The conversation on the next table featured such funny anecdotes that I had to reach out for my hands to stifle the laughter welling in my throat.
It was early Saturday afternoon in a city centre restaurant. I was waiting for a lawyer friend who, typical of ‘learned friends’, kept me waiting for hours despite a string of texts assuring me that he was winding up with a client “in a few.”
That’s a phrase I find curiously vague especially because its use is not limited to bad-mannered lawyers and Westlands hangout crowd. Even my boss, despite her reminders that she is a disciple of her strict British high school teacher’s fastidious English language practice, is not immune to its occasional use!
I whiled away the time fiddling with my phone and eavesdropping on the four men sharing a bottle of Johnny Walker whisky. They were discussing Trump’s victory in US elections while, with the irritating braggadocio common with Arsenal fans enjoying a rare run of good results, arguing on the number of goals their team would put past Manchester United in the British premier league early kick-off.
The middle-aged quartet sounded fairly well read and middle class. Judging by the depth of their conversation, they had keenly followed Trump’s surprise victory or put differently, Hillary Clinton confirmation of her unique ability to rescue loss from victory. But it is their analysis of the Donald Trump woes with women and their comparative personal experiences that got my attention.
By the time America went to the polls, the hordes of women accusing Trump of sexual harassment and unwelcome advances threatened to be a potential swing vote for Clinton. But Trump won anyway! Now that he is President-elect, they were certain more victims would crawl out of Trump woodland with titillating ‘revelations’ of their big woes in his small hands.
Their predictions were that defending himself from such accusations would occupy a good chunk of Trump’s presidency. But it was unlikely to collapse his regime. In fact, considering that 60 per cent of Trump voters were women, more scandals would likely make for an electoral magnet for the Republican. His re-election in four year’s time would be a veritable walk in the park!
Were Trump’s indiscretions real trouble, it would constitute a dark chapter many men would kill to expunge from their sexual history. They reckoned that were every man eyeing a political office in Kenya subjected to similar scrutiny and local women encouraged to share their ordeals, the emergent details would make Trump look like an altar boy.
From their stories, and using the Trump index of sexual indiscretions, many would be guilty of serious offences. The men sounded miffed that ‘chasing’ after a disinterested woman amounted to something wrong. Isn’t that part of the thrill of ‘hunting’ that drives your average male adrenalin? Isn’t it a global truism that men always chase after women in a game of numbers where some you miss, some you get?
So what if Trump is on tape boasting of groping women? Big deal if his default view of women, including his own daughter, is of sexualised objects? What is all the fuss about him body-shaming his women critics? And is it really news that a politician has dodged paying taxes, gone bankrupt occasionally or faked his real wealth so well that even the taxman has no idea of his real worth?
It was the men’s conviction that while Trump is coarse and crude, his sexual indiscretions are not headlines stuff. Three of the men, all married, hailed their experiences of sleeping with married women as the icing of the infidelity cake. There was unanimity that locker room talk is real, regular and classified. What Trump was caught admitting, they concurred, is mild by their own debauched standards.
Their conclusion was that had Trump lost on November 8, and assuming he overcame his dislike for blacks and Kenya in particular, he would have been well served relocating here. He would have found a natural home and open comradeship. And they didn’t even have his money, real or assumed!
Money, it seems, is a pleasant fragrance. It redeems the most debased scoundrel and makes tolerable the odour of ill manners. True, Trump is obnoxious. He breathes meaning to the symbolic drunken uncle during Christmas. But his Christmases are too many in a year.
In Kenya, Trump would be certain to thrive. Whatever was threatening to get him in big trouble with the US voters would be fair weather here. The Donald would be in such good company among Kenyan politicians that vilifying him for the things they are saying he did would look like an acute case of discrimination and victimisation.
So what if Trump has made a habit of body-shaming or groping women? One of the guys was so sure of what would happen to women MPs if the lights went off for a while in our National Assembly for instance. There is a good chance that a male MP would try to replicate the infamous grab that Trump was caught bragging about.
This is not exaggerated. As a journalist covering the 9th Parliament, I recall the horror of witnessing an MP literally looking up the skirt of a female MP who later became a Cabinet Secretary. The guy who unsuccessfully contested a senatorial seat in the Rift Valley deliberately dropped his phone next to her.
The female MP was dosing, her raised legs resting at the back of the seat in the next row. The longer she slept, the more her skirt receded. It gave her Peeping Tom colleague plenty of view. But the boy in the MP was far from satisfied. He pretended to pick the phone while squinting under the lady’s skirt like a man locating a coin in a dim-lit floor!
But what I recall most was the MP’s boyish smile when he antics were discovered. It took the intervention of another female MP on the opposite side of the House to cross over and wake her colleague to the unfolding dishonour.
Rather than look embarrassed or sorry, the male colleague gave a mighty laugh that caught the Speaker’s attention. It reminded me of how, as primary school boys, we’d compete in bragging about who had espied on the highest number of girls’ undies.
That was the Trump in us. Some of us have since moved on. But like with the group sipping its whisky on that Saturday, Trump is alive and well in many of our men!
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