You walk up the steps to the luxurious mansion and stand at the entrance. You mouth the numbers on the door and confirm your destination. You hear soft music and mild chatter. Your nervousness heightens. All your efforts within the last twenty-four hours have lead to this moment. You hang on to your clutchbag, fiercely fidgeting. You need your lungs to catch up with your breathing before you ring the doorbell. They don’t. The wide double doors suddenly swing open to reveal a crowd of elegant young people lounging in the living room. You panic. Your legs refuse to move forward. All eyes are on you. No one looks familiar. You want to run away.
It takes a minute longer before the host eventually comes to your rescue. Your pulse slows down slightly at the sight of his face. He is holding a drink. His smile teases with tempered amusement as he walks towards you.
‘Fashionably late, are we?’ He reaches out and gives you a friendly hug. ‘Welcome to my humble aboard.’
You want to say thank you. You even want to smile, but your jaws do not barge. You let your eye do a quick survey of the residence, from chandeliers, to a mini-bar at the corner with waiting services, to a river-stone mantle by a comfy sitting area. You gulp. There is nothing humble about the house.
He leads you to a seat amidst some of his guests. He introduces you to a Monica, an Aisha and a Della. There is also a Zaka, a Brandon, a Juba … and you think a Mwangi? They smile and nod, and say ‘how do you do’. In a minute you forget who’s who. They all look like they walked out of a spread of a posh fashion photo shoot, and you just happened to stumble in. It’s all good, you say to yourself. You will fit right in. You play it cool. They seem pretty relaxed. You hope your zip doesn’t burst. They sip their drinks. You swallow. Just then, a waitress excuses herself to whisper in your host’s ear. Your mind wanders.
This tall handsome guy at your new place of work dropped by your desk on his way home yesterday. You had been eyeing him. You had been walking on eggshells around him – not just because he is your boss, but also because of his intimidating and suave don’t-care, it’s-never-that-serious, too-deep-and-complicated-for-your-simple-minds, doing-things-my-own-way, comfortable-in-own-skin, young-Brad-Pitt mannerism. You had noticed he always wore clean bright shirts beneath dark well-fitting suits that streamline his broad shoulders and show off his sturdy physique. You also always notice his proximity by his signature ever-fresh scent, and that he is about the only male staff that never bothers to put on a tie – the don’t-care but always-manages-to-get-work-done type of a guy. You had always thought them the hardest to deal with – can’t quite dismiss them as reckless; can’t quite relax your wits around them.
He casually invited you to his party. You mumbled gratitude as he left, and then immediately called two of your girlfriends to pass by your flat as soon as you get home to dish out some of your jitters. You had also hoped they would help pick out an outfit. They didn’t. It was way into the hours of the morning when you bid farewell amid giggles and jesting. You barely slept. You had to fuss over your wardrobe all over again most of today, before deciding on getting a new dress, and then passed by the hair salon a record second time in a week. You also made sure to munch on a sandwich before you left your house – just a little something to quiet the untamed little tiger in your doughnut. Better stuffed than a foodie, oxymoron or not. It’s a sure winner. A clinking of glass and loud laughter startles you back to the present. Your host notices.
‘Oi, where are my manners?’ He chuckles. His eyes squint in the adorable way they do when he smiles. He turns on his seat and faces you. ‘What’s your poison?’
You look around the room, then at your host. You glance at the waitress, and then back at your host. You squirm in your new shoe and awkwardly bite your lower lip. You make a few mental calculations and pout your lips quizzically. You wonder about the worst that could possibly happen. You sigh and gaze at the stucco wall ahead. They wait in patient curiosity. In the end you master enough courage. All bets are off. You look up and you finally open your mouth.
Silence. A cricket chirps. The world freezes in time . Everyone is staring. Your host clears his throat and loosens his collar. The waitress looks like she’d rather leave but doesn’t dare move. You sense your impression on them slowly spiral down a long unyielding manhole. You try to hide your face, but fail. You wish you ran away.
Image from bossip.com