Pangolo Junction
Life, arguments, and kunu... with Max, Nat and Zack

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Jennifer

(We're in the Junction again, and Zack is talking to Nat who is looking very, very dejected. Just then, Max turns up.)

Max: My brothers in kunu! How are you?

Zack (irritably): I'm fine, but your friend here is... well, I don't know what his problem is anyway.

(Max turns to Nat, and for the first time observes how unhappy he is.)

Max (in a concerned voice): Brother Nathaniel! What is the problem?

(Nat just sighs in response.)

Zack: That's how he has been all evening. He's just been sighing, shaking his head and saying "I don't want to talk about it" in response to everything I've said.

Max: And it doesn't look like you're helping his case. (to Nat) Come on, you can talk to Uncle Max.

(Nat looks at him with a look that says, "You cannot possibly begin to understand my problem" and sighs again.)

Zack (exasperatedly): I've asked him whether any of his relatives or friends have died, whether he's having problems at work, or whether his pastor wants him to take on more responsibilities, but he's just been shaking his head non-stop.

Max: Have you asked him if Starcomms have cut off his home internet connection? Perhaps he's experiencing acute withdrawal symptoms.

Zack (in annoyance): Can you not be serious for one moment in your life?

Max: I am being serious. Our friend here takes his online life very seriously indeed. (Looks at Nat who seems to have ignored his last response) But obviously, that's not the problem, so let me see... (he bows his head deep in thought, then suddenly he jerks it up) Aha! It could only be one thing...

Zack (with dawning realisation): Of course... it has to be...

Max and Zack together:
Jennifer!

(Nat sighs again and nods his head, while Zack snorts in contempt.)

Max (resignedly): OK, what is it this time?

Nat: I don't know... I just feel that there is a connection between us, and we should be moving beyond just being friends.

(Zack rolls his eyes and shakes his head as if to say "What a sad, sorry situation this is".)

Max: But we've had this discussion before. You approached her, you told her how you felt about her, she smiled, she said she liked you too but she wanted to "take things slowly and see how they developed". In other words, she likes having you around, but she doesn't like you enough to consider having you as a boyfriend.

Nat: That's a lie. Why hasn't she got a boyfriend, then? At least, you won't deny that she's beautiful and intelligent enough to get any man she wants. I'm sure she's waiting for the relationship to mature... but it's such a long wait.

Max (patiently): Look my friend, I know you don't want to hear the truth, but she's probably very picky and is looking for someone very, very exceptional.

Nat (in a disappointed voice): So... you're saying that I'm not up to her standards?

Max: Come on! The way you say it makes it look like you've been condemned to an eternity of pain and torture. So what if you're not up to her standards? Look at Zack - I don't think he is even on the radar when it comes to her standards, and yet he seems to be very happy with his life.

Zack: Well, thank you very much, Mr. Standard Measurer, but it will also interest you to know that she is not even on the radar when it comes to my very high standards.

Nat (defensively): Why? What's wrong with her?

Zack: She's too caught up in all that 'image' thing. She wants someone who looks this way, dresses that way, has this car... that kind of thing.

Nat: That's a lie. When we talk, she hardly dwells on those kinds of topics. She always talks about deep things, imaginative and interesting ideas, the goals that she has for the future, that kind of stuff. It's very rare to hear her talk about who bought what or who is wearing what.

Max: Eh, now - she might not talk about that kind of stuff with you, but you know how it is - we have different friends for different reasons. So you're her 'Ideas' friend, and she probably has her 'Clothes' friends and her 'Events' friends, and so on and so forth.

But I don't think she's materialistic in the sense that she dwells on material things endlessly to the point where those are the main things in her life. I think she's actually a very smart and classy lady. (Thinking to himself) And if she had never been involved with you, I might have thought of making a move on her myself. (Aloud again) The thing is, wearing good clothes and looking after herself is such a deep part of herself that she doesn't even have to explicitly make a show of doing so... and I suspect that she wouldn't come out openly and say she wants someone who looks like this or dresses like that - but she would feel subconsciously uncomfortable if she was with someone who didn't match her in the dressing department.

Nat (even more disappointed): So what you are saying is that my dress sense is rubbish?

Max: Well, Nat... with your 'koko' trousers that can't quite decide whether they're long shorts or short trousers and your shirts that look like they're two sizes too large, let's just say that your dress sense is... erm... well, it's just you. But it could definitely do with some improvement if you are interested in getting Jennifer to pay more attention to you.

Zack: Rubbish, Max! Why are you encouraging this guy to pour money into a bottomless pit? It's clear that she's just using him - he should cut loose and find someone else who will appreciate him for who he is - someone who he can truly be himself with.

(At this juncture, Max bursts into laughter. He laughs so hard that he falls off his chair and lands heavily on the ground. Even then, he continues to roll on the floor laughing his head off. The other patrons are beginning to congregate to make sure that everything is alright, and Philo is thinking of calling his 'boys' to deal with the source of the disturbance when all of a sudden, Max stops laughing and gets to his feet.)

Max (to the assembled crowd): Move along, now- nothing to see here. Have you never seen someone enjoying a good hearty laugh before?

(As the patrons return to their seats, Zack rounds on Max.)

Zack: What's so funny about saying that he should be himself? Are you saying that Nat should live a fake life in order to attract this girl who isn't even interested in him?

Max: No-o... you're getting me wrong, Zack. Tell me - how did you end up marrying Lizzy?

Zack: It was a straightforward matter. I saw her at a party that a relative was hosting, I liked what I saw so boldly approached her and I told her that I liked her. Then I suggested that we should get together and start going out... and a few months later we were married. Simple.

