Wednesday, March 12, 2014

international women's day hangover

so they really take this women's day thing seriously. and this year, it fell on a saturday. before i left the office on friday, i stopped in to say hi to a british intern, who is just about the closest person socially and age-ly to me at work. i asked her what she was doing over the weekend and she may have thought i was asking her out? her co-workers loudly shuffling papers awkwardly. 
she came over on saturday night in her own designed women's day dress. i didn't really like the pattern this year (orange and browns, with a woman hugging a cameroun outline) so i just wore a regular african dress. her boyfriend, as it turns out, is this brawny, tatooed, rather famous musician who has adoring fans and stuff. as it turns out, he is friends with the guy i am staying with, rizbo, who is also a rather famous musician. they have some 90s style african rap album. lots of neon. anyway, eric, the boyfriend of the british girl kelly, being the gentleman that he is, accompanies us to a terrasse bar/night club/restaurant/cabaret (they are serious about this part)/fish grill (also serious about this part). as he knows the owner and is somewhat of a celebrity he settles us into a table, which is unfortunately amid all these expats, and goes off to his own evening. the thing about women's day is you're supposed to be without your man. 
the expats are all saggy eyed drunk fat american mommies whom you know just from looking at them are peace corps volunteers who met cameroonians and never left. not our cup of tea. we nod gratiously and order a round of boosters: 1l bottle of whiskey and coke. excellent discovery. kelly turns out to be a hoot. she's an intern, which means she is surviving on 150$/month. i give her big ups for that and buy all our drinks. i mean, she is from a sailing, designer dog raising family and in yaoundé, saving up for a fridge. i'm very impressed. the american girls finally leave and kelly remarks how just about every american you meet abroad is whale-sized. it's really true. me, i'm french. 
so about 80% of the clientele are cameroonian women in their women's day print dresses, which, are just very unflattering mumus. i don't understand why they don't share the same sexy fashion sense as congolese. the waitresses are running around with giant plates of grilled fish and bananas. super friendly. ridiculously friendly. especially when i tip them (a very expat thing to do, whatever). i am invited to come back for a free beer tomorrow. and if i want to take a uniform i can wait tables. thanks, maria. 
i have never seen such positive energy, and kelly and i are remarking that what makes today especially wonderful is that no guys are obscenely hitting on us. the biggest perk of women's day, they leave you alone! no sooner said than some ghanains show up with their djembes and start uttering crap about being our soul mates. kelly casually mentions her boyfriend the famous musician, they back off. what about me? i play with my fake wedding ring, norwegian oil tycoon is home with the kids. they say that if we were single, they would have played their drums for us, but since we are married...well that's not right, mister. this is all women's day, not just the single ladies. so they set up their drums and start banging away, drowning out the crappy nightclub music. one guy has wrist maracas. and the dude with the ubiquitous creepy marionette shows up to dirty dance it everywhere. kelly is scared of these marionettes like people are of clowns and she is right. i am taking photos with my 10 year old blackberry and the creepy marionette head is always the only thing in focus. 
next thing we know, women are coming up to us, asking permission to dance to the beats...our permission? what for? go girl! and there's this insane dance off with some of the craziest african style dance i have seen. women in trances, giggly shaking and stuff. tables are moved, the dance floor has comed to us, it is like me and kelly are royalty being entertained by our court. more boosters please, and the waitress is dancing while serving us. 
i finally can't hold it in and need to go to the restroom (remember: singular). i love that the first thing you see upon entering this establishment is a pile of fly-infested whole fish of which huge sweaty women are smashing with cleavers. there are women everywhere, dancing, drinking, they are super friendly, they grab my hand or call me over, ask for my name and number "let's hang out and go the market!" i have 20 new bffs. in the bathroom i accidentally walk in on a woman (obvi no locks on the doors and she hasn't mastered the squat and hold the door stance). i am profusely apologizing over the stall wall and she's all, ain't no thang, it's our day, where are you sitting? oh, you're the ones who brought your entourage? uhh, not really, but apparently the whole club is talking about us. she comes out and dances with her jangly bracelets and earrings and she is complementing my hair, asking if it's real, how do i curl it. 
finally, it's past 2 am, the place starts to empty out, the drummer's hands are red and tired, and they pack up and leave. we should head back. kelly's boyfriend wanders in, all, oh, my phone was off baby, sorry i wasn't in touch and tells us about this djembe drum jam he was at, and we would have loved it. what did you girls do? eh not much, just drank a bunch of boosters, let's go home.  

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