A dress for a sunny day, a dress for dinner and another dress for Sundays. The University introduced you to a new type of dress, the dress to RAVE with. Usually, this is the small black dress. It comes in different variations. Some of your classmates call it scandalous, but who said their opinion ever mattered to you? For four years, they remained in the classmates’ zone, not more not less. The most you interacted with them was during the group discussions which the lecturer insisted on being the one doing the allocation. So you found yourself with them, discussing all the signs that signify that we are living in the end times.
“The dress codes around siku hizi, hata sijui, aki women nowadays! I look at them and wonder if they respect themselves…” (Insert a forced look of sorrow on her face, coupled with a cynical tone)… Then the others joined in. They mentioned the women who appear almost naked in music videos. They said that men were wise beings because they would never dance in boxers, or do the bend-over kind of dances in the videos: the devil only lies to women. They further talked about the classmate who can never cover up her cleavage and the one who has a thing for pieces of clothes. Oh, and the one who always wears torn jeans, or hot-pants and tumbo cuts. Goodness! The tumbo-cut phrase betrayed your resolution to keep a flat face. You looked at them in disappointment trying to remember the last time you heard such a phrase.
Silently, you thought to yourself: “How stupid can people get with fashion? Those clothes have a name, rugged jeans and halter tops.” Then you rolled your eyes, looked away and put your left palm on the lower jaw on your left cheek. Simultaneously followed by a deep breath and loud exhalation.
They asked what a man would possibly find attractive in a woman who shows her things to other men, and to the world at large. You listened in tolerant annoyance, trying to distract yourself by playing around with your short nails. You almost wanted to ask them what THINGS they meant. But you realized that a thing is a thing, that an exposed thing remains exposed regardless of the dimension you looked at it, and that they had some valid points they were trying to put across. You felt a little agitated because you have always been one of the defiant kinds of girls. Your dressing has always depended purely on your mood for the day, sometimes scandalous, sometimes well covered up.
“Take it easy darl, easy.” You convinced yourself to henceforth do deaf-listening to the villagers and let them talk about whatever floated their boat. If it made them think that wearing rubber shoes, combined with the shiny silky pink skirts they wore for their aunties’ weddings and matching yellow t-shirts was fashionable, then who were you to dispute? By the time the discussion ended, you couldn’t help thinking of your small scandalous dresses. You asked yourself if you had a multiple personality disorder: if what you wore made you a different person and if your dressing spoke volumes about the person you were.
So today was the day of reckoning, the day to answer whether a dress for a sunny day could comfortably be worn on a rainy day. You had a dinner and an after party (Read as Rave/Dunda) on the same night. You had recurring questions:
- A dress for dinner, and a dress for rave? Means you will have two dresses.
- A dinner dress for rave as well? or
- A raving dress for dinner as well?
You stood in front of your closet, totally confused. All factors held constant, a dress for dinner meant a clutch bag to go with it, one of those shoes you wear only and only when you will walk less than 100 meters and the elegant confidence to wear the dress with. A rave dress needed nothing but the energy to rock the dance floor. You have never been the girl scared to change clothes up to ten times in a day. But how would you carry another dress? What was so wrong with wearing a dinner dress for rave? WhaRever, stop over thinking it! Oh, in case you are wondering, rave is synonymous to disco, if I am not wrong.
The devil is truly a liar. He convinced your inner voice that whoever invented different dresses for different occasions was a fool. And you did not even think through it. You wore your dinner dress, wore your shoes, wore the fragrance to match the look, grabbed your poise, and sauntered to your gorgeous girls who were waiting for you.
“Woo, look who’s looking all royal tonight!” They exclaimed with the usual zest. You were not sure if they were flattering you, dropping polite undeserved compliments or just saying something to break the silence. If you do not know the sarcasm which comes with some of these compliments, you need to stick around girls more often. They will pour praises on you and maintain very plastic smiles until you leave. And even before you are fully out of sight, they turn to each other with something like ‘Is it just me or she looks like a choir mistress in that dress? And that body of hers does not even do the dress justice…’ Don’ be surprised, those are girls for you. The compliments today were well deserved though. And the dinner came, and passed. You liked being on the spotlight, you enjoyed the glances and the winks which made your heart skip a beat. You had a wonderful time. End.
Whoever told you that a maxi dinner dress could go raving lied to you. You walk in with your well prepared friends. The ones who had stockings know what to do with them. The ones who had worn trench coats know where to place them. It is hot in there, the music is loud, and the lights are flickering in different colors. You hesitate. You look at your friends all looking like romans dressed for rome. A quick glance at the elegant look on you going down to waste. This is not exactly the place for elegance, it is not the place to showcase your long free dress. You are not sure how again you will hack the dancing styles here. Fast music, fast moves…everything is FAST.
“Weka weka…me huweka-weka.”… There is a dance style for this song which you cannot manage today. The most you can do is nod your head and look around as people do their thing. Every one of your pals is in the mood to shake it. What is making you feel odd is the fact that they are all set for the night, from their dresses to the energy. You decide to take a back seat and man your friend’s drinks. You almost feel out of place, you start listening to music lyrics word for word and internalizing them. But this is proving hard, the music changes faster than you can catch the next line. You switch from the music to the boneless dancers on the floor, you wonder who taught them how to dance like so. Then this whitish man comes over to your table.
“Why are you taking your drink alone like a leopard”
(Some pick up lines though! So you decide to play equally outdated, or is it old?)
“Oh, Leopards take drinks?”
Stiff laughter from him.
“No, they eat alone though…”
This is not the kind of conversation you wanna have with an old man still struggling with clubbing. For a moment you wish you had ‘him’ around you, then maybe you could laugh and invent a dance. But he was not there.
You have two options, keep listening to an old chap telling you leopard tales, or join your friends. You choose the latter. It’s okay to have the stares, it’s okay by all means to try alter the dress to suit the environment, and it’s even okay to dance without shoes here. And you dance like no one is watching. The drinks always make you as boneless as those dancers you were looking at earlier. You forget the weird glances being thrown on you for your conspicuous dress, (Did I mention it was yellow in colour? But maybe the disco lights are making it appear black, who knows?). You forget the smooth tunes that go with dinners and get accustomed to the loud hits.
You do not know how conspicuous you are until some small boy comes up to you and asks you if your friends never told you how to dress for these kind of things. You really look like you are fighting with the dress…. “Next time, do not forget to remember to wear a dunda dress when coming here, sawa mammy?…”
You look at his tiny body and genuine concern…then you respond with obvious vexation… “Sawa, lakini focus on what brought you here. Achana na dress yangu, sa-sawa ba’ba?” He obviously walks away, and you smile to yourself with some sense of pride…The night is still young and a silly comment from a small boy won’t steal your energy.
Point taken home though. Next time, just stick to the small black dress for heaven’s sake.
Big little girl | story teller for all seasons | Kenyan |