Women are very keen on personal hygiene in men they date But they give ‘too clean’ and overly tidy men a wide berth, just as they do to dirty ones

With the cold weather upon us, it has come to Crazy Monday’s attention that many Kenyans, especially men, are not bathing as regularly as they should.

Majority now rely on what we commonly used to call in school “passport shower”, where one only cleans their armpits and nether regions.

This sad state of affairs has sparked debates about personal hygiene on social media, with many women accusing men of relying on cologne to mask their nasty body odour.

Men have justified their abstinence, making all manner of jokes. Some claim that bathing is overrated and that women, by nature of their body morphology, need bathing more than men.

Tom Osanjo, for instance, poked fun on his Facebook page, saying: “Na nyinyi wanaume wacheni kupaka cologne miingi. Mwanume ni kunuka kajasho kwa umbali.”

The post led to a lengthy debate, with social media users poking fun. One user said: “Mwanaume ni kujipaka sabuni na kuparara kidogo, mafuta wachia wanawake.”

In all these social media debates, however, it emerged that as much as ladies are keen on cleanliness and neatness and dislike dirty men, majority are uncomfortable dating or settling down with those who are too clean and neat freaks.

When Catherine, for instance, first met Patrick, she was struck by his meticulous sense of order. He looked sharp, like a male model, straight from a magazine. Needles to mention, he was tall, lean and confident.

Obviously, attracted to the ‘extraordinary’, love quickly blossomed between them. But it didn’t take long for her to notice there was something untoward about the man who made her heart flutter.

Besides being overly neat and clean, he liked cooking, so much so that he never allowed her to do so, making her feel unappreciated and unwanted.

“Initially, it looked good. I had found a man who is clean and cooks. But each time I tried to do such household chores, he insisted on doing them himself, depriving me an opportunity to express love,” says Catherine.

She persevered for a while, but got to a point where his neatness and cleanliness put her off, leading to the end of the relationship.

A tale is also told of a city man whom whenever he had issues with his wife, he would refuse to eat her food and cook his own. The man, who was a neighbour to this writer’s friend, would push the joke further by washing his own clothes.

The marriage, which was of a come-we-stay nature, never lasted. The two went their separate ways before long. The woman dismissed the man, saying: “Anajipenda sana. Hata hakuna mwanamke anaeza kaa na mwanaume anajifulia na kujipikia. Na ni msafi kushinda bibi yake.”

Lillian, on the other hand, met Morris on her first day in campus. She thought he was cute and was immediately taken in by his neat dreadlocks. She also noticed that he went to great lengths to avoid getting his shoes stepped on.

“Every time I went to his hostel, he would serve me juice or some other drink. Immediately I was done, he’d wash and dry both glasses and then place them neatly on a small shelf,” says Lillian.

 Most of the women we talked to said they dislike such perfectionists because they affect their self esteem

Initially, she thought he was doing this to avoid piling up dishes, which he didn’t like to clean when all piled up, like most men do. But when she spent the night at his place, she realised she was dealing with a weird fellow.

“His bedding were pink, with about six pillows on the bed-like in a hotel. As we settled for the night, he took out the bedcover, folded it neatly and placed it on a small wooden box beside the bed. Then he took the pillows and placed them in the box, leaving only two for use,” Lillian says with a laugh.

“In the morning, he took out all the bedding, including the pillowcases. When I asked him why, he explained that when he’s alone, he changes his sheets every two days. But since we’d slept in them, he had to change them. It made me feel so dirty,” Lillian adds, saying she was uneasy throughout the relationship. “I always felt as if I had to walk on eggshells around him.”

Harriet’s encounter with a neat freak was in campus, too. It was a certain Morris, with whom she was taking the same course.

“So one day, we went to his room for a group assignment. By that time, we had been to several rooms in the men’s hostels and we never used to take our shoes off because their rooms were untidy anyway,” narrates Harriet.

“But as we were just stepping into Morris’ room, he threw a tantrum and jumped down from the upper decker of a bed. To our shock, he ordered us to take our shoes off, which he took and threw on the corridor, saying they were muddy and he’d just mopped the room.

“Of course, we were appalled, you don’t expect that from a guy. The room was sparkling clean though, with stark white curtains and bedcovers. It was weird,” she remembers.

None of this, however, compares with Njeri’s experiences with her married West African boyfriend.

“Before we made out, we had a very rigorous cleaning routine. We’d clip and remove imaginary dirt beneath our nails, shave, and floss our teeth. Every single time,” recalls Njeri.

We all have one or two male colleagues with such behavior. Immediately he arrives in the office, you will see him unleash a pocket shoe brush, bend over the desk and start brushing his shoes, making the entire office smell shoe polish.

Weird tales of such men abound. For a certain Alice, one of her exes was in the habit of redoing tasks after she cleans or cooks, pissing her off in the process with his snide remarks.

“The problem with you is hiding dirt when cleaning,” he would dismissively tell her, whilst cleaning under the tables and carpets.

Alice says she once made home sausages for breakfast. The man took one bite, stared at her, got up and made a beeline for the kitchen.

“Next thing I hear is him re-frying the sausages,” says Alice, who is still upset by the memory. “That was not the first time he did that. Another time, I made pork for dinner. He took it, washed it out again, and re-fried it. I was so upset we didn’t speak for weeks!” adds Alice.

She says she tried to persevere, but couldn’t stand the continued micromanaging of his household chores, especially after he insisted on cooking certain foods, like pork, matumbo and pilau, by himself.

Hilarious tales are told of men who, the moment they walk into their houses, begin to notice small, tiny specks of dirt all over and never shy away from mentioning them in a condescending way.

Most of the women we talked to said they dislike such perfectionists because they affect their self esteem.

“Every time you make you hair, such a man will pick out something wrong with it. He will demoralise you by saying what’s wrong with your nails or rubbish your choice of nail polish,” says Annet.

On the flip-side, there are women who don’t mind such men. Dorcas Ngugi, for instance, is very categorical about hygiene. She is a perfectionist and wants nothing short of a well-groomed man — a metro sexual, to be precise.

“I just can’t stand a dirty man. I don’t care whether you reside in a bush or under a rock, but if I am to date you, proper grooming is a prerequisite. If I find a man’s house disorganised and dirty, like a workshop of some sort, I never return,” says Dorcas firmly.

“Being a real man shouldn’t be about neglecting to brush your teeth. Scruffy side burns, bushy beards, unkempt hair, dirty socks and general untidiness instantly turn me off,” she says.

Psychologists say men who are ridiculously neat freak suffer from an anxiety disorder called obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), which if not kept in check, can subject one to negative social effects like ruining relationships and friendships.

Pauline Akinyi has a more simplistic view: “If a man’s house is ‘too neat’, he must be cheating on me. There has to be another woman keeping him clean. A good man should be untidy then he will need a woman to sort him out. Men who are too neat don’t need women. They can stress you to hell if you get romantically involved with them.”

So if you are a man and own ten white handkerchiefs, 15 pairs of shoes, sleep in pink sheets and your house is spotlessly clean, you might not be walking a bride down the aisle any time soon.