The following was written by a friend (author’s name withheld at their request) of EA Scene and Purely a Work of Fiction
Terrible Beer and an Employment time fog; Bad Cultural Exchanges and Ugly Vibes; Kenya Goes Redneck: the Possibilities Served Up Cold and Terrible By Skinny Models in Knee High Socks.
Sweat was pouring off my face. The hotel was far too tall for my dizzying vertigo. I needed beer and quickly. Luckily I had been awkwardly way-laid into covering this outlandish event. The American behemoth was landing on East African shores; touches of terrible cultural imperialism tainting its very foam. Schulzweis of course: Emperor of Beers and ambassador for the Trump voter.
Now I had to travel up eight stories into the fabulous Zafiri Luxury Hotel to sip suds poolside and hob knob with brutal posers clinging onto a bullshit American ideal from 10,000 miles away.
It was going to get ugly to be sure, my only hope for mental stability was to slam as many bottles of icy cold sell-out juice in as quick a time as possible and not make a scene that the magazine could fire me over. I was sure to cut it fucking close.
The first twenty minutes were all sitting, branded suits milling about and waiting to push their new fancy little shit. I was far gone out of place in this crowd, with dusty pants, an ugly t-shirt hailing the blues and a penchant for flirtation with waitresses. This was somewhere I had to maintain, to keep cool, to slip oddly into their mist and pretend to belong.
Smile and nod, that’ll do the trick. Just then the beers started flowing, one after the other, scantily clad hired help shoveling them down the throats of all who stood in range.
The bartender looked knowingly at me when I mumbled to him, “Can I get another?” He looked at me with the understanding of some distant whiskey mystic and leaned in close, muttering, “frankly speaking why the hell haven’t you been up here six times already.”
What was happening around me was not a good scene to behold; the ass-kissing was palpable. Weary press affiliates were staggering about trying to keep up a veneer through the haze of all-American wish-wash. The sun beat down on the pool, glittering sharp into my eyes causing a sudden panic and moments of cross-eyed despair during a heavy political conversation with a skinny beat reporter from the Asian Weekly.
Now it was time for the suit’s turn: some vague Euro geek with his hair all pointed from a gallon of top-end gel and a tailored suit that screamed “Yes Man” all over it.
He took the microphone and garbled on, making slight jokes that were met with the tepid mumblings of the emotionally destitute. It was time for him to lay the hammer down onto the eardrums of us all, “Schulzweis is a beer that represents American values,” he droned, “values like opportunity, freedom and enterprise.”
“Jesus creeping fuck”, I thought, looking at the nodding plastered smiles of those selling their souls a sip at time, “I’m trapped here!” That’s just what I didn’t need, handshakes and backslapping, culture-turned-product fifty meters above the busy Nairobi traffic. It was time to make an exit, and best to do subtle.
Seeing as how I’d won a sports quiz with competitive members of an online restaurant service by angrily yelling over ill-informed corporate types, I now had a bag of swag at my disposal.
Inside of its cheap reinforced paper were: two Schulzweis hats, a women’s medium V-neck t-shirt with the trashy label blazed on its chest, a lukewarm Schulz and a mystery cigarette butt fired down from the Gods as a sublime blessing.
I sidled my way to the good-ole-boy bartender, a man who had clearly seen his share of wealthy despair take shape in the form of lewd acts; old men with sanction to finger-bang underage hookers in the most expensive hotel in East Africa.
“Pack in there for my road travels?” I uttered, pointing shakily down into my wide open gift bag. “Hmm,” he replied, “no takeaways!” He then spun around; a maneuver that only can come with years of sorting out issues with take-no-prisoners alcoholism. He completed his turn, only now with two more enticing beers in hand; with a flourish he popped them both and passed them over to me.
It was definitely time to go; any second over-zealous bouncers could notice my excess and come down with fascist orders from the sun-glasses wearing Danish Head of Security to throw me down the lobby atrium for failing to pay an imaginary bill.
This was definitely not the time for the out of place. I sidled my way into the bathroom, only to be followed by a pudgy-German who left his locked arm position with a tired-eyed eighteen year old prostitute who clearly had seen enough of his erectile dysfunction. He stood behind me, singing old German pop songs while stage fright gripped me with panic.
“Be-La-daaaaa,” he sang and then went silent for a while before belting out (causing me to jump and knock elbows against a urinal divider, cursing Buddha for putting his most vile servant up to this), “I have to go zuzu!”
“Right!” I said, looking over my shoulder and trying desperately to end the most elongated piss of the century, “It happens at times, maybe the cure is more tequila!”
He gawked back at me, eyes shrink-wrapped in inebriation, thoughts of cruelly beating his hooker for lack of ‘pizzazz’ clearly on his brain. “The cure,” he gasped, “it is only more of the ladies kissing on my belly!”
Fuck this scene! I left without flushing and forced my way rudely into an elevator, all elbows and apologies, beer spilling onto the shoes of a tight-assed business woman.
We went down two floors before the doors opened again, a startled bald white man probably fresh off a plane from Scandinavia, with hopes of extracting his fortune from the mother continent while never having to shake hands with a local, staring wide-eyed into my face as I swilled beer.
“Wrong floor.” I told him with a drawn out wink as the doors closed shut with him still gawking.
Now I was back into sunlight, wandering around blatantly with beer in hand next to the Triangle market. An absolutely ancient lady suddenly came popping into my view hawking a beer cap necklace yelling, “I am HONESTY!” loudly into my buzz.
Somehow I found a matatu, safety; I jammed my way inside next to a grumpy Somali lady who looked with disdain at my public quaffing of alcohol. Of course, this is Nairobi; all things horrible are begrudgingly accepted when committed by journalists in t-shirts. Finally, I was off again to travel home; for Thika road, emotional refuge among my fellow ratchets.