I missed the class on decoding wife’s hints

Makini lands in hot soup for not noticing what wife thought was obvious

In Summary

• A look that Makini can't decipher sees him banished from the bedroom


Sgt Sophia looks at me in a funny way and suddenly, I know deep down in my gut that I’m neck-deep in trouble.

It’s a kind of gaze women employ where they ask questions only with their eyes and other subtle gestures, and expect the rest of us (mostly men) to understand fully and accurately. Have we come to the age of telepathy already?

When she was merely my colleague, you know, before she became my common-law wife, I could ignore any of the tantrums or mood swings she threw my way.

If she said, “I don’t want to talk about it,” it was no beans to soak and I dropped it there and then. If I try such tactics now, I’ll be lucky to walk away with only a two-day silence treatment and food slung at me across the table.

“What’s the matter, dear?” I prompt, hoping and praying for an audio cue.

She looks me up and down. “You can’t tell?”

Wasn’t that why I asked in the first place? I think to myself. “Is that a new uniform?” I say aloud. “If it isn’t, it looks super crispy today.”

“It’s not the uniform, idiot. There’s more to a woman than her dressing.”

I snap my fingers. “Got it! You lost some weight. You’re a lean, mean law enforcement machine prepared to kick butt and take names. You’ve never looked more beautiful as you—”

“Cut the crap, Makini.” Sulking, she stomps behind the OB desk. “It’s been two months and I haven’t heard a peep about it from you. What kind of a husband are you?”

Now, we’re creeping into even more dangerous territory, where failure to read minds supposedly reflects other aspects of a man’s performance. It’s on par with “Your brother’s success means hell for you.” You know the one.

It might be as simple as the smell of sautéed meat wafting into your house from the neighbour’s. Your “significant other” keeps her eyes on her plate of kienyeji and ugali as she casually asks, “How long has it been since our house smelled of cooked beef instead of stale socks?”

It doesn’t matter that you pull an overloaded mkokoteni all day at Marikiti market while your neighbour owns a small but very successful butchery (could be donkey meat, for all you know) and is only in the neighbourhood until construction on his Makueni house is complete.

If you’re one of the truly unlucky ones, the stakes rise. One morning your missus is moping around the house instead of heading for work. More wordless communication, you see. Being a caring spouse, you ask, “What’s the matter, dearie?”

“I’m tired of riding the bus,” she says. “Why can’t you be like other men and buy us a car?”

“I’m planning on it, honey,” you say. “We just aren’t there yet.”

“Well,” she says, “how come Kimani is already there? I mean, you two finished college together and now his lucky wife drives around in a brand new Vitz.”

So, you blurt the first thing that comes to mind. “What do you mean new? It’s a KBS.”

She shrugs. “Who cares if it’s a KYS? It’s new to her.”

Way I see it, there should be a school where men go to learn how to pick up these non-verbal cues, hopefully an institution headed by a woman. It’s not until after I’ve slept on the couch for two nights that I learn I should’ve noticed the hideous pimples on my wife’s face from bad face cream two months ago have cleared up, and her skin is baby-bottom smooth.

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