There is a guy drying his armpit with a hand dryer. I’m seated behind him on a bench in the men’s room at the gym, drying my feet with a towel. He doesn’t even have a bushy armpit. Over the sound of the whirring dryer our protagonist is having a conversation with another chap who is rummaging through his gym bag – hopefully for a knife to stab the armpit-dryer. They are talking football. Guys are always talking about football. They don’t know it but they are already clichés because one is a Man U fan and the other an Arsenal fan. There is nothing more annoying than listening to a Man U fan talk to an Arsenal fan. They always sound like a couple that has been married for longer than they should. A Man U fan will say, “Oh the football is round in shape” and the Arsenal fan will retort, “Not really, depends on how you look at it when light falls on it.”
There is a big match in the offing, I learn from their discourse. The dryer goes whirrrr as one of them says something about “Bobby Charlton” and “history” and the other one talks about their “six-point” stand. Greek. I’m curious to know what the hell that Bobby Charlton stand is, but I can’t ask because I will sound like one of those chicks who say, “90-mins is sooo long, can’t they make it like one hour tops?” (Well, then they’d rather just play volleyball.)
I’m fascinated by the guy drying his armpit even though “fascination” is a misleading adjective to use here given that he’s half naked, standing right there in his underwear written Guci because where they manufacture them in downtown Kiambu, the “c” is silent. I think to myself that this guy – most likely in the financial sector – will go back to the office, sit at his desk and deal with important matters, maybe hold meetings where people say, “If I may interject with this alternative perspective…” and nobody will ever know that he dries his armpits with a hand dryer. He will have lunch with his boss at The Thorn Tree cafe at The New Stanley and order clear tomato soup (he will avoid the fresh buns), then later the mutton Rogan Josh with sparkling water to wash it down and laugh – on cue – at his boss’s dreadful jokes. His boss will never have any inkling that the man before him is the kind of man who dries his armpits with a hand dryer.
Our protagonist is now berating Mourinho, and the other Arsenal gentleman, turning his socks inside out, is snorting dismissively. Storm in an English teacup. He then makes a half turn and starts drying his other armpit. He has big arms because all he does is curl weights and dumbbells, and he walks around the gym surprised that none of the ladies in the gym has proposed to his biceps yet.
Maybe he has kids, I think to myself. He kisses them & buys them toys. Occasionally he lies on the carpet and they sit on him, bouncing on his lower belly, giggling. They call him “daddy.” They play with his beard and giggle. They will grow up and never know daddy used to dry his armpits with a hand dryer.
I suddenly feel burdened by this secret. I feel like he’s living a double life; on the one side he’s a seemingly well adjusted man, maybe he doesn’t even use the office printer to save trees, a doting father and caring husband. He tithes. However, in the morning, he’s someone else; he’s the guy who dries his armpits with a hand dryer. And nobody knows. Well, nobody apart from us who share the locker room with him, which makes us party to this bizarre behaviour. We are promoting this behaviour by not speaking up. We are not any better than him on that account, are we?
I truly feel burdened.
Sometimes I feel like a liar every time someone asks how the gym is and I say that it is great, when I really should be saying that there is a man who dries his armpits with a hand dryer. I feel like it’s a social responsibility to tell someone about this man, because for all we care it could be symptomatic. One day he will do something macabre and I will watch one of his colleague’s being interviewed on TV say, “There was nothing that showed us he was disturbed or unhappy; he was fit, he liked people and he liked watching football. He was like you and me!” And I will cover my mouth with my hand and whisper, “Oh God no! He wasn’t like you and me, he used to dry his armpits with a hand dryer!”
I can’t tell you how many nights I have gotten into bed with one burning question: Am I a bad citizen for not saying something about this man’s dryer business? Have I failed humanity with my continued silence? Do I not see this behaviour as something that the authorities should know, if only to intervene?
I mean, if I was a girl and I went out on a date with this guy and he said something kind about farm animals and I liked him immediately because I grew up on a farm and I was the kind of village girl who was attracted to men who said kind things about farm animals (E.g. I like how wet a cow’s nose gets), of course I’d agree to go back to his place on account that a man who likes farm animals will most likely be kind to humans. At his place he will jump into the shower for “a quick rinse” and if I were to hear a drier run and later on ask him what that was and he says with a self-satisfied grin, “Oh, I was drying my armpits, it’s faster,” I would pull on my jeans, wear my blouse and say I’m leaving. He would follow me to the door, clutching at the towel around his waist, completely baffled at the turn of events, “Come on, Sandra, what is it?…Sandra, will you stop stuffing your bra in your purse for a second and talk to me?….Sandra, come on, is it something I said?…Sandra, stop. I’m sorry! Okay, fine we’ll just cuddle, I love cuddling and companionship I’m that guy!…Sandra…it’s late, you can’t drive home at this time .. Sandra … Sandra! … Damn it!”
