Sunday, March 26, 2023

Lovestyles from the streets of Gaborone

Did you know that some love gurus in the United States and other such “civilized” places can identify at least four types of Love Styles? Were you even aware that there is a love style or even a few that you could use to identify yourself? I’m just as baffled as you are and to prove that I’m not making all this up, I’ll gladly list the Love Styles I have read about. The four categories are emotional lovers, conservative lovers, intellectual lovers as well as creative lovers. And in bold, sweeping generalizations, men are considered to be mostly intellectual or conservative types, while women tend to be more creative or emotional lovers.

This is supposedly according to some obscure “extensive computer research” that I, unfortunately, don’t have access to. Having been engrossed in the article on the love styles, I get disappointed, halfway through, when reality slaps me in the face. This article was not meant for consumption by one of my kind, ten thousand kilometers away in a dusty, disease infested corner of a boring African country where nothing grows. Long stemmed red roses, a potent symbol of western romance, are hard to come by. Well, until Eddie Norman and his partner started planting them at Glen Valley. Before that, they only became ubiquitous in the second week of February and the week of Mother’s Day. Most of the time, folks have been getting by with the synthetic ones with a “Made in China” tag. If that sounds cynical, listen to what lovers romantic, clueless and brash in street corners have to say. The ones accustomed to ailing patriarchal lineages and empty pockets. You know, the ones whose neighbours and friends will not hesitate to kill a girl who rejects them.

A salon barber named Joe on a smoking break in Molepolole says “yes”, he has a Love Style. “I’m a very patient guy and if my girlfriend misbehaves, I will discipline her. But she must do something really bad like switching off the phone all night when we are not together. Why should she switch off the phone if she’s not being naughty?” he says spreading his ashy fingers with every syllable he utters. So, his Love Style is the patient disciplinarian or something like that. He disappears inside the salon and comes out greasing his
brown hands. I ask him if he considers himself to be a romantic guy and with a gummy smile he said he tries to buy something nice on Valentine’s Day and on his girlfriend’s birthday. And what does he prefer to do on a Saturday night? “Well, I might go to the bar and catch up on a game of pool with the guys, but if she says I must stay in, I don’t go out. There’s not much we can really do because we do not have a car and there aren’t any nice places to go in Molepolole,” he said.

“My Love Style is to be a gentleman. I’m a modern guy and will help my girlfriend with the chores and spoil her if I have money. I want to marry her some day and I want her to see that I can take care of her.” These are the words of Sentsho, an unemployed youth from Kanye, roaming Game City Mall in Gaborone.
So, what is his ideal seduction scene? He swears that he is an easy going guy. “But I really enjoy it if my girlfriend’s housemate and her toddler are away,” he says.

Jabu, a security officer, says his Love Style is simple, no G-strings and no “nzamela air time” and the deal is done. “I have bought so much airtime for girls that if I had saved my money, I could have bought a fong kong by now. A few years ago, I bought a girl that I really liked a cell phone and she used it to call her other boyfriends.” He is angry and not smiling. I feel like I remind him of his ex, so I move on. Speaking females on the subject is more calming. 22-year-old Tebogo, a teacher-in-training, sounds like she has read the same articles on Love Styles. She doesn’t specifically identify herself an emotional or creative lover per se, but she ascribes to the characteristics for the two categories. “When I’m alone with my boyfriend, I tell him about the new exciting love techniques I heard about. I take him step-by-step so that we may make romantic plans together. He never used to understand what I needed flowers for but I make him read a lot of literature on women and what we like. He really likes it if I wear sexy lingerie,” she says, smiling through and through.

Another lady, a bank teller in Lobatse, can not overstate the importance of romance in a relationship. She says if you meet an unromantic man that you really like and would like to keep, then its cheaper and more pleasant to teach him. “We women are very mysterious creatures. I think we need to sit our partners down and talk to them about romance. Most men are inexperienced when it comes to these things. If you are in a secure relationship, you must start my introducing saving money for getaway trips. For me, they are the best ways to get romantic with your man, away from his influential friends and bars,” she says.

After the interviews, I marvel at the power of interpretation. Everybody answered the questions according to the way they understood them. I do not have the conceit to think that I could judge anyone and chose to embrace relativism. But I can’t help but marvel at how “romantic notions or standards” set by other humans can never be absolute or universal. I think that’s the beauty of it all.


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