Young, Horny And Restless

I was invited to a school to deliver a motivational talk to a group of preadolescent and adolescent youngsters.  I regretted the invitation as soon I accepted it because school kids are a difficult proposition. Adults can be forgiving when you are boring, however a young school audience work with the assumption that you will be stale unless you produce hits like Sauti Sol or have a TV show like Jeff Koinange. I did not want to be preachy, with the usual work hard spiel, go to Harvard, be all you want to be.

Standing in front of the young audience, I started by announcing what I thought were ‘my cool’ credentials, ending up quoting the Fresh Prince, Will Smith from a song out of the 80s, “Parents just do not understand” a reference that only their parents would understand. Half the gathering was lost in thought, the other half, looking everywhere but at me and the few who were paying attention refused to laugh at my lame jokes. I kept it short and concluded by pleading with my young audience to share what was truly on their minds and not just want they thought their teachers wanted to hear.

When Your Girl Wants a Child

Every guy comes across that dreaded moment at one point of his life when his girlfriend says, ‘I think I am pregnant”. My moment of truth, now that I think about it, was most hilarious. She happened to be my first steady girlfriend and we were riding back from a trip in the country, chatting about nothing in particular, when she dropped the bombshell. You should have seen my face. My eyes started to twitch; the bhajias that I was happily munching away went stale as my jaw hit the floor. My head was spinning, I was speechless and the harder I tried to muster something to say, the more gibberish I sounded and in the end I just went, “uhh!” to which she responded, “We are going to have a baby, babie!”

I have never felt so uncoordinated before. Maybe it was the way she used the word ‘we’, dragging me into this unknown territory as an unwilling accomplice. The most I could say is “Are you sure?” asked in the same way you would ask a bomb expert, “Are you sure it’s the red wire?” She picked up the fear immediately and for the rest of the journey the once jolly couple was stunningly silent. I had the feeling that my reaction had killed the relationship. I was a wimp. My earlier bravado pronouncements of being willing to infuse into the human race a superior breed of Oyungalings were found wanting. For all the things I has said and done, this one moment was proof of my commitment to a life partnership.

Just to set the record straight, there was no child. My girlfriend was just testing my potential as a life long partner. Did I mention reading somewhere about women and their cunning ways?

Anyway what’s the matter with us men? Kids can’t be that bad and as Eminem, the singer, would say, “The product of hunk is hunk,” so wouldn’t you love a replica of yourself to ensure the survival of your somewhat flaky legacy?

Do I want children, of course I do? Right now? Well, there is the catch. Having kids is something you think about doing in the future, like hoping to buy a house in the future, when life is settled and finances are secure. That’s adulthood, we say, when we are ready, we will go for it, the ideal family of two children.

I know guys who have been living by that philosophy into their mid-forties and usually the thought of having a toddler at fifty stops them from venturing into the baby booming market altogether.

Back to my mystery, how does one deal with the I-want-a-baby partner? There was nothing wrong with the relationship per se. In fact if I recall correctly, I had started entertaining thoughts of perhaps she-is-the-one. I guess at the time, I figured a kid would spoil the freedom of my newfound adulthood. The folly of youth, I am told. A lot of my friends have kids and I always remember the first time I heard about it I exclaimed, “Awh, jeez!” what a mess he got himself into. But three or so years down the line my friends are still as youthful, happy and hang out always but alas they are more responsible. That means that unlike the perpetual drunk I am who lives from one booze plot to another, my friends now know that there is more to life than finding yet another joint with cheap alcohol.

You see, my married mates can leave a party before the bar runs out of liquor not because their parole officers (read wives) will raise a storm if they didn’t bit because they can look forward to doing something sensible like taking Junior swimming the next day as we bachelor types nurse our hangovers.

I sound like a man living in regret, don’t I? So what’s this fear of babies men can’t handle? I have seen guys unmoved by imminent beer shortages but mention those three dreaded words, “I am pregnant!” and the same man who has adoringly called you “Gorgeous” for the last one year, will say something as absurd as “Ehh!”.

I guess guys fear responsibility. I don’t want to start imparting my wacky morals of life to an innocent soul. Besides the fear of kids was induced early. Remember what your parents told you about getting a girl pregnant. The prophets of doom would be breathing down your neck, telling you about being ruined. So you imagine the state I was in when I entered my first serious relationship. I was a paranoid wreck and no fault of mine. Blame society. It was never really said, but at this point, all guys sort of enter into a contract with their partner to take a joint responsibility for baby avoidance. I mean we are both young and understandably a child at this point isn’t a cool idea. It is cool for a while, then the woman changes and she starts dropping statements like, ‘I wonder if that sweater would look good on our baby”. It is this plural thing that really freaks us out,” we, our, let’s”. Someone once said that for all the time men spend trying to coerce women into sex, they are paid back in life, by the women trying to coerce them into having babies.

How do I feel now that I am an adult? Would I go for a kid now? Perhaps, if only to give the world one sane brat. You look at all the teenagers around and you say no kid of mine will spot a ridiculous hairstyle like that. But you can never win. On the other hand, think of all the things you could teach the youngster like that his foot isn’t only for standing but for kicking footballs as well. Or I could try bring up my  own Tiger Pala and twenty years from now I would be sitting back, sipping beer watching my son win the Masters a sixth straight time on satellite TV as I turn around to my childless mates saying, “That’s ma boy”.

