He wasn’t particularly handsome. He wasn’t a mammoth of a man with taut biceps and legs the size of Meru Oak trunks. He was an average man with average looks.
But he had a goatee.
In the church where he and I fellowshipped, I had never seen Mr. Goatee speak to a woman for more than a minute. Even men, he spoke to sparingly. Except for his best friend Kevo.
I liked Mr. Goatee. No, that is an understatement. I spent hours every day thinking of my life as his wife, the mother of his children. Of course he had never spoken to me. Perhaps that is what attracted me to him. That aura of mystery that surrounded him. He spoke very little, had no friends besides Kevo and basically kept to himself. He always wore a serious expression.
But he had a beautiful smile. Whenever he smiled, which was rare, his entire face would be illuminated. His eyes would dance in their sockets and a faint dimple would appear on his left cheek. Maybe the smile just appeared to be beautiful because it was rare. Or maybe it is just me who thought it was beautiful because of my infatuation.
But the goatee was real, I promise. Whenever he was amused, he would stroke his goatee. To compliment his smile, I think. But he also stroked his goatee when he was frustrated, irritated or downright angry. Since his facial expression did not change save for the rare smiles, the stroking of the goatee was his way of expressing emotion. I am sure there is a way of knowing the particular emotion in play by looking at the way he strokes his goatee.
I was sure I would crack that code with time. By our second wedding anniversary, I would be able to read and interpret his emotions like a primary school book. By then, the goatee would be my friend. The beard, not the man. We would conspire against the man, me and the goatee. I would bribe it by applying coconut oil to it. I would tend it more carefully than I tend my own hair.
One day he talked to me. The man, not the beard. Wait, I did not give that statement the weight it deserves. One day an earth shattering event occurred to me: Mr. Goatee talked to me. Saliva dried in my mouth and my knee caps turned to jelly.
“Deborah?” he called out a second time. There was a hint of puzzlement in his tone.
A heat wave of embarrassment flushed through my body. I had been to stunned to even hear what he had said. So he had to repeat.
We had found ourselves at the same ICT conference, and someone had stolen his phone. The only money he had had been on his MPESA, but, he said, he had not been worried because there are many MPESA agents in the area. But now he was stranded, and the only person he knew was me. While I was an active member of the youth group at church, he used to appear occasionally. And when he did, he would remain silent , watching and listening, then slither out at the end. So I knew him well. Sort of.
Would I be so kind as to loan him 50 bob so he could get to town?
I blessed that thief in my heart. Okay, don’t get me wrong. I was sad that he lost his phone, but how else was he supposed to talk to me? See how the thief helped my cause of having goatee-ish children?
I gladly gave him a hundred shillings, and told him it was not a loan. He scratched the goatee and I knew he was embarrassed. See? The magic of the thief was working. He insisted that he would want to go to town with me, withdraw his money from an ATM and pay me back.
I resisted half-heartedly.
Not that I wanted the money back. Far from it. But see, his plan meant I would spend more time with him. In the end, we did go to the CBD together. We talked. Yes, we. As I said, I am a talkative girl. But he did some talking too. Perhaps because he was embarrassed by the situation he had found himself in. But he did talk to me. He told me he is a computer scientist. I am too, which is why I was at the conference. From there we largely talked about work.
We ended up having dinner that evening.
After dinner, he escorted me to the bus stop. He gave me his number and asked me to inform him once I got to my house safely. I couldn’t wait. I texted him immediately I got to the house.
He texted back and said he had enjoyed the evening and would love to do it again if I did not find it intrusive.
Intrusive? I almost laughed.
One thing led to another and we became friends. We would hang out together a lot. Sometimes his friend Kevo and my friend Sharon came along. Kevo started making passes at me, but I was not to be distracted. I knew who I wanted.
Kevo continued to flirt with me, and sometimes I would flirt back but I would always gently brush him off. Perhaps I shouldn’t have flirted with him. If not for anything else, because he was also flirting with my friend Sharon and I knew she liked him. But I did flirt with him. To his credit, he would never flirt with me in the presence of Mr. Goatee, his friend, even though we were not officially dating.
But Mr. Goatee was taking his sweet time to ask me out.
One Saturday, Kevo came to my house. Mr. Goatee was out of town on a work assignment, so I had no plans. Sometimes Kevo would pass by when he was in the area, so it was nothing out of the ordinary. We flirted as usual but this time things got out of hand and we started kissing.
Then I heard something drop.
We stopped to look. At the door was my Mr. Goatee. What had fallen was a bunch of flowers. It was my birthday, and my Goatee had intended to surprise me. He had not even told his best friend. Nothing can describe the pain I saw in his eyes. He turned away and left, without saying a word.
Kevo dashed out after his friend but I was too stunned to move.
When I came to, I went and collected the flowers. Beautiful, fresh, red roses. Inside was a card, on which was inscribed the words,
I love you, Deborah. You are the only person I have ever felt I could trust, ever since my mother tried to poison me when I was a teen (Kevo is a good guy but you cannot trust him with your life 😀 ). By the time you read this, I hope you will have accepted to be my girlfriend. I hope to spend the rest of my life with you.
I broke down and cried. I don’t know why or how, but I called him. To my surprise, he picked.
“Hi. I just want to say I am sorry,”
“I saw the card,” I said tentatively.
“It doesn’t mean anything now. I respect your choice,”
I nearly choked on my saliva.
“That wasn’t a choice, it was a mistake. You are the one I love,” I said desperately.
“Goodbye Deborah,” he said and hung up.
My heart broke into a thousand pieces. I had lost my Goatee because of a he-goat. His name was Jacob. My Goatee’s name was Jacob. The man, not the beard.
Image source: https://pixabay.com/en/people-emotion-dramatic-female-1492052/