I have a friend. We met in the gym 18 years ago. It was one of those rudimentary estate gyms in someone’s backyard, with equipment comprising vehicle spare parts and cement. We were just boys – I was 23, he was 21.
We lifted weights to fill the void that childhood left but that adulthood hadn’t quite filled yet. We lifted weights to feel like men. We lifted weights for girls to comment on our biceps. We lifted weights to immortalise our youth.
I didn’t like him at first. He was showy, snobbish, always piling on weights on his bench. This was before social media, before men shamelessly took videos of themselves in gyms to upload on Facebook.
This was pre-vanity age. But then we became friends and our friendship has lasted (on and off) for 18 years.
At some point we would drink together and hang out together until he met a woman, fell in love and got married, and then we all became fathers and husbands and then grew apart to try to figure out these new roles in our lives.
We lost contact for a few years. Out of the blues he called me two years ago and said his business had failed a few years back and soon after that, his marriage followed suit.
But then he found Jesus, then started another business. Now he doesn’t drink, he doesn’t smoke, doesn’t covet and he hasn’t had sex in four years.
I said, “Four years? Holy Molly! Is that even possible? Do you get bad headaches?” Anyway, we met up. He really had stopped drinking alcohol.
He had changed completely; his outlook on life, his values, everything. He was calm like dawn. But lonely.
He’d been looking to give marriage another crack because he’s an eternal romantic. He’s been looking for a good woman to marry. He asked me if I know some single women. I told him the type of women I know are mad.
What type exactly did he want? Here is what he wants: a woman who is born again like him. A woman who doesn’t drink alcohol, not those who are born again but say, ‘But I have an occasional glass of wine because Jesus turned wine into water and hung out with prostitutes.”
Most importantly, he doesn’t want to date for the sake of it; he wants a woman who he can marry. I said, “Boss, all the women I know drink wine and the ones who don’t are not born again.”
This year a close friend told me about her born again friend who was looking to settle down. She’s 33 years old, has a great job, is single, is living in faith, doesn’t drink alcohol. Seemed like the perfect fit, right? I asked her to set up a date.
She said her friend wanted to see a picture of my friend, first. (And they say men are visual.) Then she asked if my friend has any “weird behaviour.”
If you mean sleepwalking and shoplifting, no, I said. So we set up a date for four with the two of us chaperoning to make sure that the date didn’t degenerate into a Christian Union meeting.
We met for two hours. He was uncharacteristically shy. She was in a short and very lovely sundress that I don’t think Elijah, Moses, Joshua, Malachi or any of those prophets would have approved. She had salmon. He had messy glazed pork ribs.
After the date, I asked my friend what her friend thought and she said that my friend wasn’t confident enough. I said, Are you kidding me? A man who orders glazed pork ribs on the first date is confident! What did you guys want him to do, dance on the table shirtless?”
She also said that she didn’t like how quiet he was or that he asked her how many siblings they are and what the age gaps were.
“I almost thought he worked for the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.” I laughed so hard at that I almost choked on my tongue. (It’s funny, right?)
I begged for her to give him a second chance because I feel like maybe he was distracted by her stunning unchristian dress. I don’t think he’s sat close to a woman in that kind of a sundress in years. I think they need a one on one. I told him he needs to bring out the big guns now, and which doesn’t include asking any questions that census guys would ask.
If you are over 35 and not dating, you are lucky. It’s a jungle out there. It’s harder to meet new people because you come formed and you both know what you want and there seems to be less room to compromise. Going on a date at 37 must be daunting because you are impatient.
You suffer fools less. You know what you want but what you want is so hard to come by, so you might settle for what you almost want. I will tell you how their second date went.
You and I have now become gossip partners.