Think dinner. Beautiful setting. Magnificent restaurant. Delicious food. Excellent ambience.
Some wining and dining is underway. The establishment encourages this and plays some good music which adds to the aforementioned ambience. All you hear are murmurs, light laughter, forks and knives hitting china plates. The lighting doesn’t disappoint either.
The tables are strewn with couples. Everyone is having a good time; each couple maintaining eye contact, winking at each other, eating from each other’s plates, feeding each other, leaning over to steal kisses, hold hands under the table, whisper sweet nothing to each other’s ears. You know. All that romantic stuff that romantic people like to do.
Only one couple is not doing all these romantic stuff. This one guy and his bae. This is not to say that she does not try to maintain eye contact, steal kisses or hold hands under the table. No. She in fact does try. Many times. For some reason, she seems to be invisible to him. She begins to wonder why he is so aloof. She wonders why he brought her here if he wasn’t up for some romance.
What she should know at this point is that he will finally tell her why.
He will tell her purposefully. He will not throw the reason into their conversation the way one while watching TV, and feeling hot, decides to take off their jacket without taking their eyes off the screen, throws it on the couch without as much as a glance to check whether the jacket lands on the couch or on the floor. No. He will want to see how his words land and are received by her.
He will clear his throat and speak clearly to save himself the agony of having to repeat himself.
Tragedy is telling your girl something like “I don’t love you anymore” and just at the time the words roll out of your mouth, especially at that point when you say “don’t”, the waiter comes to collect your empty plates and the knives and forks clank to drown the ‘don’t’, while your ‘anymore’ somehow comes out as “even more”. What she will hear instead is “I love you even more” which is of course the absolute opposite of what you said to her.
When her eyes light up, to smile and say that she feels the same way, you will wonder why she is so happy that you do not love her anymore. She feels the same way? She doesn’t love you? What’s not to love? By the time you get around your humongous ego enough to realize that the poor girl did not hear you, she will be leaning in for a kiss, her eyes half-closed and her lips pouted ready to go all in. Soon you will be kissing her back. And you do not want to break up with someone seconds after locking lips and switching saliva. Now you, surely, are not that cruel!
He wants to do it right. Because he believes that there is a right way to break up with your girlfriend. He waits for the opportune time; when the table has been cleared by the potentially noisy and clumsy waiter, when the same waiter is not hovering around. He does not want to be thought of as the insensitive jackass that he is. All things considered, he still wants to be considered a decent guy. Yes, regardless of the fact that he considered all the options of breaking up with his girlfriend, and he deemed it appropriate to dine her, then break up with her in full view of the other diners.
He decided that it is not over until the soon-to-be-dumped lady eats.
The perfect moment is upon him: The plates have been cleared off the table, meaning bae is full; her glass of wine is still untouched, meaning bae is still sober.
I don’t understand what he expects to happen after the words leave his mouth. Does he expect her to cry or to maintain a straight face, to keep drinking the wine or set it down on the table never to touch it again? To keep smiling while holding his hand to save face or to let go? What does a man who breaks up with his girlfriend over dinner really expect from her?
I can only hope that wearing the glass of wine (water, soup or any other liquid that shares the table with them at the time) on his face makes part of his expectations.
With all the sensitivity he can muster in his voice, he says the words. Words practiced over and over in his head. Words spoken to the bathroom mirror as he stepped out of the shower, words said to the rearview mirror as he drove to work. Words chosen carefully and stored for days in his mouth. Now they leave his mouth. “I don’t think that we should see each other anymore”
The words fall on her laps as her hand stops twirling the wine around the glass. A smile that had been plastered on her face for most of the night freezes on her lips, her mouth now just exposing white even teeth – a look that is more scary than charming.
She puts the glass down, catches the words and weighs them. “Lucky for me, I have a full stomach to cushion my heart, right?” she finally says with a sigh.
It is one of those Sundays. You know them. The ones where you try to wake up only because the sun is up too and since she is so beautiful, and she has made such an entrance as only the sun can, you hate to leave her hanging. So you try to wake up. Only for your head to disagree with you.
Your headache reminds you of the night out. The laughter, dancing and imbibing. You remember the creeping in at the wee hours of the morning. You even remember a conversation you had with your sister about this one guy who broke up with his girl after taking her out for dinner.
As your head hangs over you decide to go back under the covers and block the intrusive sun – you are not ready for the day just yet. You however find yourself writing your own version of such a break up in your head. You promise to replicate it on your blog when your head stops pounding, only for you to get it out one week later.
Illustration by Elsardt Kigen. Elsardt is a talented artist and a senior student of The Arts and Design at The University of Nairobi. He has won several Art Competitions including ‘Experiencing Kenyan Heritage Through Art’ (2013) where he was accorded a visit to the UK.