Women are supposed to know how to cook by default. This is a twisted notion I had. It’s twisted because it was dispelled. It’s a myth. What a man can do a woman can do better maybe, but the opposite is also true. Anybody who knows Leon has proof that he is a good cook, scrap that a great cook! The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Those who have gotten the opportunity, scrap that too but the privilege of sampling my cuisine have given it rave reviews. I’m blowing my trumpet too much, right? I don’t think so. Besides, I don’t play any instruments unless the triangle counts.
If I had to choose my favourite room in our home I would pick the kitchen. Yes, the kitchen! The room considered by most traditionalists to be the sole preserve of women. A man should have no place in the kitchen; not unless he is going to serve his meal. Thus, the kitchen is out of bounds. No unauthorized personnel (men) are allowed entry into the kitchen.
However, I love cooking and I’m great at it. I should know my place in the house is not the kitchen, right? I think not. Since I was young I wasn’t into “manly” stuff. I’m not the kid who dismantled toy cars, dissected insects or played with batteries, cells, wires and circuits. No, I wasn’t into that kind of stuff. It’s only recently that I began to change blown light bulbs in the house. As a child, it was an agonizing task for me. In school science and math weren’t my favourite subjects either. Not that I was poor at them, no; I just preferred the languages and humanities (minus geography) to the sciences. I was different. So it came as no surprise when I discovered (pretty recently btw) that I could cook superbly. However, I did not engage (this word sounds manly) in feminine activities either. I didn’t skip rope with the girls or play “kalongo.” I played sports. Masculine sports like football, not netball. So yeah I’m a man. With a slight feminine side to him not her but him!
That’s enough about me though. Now back to how my notion got turned upside down. Cooking ranks in my top 5 pastimes. Dicing, chopping, peeling, grating, stirring; the aroma of spices and the sight of people devouring a meal I have prepared brings me great joy. Yet sometimes I get disinterested with cooking. I guess just like we all love a change of scenery, our taste buds love change too. I’ve really veered off topic, haven’t I? So back to how my notion was dispelled.
However, before I continue, ladies, if you invite me over for a meal my taste buds should be blown away. Your food should give me multiple orgasms! Simply put, I should come for the food and come because of the food! I hope I’ve made myself crystal clear. Now back to my story…
It was a frosty Saturday evening without much promise. I was in for a pretty lacklustre evening. All I wanted to do was lie in bed. But I was starving and I had to eat something. My stomach began to ramble. More precisely, it began to grumble, “Leon why do you do this to me? What wrong have I done you to deserve such treatment? Feed me!” It demanded. But I was feeling lethargic and so I refused to give in to its demands. And so I lay in bed doing what I like to call “resting my eyes” but soon I was asleep.
Sadly, my sleep didn’t last long. Not because of my stomach, no, my stomach also went to sleep. What was the reason for my rude awakening? My damn phone! I should really consider changing my ringtone. But I love heavy metal so that isn’t happening anytime soon. Seriously though, I should really change my ringtone. My friends literally jump out of their skin when my phone rings. Moving on…
I lazily sat up in bed and reached for my phone that was on my bedside table. “Jessica? That’s odd.” I said indifferently. I decided against hanging up and decided to answer the phone.
“Hello,” I said, trying to muster as much vigour into my voice as I could.
“Hello. You sound sleepy. Were you asleep?”
“No.” I lied.
Damn! Do I really have a sleepy zombie-like voice when I get out of bed, I wondered.
“Anyway, your silence has been deafening, how have you been?” Jessica asked.
“Awesome!” I lied again.
How dare she ask me how I had been? She had friend-zoned me and I had taken it pretty hard. Thus, my natural response was awesome. It’s a cliché of mine. I ought to begin using other words like splendid, superb and marvellous. They sound awfully odd though so I think I’ll stick to awesome.
“I’ve missed you boo,” Jessica said in a voice that sounded rather suggestive or maybe it was just my imagination.
“I’ve missed you too dear,” I replied, feigning enthusiasm. That was lie number three. I was on a streak! My nose should have been a metre long by then.
