Kamau is attracted to a woman named Diana. He asks her out to a movie; she accepts; they have a pretty good time. A few nights later he asks her out to dinner, and again they enjoy themselves. They continue to see each other regularly, and after a while neither one of them is seeing anybody else.
And then, one evening when they’re driving home, a thought occurs to Diana, and, without really thinking, she says it aloud: “Do you realize that, as of tonight, we’ve been seeing each other for exactly six months?”
“Really!?” exclaims Kamau.
And then there is silence in the car. To Diana, it seems like a very loud silence. She thinks to herself: “I wonder if it bothers him that I said that. Maybe he thinks I’m trying to push him into some kind of obligation that he isn’t ready for, or isn’t sure of yet.”
And Kamau is thinking: “Gosh. Six months!”
And Diana is thinking: “But, hey, I’m not so sure what kind of relationship this is, either. Sometimes I wish I had a little more space, so I’d have time to think about whether I really want us to keep going the way we are, moving steadily toward . . . I mean, where are we going? Are we just going to keep seeing each other at this level of intimacy? Are we heading toward marriage? Toward children? Toward a lifetime together? Am I ready for that level of commitment? Do I really even know Kamau that well?”
And Kamau is thinking: . . . “so that means it was . . . let’s see . …February when we started going out, which was right after I had the car at the dealer’s, which means . . . let me check the odometer . . .Whoa! I am way overdue for an oil change here!”
And Diana is thinking: “He’s upset. I can see it on his face. Hold on, maybe I’m reading this completely wrong. Maybe he wants more from our relationship, more intimacy, more commitment; maybe he has sensed — even before I sensed it — that I was feeling some reservations. Yes, I bet that’s it. That’s why he’s so reluctant to say anything about his own feelings. He’s afraid of being rejected.”
And Kamau is thinking: “And I’ll have them look at the transmission again. I don’t care what those morons say, it’s still not changing gear right. And they better not try to blame it on the rains this time. What rain? This thing is changing like a damn rubbish truck, and I paid those incompetent thieves 40,000 bob!”
And Diana is thinking: “He’s angry. And I don’t blame him. I’d be angry, too. God, I feel so guilty, putting him on the spot like this, but I can’t help the way I feel. I’m just not sure.”
And Kamau is thinking: “They’ll probably say it’s only a 90-day warranty. That’s exactly what they’ll say, the scum balls!!”
And Diana is thinking: “Maybe I’m just too idealistic, waiting for a knight to come riding up on his white horse, when I’m sitting right next to a perfectly good person, a person I enjoy being with, a person I truly do care about, a person who seems to truly care about me. “
And Kamau is thinking: “Warranty? They want a warranty? I’ll give them a damn warranty. I’ll take their warranty and stick it right up their……”
“Kamau, Kama, …..Kamau!” Diana says aloud after several attempts.
“What!? Sorry, I was uhm…” says Kamau, startled.
“Please don’t torture yourself. Im sorry I said that.” she says, her eyes vaguely misty. “Maybe I should never have … Oh God, I feel so ….” She sighs, on the verge of sobbing.
“What?” says Kamau, utterly confused.
“I’m such a fool,” Diana says. “I mean, I don’t expect you to be a knight … I know there’s no knight. I really know that. It’s silly. There’s no knight, and there’s no horse, right?”
“There’s no horse!?” says Kamau, now more lost than ever.
“You think I’m a fool, don’t you?” Diana says.
“No!” says Kamau, glad to finally know the correct answer.
“It’s just that . . . It’s that I . . . I need some time,” Diana says.
(There is a 15-second pause while Kamau, thinking as fast as he can, tries to come up with a safe response. Finally he comes up with one that he thinks might work.)
“Yes,” he says.
(Diana, deeply moved, touches his hand.)
“Oh, Kama, do you really feel that way?” she says.
“What way?” asks Kamau.
“That way about time,” says Diana.
“Oh,” says Kamau. “Yes.”
(Diana turns to face him and gazes deeply into his eyes, causing him to become very nervous about what she might say next, especially if it involves a horse. At last she speaks.)
“Thank you dear,” she says.
“Uhm…You are welcome” says Kamau.
Then he drops her home.
She lies on her bed, a conflicted, tortured soul, whereas when Kamau gets back to his place, he opens a bag of chips, turns on the TV, and immediately becomes deeply engrossed in a late night thriller movie.
A tiny voice in the far recesses of his mind tells him that something major was going on back there in the car, but he doesn’t understand what, and so he figures it’s better if he doesn’t think about it.
The next day Diana will call her closest friend, or perhaps two of them, and they will talk about this situation for six straight hours. In painstaking detail, they will analyze everything she said and everything he said, going over it time and time again, exploring every word, expression, and gesture for nuances of meaning, considering every possible ramification. They will continue to discuss this subject, off and on, for weeks, never reaching any definite conclusions, but never getting bored with it, either.
Meanwhile, Kamau, while in the Gym one day with a mutual friend of his and Diana’s, will pause just before lifting his dumbbells, frown, and say: “Peter, did Diana ever own a horse?’
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