“I Dumped Him for Being too Perfect.”
Stacey sat quietly as she watched her husband chop capsicums into tiny little bits. She wished he could say something nasty, not acting normal like he was. She wished they could have a fight and exchange nasty words. She wished he could get angry and do something stupid so that they get even, but he did not. Instead, he was quite jolly, busy telling her stories about this restaurant he recently discovered during a work trip to Kampala. Pardis Restaurant. He was so engrossed in his story and his chopping of spices that he wasn’t even looking her way most of the time. Perhaps if he did he would have seen that she was not listening. That she was lost in her own thoughts. Thoughts of guilt and embarrassment….and fear.
Joe worked for an international beverage manufacturer as their VP for Marketing in East, Central, and West Africa. He traveled a lot across the continent and at times to Europe, Asia, and the US where their headquarters were. He has been to Kampala countless times but somehow had never been to this restaurant he was going on and on about. Or he was lying. Just trying to avoid the issue at hand at all costs.
Stacey was barely paying attention. Her mind lost in her own world. She watched every move his hand made with the knife and wondered if one day or even that night he would sneak up on her as she slept and chop her body into tiny pieces like he chopped the capsicums.
She did not have a reason to fear, at least not from past experiences. He had never laid a finger on her. On the contrary, he was a very caring, charming and patient guy. Perhaps the perfect guy. So perfect that he scared the hell out of Stacey in times like this.
Joe did not drink but had no problem with her going out with her friends and drinking till the ungodly-hours of the morning. She would call him at 3.00 Am to pick her up from the club and he would be right there ready to drive her drunk behind to the house. Occasionally he would give in to her dragging him out of the house to the club. In those instances he would always be lost watching the crowd, paying attention to what people in the club were ordering and generally, how they were spending their money. Her friends thought he was a little creepy because he would ask too many questions at times.
Stacey did not find any of that creepy. She knew he was always doing research for new marketing strategies. Joe studied anthropology for his undergrad and has an MBA in marketing. He has taken too long completing his Ph.D. Stacey even thinks he has lost interest in it. He has created very successful marketing campaigns for a variety of the company’s product lines by drawing on his studies of human behavior. Specifically how they make spending decisions.
Joe’s favorite pass-time activity is cooking. He is such a good cook that Stacey at times feels ashamed. She is not such a bad cook, but with a husband like Joe who knows his way around the kitchen, not being a bad cook and being a bad cook could be one and the same thing. Not that he complains about her cooking. He actually likes it when she cooks, but Stacey thinks he pretends. Joe knows so much about food and can go on and on about spices and the places his recipes come from.
“There is this one time before we moved in together that I had gone to his place for dinner,” Stacey says trying to take a journey back into the formative days of their relationship. It’s almost as if she is smiling and not smiling at the same time. There is some sort of sparkle in her eyes. She is not sad at all.
“He was chopping dhania and he was like ‘most people cut away the roots and only use the leaves but that is so wrong. You see, the flavors are concentrated right here around the roots, so, you just need to chop off the tip’ he would say pointing at the roots. I was wowed. Swept,” she says.
Even I did not know that about dhania until this conversation with Stacey.
I have known Stacey for pretty much my entire adult life. Growing up, she was like one of our boys. She always tagged along when we went katiaring chics from other hoods. I still don’t understand why we always rolled like a pack. Me, three other dudes and Stacey. None of us ever hit on her. Not that she wasn’t pretty…We just never saw her that way.
Hanging out with her helped us with chics though. She gave us quite the advice when it came to how to get the ladies interested. We were so good at it that each one of us even had an Indian chic on top of our regular chics. Mine was called Chandni. I had sliced her from one of the other boys. A story for another day.
Looking back, I would say Stacey was that kind of a jackpot chic. She was not too girly – perhaps why we hang out with her. Drove manual cars – those were the only cars we had access to back in the day, thanks to one of our boys whose dad sold second-hand vehicles. She was also very smart, she had scored an A- in KCSE. She was looking forward to going to law school last time we hang out together. Today, I can add she is ravishingly beautiful. I wonder how come we did not notice that back in the day.
