I met this guy once

I met this guy once.

I noticed him at once. He could have been my type, let’s just say once in a while, a girl is attracted to the bad boy image.

He was not dark, neither was he tall or handsome. He was sinful. He was rugged. He was careless, wore his hair long and shaggy. He smoked like a chimney, and am not being judgemental, but merely stating a fact. He once told me he could not stay an hour without smoking, so he left during lessons to steal five-minute smoking breaks. He hung around the student’s center. He skipped classes. He was famous in some sense of the word. Carolest knew him, but then if Carolest does not know you, then you probably you don’t exist in this campus. She knows very many people.

So I used to see him a lot, always in the company of one of his friends or mine. It was nothing major, I hardly knew his name, all I saw was this guy who seemed to be forever in the quarter-life crisis, cigarette dangling off the end of his slim fingers. Gives me this special smile every time we meet, but that could easily be imagined.

One day we met alone and began talking. Just casual conversation. Complaining about this lecturer and that, commenting on the current hit (fashion, song, movie), the weather (ok, it never got that bad.) I felt like I understood him. I mean, I wanted to be just like him. Skipping classes, having a don’t care attitude, never combing my hair (maybe not this part but I did want my hair to look rugged)..it’s like a self-destructing kind of thing. I just knew I wasn’t crazy enough to do that. I asked him what it was with him, why was he living this way?

We did not finish that conversation that day, so he did not answer my question. I can’t remember why, probably I had a class or time sped by. I gave him my number, room number since he did not have a phone. I wondered how he kept in touch with his family. Clearly, he was not living conventionally, and here I was claiming not to conform yet doing the exact same thing. Now I wonder what it means when one says they are not conservative. Does that mean you follow just a few of society’s conventions or you just break the few norms that you can get away with? Think about it. Does it mean you do all the wrong things just to prove you don’t conform, or you live by your own rules?

Anyway, I went to my room excited. I was in first year then, it seems like so long ago. Here I am at midnight, typing this. My mind was wandering when I remembered him and suddenly, words are flying around in my head, and I get up and start typing. Back to my story. I went to the room excited, telling my friends about him. Those days, we told each other almost everything. I wonder if we still do…things tend to change over time. So I described him, but they did not seem to know him. They decided they might as well meet him.

That Friday, he came looking for me in the room. He’d been here before, but not to talk to me, so my roommates (who were my friends) did know him, they just had not realized who I was talking about. They gave me these funny looks, which am sure were asking hundreds of questions, and I knew I would answer them later. After a glass of juice, we left the room for the j-circuit. I have probably explained these night walks somewhere.

Being  a Friday, the night is as alive as day. Let me digress a little, there was a time when my friends and I were coming back to school at 3 a.m. and we met such a high number of students walking in and out of the gate, as if it was 3 p.m. in the afternoon. Such is the atmosphere on a Friday night.

We walked around a bit. He’s basically what you would say a small guy. Yeah, he is taller than me, but he had a slight frame, something that intrigues me on some days. I think I like such guys because I have this theory that they have so much passion in them to make up for what they lack in size. A good example is Marc Anthony. His hands were cold so we held hands, keeping him warm I must say.

We sat down in some deserted classrooms and chatted some more. I think I liked him regardless. It did not matter that I could not imagine any future or long term relationship with him, perhaps even in the short run. At that time, all I cared about was being with him. I was seriously considering the possibility of saying yes to his girlfriend request.

I was not being coy about it, or playing hard to get with my half hearted refusals though. I had my doubts. I could not see how this could work, unless he changed. He said he was willing to change, for my sake. He said he needed a reason to change, and I could give him that reason. I could be the reason. I know  it sounds like just lines but it wasn’t like that. He said he had tried to quit smoking but failed,  tried to quit drinking. He said he’d cut his hair if I just said yes, or at least comb it. He told me he liked me because in a way, I reminded him of his favourite sister. That is why he had noticed me in the first place.

Of course I know there is nothing one can do about changing someone else, but at the time, I was sorely tempted. I told him I’d think about it, and this time I actually meant it. This sounded like one of those ‘am drowning’ situations and am clutching at straws. Or a straw. The straw being a willing me. Feeling like I could save him from himself.

We could only hang out so much in the cold night, romantic aspirations aside. Besides, am sure he wanted to join his friends to finish off the night. He had not smoked in the two or more hours we had been talking. And he had this notion that I might change my mind about him and say no immediately, so he decided it was time we called it a night.

Eager to share how it went, I rushed to the room to find a ‘kamukunji’ waiting for me. I told them almost everything. I had hardly reached the parting part, before the assault started:

“The guy is a loser! What were you thinking? Savvy, have you gone mad?..” began a friend of mine whose opinion mattered very much. Still matters.

“Enyewe Savvy, lose the guy!” another one added.

“What if he can really change, with my help?” I tried to defend him.

“Oh, forget. Forget, forget. Men don’t change. How many times have you been told a man never changes? Do you want to be stuck in a cycle with that loser?” my opinionated friend intoned.

“Besides, what will everyone else think? The guy over-drinks, over-smokes..he should just grow up and be responsible!”

Was it that bad, I wondered. Did they really see him that way, a loser? Obviously, they wondered what I saw in him. I could not find words to explain that. If my friends so disapproved of him, and they had massacred his character in front of me, could I still be with him? Did their opinions really matter that much? Sadly, they did matter. I mean, they made me embarrassed to even have given him a thought. Every time I met them with him I would flashback to this night…and their poor opinion of him. Of course I knew all along that they guy was bad news, but I was willing to accept him (in the short run at least) for who he was. I had no illusions of long-term stuff…lakini by the time they(my friends) had fallen silent, he was competing  with the devil for the throne of most evil.

I made my mind to tell him in the morning that it could not work. I literally watched his face fall to pieces (perhaps not literally, but if ever a face fell…then his did that day.)

After that, I saw very little of him. The few times we met, we just waved and he threw this sad smiles at me. He was in his third year then, and the semester was over shortly after. The following semester, he would be on holiday, but then he still did not have a phone and so there was no way to stay in contact.

The following semester went by. Then another. By the time the third semester had come by, he was a distant memory in my mind, and though I did realize he should be around, I never saw him. He should have graduated last year, but I have no idea what happened to him. Did he ever finish school, I wonder? Did he get suspended, or did he defer his studies? Maybe he actually sat down and concentrated on his degree (which is why I never saw him around) and graduated? Maybe he found another first year to smile at and give the ‘you remind me of my sister’ story? Did he ever seek me out? I still wonder.


One Response

  1. A piece with a personal touch. Love it

    True story.

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