I met up with my friend Mike over lunch in Upperhill today. It’s always nice to see Mike, always immaculately dressed, confident and loud. I confess time hasn’t fully erased the image of a younger Mike strolling to the showers in full morning glory years ago when we shared a dormitory. Over the years variations of that picture have evolved to serve me well - depending on the fantasy at hand. It’s a psychological crutch that I hold to compensate for the imbalances of our friendship. (A gold star for you if you spotted both puns!)
Occasionally we’ll hook up for some drinks to watch some footie matches or share a meal at his home. I am happy to be a part of Mike’s inner circle and count him and his family among people that I genuinely care about. I must never forget that Mike is a diehard homophobe. He once told me he does not know any gay people and he wishes all gays would be wiped off the face of the earth. I am not ashamed for his ignorance because he is my friend and I, being acquainted with the Bard’s ‘thou doth protest too much’ and ‘Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall,’ do not see the need to change anything..
Over lunch Mike asked me to accompany him to the strip club tonight. It was also the unspoken request to once again provide an alibi should his wife want to know where he’s been. I don’t pretend to understand my straight married friend: what’s the obsession with getting some titillation when discovery would jeopardize a wonderful marriage? I on the other hand enjoy a private and secret aspect on these forays; they satisfy deep unspoken needs..
The last time it was some sorry joint in a vibrant part of Nairobi, up a steep narrow flight of stairs to a den full of men drinking and gawping at scantily-dressed shadows gyrating to the pulse of monetary promises. In the crowded space two uninvited punters on either side pressed up against me; I was aware of their physical joy at becoming one with the club’s atmosphere. However a quick glance told me any reciprocation would be unwelcome. Danger may lurk in stirring the unwilling.
So I look forward to tonight, unlikely thick-as-thieves with Mike and though he doesn’t know it, none is better than the other…