I’m a natural blond. So when eight village women in Kenya craned their necks down to watch me squat and pee off the side of a highway outside Naorobi, I assumed it had everything to do with taking a glance at my little Marilyn Monroe.
It had been a long day on buses pumping out diesel fumes while traveling from small village to small village when we finally pulled over for a much needed pee break. The men went to one side of the bus, and I followed the women with their yellow head wraps and matching skirts to a nearby ditch to take my own squat.
Feeling a bit shy with my lack of skirting to form a perfect blinder tent around my untamed beaver, I separated from the herd farther down the ditch before dropping my drawers and letting lose an impressive amount of piss. The women had been chatting amongst themselves in Swahili on the bus and off, but the moment I dropped trou, the chatter stopped and all eyes turned to my now performance frightened twat. Their eyes became lasers fixated on my blond curls and the look in their eyes was that of pure fear.
Suddenly shy for the first time in my 26 years, I blocked their view as best I could because I was raised to not show people my golden triangle unless it was perhaps for money or standing ovations. And these women didn’t seem to be planning high fives in that direction. As soon as I was done, I pulled up my black undies and jeans and headed back to the waiting bus.
But the women, they wanted more. One of the younger ones in an orange and green wraparound skirt grabbed at my arm and spoke in rapid fire Swahili as if we were the bestest of friends. As if she could just ask for another glance?
I mean, what was she trying to say to me? If it was about the fact I didn’t use toilet paper, none of them had either!
I shrugged and tried to show my confusion.
Eventually they all returned to their seats as I returned to mine before the bus driver continued our journey down the mud packed highway. But the women still watched me with intent, and I was now feeling really self conscious. And uncomfortable. I sat up straight and tried to look unaffected. Finally, another tapped on my shoulder and I turned in anger and glared back at her. This was getting to be too much. But when I turned, she had the softest eyes and they appeared to be filled with a question. I needed to remember where I was and who I was and my manners. It’s one thing to be standoffish riding a bus through San Francisco and quite another riding through the backroads of an African country. I didn’t want to represent myself as anything but a friendly tourist.
So I relaxed my shoulders. I flashed her a confident smile. She reached out for my hand and placed a tiny burr in it.
It was a small one about the size of a sunflower seed. Her friends began to chuckle and an older one leaned over my seat and grabbed a burr from my socks. When I followed her hand down, I noticed there were more stuck in my socks. And my pants.
Her seatmate pointed at me to stand up. Now there were men watching and other women farther back in the bus but she took my elbow and pulled me upright.
Then pointed at my crotch.
Then pointed at the burrs in my hand.
Then at my crotch.
Then at the burrs in my hand.
And then I got a fucking clue. I realized what I’d done in the ditch when I separated from the women. I automatically grabbed at my crotch.
And the whole bus broke out into a roar of laughter.
I could now feel the burrs stuck where sunlight had never been seen before. They left impressions in my skin that turned to a rash that lasted days. On my ankles, in my ass crack and in my Marilyn Monroe.