Beautiful Women, Bottomless Drinks And My First Time.

The first time I ever flew alone internationally was when I was six years old. I’ve always loved to fly, I love being at the airport, waiting to get on a flight. I had a passport ever since I was 10 months old and my dad would always tell me, lose anything, your bags, your toys, but never lose your passport. Hell, if you get kidnapped, keep your passport on you at all times. That’s called nurturing.

I think I can trace back my affinity to air travel to my first solo trip. Anyone who travelled when they were that young will know what I’m talking about, it’s made easy for you, I mean waaay easy. I also learned several facts that I would only appreciate much later in life. Firstly one of your parents drops you off at the airport with this gorgeous stewardess, who would just dote on you, (fact #1 this phenomenon reduced significantly as I grew older). When you say goodbye to your folks she’d take you by the hand to the airline employees lounge. That’s where her friends see you and kneel around you just to be at eye level. After the ‘world’s most awesome interview’ was taken care of, I was taken to a big fluffy couch and got to watch cartoons on TV where I got to hold the remote! There were drinks, that came with unlimited refills (Fanta, in my case), this time a new girl, sitting on the arm of the chair I was on #pimpin

Soon it was time for boarding, of course my passport, boarding pass and luggage (a small backpack with a Gameboy in it) was carried by my attendant. I walked behind her while she glided past checkpoints that others had the misfortune of having to wait at. (fact #2 this will never happen again after the age of 12) As I boarded the flight I probably had my first mini heart-break as the woman I was clearly in a relationship with dating back to the employees lounge said goodbye to me. A hug, a kiss and that’s that. She did a good job at finding her replacement though because this new lady is just as good-looking, plus she was wearing a hat! Sweet!

I’m escorted to my seat somewhere in economy. The flights still empty and the stewards are chatting and getting ready. This pretty human being tells me to wait one minute and that she will be back. I was getting used to beautiful women leaving me for good but even before I finish that thought she returns. She asks me if I want to see the cockpit.(fact #3 that was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I was smart enough to utilise) I don’t think it’s grammatically possible to answer that question with anything other that “Hell fuckin’ Yeah!” so we walk down the empty aisles to the front. I then enter a room that was made of buttons and lights. If I could live there, I would, but then I met the man in the chair, the Pilot.

He was probably the only other male over there who got treated the way I did.

It’s then announced that the passengers will begin boarding soon and I’m escorted back. My new woman returns after another minute with a coloring sheet, four crayons and a Hot Wheels! She knows how to please. As the flight takes off and I imagine what our kids would look like she comes back to me. She says she saw a seat empty up front in First Class and I could go there if I wanted. (fact #4 empty first class seats stay empty all through the flight now) I’m seated in the new location, my seat is bigger, I’m sipping on some more Fanta and there is a TV screen just for me!

I don’t think I even remembered where I was going anymore.

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Africa II: Super Agnes, Tribal Snipers And Eating The Equator.

The coolest thing about living in Eastern Africa was the sudden boost in one’s standard of living. Going from a first-world country with a really high cost of living to a 3rd World Country was amazing. Now our houses had lawns with trees and hammocks and a walled boundary, a gatea maid and a cook/gardener, really? A gardener! That’s just decadent. However we did not have a TV. Even when we changed houses we did not get a TV and I don’t know why, more surprisingly, my 10-year-old self survived (my friends had TVs).

Agnes, the maid, like most locals I knew, was unnecessarily warm and kind. She was in her mid-twenties and had 22 siblings, 4 of which were boys and the one of them was dead. We lived in the suburbs and one weekend we went to stay with friends in the city. Agnes was house-sitting. When we came back on Sunday night Agnes told us what had happened. Thieves were roaming the neighborhood and Agnes saw them break into the neighbors’ place. Long story short the entire family was massacred during what was just meant to be a robbery. Agnes immediately turned on all the lights and blasted music on the stereo. Apparently when the robbers came out of the house our place looked like it was having a party, and they left. The funny thing is my dad would have completely understood if she had made a run for it, the thieves would have taken what they wanted and Agnes would be safe, apparently that didn’t even occur to her, and knowing her, I’m not surprised.

