Thursday, December 08, 2005

Ahem, We Really Need To Talk

I do not know how men feel when they are in situations like this, but ladies, have you ever been in those situations where you want to break a man’s heart softly (if there is such a thing), but as soon as you open your mouth to utter the words that you have so carefully premeditated, he decides that he has something to say to you first and he says “baby, the past few weeks (or months) I have spent with you have been the absolute best of my life. I just want to tell you that no matter what happens or what life may throw our way, I will never ever let you go. We are soul mates, baby!” And then before you know it, you are standing there feeling and looking stupefied, mortified and petrified when he asks you “so what is it that you wanted to say?” You’re feeling this way because you’re either a sucker for romance or because you’ve just realized that this is not going to be as easy as you thought, or maybe because of both reasons. So in the midst of the psychological chaos that is brewing in your head, you voice out the right words at the wrong time at the wrong place and sure as hell to the wrong person, “I feel the same way too.” If only you could turn back the hands of time…well, too bad. Once again, you begin conspiring and developing and constructing the right sentence or words to capture your true feelings without the pain and guilt of being a heartbreaker. At the end of the day, you figure “well, maybe I should just give him a chance. It’s not like he’s that bad…right???”

Needless to say, whether you are male or female, breakups are never a thing of joy; and being the dumper or ‘dumpee’ does not make much of a difference either (unless you have a heart of stone). It makes it even harder when you are the dumper and you cannot come up with any logical, legitimate, plausible reason for dumping the ‘dumpee’. It may be a heavy weight lifted off your shoulder when you and your partner are no longer together, but no matter how much weight is lifted off in the process of dumping your partner, it is unquestionably not the path of least resistance. As most soon-to-be dumpers would do in situations like these, you would give your partner the chance to break up with you instead. You will begin to do things just to piss your partner off enough for him to dump you instead because you know you will not feel the hurt, though you can always pretend. Of course, at a crucial moment like this, Heaven would decide to turn deaf ears to your mischievous yet allegedly selfless plan, and a proof of that is your partner saying “I still love you” instead of breaking up with you. As a true human being, you will seek comfort in the words of your friends. They will ask you why you want to leave your partner and all you will be able to say is “he is just not it.” Just not what? Of course you have no idea, but deep down your guts, you know that there is something terribly wrong with this relationship.

He probably does everything you want, and never really gives you any trouble, but still, there is something missing. Maybe you have met someone else, or maybe it’s just your inner vibe telling you that you cannot possibly spend the rest of your life with this person. The thought of it probably repulses you. Instead of your friends taking your side and telling you that they understand what you must be going through, they will tell you that you are just an ingrate who does not recognize what she has. Your friends would tell you that if they were in your position, they will thank the Lord everyday for bringing such a wonderful person (your partner) into their lives. In resentment, you will say something along the line of “if you like him so much, why don’t you date him?” Now, it’s evident to you that your friends just don’t get it; they don’t get your partner, and they sure as hell don’t get you. Yes, this is all their misconception, not yours. But what is it that is there to get? Genuinely speaking, you do not know either, but you know they do not get it (whatever there is to get); but of course, you get it, or don’t you?

You begin to reconsider breaking up with your partner; I mean it’s not like you have a prince charming stashed away somewhere waiting for you to come so he can profess his love for you. You begin to think that maybe you are just being too stiff and rigid; maybe you should just take a deep breath in and let yourself love this man, but damn, it’s really not working out that way. No matter how much you try, you just can’t bring yourself to love him or even be attracted to him. You try futile efforts of breaking up with him again in different ways and different scenes, but over and over, he says and does all the right things at the wrong time. Six months ago, he said he loved you more than his own life; four and half months ago, he gave you a promise ring that you got appraised for $5,500; three months ago he introduced you to his mother as his soul mate and her future daughter in-law, and last month he proposed to you at your cousin’s huge wedding in the presence of all your family and friends, and you were considered the luckiest woman alive.

