For this story, let’s rewind slightly.
Lucy’s still in Africa, where things have completely fallen apart with Brad, the sexy Australian (if you missed that story, click here to read from the beginning and come back when you’re done in… oh… about three weeks).
After Brad freaked out about being in a relationship and binned Lucy like an out-of-date tuna sandwich, he fucked off for two weeks to Australia to see his kids.
While he’s away, Lucy’s absolutely determined to find a replacement, (a) so that she can occasionally get a shag, and (b) so that when Brad gets back he’ll find her already hooked up with a (hopefully) Tall, Dark and Handsome man, and be pissed off and jealous, and she can smile smugly at him across a bar while aforementioned TDHM rests his hand on her thigh in a proprietorial manner and gazes adoringly at her from under long, dark eyelashes. And Brad will observe all of this and rage at what a cunt he was to let her go, and will drown his sorrows in vast quantities of acidic local gin, resulting in him getting arrested for being drunk and disorderly and having to spend a night in a Kenyan jail where he’ll be forced to share a cell with a heavily tattooed armed robber named Ezekiel.
That’s the plan. Now, how does Lucy make this happen? First step: go back on Tinder.
She swiftly matches with Adil, 38. Adil is from Pakistan, so with his dark hair and brown eyes he’s definitely nailing the ‘D’ part, and happily he also appears to be relatively tall and extremely handsome, with cat-like eyes and biceps straining at the seams of his t-shirt like a racehorse at the start of the Grand National. He hasn’t written a bio, but Lucy doesn’t give too many fucks about that. She’s only got a couple of months left, so as long as he’s cute in person and is up for a short-term thing, it’s not a problem.
Adil is chatty, and swiftly asks Lucy if she’d like to meet. She’s going away for the weekend with Anna and some other friends, hiking to see some waterfalls, so they set a date for next Wednesday.
Lucy’s astounded and delighted by the lack of game-playing with these foreign guys – why the living crap has she been wasting so much time with feckless British dickheads?
He wants to ‘bribe’ her with dinner? Normally Lucy would baulk at this, but there’s something quite attractive about Adil’s flirty confidence. And This Is Africa, after all, where apparently she’s more of a risk-taker, more confident, and where everything seems to be larger and faster and more dramatic. So she accepts. After all, if she doesn’t like the look of him, she can scarper before food is ordered.
The next dilemma is how to get there. Lucy’s used to getting around Nairobi on the back of a boda-boda, rattling motorcycle taxis whose drivers seem to take pride in finding out how close they can come to death on every journey. In spite of the risks this would definitely be the quickest way to get into the city centre, but doing so creates a serious problem: helmet hair. Lucy doesn’t have the sort of hair that she can just shake out of a motorbike helmet like some sort of fantasy Pirelli calendar girl – hers only has to waft near any kind of headgear to fall down as limp and lifeless as an inflatable sex doll with a puncture.
But if she doesn’t get a boda, the only other option is a taxi, which would mean spending twice as long inhaling carbon monoxide in Nairobi’s notorious Friday night traffic. So she opts for the boda, and hopes that with enough post-ride bouffing she’ll be able to make her ‘do’ at least semi-presentable.
Boda arranged, journey completed without injury, and hair restored, she walks into the smart Asian restaurant that Adil has chosen. There’s no sign of him.
Out the back, there’s a lawn dotted with candlelit picnic benches, and seated at one of them is her date, looking handsome and super-fit in jeans and a black t-shirt that’s entirely failing to contain his well-sculpted pecs. Ok, he’s hot, thinks Lucy. A little overgymmed, and probably a total narcissist, but as a short-term-fling-slash-Brad-annoying-bit-of-arm-candy, he’s perfect.
He works out with three different personal trainers, he tells her, and is currently training for an Iron Man in Hawaii. So yes, hard-living, chain-smoking Brad’s definitely not going to like this one.
Adil seems chatty and nice, so when the waitress comes over to take their order Lucy allows him to take charge and order wine and a selection of dishes for them to share. He’s confident, she likes that.
“So what brings you to Nairobi?” she asks.
He tells her he works in finance for a Pakistani company. He has few qualifications, he says proudly: when he left school he joined the Air Force instead of going to university, and has worked his way up from the bottom.
“But I can’t stay in this job too long. You won’t ever be a millionaire working for someone else. I want to make money, so I need be independent.”
“You’re going to be a millionaire?” she asks? “That sounds nice, though it’s definitely not something I’ll ever achieve.”
“I’m not quite there yet,” he replies with a sly smile, “but I’m doing ok.”
Is he trying to show off how rich he is? Lucy wonders if she should tell him that she thinks people who are obsessed with accumulating wealth are twats.
But then again, ambition is good, driven is good, and it would certainly be nice to be able to fly everywhere first class. Perhaps she could marry Adil after all.
He tells her about his German boss, whom he imitates with an impressively accurate German accent which makes Lucy laugh.
“You like that, huh?” he asks, and proceeds to do Scottish, English, and a terrifyingly realistic Donald Trump impression. If you’ve never heard Trump’s creepy nasal tones coming out of the mouth of a hot Asian guy, well, I don’t recommend it. It’ll probably give you nightmares for a month.
“I used to work with lots of Indians,” Adil tells her, “so I can do an excellent Indian accent too.” He demonstrates, complete with a mocking head bobble, and Lucy suddenly wonders if he’s being a little bit racist.