“Awwwwwwww. We have a lot of catching up to do, don’t we? How would you like to come over to my place for supper? Just you and I…” Jessica inquired.
“That would be great!” I blurted out.
“See you in half an hour?” Jessica asked.
“That’s fine with me,” I replied.
She terminated the call (I could have said hang up but I’m proving I have manly vocabulary). Screw you Leon! I thought to myself. I should not have given positive feedback. Hell, I shouldn’t even have answered the phone call in the first place. Why? I had opened Pandora’s Box. My heart had undergone severe damage after Jessica friend-zoned me and I had just recently begun to pick up the pieces.
Yet, a part of me still longed for her. Plus the phone call slightly hinted that the gateway to her heart may be vacant. “Just you and I…” her words reverberated in my head. My mind wasn’t playing tricks on me. I still stood a chance. Maybe I didn’t. Perhaps my stomach jumped at the thought of supper and sent signals to my brain to accept the invitation. Oh well, I had made my bed and I had no choice but to lie on it.
I had half an hour. I glimpsed at my watch. It was 7:00 p.m. sharp. Time flies when you are doing nothing, I thought. Lazily, I dragged myself out of bed and took my mirror that was on my bedside table. My face was okay no eye bags had formed around my eyes but my hair was quite scruffy. What would we do without mirrors? I hurriedly combed my hair and when it looked decent enough I decide to leave for Jessica’s hostel. For somebody who had been in bed the entire day I was reasonably well dressed and so I saw no need for a change of clothing. Without further ado, I stepped out of my room, shut the door, fastened the padlock and set off for Jessica’s hostel.
If I thought it was cold indoors, it was nothing compared to conditions outdoors. It was frigid. Clouds of thick mist had gathered in the air hindering my vision. I could only see things about a metre far. It’s as if they were taunting me saying, “Leon you shall not progress further.” Even the Israelites experienced obstacles in the wilderness on their way to Canaan, the land of milk and honey, and just like the Israelites, I would prevail. I refused to be discouraged by the mist and went on with my journey. Hunger is a good motivator.
Fifteen minutes is what it took me to get to Jessica’s hostel. The Israelites were in the wilderness for 40 years. 4 decades. That’s enough Bible class for today. Moving on…
Finally. I had braved the mist and reached my final destination. Against all odds! Don’t I get to show my machismo? Anyway, Jessica’s room was on the 4th floor of the famous Hostel K. More appropriately infamous Hostel K. I ran up the flight of stairs towards Jessica’s room. I’m not used to walking up stairs. I either run or take the lifts. So within a few minutes, I was at Jessica’s doorstep.
I tapped at the door. No response. I knocked once again a bit more forcefully. Still, there was no response. Surely she was expecting me, right? Where could she have gone? I peeked through the keyhole but it was too tiny for me to see a thing. Tiny keyholes, good idea I thought. I pressed my ear to the door to listen for any movement inside the room. There was some muffled sound. Women, I thought. She was probably making last minute preparations to ensure the place was spick and span. I knocked again for the last time.
“I’m coming!” a voice responded from inside the room. It was Jessica’s no doubt.
I waited another 2 minutes until she finally opened the door and let me into her room.
“Come in, come in.” Jessica ushered me in.
“Thanks. Should I take off my shoes?” I inquired.
“No, you don’t have to,” Jessica replied.
Great, because I wasn’t really planning to do so in the first place.
Once we were past the formalities, I stepped into the room and hugged Jessica. It felt wonderful, especially since it was a cold night. I could stay in her warm embrace forever. If only she could see through my heart…
She directed me to sit on the bottom bunk bed which I immediately did. She sat next to me. Her roommate wasn’t around. It was just Jessica and I. Maybe there was more on the menu than just food, I fantasized.
I was starving so I decided to cut to the chase.
“What’s cooking Jess?” I asked her.
“Nothing,” she answered.
Her response left me dumbfounded. Had she tricked me into coming to visit her with the promise of a meal, I wondered. She interpreted my facial expression.
“Do you really think I’d trick you to come and visit me using food as bait?” she asked.
