19 April 2018

Uganda: His Mistake Was Assuming That She Was Dumb

It is true that most men do not - at least at first encounter - expect a good looking woman to be smart. And that was how Martin took one look at the girl I was with and wrote her off as a bimbo.

When he walked in, she was distracted by a work email. So, he sauntered over expecting the world to come to a standstill for him, but Jemima only paid him minimal attention and returned to her phone. For the next 20 minutes, she was hardly present. I could tell Martin was displeased that she was not paying him any attention. He thought she was one of those girls that spend the entire date updating their Facebook and Instagram.

Then she looked up and said, 'huh?' But Martin totally ignored her. He continued explaining to me why he thought the national trade policy was contributing to the rising inflation because of the trade imbalance, and how it was a domino effect that could not be stopped without drastic intervention.

She listened attentively, and went back to her phone. Again, confirming to him, that whatever Martin was talking about was beyond her. But I knew better. I knew she was the smartest among us, possibly the smartest person in that restaurant. When she next looked up from her phone, Martin said to her, "sorry about this, let us discuss something a bit more social. Who is your favourite musician?"

She smiled at him, and answered coolly, "I do not have a favourite. None has managed to create a lasting impression on me, besides, my taste in music is rather eclectic." Martin sat up a little straighter. He must have figured that he might have misjudged her. He asked her, "who were you listening to this morning?" I do not even know why he asked that question, but again, she answered, telling him she had listened to a little-known local musician with a truly Ugandan sound, though his recording had been done badly. Still she had enjoyed the music immensely. And then added, "which I find would go great lengths to boost our tourism industry, if we could focus on promoting and exporting such local culture." This would contribute to offsetting our trade imbalance. You were talking about foreign trade policy, earlier, no? Is this something you think the foreign trade policy should pay attention to?"

By now, he was paying attention. He started talking about how 'undeveloped' the local talent was, and how it could not keep up with international standards. She listened attentively, while I watched, amused. Martin is smart, he can quickly assess and grasp situations, but he is rarely capable of original thought.

When he was done stammering through his barely sensible reply, Jemima said, "my question is not about the quality of local talent - which raises another question of how one measures the quality of cultural talent, considering that there is no standardization of 'cultural talent' - , my question is whether you think policy should consider promoting cultural tourism as an economic driver".

Predictably, he said, 'Yes of course! But we need to first develop our local talent so that tourists do not get disappointed.' To which she replied, 'okaaaay', and went back to her phone.

Martin had failed the basic test; he could not even understand her question, let alone the context. She did not say another word until he left. When we left, nothing was said about him, he simply was not worth her time. And yet, Jemima is not arrogant or anything, she is very simple and unassuming.

The problem was that Martin had tried to set a pace he could not sustain. And worse, he had judged her. She had given him no reason to form an opinion about her, yet he had decided she was an airhead. Kudos to women such as these. Next week, I will write about their opposites; the reason why most men think hot women are bimbos.

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