I am meeting a client at one of those upmarket Italian restaurants on a Wednesday at 7pm.
With my usual six-footer charmer pride, I assume this older lady, early 40s, single mum, corporate chieftain (Director of Advertising), must like me ‘like that’ to want to meet me here. But as long as I nab her advertising account, I don’t mind adding Lady Lydia to my body count.
Her account is NSE brand, and in this bruising times, this boy with a Blue Subaru could do with the big commission from Lady Lydia.
‘Hey there, Art!’, a familiar voice calls out.
It is Ben-Frank Njoka, an old neighbour from Belair Apartments where I stay, though he himself left for the US two years ago and now his black, beery, buddy-buddy big self is here with a lovely, very light and slight lady, with this unnaturally long African hair and pouty bee-sting lips.
‘Did he declare import duty on you?’ I say to her, by way of introduction.
She laughs and says: ‘Ben Frank’s my small bro, though he’s big, and I am his lil sis, though I’m small. Won’t you join us?’
I pull a chair, and send a text to Lady Lydia saying I ain’t feeling well, let’s meet on Friday evening!
Turns out Ben Frank’s big sister is called Jean Mbilia. Then she orders a cocktail for me, and says I will ‘love it’ in her strong American twang. But Mbilia’s a beau babe, and she’s already paid, so I just suck it up!
Turns out she is now an Immigration Lawyer in the USA, having left Kenya straight after 4th form in the year 2000. Do the math! – but she’s never been married, but has an eight year old lad ‘back in Newark.’
Ahhh, a summer bunny out to play!
‘So your boss is Donald Duck,’ I say, and mock quack, cracking her up.
Old Player’s rule #2 – ‘make her laugh, and she’s quarter in love, and three quarters to bed, amigo ...’
But Jean Mbilia is a flip-flopper!
When Ben goes to the gents, and I touch the tip of her hair with my fingers and say ‘is this nywele not straight out of a fairy-tale, Rapunzel,’ she slaps my hand hard and says: ‘It isn’t gentlemanly to touch, or ask a woman about her hair. They didn’t teach you that in school?’
And that’s the thing I don’t like about Jean Mbilia.
She is so proud of the schools that she went to here, foreign universities, her legal degrees.
She speaks with contempt of ‘Mexican immigrants’ and snaps at the waitress, and I come to recognise the Daddy’s (the Njokas are loaded) Bright & Beautiful princess complex in her.
Also, she is not interested in what I do for a living, or even what I’d like to eat (she recommends a dish for me, then tells the waiter ‘he’d looove to have a lasagna with this Italian red wine ...’).
I drink a whole bottle, and listen to Mbilia Jean Njoka tell her legal war stories of New Jersey!
Another Ben bathroom break. She takes my number. He returns. I say I have an early Thursday.
Over Jean’s protests, I go home to Belair, just in time to find the second half of a CL football game; and a text from Lady Lydia telling me to meet up at a coffee café near her office at 6.30 am.
I’m awoken by a phone call after one a.m.
It is Jean Mbilia, sounding quite plastered, on the other end.
‘I’m at your local,’ she gasps. ‘Belair. I know where Benny lived before he came to NJ for his Masters. Meet me there, then your place?’
‘I’m sorry, Jean,’ I say. ‘I am very sleepy right now, and have an early dawn. Maybe kesho?’
‘Eff you!’ she snarls, and hangs up.