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In love with the barmaid

By - | June 27th 2012

Every man has a ‘favourite’ barmaid. David Odongo explores the world of the woman that wives love to hate

We have two types of women: Those who sulk and nag, and those who are forever cheerful and caring.

The curvaceous beauties that are ‘man’s best friend’ are sympathetic specialists of the male gender. They know men inside out — how to deal with them.

From the generous man to the hen-pecked, the stressed, broke, honest, simple, rich, poor and criminal man, their skilled eyes read them all in one second. And she treats them all differently such that at the end of the day, every man goes home feeling like the king he will never be.

Oh no! We are not talking about mistresses but barmaids — the skilled professionals that wives love to hate. But without them, husbands would require lengthy therapy in the hands of famed psychiatrist Dr Frank Njenga.


“Barmaids are a rare breed. If all women were like them, men would ever cheat on their wives. A barmaid is a mother, a loving Agony Aunt and a sex siren all rolled into one,” says David Otieno, a regular at Nairobi West Mall where several pubs coalesce into a series of watering holes.

His wife never cares to notice whether he has had a hectic day, but if he passes by the bar, the first thing the barmaid says is “Leo umechoka sana (you look so tired)” and proceeds to ‘baby’ him.

“Only the barmaid and my daughter notice if anything is wrong. My wife is either too busy or just doesn’t just care,” complains Otieno.

Men in pubs talk about everything from politics to sports, but the conversation eventually gets back to the barmaid. Men can argue for hours about a subject, but when she is called to mediate on why Greece is broke, even university professors calmly nod when she says Greece isn’t broke. End of topic. Never mind that in most cases, she was no idea about what the drunken intellectuals are talking about.

The barmaid is an institution within an institution and the only reason men talk about fashion. Everything she wears is under scrutiny and is more discussed than Angelina Jolie’s dress at the Oscars. They may not notice when their girlfriends or wives change hairstyles, but when a barmaid paints her nails pink, they glowingly compliment her.

“That colour suits you kabisa, kwanza tomorrow wear that green top, utakuwa mrembo sana (that colour suits you perfectly. In fact, wear that green top tomorrow. You will look smashing)!” they say.

Even if it’s alcohol talking, the profuse compliment is good for her morale. She goes home feeling beautiful even when she would never make it to the quarterfinals of a village beauty contest.

But men being men still fight the barmaid: “I asked for a Tusker and you brought me Guinness. I am not paying for this!” a drunken man angrily declares.


With a smile, she takes away the opened Guinness bottle and brings his Tusker. A smile lights up is face and he heavily tips her — a tip so generous it could buy three more Tuskers.

Barmaids hear all the problems that bedevil men, problems that their beloved wives will never hear. Chances are wives are told fiction each time their husbands come home with their cars smashed. But barmaids know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth because they are sympathetic listeners, non judgmental and providers of the world’s greatest balm — alcohol.

Contrary to what most women think, men never discus their wives with the barmaids. Men go to pubs to make merry and forget. Forget that Mama Baby hasn’t been talking for the past two weeks and that her ‘headache’ has been going on for months.

And unlike madam, whose lips are set in a permanent sneer from morning to sunset, how barmaids love to flirt! Is it any surprise then, that men who are married to very accomplished women have probably slept with a hot barmaid?

But Meshach Wanyonyi who drinks at Roasters along Thika Road disagrees with the intrigues surrounding the barmaids.

“They physiologically jail you. When you are broke, they give you beer on credit, you are so grateful that when she says she has a funeral, men at the pub will contribute outrageous amounts,” he says, adding that he has seen sober men Mpesa money to barmaids with whom they have no sexual relationship.

“The only reason men love barmaids is because they are easy. Men, especially married ones, find chasing girls tiresome and expensive and they want instant solutions to their lust, that’s where barmaids come in,” reveals Wanyonyi.

Wanyonyi, however, warns men that a barmaid’s job is to attract as many men as possible so they can order as many drinks as possible and tip (her) the highest possible amount of money.  So they’re basically attracted to everyone — not just you because she seems to know your moods and what you drink, he says.

Mzee Kariuki, a 72-year-old retired police officer who admits he was a rogue in his day, echoes his views.

Stroking egos

“Barmaids use body language, beauty and sexual appeal to lure men into parting with money. They loosen wallets by stroking men’s egos. Whoever said ‘women are the weaker sex’ has never drunk beer in a pub!

Theirs is a profession that prides itself on service — service that is friendly and offered with a smile. But that smile is a fake as a wedding cake!” reveals the old man.

According to Mzee Kariuki, these girls are trained actresses and their skills in acting are not from some drama class but from constant real life practice working on men for several hours each day.

“When you see her flirting and giving you positive body language, she’s actually working and is not interested in you! So you buy her three beers, which she never drinks but smartly sells and pockets the money to buy milk for her children.

But in the morning when your wife asks for money for milk for your own children, you rudely remind her that money does not grow on trees!” mocks Mzee Kariuki.

“Most barmaids act in the same flirtatious manner with all their clients — especially the well-paying ones. So if you’re getting the VIP treatment, chances are you’re paying for it,” says the sage. 

Anthony Wanjohi equally has no time for barmaids: “I go to the pub to drink money that I earn. I need no favours and the only time I talk to them is when I want another drink,” says the accountant, arguing that the cost of good service is already factored in the price of alcohol anyway.

But what Wanjohi may not know is that tipping barmaids cements friendship, and when barmaids are your friends, you suffer no harm in their pubs. They will beat up women who want to lace your drinks, protect you from pickpockets and when you are too drunk, they chase you out of the bar and ensure you board a trusted taxi back home.

Small bill

Jack, a university lecturer, recalls a night when a barmaid who was his friend led him to his car, locked him in and walked off with the keys.

To begin with, he now recalls, he was too drunk to drive anyway. Worse, he was carrying Sh100,000 in cash. When he pompously removed the thick wad of notes from his breast pocket to pay a small bill, she  knew the women around him would rob him and whisked him to his car.

“I was so drunk I fell asleep instantly. She woke me up at 4.30am and told me to confirm that my money was intact. I tipped her Sh2,000 on the spot!” says Jack.

So much as wives and the good old pastor may not think much of them, the truth is that most men have, at some point in their lives, seduced or attempted to seduce a barmaid.

And it wasn’t about alcohol — they were dead serious!


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