LIFE BY LOUIS: Of days when wooing a lady was hard work

Wednesday March 18 2020

It would be almost after two years of hard work that you finally got to stand outside their gate at dusk holding hands. ILLUSTRATION| IGAH


I recently changed my Facebook profile photo to that of my teenage daughter who was celebrating her birthday.

A few hours after I posted the photo, I got a message in my inbox from a young man whose name suggested a celebrated hip hop artist or a Grammy award-winning actor.

In the youngster’s parlance, I am told it is called ‘sliding into my DM’ which means he is sending me a direct message.  

He complimented my good looks and asked if he could date me.

He was obviously texting in the coded and heavily truncated language that young people use nowadays that I could barely understand without the help of an interpreter.

I was sad, but not because a young man was trying to date me and write to me in a language that can only be associated with ancient Greek.

I was sad because young men have become very lazy in looking for dates. They just sit down and wait for low-hanging fruits.

At some point, I was tempted to accept a date with this young boy with sagging trousers and purple shoes just to see how brave he could get during a physical meeting.


The reason I call him lazy is that in my Facebook profile, I have said clearly described myself as an old man with hard bones, hairy chest and a quickly receding hairline.

In my hobbies section, I have mentioned growing cabbages and arrowroots, changing car tyres and shearing merino sheep. If he had taken just a few more minutes of his free time to read my profile, he would have dropped his bid to date me before he sent me a love message.

In one moment of hormones surge, he just saw a photo and decided to ask for a date without the decency of putting some effort in background checks.

Those days when social media platforms were still being programmed in laboratories by some nerds in Silicon Valley, getting a date was not just a matter of sending a girl a direct message.

You started by spotting a girl in the market during the weekly market day. You pretended to select some avocados across the stall where she was buying onions although you didn’t need any of those fruits.

You followed her discreetly until she was through with her two hour shopping, during which time you had squeezed countless avocados and gotten abused by the sellers who now viewed you as nuisance. You had also lost her of her track twice, nearly giving you a heart attack.


You later followed her at a distance on her way home, pausing at all her stopovers. She finally reached home and you did a mental marking of the gate because it would be well past 8pm.

You also realised with horror that you were already ten kilometres away from your home in very unfamiliar territory.

You returned to the girl’s neighbourhood the following day to scope the area in daylight.

In the next three months, you would survey the area and get to know a few boys who could provide some important intelligence about her family.

The information included the name of the girl, her family members, the number of dogs in homestead, the church she attended, whether her dad was in the military and who was currently dating her.

Armed with this information, you attended her church for the next three Sundays, during which time she did not show up.

The following eight market weeks you kept the market under constant surveillance to no avail. Your informers would later inform you that she went to visit her aunt in Komarock, and you had no idea where that was.

When you next saw her over Christmas several months later, she would be all dressed up like a city girl and speaking in a language called sheng.

The stars finally shone on you and you finally bumped into each other at the polling station during the following general elections.


Since this was the only opportunity for you to shine, you introduced yourself and asked her who she was voting for.

You engaged in some small talk and before you parted ways, you requested for her postal address.

When you went home you drafted her a lengthy love letter, and her reply came back a few weeks later asking you to prove your love.

You waited for Valentine’s Day to prove your love via some hand crafted paper flowers and homemade cards inside an envelope sprayed vigorously using your elder sisters perfume.

It would be almost after two years of hard work that you finally got to stand outside their gate at dusk holding hands, with their dog barking nearby.

Getting to date a girl was a full time occupation and it involved blood and sweat.