Whenever I travel or I get invited to something, my friends always say, “If it is too late, you can crash at my place.” But while I like visiting people (most times), I have never gotten used to staying overnight in other people’s homes.
Here is an account of every single time I’ve ever stayed with someone.
I wake up in the dark of night, and there is no light. (Even if they always have electricity, on the day I choose to sleep over, there will be no power)
I use the light on my watch to look for my cellphone, then I use the light on my phone to look for the toilet.
Now, I’m stumbling around the house like a burglar. From outside, all anyone looking in will see is the beam of light sweeping back and forth as I go over the directions to the toilet they gave me yesterday, “First door on your left. But it gets stuck sometimes. If it doesn’t open, walk down the corridor, and try the third door on your right. Cut across that room and there is another bathroom behind the second door on your left.”
I try the door to the first toilet, it budges but it doesn’t open. I try to remember, was I supposed to jiggle the door handle or push with my shoulder?
I flashlight my way to the second toilet, consulting the map I’ve drawn on my palm. I find it and I’m just settling in when I hear a rustling behind me.
I turn around and see a half-naked man. His eyes are heavy with sleep and the flap on his boxers is open. He asks me in his drowsy, spaced-out voice, “Is it a number one or number two?”
I’m perched over the bowl, and this is suddenly the most difficult question I’ve ever been asked.
“Err… it was going to be a number one, but depending on how I felt afterwards, I might have doubled down and upgraded to a two.”
He stands there for a long while, his head bobbing as he processes the information and he nods off. Then he jerks up, raises his arm to scratch at his armpit and says, “No, no, no. Don’t use that one. Use this one.” And he walks off, leading me to another bathroom.
Everybody’s house has these quirks that the people living there know and you, the outsider, must remember. You might try to open a tap and your host will say, “No, that one doesn’t work. Use this one.” Sometimes the hot water tap releases cold water and the cold releases hot.
You might try to use an iron, and they’ll say, “No, no, no, that one shocks. Use this one.” Why would anyone keep an electrocuting iron, are they hoping to trick armed robbers into using it?
Or “You can’t iron until Saidi, the ironing man, gets here. He is the one that keeps the iron.” What?
Don’t flip this switch. Don’t touch the edge of the deep freezer. Don’t sit on that chair fully with two butt cheeks.
Some of these are death traps, and you will be required to remember them in the middle of the night.
One time I asked to use the bathroom and someone pointed me to it. Two hours later, we’re all sitting at the dining table and another person comes in from the back of the house, drenched, and asks, “Who flushed the guest toilet?”
The group goes quiet. I shrug and say it was me.
There is a loud wail from the people who live there.
“Code Red! Code Red! Call the plumber! The place is flooding. Dont just sit there, move all the furniture to higher ground!”
In the chaos, someone mutters, “What kind of idiot flushes the toilet?”
I don’t need this kind of stress.