Or is he just being a bit edgy and funny? It’s hard to say. So far Lucy can’t make up her mind about Adil. He’s definitely attractive, charming, and entertaining, but there’s also just something slightly weird about him, and she can’t exactly put her finger on what it is that’s making her uncomfortable. Could it just be his manner? The cultural differences that mean they don’t gel quite as easily? At this stage it’s impossible to tell.
Maybe more wine will help. More wine is usually a good solution to most things. She reaches for her glass.
“Lucy’s an interesting name,” he tells her. “I looked it up to see what it says about you. You know, just to make sure, before I agreed to meet you.”
“Yeah, do you know Kabbalah? There’s a website where you can look up a name and it’ll tell you about the person. It’s surprisingly accurate. So I looked up yours.”
Lucy’s aware that people sometimes Google each other before meeting in person, but this is a little weird. What next? Is he going to want to check out her star sign? Read her palm? Commune with the spirits of her dead relatives to find out her family history? She’s not sure what dear departed grandma Lucy, after whom she was named, would make of being interrogated by a stranger off the internet. For a start, they’d have to explain what the internet is, and it would all get very complicated.
Adil opens the website on his phone and types in her name.
“The name of Lucy has given you an appreciation for many beautiful and refined aspects of life–music and art, literature, drama–and the outdoors,” it says. “You sense and feel much that you do not understand, and sometimes you are alarmed at your thoughts and wonder about their origin.”
Lucy’s definitely starting to get pretty alarmed right now, though she’s in little doubt about the origin of the feeling.
The site goes on. “You have suffered many disappointments and misunderstandings because of your inability to express your inner thoughts.”
Disappointments, oh yes. So many! But an inability to express her inner thoughts? Not exactly something Lucy struggles with – and proof, if any were needed, that this whole thing is a huge can of total bollocks.
Of course she’s far too polite to say this. “Let’s do you now,” she suggests instead. He types in his name.
“The name of Adil,” he reads, “creates a shrewd, aggressive, business nature, intent on personal gain. The desires for independence and financial success have been strong motivating forces from early in your life. You are capable of logical and analytical thinking along practical business lines, and could excel in financial fields, law, or politics.”
Lucy’s gobsmacked. The site may have been a bit off with her, but from what she’s learned about Adil so far, it seems to have hit the nail on the head. Could there be something in this name-analysing business after all? She does know from experience that people called Barry, Vincent and (obviously) Brad are total twats, so maybe she should start namechecking all her dates before she agrees to meet them. This could definitely save her a shitload of time and grief.
“Do you know how and when you’re going to die?” he asks her, over teriyaki chicken and noodles.
Lucy briefly wonders if she’s on a date with a psychopath before she remembers that murderers don’t generally tend to announce themselves during dinner. Or do they? Lucy’s never met a murderer before. Fuck.
“Of course not,” she says. “Though statistically it’s likely to be some form of cancer when I’m about 93.”
“I’m going to die at 46,” Adil announces.
“Wow, that soon? Just as well I’m only looking for a short-term thing then, eh? How?”
“Oh, probably from taking risks. You know, a crash in a fast car, or a diving accident, or getting attacked in a remote foreign country, or something like that.”
Ah see where you’re going there, Adil, you’re adventurous and fast-living, we get the picture.
He goes to the loo, and when he comes back he sits down next to her on her side of the picnic bench. His closeness makes Lucy feel a little bit uncomfortable, but she still can’t put her finger on a specific reason. He’s definitely very handsome, and chatty, intelligent and interesting, but there’s just something about him that’s not quite right. It’s making her spidey senses tingle.
“Where’s home for you?” he asks.
“London,” she tells him. “You?”
“I don’t really have a home. Home isn’t a place, it’s a person, or people.”
“I disagree. My flat in London is definitely my home. I’ve lived there more than ten years.”
“I’ve never lived anywhere more than two years,” he tells her. “Right now my home is in Nairobi, and I love it. It’s in a really good area, and I have swimming pool, and a maid. It’s really nice.”
Is this him trying to show off about his wealth again? Or is this a precursor to him trying to persuade her to go back with him. Lucy really has no idea. She’s not even sure if he fancies her or not – he’s absolutely impossible to read. Plus normally a man has to have actually been living with Lucy for at least a year before she’ll notice he likes her.
He does, at least, insist on paying, which is a sign, right? Or is it? Maybe in Pakistani culture it’s just the polite thing to do. Maybe he just enjoys flashing the cash. She has no idea, and doesn’t want to be rude, so she says a polite thank you and leaves it at that.
His home is en route to hers, so they share a slightly awkward taxi, sitting side by side, but not touching. What now? Lucy wonders. Is he expecting anything because he paid for dinner? Is there going to be a kiss? Invite her in to see his swanky apartment? The thought makes her slightly nervous, but when they arrive at his front gate he merely turns to her and gives her a sort of awkward cross between a handshake and high five before getting out of the car.
Lucy really doesn’t know what to make of Adil at all. She certainly hasn’t had a boring evening, but there was definitely something slightly strange about him. But maybe he was just nervous, and he’s certainly easy on the eye, so if he asks for a second date, perhaps she should give him another chance. He knows she’s only here a short time, so no harm in keeping him around to go out for nice drinks and dinner every now and again, and if Brad happens to find out that she’s seeing a tall, dark, handsome and wealthy guy, well, that wouldn’t be such a bad thing either.
Next time: Adil asks for a second date, and weirdness ensues. Click here to read on.