The Cameroonian Game

Shortly after the first of the year I marked the completion of my 101st book since arriving in Cameroon. It coincided nicely with the checking-off of 500 straight days in this country, putting my average book-consumption rate at around one a week.

500 days of back-to-back, never ending summer. Here, every day can be Labor Day. Sunshine, beer, the delay of work and questionable meat from someone else’s grill is yours daily, if you want it. Sit back, relax, and hunker down for the most downtime you’ve ever been afforded. This is Africa, and we run on African Time.

While perusing through The Game, a self-dubbed self-help book for aspiring pick up artists everywhere, I couldn’t help but notice that many of the Cameroonian men I know seemed to take a page from this lady-killer’s playbook. Unless someone had slipped them a copy behind my back, I could’ve sworn that somehow, instinctually, Roonie men were tapped into what the Western world considered to be the key to unlocking a woman’s heart (and bedroom door).

Step one: Never let the target turn their back on you.

Everywhere you turn, there he is, the Cameroonian male. Somehow able to attempt eye-contact even while driving you around as a motorcycle taxi, the testosterone-fueled boy-child that is most Cameroonian men will do whatever it takes to have your line of sight and a good view of him become one and the same. Walking backwards down a street? Easy. Walking backwards down the street while trying to dodge traffic, vendors, and other people? Less simple, but somehow managed.

Step two: “Peacocking”

The Game suggests “peacocking” as a sure-fire way to catch the attention of a lady you’re interested in, which according to Cameroonian men, is pretty much any lady with a pulse. Throw on something garish, the book suggests, and you’re setting yourself up to be a magnet. Taking this suggestion to heart, recent trends here include Russian military fur hats, women’s sparkle jeans,
crystal-studded ball caps, clear non-prescription glasses with the price tag still on, an overabundance of Hannah Montana puffy stickers, and a penchant for either young girls’ t-shirts sporting the likes of popular Saturday morning cartoon characters or vulgar tees in day-glow colors telling you exactly where you can stick, well, everything.

Step three: Negs

Negs is a shortened version of ‘negative statements’, a play the book throws out to help corral ladies. Ignore or berate her, they suggest, and she’s putty in your hands. Here a classic opener begins with a declaration of how very fat, sweaty, or sickly looking you are, followed by an invitation to head back to his place. Push them away, then reel ‘em in.

Step four: Be blunt. Be very, very blunt.

The book tells it’s readers than once they pick up on three positive signs of interest from their target that it’s time to swoop in and seal the deal. “Would you like to kiss me?” is the preferred line. If she says no, you can dismissively insist that you didn’t want to anyways. Any other answer and it’s likely that you’re getting the green light.

Women here must accidentally be throwing out come hither glances constantly because men seem to always be absotively-posolutely sure that they’ve just read you, and you’re really, really into them. Did she just roll her eyes at me? Push me away? Call me disgusting? She definitely wants to have my half-white babies.

Step five: Be prepared.

Finally, the book acknowledges that picking up women can be hard and the best of the best are wise to go in with a script. If it doesn’t work on one woman, maybe it’ll work on the next, and nothing bats away pick-up jitters quite like having a crudely memorized cache of lines ready for the woman trying to walk away from you.

If one foreigner doesn’t like you, try, try again. The Cameroonian man’s pick-up scope is on a swivel, and if this blonde lady didn’t dig you trying to touch her butt in the market, perhaps her swarthier brunette buddy will. They both rejected you? Ask the ginger next to them for her number, after telling her an over-enunciated ‘What’s up’ and insisting you are really into Puff Daddy, so you get where she’s coming from.

So, even though they seem to have been born, blessed, and burdened with the smooth talking abilities of a classically trained pick up artist, somehow, the average man here still falls short when talking to women, both from Cameroon and elsewhere. Whether it’s his reassuring tone when he tells you how much he “loves bitches” or his persistent phone calls grilling you on why you haven’t gotten in touch with him, the world may never know. As charming as he is when he screams at you to take him to Germany, a place you’ve spent a total of two days in, the pitter-patter of love you’d expect to arrive never shows. Maybe they need to flip through The Game a second time.

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