Have you ever been in a situation where you meet someone you went to school with or grew up within the same hood but gave them little attention, but when you meet up after five years you find them extremely hot? That was was what I felt like when Stacey tapped my shoulder and said, “you are Ominde, we used to be friends as kids.”
I turned. With a smile on my face. I think my mouth was open for a while before any words could come out of it.
“And you are…” I said in a way like someone wanting the other to complete the sentence for them would.
“Stacey. Stacey Momanyi. We lived in Milimani near Victoria (Primary School). We used to hang out a lot with kina Vic, Sammy, and Alex. How are Sammy and Alex doing?” She asked.
Alex was my high school deskmate, but I still find it difficult calling him Alex. We were more used to referring to him by his last name Tigana. For a moment when she said Alex I thought she was referring to the guy who sells crisps at Kilimani shops. Sammy, Vic and I knew each other from the church our parents went to. Sammy schooled in some private school in Nairobi while the rest of us were classmates. He was the ‘cool kid’ of the gang. Sammy is also the only one who attempted to unsuccessfully hit on Stacey. I haven’t seen Sammy in about thirteen years. Until this moment, I hadn’t seen Stacey for that long too.
“What are you doing in town?” I ask.
“I came to hide after serving my husband with divorce papers,” she responded with a smile that made it all seem like a joke. She laughed. She looked at me in the eye then laughed again before pausing to straighten her eyebrows with her right index finger.
‘Sounds like a big joke,” she said, “but it’s all true.”
“What happened?” I asked, expecting some sob story of how a guy cheated on her with her best friend or cousin or even the mboch – we could be real ass-holes at times. In my mind, I was ready to tell her how any guy that would cheat on a woman half as beautiful and intelligent as she was was the biggest fool of all time.
“He is too nice,” she said.
“What do you mean?” I asked, seemingly confused.
“I am divorcing my husband because he is too nice,” she said wiping her face with her right hand as if it were wet or sweat was forming on it.
By this time she was sitting next to me sipping on some Johnie Walker Green Label that Maureen had just handed her. Maureen is the short, dark, but very pretty waitress who serves me whenever I visit The Roan Garden Restaurant.
Stacey and Joe met about four years ago when Joe was working for a different FMCG company. Stacey was one of the Account executives at a PR firm that was handling one of Joe’s products. Yes, she did not go to law school as she had initially wanted. They had met during a brief at Joe’s office and even though she wasn’t the lead on the project, she kept close contact with Joe. One thing led to another and before they could figure out what was happening they were going on several dates.
“Joe is one of those guys with mysterious personalities. In the office, he is this focussed person who puts the project at hand before anything else, but when you meet him in a social environment, he is a completely different person. Very charming, very patient and welcoming. In the house, he is just your cool buddy. He is even warmer than he is in social settings. It’s like when he gets home he gets into his safe place and you would not imagine he is the same corporate bigshot he is,” she explains.
“A lot of people think I married him because of what being the wife of a corporate magnet like him would do to the career of a young and ambitious PR executive like myself, but I married him because I was attracted to his niceness. His human side. I like how he treated people, especially the people most people look down on society. He called his driver “boss yangu.” At first, I thought He was putting up a show for me but that is who he really is.”
“So why are you divorcing him?” I ask.
“Because I feel that I don’t deserve him. I cheated on him. Not once. I had been doing it for a year when he found out. He asked me about it and I could not deny it. So we agreed I call it off and I did. We have been working on us since then but what creeps me is that he wasn’t really mad about it. I expected him to flip but here he was, as usual, telling me nice stories about what he was up to on his trips or taking me on holidays. I wanted him to get mad. I wanted him to have a fight with me. I wanted him to accuse me of not being loyal to him despite giving me a car and a house and helping my career. I wanted him to be a Kenyan dude but here he was with this cool calm and collected attitude. That drove me insane. It did. Every day I lived under the same roof with him,” she explained.
“Being nice is not grounds for divorce under Kenyan law, so how come you filed?” I ask again.
“We finally got into a fight about money. The money he spends on charity, educating 15 kids each year from his village. I have always known he does that, I admired it. I just needed something to fight over and because I know he is very charitable, that was going to stick. We could not reach a compromise on the issue, so, I am using irreconcilable differences as grounds for my divorce,” she said before pouring herself what looked like three double shots of whiskey and drowning it all.