“No. I am more superior to a fish, aren’t I?” I responded.
She clicked. We had started on the wrong footing.
“I was actually done cooking ages ago. Go ahead and serve yourself,” she ordered.
Talk about hospitality. “Wouldn’t you rather serve me instead?” I asked.
“No. I’d rather you serve yourself. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised,” she said and pointed at the saucepan that was on the meko.
Hospitality demands you serve your guest but I was starving so I decided to hell with hospitality. I flipped the lid that was covering the saucepan and was pleasantly surprised indeed. Jessica had cooked pilau. It was a meal I had taught her to cook a while back but I didn’t think she had quite gotten it. In addition, it’s a meal that takes fairly long to prepare and so I was impressed. Also, she had made kachumbari as an accompaniment.
“Damn Jess! You’ve really outdone yourself this time. Plus the food smells lovely.” I remarked.
“Thanks,” she said with a smile.
Jessica’s radiant smile is probably what endeared me to her. She had lots of other fine qualities but her smile…it was beautiful. It’s like she lit up the room and made it brighter when she smiled.
Since I was awfully hungry, I served myself a generous amount of food. The presentation had heightened my sense of taste and my mouth was watering. Looks can be deceiving. I repeat the proof of the pudding is in the eating!
Once I was done, Jessica served herself and sat close to me on the bed.
I’ve made it a habit to bless the food before I begin to indulge in a meal. Thus, I asked Jessica to do the honours. She gave me a confused look. Praying before meals was a foreign concept to her but she abided and did.
“Amen,” she concluded her prayer.
That was my cue. I immediately began to dig in and after two spoonfuls I should have been done. However, the gentleman in me urged me to soldier on.
“How is it?” Jessica inquired.
Seriously? She wasn’t asking me that was she? Perhaps it was a rhetorical question. I ignored her question and pretended to be engrossed in the meal hoping she would catch my drift.
“How’s the food?” she asked again.
She didn’t get it, did she? I’m not a good actor but I put on the best poker face I could.
“It’s okay,” I responded.
It wasn’t. The food was terrible. Terrible doesn’t even sum it, it was horrible! How she was even eating it was unfathomable. Jessica was either oblivious that she was a terrible cook or she was testing me. Testing my taste buds is not cool. I’m not a guinea pig!
I cook a lot and it’s always more advisable to under-spice rather than over spice food if you don’t know how much seasoning you should use. Jessica’s food was overly spiced. The garlic was excessive. Garlic should be used sparingly since it can overpower other ingredients used. But maybe she thought I was a vampire I don’t know.
I needed an escape plan. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any up my sleeve. Thus, I half-heartedly continued eating taking small spoonfuls at a time. The things we do for love.
Enough was enough. I couldn’t take it anymore. As I continued eating it’s like the food became worse. My taste buds had had enough. I had to tell Jessica. However, my prayers were answered when suddenly, Jessica’s roommate burst into the room crying uncontrollably.
“He dumped me!” she said sobbing profusely.
“What are you doing here? You shouldn’t be here!” Jessica retorted.
“B-b-but Kevin d-d-dumped and chased me away,” her roommate stuttered.
“I don’t care! You weren’t supposed to be here today!” Jessica snapped.
That was my lucky break. The situation was tense. I had to leave before things escalated.
“Ummm…I think you ladies have issues to sort out and I think it would be best if I leave,” I excused myself.
“No. Please, stay,” Jessica pleaded.
“Goodnight Jessica,” I said.
She remained mute and I made my exit.
That was the last time I would see Jessica for the entire semester. We haven’t met since. The date was a disaster and I wouldn’t want to relive it again.
Perhaps the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Please a man’s stomach and everything else will fall into place. Yes your nice rack and apple bottom ass may appeal to his sense of sight, your melodious voice may appeal to his hearing, your sweet-smelling perfume may appeal to his smell and your silky skin may appeal to his sense of touch but if you can’t appeal to his taste buds that man may just get away. Thus, ladies, if you want that man to stay, I suggest good culinary skills be a prerequisite skill you have!