Every man has a ‘favourite’
barmaid. David Odongo explores
the world of the woman that wives
love to hate
We have two types of women: Those
who sulk and nag, and those who are
forever cheerful and caring.
The curvaceous beauties that are
‘man’s best friend’ are sympathetic
specialists of the male gender. They
know men inside out — how to deal
From the generous man to the hen-
pecked, the stressed, broke, honest,
simple, rich, poor and criminal man,
their skilled eyes read them all in one
second. And she treats them all
differently such that at the end of the
day, every man goes home feeling like
the king he will never be.
Oh no! We are not talking about
mistresses but barmaids — the skilled
professionals that wives love to hate.
But without them, husbands would
require lengthy therapy in the hands
of famed psychiatrist Dr Frank Njenga.
“Barmaids are a rare breed. If all
women were like them, men would
ever cheat on their wives. A barmaid
is a mother, a loving Agony Aunt and
a sex siren all rolled into one,” says
David Otieno, a regular at Nairobi
West Mall where several pubs
coalesce into a series of watering
His wife never cares to notice whether
he has had a hectic day, but if he
passes by the bar, the first thing the
barmaid says is “Leo umechoka sana
(you look so tired)” and proceeds to
“Only the barmaid and my daughter
notice if anything is wrong. My wife is
either too busy or just doesn’t just
care,” complains Otieno.
Men in pubs talk about everything
from politics to sports, but the
conversation eventually gets back to
the barmaid. Men can argue for hours
about a subject, but when she is
called to mediate on why Greece is
broke, even university professors
calmly nod when she says Greece isn’t
broke. End of topic. Never mind that in
most cases, she was no idea about
what the drunken intellectuals are
The barmaid is an institution within an
institution and the only reason men
talk about fashion. Everything she
wears is under scrutiny and is more
discussed than Angelina Jolie’s dress
at the Oscars. They may not notice
when their girlfriends or wives change
hairstyles, but when a barmaid paints
her nails pink, they glowingly
“That colour suits you kabisa, kwanza
tomorrow wear that green top,
utakuwa mrembo sana (that colour
suits you perfectly. In fact, wear that
green top tomorrow. You will look
smashing)!” they say.
Even if it’s alcohol talking, the profuse
compliment is good for her morale.
She goes home feeling beautiful even
when she would never make it to the
quarterfinals of a village beauty
But men being men still fight the
barmaid: “I asked for a Tusker and
you brought me Guinness. I am not
paying for this!” a drunken man
With a smile, she takes away the
opened Guinness bottle and brings
his Tusker. A smile lights up is face
and he heavily tips her — a tip so
generous it could buy three more
Barmaids hear all the problems that
bedevil men, problems that their
beloved wives will never hear.
Chances are wives are told fiction
each time their husbands come home
with their cars smashed. But barmaids
know the truth, the whole truth and
nothing but the truth because they
are sympathetic listeners, non
judgmental and providers of the
world’s greatest balm — alcohol.
Contrary to what most women think,
men never discus their wives with the
barmaids. Men go to pubs to make
merry and forget. Forget that Mama
Baby hasn’t been talking for the past
two weeks and that her ‘headache’
has been going on for months.
And unlike madam, whose lips are set
in a permanent sneer from morning
to sunset, how barmaids love to flirt!
Is it any surprise then, that men who
are married to very accomplished
women have probably slept with a
But Meshach Wanyonyi who drinks at
Roasters along Thika Road disagrees
with the intrigues surrounding the
“They physiologically jail you. When
you are broke, they give you beer on
credit, you are so grateful that when
she says she has a funeral, men at
the pub will contribute outrageous
amounts,” he says, adding that he has
seen sober men Mpesa money to
barmaids with whom they have no
“The only reason men love barmaids
is because they are easy. Men,
especially married ones, find chasing
girls tiresome and expensive and they
want instant solutions to their lust,
that’s where barmaids come in,”
Wanyonyi, however, warns men that a
barmaid’s job is to attract as many
men as possible so they can order as
many drinks as possible and tip (her)
the highest possible amount of
money. So they’re basically attracted
to everyone — not just you because
she seems to know your moods and
what you drink, he says.
Mzee Kariuki, a 72-year-old retired
police officer who admits he was a
rogue in his day, echoes his views.
“Barmaids use body language, beauty
and sexual appeal to lure men into
parting with money. They loosen
wallets by stroking men’s egos.
Whoever said ‘women are the weaker
sex’ has never drunk beer in a pub!
Theirs is a profession that prides itself
on service — service that is friendly
and offered with a smile. But that
smile is a fake as a wedding cake!”
reveals the old man.
According to Mzee Kariuki, these girls
are trained actresses and their skills in
acting are not from some drama class
but from constant real life practice
working on men for several hours
“When you see her flirting and giving
you positive body language, she’s
actually working and is not interested
in you! So you buy her three beers,
which she never drinks but smartly
sells and pockets the money to buy
milk for her children.
But in the morning when your wife
asks for money for milk for your own
children, you rudely remind her that
money does not grow on trees!”
mocks Mzee Kariuki.
“Most barmaids act in the same
flirtatious manner with all their clients
— especially the well-paying ones. So
if you’re getting the VIP treatment,
chances are you’re paying for it,” says
Anthony Wanjohi equally has no time
for barmaids: “I go to the pub to drink
money that I earn. I need no favours
and the only time I talk to them is
when I want another drink,” says the
accountant, arguing that the cost of
good service is already factored in the
price of alcohol anyway.
But what Wanjohi may not know is
that tipping barmaids cements
friendship, and when barmaids are
your friends, you suffer no harm in
their pubs. They will beat up women
who want to lace your drinks, protect
you from pickpockets and when you
are too drunk, they chase you out of
the bar and ensure you board a
trusted taxi back home.
Jack, a university lecturer, recalls a
night when a barmaid who was his
friend led him to his car, locked him in
and walked off with the keys.
To begin with, he now recalls, he was
too drunk to drive anyway. Worse, he
was carrying Sh100,000 in cash. When
he pompously removed the thick wad
of notes from his breast pocket to pay
a small bill, she knew the women
around him would rob him and
whisked him to his car.
“I was so drunk I fell asleep instantly.
She woke me up at 4.30am and told
me to confirm that my money was
intact. I tipped her Sh2,000 on the
spot!” says Jack.
So much as wives and the good old
pastor may not think much of them,
the truth is that most men have, at
some point in their lives, seduced or
attempted to seduce a barmaid.
And it wasn’t about alcohol — they
were dead serious!
Every man has a ‘favourite’