Terrible Beer and an Employment time fog; Bad Cultural Exchanges and Ugly Vibes; Kenya Goes Redneck: the Possibilities Served Up Cold and Terrible By Skinny Bored Models in Knee High Socks.  

Sweat was pouring off my face.  The hotel was far too tall for my dizzying vertigo.  I needed beer and quickly.  

Luckily I had been awkwardly way-laid into covering this outlandish event.  The American behemoth was landing on East African shores; touches of terrible cultural imperialism tainting its very foam.  Budweiser of course: Emperor of Beers and ambassador for the long retired Bush voter.  

Now I had to travel up eight stories into the fabulous Sankara hotel to sip watery suds poolside and hob knob with brutal corporate posers clinging onto a bullshit American ideal from 10,000 miles away, while refusing to interact with ‘the locals’ outside the security check point of this gauche resort. Market research be fucked I suppose, Americans just ‘know better’.

It was going to get ugly to be sure, my only hope for mental stability was to slam as many bottles of icy cold sell-out juice in as quick a time as possible and not make a scene that the magazine could fire me over.  I was sure to cut it fucking close.  

The first twenty minutes were all sitting, branded suits milling about and waiting to push their new fancy little shit.  The very scene reeked of dry cleaning, platinum company cards, second families on the road and laminated name tags.  I was far out of place in this crowd, with dusty pants, an ugly t-shirt hailing the blues and a long earned penchant for flirtation with waitresses.  This was somewhere I had to maintain, to keep cool, to slip oddly into their mist and pretend to belong. 

Smile and nod, that’ll do the trick.  Just then the beers started flowing, one after the other, scantily clad hired help shoveling them down the throats of all who stood in range.  I heard some geek in a badly fitted suit say something about ‘the Tusker market capitalization problem’ and promptly fell into a sudden onset of existential ennui. 

The bartender looked knowingly at me when I mumbled melancholy to him, “Can I get another?”  He looked at me with the understanding of some distant whiskey mystic and leaned in close, muttering, “frankly speaking why the hell haven’t you been up here six times already.”

What was happening around me was not a good scene to behold; the ass-kissing was palpable.  Weary press affiliates were staggering about trying to keep up a veneer through the haze of all-American wish-wash.  

The sun beat down on the pool, glittering sharply into my eyes causing a sudden panic and moments of cross-eyed despair during a heavy political conversation about the implications of terrorism to the Kenyatta administration with a skinny beat reporter from the Asian Weekly.  The shouted conversation about fundamentalist terror attacks went over with the Americans like a badly timed joke at a silent Catholic funeral. People were beginning to notice. 

Now it was time for the suit’s turn: some vague Euro geek with his hair all pointed from a gallon of top-end gel and a tailored suit that screamed “Yes Man” all over it.  

He took the microphone and garbled on, making slight jokes that were met with the tepid mumblings of the emotionally destitute.  It was time for him to lay the hammer down onto the eardrums of us all, “Budweiser is a beer that represents American values,” he droned, “values like opportunity, freedom and enterprise.”

“Jesus creeping fuck”, I thought, looking at the nodding plastered smiles of those selling their souls a sip at time, “I’m trapped here!”   That’s just what I didn’t need, handshakes and backslapping, culture-turned-product fifty meters above the busy Nairobi traffic.  It was time to make an exit, and best to do it subtle.  

Seeing as how I’d won a sports quiz with several gorgeous and competitive members of an online restaurant service by angrily yelling over ill-informed corporate hacks, I now had a bag of swag at my disposal.  

Inside of its cheap reinforced paper were: two Budweiser hats, a women’s medium V-neck t-shirt with the trashy label blazed on its chest, a lukewarm Bud and a mystery cigarette butt fired down from the Gods as a sublime blessing. 

 I sidled my way to the good-ole-boy bartender, a man who had clearly seen his share of wealthy despair take shape in the form of lewd acts; old men with sanction to finger-bang underage hookers in the most expensive hotel in East Africa.  

“Pack in there for my road travels?” I uttered, pointing shakily down into my wide open gift bag.  “Hmm,” he replied, “no takeaways!”  He then spun around; a maneuver that only can come with years of sorting out issues with take-no-prisoners alcoholism.  He completed his turn, only now with two more enticing beers in hand; with a flourish he popped them both and passed them over to me. 

It was definitely time to go; any second over-zealous bouncers could notice my excess and come down with fascist orders from the sun-glasses wearing Danish Head of Security to throw me down the lobby atrium for failing to pay an imaginary bill. 

 This was definitely not the time for the out of place, but it was way too late for such notions of clarity. I sidled my way into the bathroom, only to be followed by a pudgy-German who left his locked arm position with a tired-eyed eighteen year old prostitute who clearly had seen enough of his erectile dysfunction.  He stood behind me, singing old German pop songs while stage fright gripped me with panic.

“Be-La-daaaaa,” he sang and then went silent for a while before belting out (causing me to jump and knock elbows against a urinal divider, cursing Buddha for putting his most vile servant up to this), “I have to go zuzu!”  

“Right!” I said, looking over my shoulder and trying desperately to end the most elongated piss of the century, “It happens at times, maybe the cure is more tequila!”  

He gawked back at me, eyes shrink-wrapped in inebriation, thoughts of cruelly beating his hooker for lack of ‘pizzazz in her efforts’ clearly on his brain. “The cure,” he gasped, “it is only more of the ladies kissing on my belly!”

Fuck this!

Turning on a dime, I left without flushing and forced my way rudely into an elevator, all elbows and apologies, beer spilling onto the shoes of a tight-assed business woman. I smiled lewdly at her, but those beers, snuck shots and sunlight were well kicked in. My attempt at reconciliation was ill-received. 

We went down two floors before the doors opened again, a startled bald white man probably fresh off a plane from Scandinavia, with hopes of extracting his fortune from the mother continent while never having to shake hands with a Nairobian, staring wide-eyed into my face as I chugged down beer openly before returning the bottle to the bag, spillage be fucked.  

“Wrong floor.”  I told him with a drawn out wink as the doors closed shut with him still gawking.  

Now I was back into sunlight, wandering around blatantly with beer in hand next to the Triangle market.  An absolutely ancient lady suddenly came popping into my view hawking a beer cap necklace yelling, “I am HONESTY!” loudly into my buzz.  

Somehow I found a matatu, safety; I jammed my way inside next to a grumpy Somali lady who looked with disdain at my public quaffing of alcohol.  Of course, this is Nairobi; all things horrible are begrudgingly accepted when committed by pasty journalists in t-shirts.  Finally, I was off again to travel home; for Thika road, emotional refuge and strange sex with my deeply toxic Ugandan neighbor.

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