Naivety And Sudden Motherhood

In the absence of grandmothers, radicals and religious zealots pretty much decree what women should do with their bodies when it comes to reproduction. Grandmothers saved you the hassle by giving you instructions on how to use your body. Virginity was a virtue upheld until the wedding night, hence the white dress and the famous stained sheet. We scoff at those attitudes now, calling them old fashioned, outdated and even repressed. Nevertheless, if I have said this once, I probably need to say it again on behalf of grandmothers; boys cannot be trusted. Play with fire and you will burn. Nothing has changed.

Random motherhood on your terms is a personal fantasy, stuff that fairy tales are made of. It is important to separate the two, love and sex. Many girls somehow believe that their case is always unique. The feeling is labeled as ‘special’, that temporary, seemingly heart-warming sensation. How misinformed.

I am tired of hearing that men are from Mars and women are from Venus. Honestly, I don’t even think we are from the same galaxy. Physically, we appear deceptively alike but logically on this topic, men are just about as similar to women as onion is to chocolate. So invariably, sexual behaviour in Kenya should be monitored carefully. With AIDS still going strong, twenty plus years later, one would suppose unwanted pregnancies would be the least of our worries. Four decades of advanced birth control and women are still finding themselves in that precarious position, cradling a rapidly bulging stomach and a man who refuses to commit. Perhaps, this what they meant, when they said, “the more things change, the more they remain the same”.

Avoiding pregnancy is not nuclear science, but somehow as soon as the heart gets involved all caution is thrown to the wind. What is happening to girls? Don’t they realize that premature pregnancies are no longer in vogue? Contraception today is the sole responsibility of the woman. Men are basically just sperm donors since time immemorial and if you believe otherwise, then you might as well believe anything politicians spew.

Any woman who has participated in the dating game long enough will agree that the reality never mimics the fantasy. Love as advertised is hogwash. Its only guarantee is a broken heart or worse the unwanted baby. Women know this, yet why are they still not responsible? Contraception is your responsibility. Not the man’s. Granted, sex with a compatible partner feels good, no denying it. However, the unplanned pregnancy is not. This is precisely the crux of the problem. Do not indulge addictively if you are not married. One can lecture all day long about the consequences of pre-marital pregnancies but with naivety and lack of experience, girls routinely put their personal pleasure above all else.

The number one culprit leading to this saga is love, a prescribed golden stairway to happiness. One can understand why. It is not like the young lady is dragged into these matters blind folded. She just never had a grandmother to tell her about the illusion of love. Many young girls will preserve themselves for years, keeping the pack at bay, regularly turning down requests, waiting patiently for that scripted man who will respect and marry them. Consequently, somewhere into their early twenties, naivety intact, they eventually succumb to pressure. Virginity past twenty-five is not highly regarded anymore and don’t ask me why? At twenty, most young people are convinced that they know it all. They quip, ‘but he loves me’.

Given the frantic search process for the alleged ‘good guys’ (whatever that means), one would expect a more informed selection process. Foremost, has he been tested? How does he treat women? What is his sexual history or orientation for that matter? These questions hardly ever pop up. I have never met a woman who asked me about my HIV status and I not even handsome or rich. Instead most women tend to be interested in only two things: romance and its accompanying gestures. All the man needs is the ability to say the right things at the right time, buy some Black forest cake, email plagiarized poetry for the young girl to drop her guard.

Woiyee! most of these young girls never realize is that this is a totally new playing field. The boys she was previously exposed to, the ones she so easily manipulated are left behind in school. Beyond college, men come in all shades of pretense, each cowering behind practiced masks of deceit. Try telling this to the young lady and chances are, her ears will be plugged. Love is the air. When she finally experiences her first true orgasm she is reduced to singing “Halleluyah! I saw heaven”. Soon talk of the future follows and guys can throw in a load of crap when they are having it good and easy. They may seem very serious to the point of commitment but so are politicians before an election. So much for, “We can make beautiful babies together”. Liar!

Unfortunately, the girls swallow it, hook, line and sinker. Every single lie including the famous, “You are the One”. This honeymoon phase always leaves young ones giddy and giggly. Condoms are abandoned, pregnancy disregarded for this naïve reason, ‘We love each other’. Nonetheless, the consequence of naivety is way too much regret, bitterness, and far too often, the unexpected child.

That is why I repeat, anything a man tells you before sex, should be dismissed. Anything added afterwards should be taken with a pinch of salt. A man with a mission can be very convincing. Young women must realize that avoiding pregnancy is their sole responsibility. The law doesn’t protect unwed mothers nor does society in general anymore. It is not that men do not want children. Most are just not ready for them. It is more a question of timing. Which is why the church drags them in, Shepherd them down the aisle and makes them swear and sign a certificate in front of witnesses.

Kenya is now full of absentee dads, the kind that derive extreme pleasure from scattering their wild oats and abdicating the responsibility that follows. In this country, it is unfortunately just one of the many other undesirable elements. Look hard before you leap and if you must, always have some emergency rubbers before you hit the road. You may not choose the situations you find yourself in, but you can choose not to be naive under those circumstances.