“This one has to go right, Festus”
“Yes, it will” I assured.
“No complaints this time, with everything I have said about you, you are almost a superstar to this girl”
“Are you serious?”
“Yes, I might have lied a little… just…just go with the flow” Martha urged me on. It was never a good sign when you don’t know the kind of lie she had told, she tended to get carried away with her lies.
“Remember, her name is Veronica.”
I agree it is quite strange, warning a grown man like me about a date, I personally don’t like it but I understand where she was coming from.
Martha had nicknamed me the mood terminator ever since I recovered from Angela’s case, it’s not like it’s my fault, how would I have known not closing your mouth when you chew would annoy so much? I was just being real, I mean, we all do it in the comfort of our homes or, or telling her you love her while it is getting steamy after a first date?… I mean, I meant it!
I paced the living room for minutes rehearsing how the phone call would play out. I practised a cool voice, you know, so I sound like I have something better to do… ladies fancy that. Maybe I should introduce myself with my nickname or just say it like James Bond does.
“My name is Festus, Agbaje Festus” … sounds cool right?
With the conversation thought out and ironed. I dialled her number and waited.
“Hello” She said in an accent that sounded like America and Britain had a love child in a Yoruba community.
I introduced myself in one of my sleeker voices.
She shrieked and loosened up into seamless conversation. Her laughter reminded me of a baby’s cackle. Frankly, I’m not a funny guy but she laughed at all my jokes, indeed, Martha had worked magic.
Resting on cloud nine with a song in my throat, we agreed to meet at 4 in a restaurant the day after. I danced round the living room and punched the air wildly till my fist hit a wooden frame and the pain quieted me down.
It was 6 and I was sitting alone at my table in a crowded restaurant. She promised to be here in 5 minutes; two hours ago. I believed her. The staff had grown tired of asking what I would like to eat. At the table next to mine, a young couple sat, new clothes, new haircut. They ticked all the boxes for a first date. The boy wore an anxious look on his face and covered his mouth whenever he showed too much teeth and the girl, the girl had rice and chicken on her plate. She ate around her chicken, and under her breath, you could see she dreaded when she would have to eat the chicken with her hands.
That is the thing about dates, you have to be civil, and there is only a blurry line between civility and being fake. It is like a job interview, you can’t possibly know someone at these things, you show a little bit of yourself and they will promise to call you later. It reminded me of one time I suggested we split the bill after a huge meal and the girl turned asthmatic immediately – I still maintain, I dodged a bullet there.
As a volcano readied itself to spill anger into my feelings, there she was, looking radiant, obviously, a few miles away from my league. I immediately absolved her of tardiness and I, in blind haste stumbled into love. I picked myself up and then collapsed again in it. She wore her smile as proudly as young girls wear engagement rings, and when she opened her mouth, it was bliss. We clicked.
The date ran its course from good to great, and from amazing to 10:30, then it was too late for her to go home. She had to sleep at my place, but not before making me promise to keep wandering hands to myself.
Once at my place, she stripped down to her underwear, she swung her hips seductively as she pranced around excitedly. And when it was time to sleep, she stretched her frame on the bed then curled up in a fetal position. Her backside revealed too much of itself to me. My fingers wandered to her shoulder but she shrugged, I promptly remembered the promise and kept wandering hands to my side.
Two days after, there I was, still riding on the wave of the successful date. I felt like I could truly take on any woman now. My phone rang and it was Martha.
“Hello, wingman” I was delighted.
“Festus… Are you gay?” I really was torn between being offended by her absurd question or her lack of pleasantries.
“Festus, answer me oo” She was shouting now.
“I am not gay!” I snapped.
“Hmmm.. You are not gayyy” she said, almost deep in thought, but we know it’s all a lie, Martha never thinks.
“But you are impotent right?” She bounced back with another conclusion that threw me off.
“Festus, you know you can tell me anything” she said sombrely.
“I am not impotent, why?”
“Veronica said you didn’t touch her after all the hints she dropped, ehn? Festus. Tell me, how do you drive when you can’t see signals?”
“She said that?”
“She told me she wore her favourite underwear for you and you did nothing”
“But she made me promise not to..” I started.
“Promise not to what? It seems you have no idea what women want”
“I tried to to touch her but she squirmed like a jelly fish”
“Ehn?…Festus, what are you saying? we are talking about women you are talking fish”
“Never mind”, I said, exasperated.
“But if she wanted me to do something why did she make me promise? Why did she push my hand away”
“For a woman, no means yes”
“Really?” I was bemused
“Really” she said.
“Oh Festus, my Festus” She crooned like I was a child. “…Do I have to tell you everything? …This is the foreign exchange and sex is currency. According to the laws of economics, there must always be demand, high demand. If sex is given without a high demand, it will hurt the market.”
Her display of intelligence in the oddest of times never ceased to amaze me. I sighed.
“Well, can we try again?” I asked
“Chioma?” She was puzzled
“Of course, I’m talking about Veronica, who else?”
“No need to be angry at me, did I tell you to be everybody’s brother?”
I wasn’t ready for this. “Can we try again?” I persisted.
“No, you are in the friendzone now, you people are siblings”
“Well, hmmm…. I can try to convince her, but it has to go right o, Festus.” She said.. . call drifted into tips arming me on how to disarm a woman. Education never felt more empowering. After a while, Martha called and asked me to chat her up. After rehearsals, I called again and we decided to watch a movie.
Date night crept up on me and I found myself in the cinema, Veronica seated beside me. She wore a button down shirt and showed some cleavage, she wants me. Unlike the previous date when her waist moved to my tune, she was staunch. She said little, and the date undulated ceaselessly between strange and awkward. But she still laughed when I made my jokes and she still threw her head into my arms.
After the movie, we headed back to my place. I had dusted the cobwebs off my condoms and practised with my pillow. A huge smile tore into my face and all I could do was plan its procession.
“Festus, what are you doing?” Veronica screamed and snapped me out of my daydream unceremoniously.
I almost hit a Suya man as he crossed the street. Nothing could alter the way I felt, we arrived and once again, she took off her clothes. Every movement of her body broke a new sweat on my forehead. I bit my lip, said a little prayer and went for it.
It was 3 A.M and I was seated in front of the bathroom.
“Veronica please.” I said, one hand on the door knob. The other held a toilet paper to my bleeding nose. I had tried to make my move and she had shrugged. But like Martha said, every no was a yes and so I persisted, grabbing harder each time she put my hands away. With the nos further cementing my resolve and increasing my resilience.
I had overpowered her and with my mouth in hers, drowning pleas in a sea of saliva while she struggled beneath me. Only a matter of time before she starts enjoying it I thought. As I grew comfortable in my stride, her flailing arms grabbed a perfume bottle and she smashed sense into my nose with it, I bled in return.
She gathered herself and clothes, ran into the bathroom and locked it. I followed, apologising profusely. Here I was, at the door, bleeding out what was left of my dignity. I heard her call a friend to come pick her up, I heard the word ‘rape’ and was shocked. She sobbed a little and cursed my entire generation in brief fits of anger….. All I could do was beg, as I’m doing now.
Her friend came and she opened the bathroom door, fully dressed. Her shirt was buttoned to the throat. I couldn’t even imagine her cleavage if I tried. She made for the front door and I followed behind at a safe distance. Her friend, a well-built guy whose workout regimen didn’t concern his legs shot me deathly looks as she entered the vehicle. He tried to assert dominance with eye contact and won as I looked away.
Broken, dejected with a nose that leaked, I searched for my phone and called Martha.