The coffee is getting cold. The streaks on the side of the cup going down slowly, something to do with viscosity, because of the four teaspoonfuls of sugar you sweetened the cup with.
It wasn’t always this cold, the coffee. It was hot once, so hot you couldn’t even slurp on it. That was an hour ago though, when the waiter brought it over and told you to enjoy. Well, you can’t enjoy cold coffee, and you are scared to ask them to warm it for you. Actually you aren’t even sure you’re scared or you don’t even give a fuck about drinking anything right now anymore. What you’re sure about is that your bladder will burst if you don’t go to the bathroom in the next minute.
But you can’t.
You have to keep looking up, see if you’ll see her coming up the staircase, with a beaming, apologetic smile, make the wait worthwhile.
You look up, at the staircase.
All it bring up are girls in maroon tops, struggling to keep the contents of the trays from falling, and soiling the shiny oak floor, (or whatever wood that is that clean.) You notice how clean the floor is, and you imagine someone spent time cleaning it, only to have people walk all over it. You’re halfway between googling how to clean oak floors when you realize you’ve even lost the urge to go pee.
Still the stairway keeps pushing up frowning waitresses, and more patrons. You surprise yourself at what people can notice when they aren’t busy, like how big Java’s wage bill must be. Or how many women wear black, fitting dresses on any given day. Or how sticky sweetly-sugared coffee is. Or how many people have Samsungs. Or how many people drink coffee at Java, maybe the food is too expensive, or Kenyans just love those big, white mugs, (or is it white, big mugs?). You aren’t sure anymore.
What you’re sure about it that it’s closing time now. The chatter of people excited to end a shift. Mops are being removed from the store. The soap and water in the buckets are being mixed. The sleeves are being rolled. Patrons are leaving. Squeezing through the door with a ‘CLOSED’ sign on it.
You check your watch.
3 minutes to the hour. Maybe it was work. Maybe it was traffic, you’ve heard that Waiyaki is hectic, even at night. Maybe she got held up at a meeting.
Maybe she’s the girl that just walked in.
You don’t even look twice, it’s not her.
Her hips aren’t that big. Hers are just right, not too big that she’ll have trouble buying underwear, not to small that she can’t get men to stare. And now the stranger catches you staring. She gives you the stare of death. You dart your eyes to your table. You hadn’t noticed the bill was on the table. It reads 180/= on the receipt inside the leather-bound book-thing. You get 300/=. Leave the waiter 100/= plus change.
Because you know, fuck the conventional 15% tip.
She was there the whole time. She showed you where the bathrooms were. Watched your coffee for you, ensured it wasn’t spiked, (or did she?) because crazy things happen and you don’t want to be the first guy to be roofied in a coffee house. She deserves a fat tip. Just like her lips. She’s pretty, if her dreadlocks were a little neater, you’d have asked for a name. Right now, the fat-like-her-lips tip will do.
She opens the leather-bound-thing, watches you leaving. She gives you a genuine smile. She has nice teeth. Maybe you can forgive her wild dreadlocks. Not now though. You need to get home.
You get to the stage. You hate that you walked slowly, scouring the streets, trying to spot her. You imagine her running up to the door with the ‘CLOSED’ sign on it. Her forehead sweaty, panting, her handbag hanging precariously on her shoulder. Because you know, it wouldn’t hang normally after that sprint. Then she’d see you looking for her. Hug you. Smell her 24-hour protection deoderant about to go into her 25th hour, but you wouldn’t care. Hug her and walk back into Java. Have coffee while you dodge mops and torrents of water. See the oak floor being cleaned. Save you the mb’s you’d have spent googling.
The stage is emptying. Just a few college kids playing, “Okay, this is the last kiss” and a couple of people waiting for the fare to be 10 shillings cheaper . You get a seat on the bus. And you think.
Maybe it’s cause you use the bus. Maybe it’s cause you use Rasasi instead of Gucci. Maybe it’s cause you studied art instead of medicine. Maybe it’s cause you haven’t fixed that chipped tooth. Maybe..
Now, whatever her reason, you smile. A forced smile that has hurt behind it. Because although you got stood up, you’ll pay Ksh 30 for fare.
Who says you can’t see the positive?
Being stood up sucks. This is loosely based on a true story. Don’t fall for that rejection attraction bullshit btw. If someone wants you, they’ll create time for you. Every Sunday, Jay Z tries to take Beyonce for lunch in Brooklyn. I’m sure he has a million groupies. Like for real, a literal million, but he makes time for the girl he loves. If someone doesn’t respect your time. They don’t respect you. Don’t be stuck with someone who makes you drink cold coffee, or watch entire movies alone, or question why they can’t make time for you.
I have to stop using four teaspoonfuls of sugar though.