was so obvious, Lydia didn’t even ask. She just let him stand at the counter and do his thing when Genevieve showed up with her latest orders.
I sat aside on the bean bags with Lydia and asked her, “Are we really supposed to do this?”
This is why I loved Lydia: she just grinned a small, wry grin and said, “This is the age of chaos. This is the epoch of anarchy. Meaning is incidental. Purpose a shredded spiderweb.”
Get you a girl who quotes movies no one has ever heard of.
Meanwhile Spanks happily joked and bantered and quipped with Genevive about her choice of films, about the plot twists in the things she had watched, about football and UFC (whatever that is. Probably Kyalya’s political party) as he collected the DVDs from her list and finally, when she left, he sighed the way John Cusack always did in rom coms.
I began to say, “I just have a few suggestions. Next time, not Gillette. Secondly, don’t just laugh at her jokes, make her laugh at yours also. Thirdly, if you are thinking long term, you are going to have to go to a gym and work on your core and lumbar muscles because it’s not easy doing it with short women.”
But apparently Lydia also knew that Ip Man ankle kick from the paragraph up those ends so I just ended up saying, “Headache!”
Now, compatriots, you know generalisations and stereotypes are weak and lazy shortcuts that we only indulge in when we don’t want to do the actual work of thinking. It’s a dangerous habit because it can lead you to troublesome and wrong conclusions. Take, for example, the assumption that men are players. Spanks assumed that this was true and that it applied to him.
But in reality, he was no player. He had no game. He was no where near the pitch. He didn’t even know a stage where you can get the taxi that goes to Namboole let alone the direction of Nakivubo.
For three whole weeks this guy was at the library with his expensive deodorant trying to be romantic but never actually shooting a single shot.
Meanwhile, in her own life, Lydia was being developmental. The owner of the shop could not give her a raise so she negotiated for permission to use the premises for her own side businesses. She sold novels and did IT tech support consultancy on the side. One day she came in with a poster advertising jewelery, tiaras, rings, long lace gloves, bouquets of flowers and high heel shoes, all white.
It happened to be Genevie day and Spanks was there, three weeks sober, wearing Old Spice.
Genevive skipped in the way she always did, in her perfectly white little Nikes. Spanks was ready. His teeth were all out in the open, ready to beam for the coming minutes, the Genevive Minutes, the minutes he lived for, the reason his heart beat.
Lydia and I knew our place: out of the way, on the beanbags.
But just as Genevive was about to start asking about Mission Impossible, she noticed the poster. “Lydia! Is that what I think it…I have been looking all over!” and she glided straight to the poster.
Lydia ascertained that it was, indeed, the advert of a hustle of hers which was wedding planning. There was an email, whatsapp number, social media and so forth where you could get all your wedding planning needs taken care of. She even put the requisite cliche: “One stop biki spot” on the poster.
Genevive was elated. She cooed and oohed and aahed about the poster while Lydia did her best to market her business. “So you can get me measured for a wedding dress? But you know me I don’t believe in those things of spending a lot of money for a dress I’m only going to wear once, so I would really rather rent one, but Jeffery? Jeffery acts like I have suggested we serve grilled donkey head meat instead of cake. So someone told me that you can buy a dress from someone, have it altered to your size and specifications, and then, after your wedding, you sell it to the next bride, pay it forward sort of thing…”
Jeffery was her fiance. A man with small tight muscles and a bald head who looked exactly like Ja Rule.
He was outside in the car. We only saw him when he came in and hoarsely asked, “Are you ready?” In an accent that made it sound more like potatoes than he looked, with his bald head and muscles on muscles.
Spanks’ broken heart proceeded to instigate a temporary Bond 7 stock shortage in the mall, but at least, after that, the lib smelled better.
Moral of the story: don’t waste time when it comes to shooting your shot. Use Tinder instead.
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Also, Chandler and Frasier Vol 3 coming up August 9th.