Charles, the cook/gardener, was just like Agnes, except if you tone down the hyper-activity, and turn up the chilled-out factor. He always had a smile that looked like the two of you were sharing a secret that the other people in the room had no idea about. He had a slingshot and could shoot down birds like a damn tribal sniper. He made me my very own slingshot from a branch in our garden. He taught me that if you make small clay balls and let in harden for a day in the sun, when you shoot it, it’s hard as a rock except it shatters on contact. He also collected grasshoppers and ants and cooked them for us, that was a delicacy. When grasshoppers came in swarms, locals would run outside, against the swarm, with plastic bags held above their heads and bring home their catch.

I remember when my mom would come to visit us, we’d have these trips to Kenya for safari’s, or go to the ‘Equator’, which was a restaurant – on the Equator. They literally made this ten foot hoop on the side of the road that the imaginary line passes through. We’d go to local craft markets or animal adoption centers where you can pay for the zoo to take care of baby elephants and baby rhinos. When we came home local neighbors would stop to chat and eventually ask my mom how many children she had. When she said one, they’d apologize or ask her what was wrong.

When it was just my dad and me, we’d go to sports bar’s every night and play pool.

Africa I: Moonwalking Boxer, Hungry Bees and Rachel.

Back when I was in grade Four I lived with my dad in Uganda, Africa. I studied there for 6 months but including the visits before and after that you could say I spent a year there. Africa was awesome. And I say Africa because even though there are several countries there, even the locals speak of everything as being African, not Ugandan, or Kenyan or Tanzanian. It was Africa.

I remember our class teachers had been given coupons at the beginning of the year bought by our parents, and these were used to fund our lunch meals. I, however, was a coward and was afraid to ask for the coupons (even though our teacher was super nice) and I managed to spend all my months in school without eating lunch.

There was this one kid, I don’t remember his name but it began with a ‘W’. He Always moonwalked out of the class and he told me one day that he was going to go to Nigeria to watch or be a boxer. I told him there was a primary school in front of our house where early every morning, several boxers came and sparred before school started. I think that impressed him and I was slightly cooler by association. He had also never heard of Onions, which I found extraordinary.

My best friend was Karim. He was small and agile, like a happy, Attention Deficit bee. One day he requested the principle to let him dance for the morning assembly. Being the ultra-introvert I have always been I thought that was insane. We remained friends. And I took a leaf out of his confidence book, brought it down to my level and decided to talk to this girl I had a crush on. Her name was Rachel  and she was running for School President. One hungry lunch I saw her in the middle of this galaxy of kids and said “Hey Rachel…” and immediately the entire galaxy started laughing. You see there is a thick African accent which does not promote my regular pronunciation of the name ‘Rachel’ and since kids are inherently bastards, they did not let this go, worse still, Rachel laughed with them. I melted, and then evaporated.

Pockets, Friendly Enemies And Not Being Poor Enough.

I’ve come to accept the fact that I am, unfortunately, not poor.

Don’t get me wrong, my family is NOT rich, not even close. Seriously, I cannot emphasize how ‘not close’ to rich we are. We fall into that class people like my parents call “Lower Middle-Class” except we are in the bottom half of that sub-division as well.

I went to a residential school when I was a kid and I had a friend there, well not friend, more like enemy. However he was poor. His parents slaved to get him to a good school. His spectacles and his replacement spectacles were the same thing. When he got new shoes, they stayed locked in his trunk and he slept with the keys. But he embraced the fact that he was poor, and that made him fucking cool-ish. He could be arrogant and judgmental. I could afford to break my glasses, even if it was just once, but he had to have cello-tape handy. When he bought a comic book (yes ‘a’ comic book) and someone mishandled it, his lecture about his parents government job was tolerated. Once we had a fight and I ended up ripping out his shirt’s breast pocket. He Wore That Shirt To School The Next Day!!! Do you know what that feels like? To do that to a fellow classmate?

Anyway the point is my parents are just a hair above the poverty line. They worked to send me to a good school and they’ve worked all their life. But I was robbed of an opportunity to be a “people’s people” because my parents could just afford to get me another pair of glasses, pair(S) of shoes, a replacement to my tie. We’re Almost just as bad, but not bad enough where all that hard work can be ‘notarized’. I mean each and every one of my friends is way way way richer than me but I don’t get to stick out like the guy who deserves more. Damn it’s hard to be slightly more well-off and have a comfortable lifestyle.

But then again I guess my parents just worked harder.