Monday, March 15, 2010


When this lady I'm acquainted with declared that men have a problem with keeping promises, my first reaction was "And what the hell is the problem with that?" If I give you a promise, it is yours, as in for you. What business then do I have keeping something I have made for you? But that didn't wash with her, so I set off for the KNLS library at Community to come up with something that would hopefully be more in line with her perspective but still convince her of the fallacy of her assertion.

I was unable to get hold of an Oxford dictionary that I would have preffered for my purposes, and so I had to make do with a very huge publication of a dictionary I found in there to look up the word 'Promise.' [By the way on a somewhat unrelated issue, I noticed that 80% of the readers in the library at that time were men. Still wondering how it was that the first girl in this year's KCSE rankings was at position 11?]

Anyway, the publication defined a promise as "A declaration or assurance, expressed of one's free will, that one will guarantee or refrain from guaranteeing the happening of a specified act." It also went on to add that "This gives the person to whom it is given an implied right to expect or claim the performance or forbearance of that act."

So there we have it. A most comprehensive definition, if there ever was one, to help us mount an effective defense against the charge this lady, and later Eve, have leveled against us about our presumed incapability to keep promises.

First of all, a promise is a declaration or an assurance. But in many cases, the promises ladies accuse us of failing to keep aren't even declarations or assurances in the first place! Women are experts at taking miles whenever you mention a centimeter, so a smile in her direction and she is all a-yakking with 'the girls' about how you promised to call her for a date, or a passing comment about how warm Mombasa is in August and she takes it that you have promised her a holiday at Whitesands. My dear ladies, the defining feature of a declaration is actual expression, not vague implication!

And speaking of expression, the definition asserts that it should be of one's free will. So if I finally agree to get you that atrociously expensive microwave we saw last year at KitchenPoint in order to put a stop to your constant nagging, that is not free will, and therefore it is not a promise. If you know about my almost religious adoration for Wayne Rooney but somehow manage to have me agreeing to spending 'Quality Time' with you on weekend afternoons even when Manchester United is playing, free will doesn't feature anywhere there and it is therefore definitely not a promise!

The definition also allows for the implied right by the recipient to expect or claim the performance or forbearance of that act, which is where the ladies have us by the neckties. But Great expectations, like the great Ethiopian philosopher and writer Hama Tuma once said, make frustrated men. [or, in this case, women.] My dear ladies, once again I stress, this right is implied. Constitutions the world over grasped something  you always seem to have a problem understanding: That the space between the making of a promise and it's actual execution is subject to factors that lie outside the control of the promise-maker, and this is the very reason why legal obligation is seldom placed on the execution of promises!

However, the main reason men are reluctant to keep promises is because women have this despicable, horrible habit of using their promises against them. The major example of this is where women use pregnancy to trap men they have their hooks trained on into unwanted marriages or child support for children who may not even be theirs!

And it is not as if the ladies themselves are altogether prudent about the promises they make. As a matter of fact, ladies on average fail to keep promises more than men, and the only reason we never notice is because of how vocal they are about the promises we break, which deflects our attention from their own inadequacies in the department of promise-keeping.

But all in all, promises do not have to precisely fit within the confines of our definition. What matters is the spirit of the promise, i.e what the maker of the promise intended when he made it. But that said, it is very few men that would deliberately break a promise. For a man, pride is everything, and the mark of a man's pride is how consistent he is in keeping his word.

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