Tag Archives: strangers

Forced Conversations

Have you ever been engaged in a forced conversation that had you wishing you could teleport? I have had several such conversations. Why does this happen to me every other month? That is a question only the universe can provide an answer to.

I was busy minding my own business at a bus terminal recently. Out of the corner of my eye I saw this guy, dressed in all black, complete with a baseball hat, walking by. Yes, out of the corner of my eye, because I make it my business to notice everyone and everything around me. Go ahead and blame Dateline and Criminal Minds for that. Those two shows will ensure that your alert levels are more acquainted with the ceiling than the floor.

“Are you a model?” a voice said. I turned around and looked into the eyes of…Dude in Black. Can you tell I have read Lion King one too many times? Ha! “No,” I replied and looked away. Nothing says ‘I am not in a conversational mood’ like a monosyllabic response. Everybody knows that except Dude in Black because he was probably bothering someone else when the memo was being sent. “Well, you look like a model,” he said. “I feel like I have seen you on the cover of some magazines.” Hallo pick-up line? Is that you? Look at you making a comeback on Flashback Friday and everything!

Now, I am a 5’3″ regular Kenyan about town, when is the last time you saw a non-celebrity who fits my profile on the cover of a magazine? People clearly have jokes on these streets. “That’s a lie,” I said. “No, it’s the truth,” he responded. I kept quiet and summoned my I-hope-this-conversation-doesn’t-continue smile. But alas, it wasn’t wide enough because the forced conversation proceeded without missing a beat.

Him: Are you enjoying your day so far?
Me: Yes.
Him: What about it are you enjoying?
Me: (Make conversation by all means…huh!?) Life.
Him: Are you here with a man?
Me: How is that relevant?
Him: I gotta know before I start talking to you.
Me: (Basic meaning of talking…yeah!?) You are already talking.
Him: Would you give me your number if I asked?
Me: (Is this a joke…stop playing Universe) No.
Him: How old are you?
Me: (Maybe if I use a non-response response he will finally sense the absence of a conversational mood) Young.
Him: C’mon. What is young?
Me: (That obviously didn’t work…sighs in Swahili) Young.
Him: You look like you are in your early twenties. Like 24.
Me: Yes. (Cue ‘Forever Young’)
Him: Do you have kids?
Me: (I don’t even know this guy’s name and he is already asking about my offspring situation?) No.
Him: Why? You don’t wanna lose your nice shape?
Me: (Because obviously that is the only reason a woman would not have children) No reason.
Him: I can give you mine…I have one.
Me: (Wait, is this man trying to get rid of his child at a bus station?) No.
Him: Don’t hold your bag like that. You will get a wrist injury.
Me: It’s not heavy enough to cause an injury. (Yay long response!)
Him: No, seriously, my friend was carrying grocery bags like that on her way from doing laundry and she injured her wrist.
Me: Oh…OK…thanks for the tip.

I am surprised that I remember so much of a conversation that I put very little effort in having. The mind works wonders, I guess. These forced conversations though…ah ah. Isn’t it easy to tell when someone is not interested in conversing with you? Why then insist on having a conversation that just gets uncomfortable for everyone? Hmmm…I am yet to see a man force a conversation on another man who is standing around minding his own business.