Max (slightly taken aback): Er... OK, maybe your own case is different. Maybe Lizzy was so impressed by your boldness... or I don't know, maybe she was actually so terrified by it that she had no choice but to agree. I mean, are you sure that you only 'suggested' that you both get together? You didn't 'order'? (Zack glares at him, so he hurriedly carries on.) Anyway, you'll find that when a man meets a woman, certain 'games' are in order.

Nat: Games?

Max: Oh yes. The man has to 'sell' himself to the woman - he has to present a CV that shows him as a caring, sharing, emotionally sensitive yet strong, confident and stable individual. He has to be funny but not unserious, financially comfortable but not money-obsessed, image conscious but not inordinately vain, and of course fantastic in bed.

Zack: I notice that you didn't put any 'but' in that last criterion of yours.

Max (carrying on): But of course, no man born of woman is like that, although some men come quite close, like yours truly for example. (Zack mimes the act of someone's head swelling up.) So what you have to do is to put your best foot forward and present those aspects of your personality that will meet with her favour. You have to polish those aspects that are not quite up to scratch. And you have to put on a new image which will showcase features that she likes that you may not already have.

Zack: In other words, you have to lie.

Max (in a mock hurt tone): Ah-ah, Zack - I said it's only for the duration of the introductory period. Once she's become comfortable with you, you can drop the image.

Zack: You think that a relationship founded on lies can endure? (To Nat) Listen - just be yourself. Let's say you follow Max's advice and become Mr. Fashion just so that you can get Jennifer, and it works. Then you want to drop back to your own style, and she now starts dropping hints that she doesn't like to see you like that. Will you be able to deal with her continuous complaints?

Max: Rubbish! By that time, she will have fallen in love with you - so it doesn't matter whether you dress like
Charlie with his prophet's robes.

Nat: There is a problem with your suggestion, Max...

Max: What?

Nat: It wouldn't work with me. I'm not very good at lying - you know that I'm a very open, honest and transparent person. So it would be very obvious that I was trying to be someone I wasn't, and that would be a huge turn off to Jennifer. Besides, she already knows how I dress - so if she saw me being fashionable all of a sudden, she would suspect that something was up.

Zack: Exactly, Nat. Just forget about her altogether. I'm sure that if you look around, you will find that there are many young women who are dying to get to know you if you would allow them space in your head...

Nat (miserably): It's not as easy as that - even if I want to get Jennifer out of my head, I can't...

Zack (exasperatedly): OK, you know what? Let's do it my way. What you're going to do is to go up to her and demand an ultimatum. Let her know in no uncertain terms that either she agrees to be your girlfriend, or you walk. If she says no, you cut her out of your life completely. End of story.

(For the second time that evening, Max bursts into laughter and falls off his chair as a result, although the patrons don't congregate round this time - some can be heard to murmur "only God knows what is in that kunu he is drinking".)

Max (after he has picked himself up from the floor): Can you imagine that Nat will have the courage to approach darling Jennifer - the Apple of his Eye, the Soloist of his Choir and the Goat-Head of his Peppersoup with such a decisive ultimatum that could banish her from his sight for ever? No way!

(Just then, Nat's GSM phone goes off. Nat picks the phone up, and his countenance changes completely from despair to radiant happiness. After a few minutes of murmuring words into the phone, he ends the call and rises to his feet.)

Max: Jennifer, right?

Zack: She wants you to meet her somewhere, right?

Nat (beaming): Yes - there's this event that she just heard was happening somewhere, and she has a free ticket, so I'm out of here to join her. Thanks for your advice guys - I'll see you around some other time!

(As Nat leaves the Junction, Max and Zack shake their heads.)

Zack: I think the words I am looking for here are 'dog', 'return' and 'vomit'.

Max (sighing): I know what you mean. But the truth is that we can advise our friends on what we think they should do, but we can't compel them to do what we want. Otherwise, we stop becoming their friends and we become some authority figure, and in so doing we lose the closeness that makes them want to confide in us in the first place.

Zack (sighing too): I guess you're right. But it's very hard to stand by and watch a friend wasting away his life.

Max: He'll learn eventually - I'm sure that she'll find someone soon enough to replace him. It'll be tough - but he'll get over it. Anyway, tell me more about this meeting between yourself and Lizzy - are you serious that she just agreed like that?

Zack (smugly): Well, I sometimes wonder about it myself... I wonder whether it was my manly muscular build, or whether it was my rugged handsome looks, or my confident poise or... (Zack carries on in this vein, as Max mimes the act of someone's head swelling up.)

3 Comments:

  • So you're exploring the romantic angle as well? Hmm, tips fro people like me!

    By Anonymous azuka, At January 27, 2007 10:56 am  

  • Very interesting....

    By Blogger Nilla, At January 27, 2007 11:42 am  

  • Azuka,

    I wouldn't go as far as regarding the 'opinions' expressed in this post as 'tips'. There's certainly a point to putting your best foot forward - it's like when we go for an interview, we present ourselves in our best light.

    But I personally wouldn't go as far as lying (as Max seems to espouse) because there is the very real risk that if you are discovered not to be the person you claim to be, then the other person starts to wonder what else you've been lying about - not a good foundation on which to base a relationship.

    Having said that, it does seem that quite a few people employ this strategy successfully. Whether they can live with what they do is another matter altogether - note how Nat clear is on not doing something that dramatically conflicts with his true personality.

    By Blogger Atala Wala Wala, At January 28, 2007 3:20 am  

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