I’d dramatically walk out and I’d never talk to him again. Ever. I’d save him as ‘Armpit Drier’ on my phone and then block him. Because my parents didn’t struggle to take me to good schools to date men who dried their armpits with hand dryers. What will he do next? Wax? Aaa ahhh. No. You have to draw the line with these men.
Someone should do a reality show on men’s locker rooms. Put a camera in there and grab popcorn. The kind of conversations you might overhear there can get insane. Organic dialogue. If a transcript of them landed online, the band of marauding feminists on Twitter will be horrified. They will wonder if they haven’t made any gains at all all this time.
The gym I go to doesn’t have guys who walk about naked. I hear in some gyms men prance around naked, their dongs swinging dangerously about. (Sign on wall: Beware of swinging objects and breaking glass, the administration will not be liable for any injuries caused as a result). I can’t imagine how it would be, to be in a gym like that. I don’t think any man – even those that lick their spoons after stirring their tea – deserves to start their day in a gym where men walk about naked.
Plus it can’t be good for some men who are, uhm, insecure about their size. Or even those who are too sure about their size, right up until they see Adonija Wafula shuffling around naked, his member something out of a medieval orgy in ancient Greece casting a shadow even in broad daylight. A thing from the slave trade period, appended on big strong black men, members that can till the land and grow their own flowers.
And such men never have names like Martin or John or Jackson. It’s always Adonija or Joachim or Bokasa. Names that are a mouthful. Have you been to a hospital’s casualty waiting room and you hear someone being called out loud over the intercom to go to the triage: “Adonija Wafula, please come to room 3.” Suddenly you see all the girls in the waiting room raise their heads simultaneously like a pack of penguins that have smelled a mating partner, and you wonder if Adonija is some guy from Tanga with special powers. Kumbe.
You have a guy like Joachim or Adonija walking around naked in the gym and they get folks anxious. That evening a chap might lie on his woman’s chest and have this conversation most of us have had if we were to be honest.
“Did you cum?” (That’s you)
“Yes, I did.” (That’s her fibbing).
“Kwani you can’t tell?” (Nobody can really tell, not even a prophet).
“Only sometimes. Like when you are saying things in kyuk.”
“That is Dutch, you idiot.”
“Well, whatever it is you always say it in a kyuk accent.”
“Ha-ha. I so don’t.”
“So are you satisfied?”
“Yes. I am.” (Not entirely true).
“I satisfy you?” (Look at you looking for a wooden plaque)
“Ha-ha. Yes, of course, why? You never ask.”
“Today I have asked because I don’t want to be selfish.” (Bull)
“Aww, you are so sweet. Come here.”
“By the way, do you know anyone called Adonija?”
“Ah, never mind, he’s some debt collector.”
So yeah, that is what happens when Adonija joins your gym and prances about naked; unknowingly he changes conversations in bedrooms across town because he makes men feel diminished.
Anyway, two weeks ago after my workout, I took a shower and when I came out I found that I was all alone in the locker room. As I towelled myself dry I happened to have turned and seen the dryer sitting there innocently. A small voice whispered in my ear, “Chocolate Man, don’t.” Then another voice countered it: “Oh come on, you are in here alone. Nobody will know.” Then the small voice said, “Walk away boss, don’t listen to him, you don’t want to be that guy.” So I sighed, picked up the dryer and I switched it on and it whirred and vibrated in my hand like a saw cutter and I brought it to my armpit. The air that blew on my armpit felt warm and somewhat ticklish. I had crossed a line. I had become the very thing I was turning my nose at. A hypocrite. I was drying my armpit with a hand dryer!
Funnily enough, I’m not embarrassed to say that it felt good to dry my armpits with it. If a man wants to dry his armpits with a hand dryer who are we to say he can’t? I had become the new protagonist. The next day I left the gym slightly early again (on purpose) and used the dryer. The following day there were a few people but I used it all the same. I felt rebellious. I felt like Che Guezulu.
What will you say when you get to the pearly gates and the guy standing in front of you in the queue turns and asks you what you did differently down on earth? Will you say you never skipped the lights at the traffic lights? Will your time on earth be reduced to something as inane and colourless as not skipping the lights? Personally, I will tell that guy, “I dried my armpits using a hand dryer,” and he will feel so bad he didn’t fully utilise his time on earth.
How do intend to spend your time differently on earth? Eh?
Ps. We have closed registration for the next Writing Masterclass. We shall do it all over again next year. Inshallah.