If things continue this way, you will be standing in front of him at the alter and still saying “ahem, we really need to talk.” You have only been dating for eight months, which could either be considered as long or short, depending on who is looking at it. You decide that the only reason why he’s acting so sweet is because you both have not been intimate, so after reviewing the situation, you figure you might as well stick in for the next month; by then he should be tired of loving you and tired of hearing “I’m not ready” when it comes to sex, and then you will have the perfect chance to let him go; matter of fact, he will let you go himself. Moreover, he is a proper Naija man, and Naija men do not like doing the mushy stuff, and neither do they like being deprived of sex, right?

“Happy Anniversary, baby!” your lover says to you with sheer joy. Wow! That one month really zoomed by, huh? Who would have thought a year could feel like a month? You planned on staying for one more month, but somehow four months elapsed instead, and now it’s your one year anniversary. You realize he is starting to grow on you; you realize he’s not so bad after all, but something still isn’t right. You beg God to show you the way and lead you in the right path, and for Pete’s sake, show you the right man! But God has been on vacation, and no it’s not in Hawaii. He had to go somewhere you will not be able to reach him; you realize that even God is tired of your endless baseless bickering.

Your wedding is a month away; you’ve got a ring that has a rock so big and bright that people need sunglasses to look at it, you’ve got the wedding gown of your dream, and the wedding arrangement of your dream, but unfortunately, you cannot say the same about the man you are about to marry. On your wedding day, you stand in front of your husband-to be and tell the priest to hold on for a second while you whisper into your fiancé’s ear, “we really need to talk.” He says “don’t worry sweetie, we have all our lives to talk…just the two of us.”

Twenty years later, four kids down the line, a wrinkle here and there, generous stretch marks on your stomach and hips, breasts a few inches ‘longer’, he says to you “honey, remember on our wedding day when you said we needed to talk? What was it you wanted to say?” You roll your eyes at him and curse him under his breath, and then he says “You know, I was hoping you would break up with me; I tried so hard to irritate you, but it never seemed to work; you were stuck on me like white on rice. Every time I said something to put pressure on you and make you feel like I was moving too fast, you would return the favor. I thought you would be intimidated by me introducing you to my mother as her future daughter-in-law, but you weren’t. I thought you would be alarmed by the price of the promise ring…and don’t even tell me you did not get it appraised, but you weren’t, and I even thought you would reject my proposal since we never directly talked about marriage, but you gladly accepted my ring. I was so close to breaking up with you, but my friends kept on telling me how great you were and how ungrateful I was, so I learned to tolerate you. You’re not half as bad as I expected, so I guess it all worked out; plus you gave me four beautiful children”. You look at him intensely (if looks could kill); you think of all the meanest things to say to him, but of what use will it be? Hell, you might as well go with the flow. You kiss him passionately and say “I love you too”. You go to bed and say to God, “God, if I catch you ehn…!!!”

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Bottomless Pit

Bottomless Pit

Since the age of eleven when I was privileged to be a flower girl at my older sister’s wedding, I had always dreamt of one day finding a man as fine as my sister’s husband and getting married to him. I later learned that there was a term used to describe people like me…”hopeless romantic”. Of what difference did it make if I was hopeful or hopeless? The most important thing is that I was a romantic. While I sat in the front pew with the rest of the flower girls, my mind wondered away and took me to where my tender heart longed to be. I was standing in front of the priest with my elementary school crush, Jideofor, and he was putting the ring on my finger and telling me that he would love and cherish me till death do us part. I was quickly brought back to reality by Ify who jolted me (almost violently) in order for me to realize it was time to go pour the flowers on the newly wedded couple. It was over already. Was I gone for that long? I had never seen my older sister so happy before, so on that day, I vowed to find true love like she did, or like I thought she did, and come what may, I would marry him.

At the age of fifteen, I thought I had grown into a woman, and I was pretty sure that if I intended to be married by my target age of 22, then this was the right time for me to start looking for a husband. I was in SS1 in a federal government secondary school when I met Oscar. He, like all other horny teenage boys told me that I meant the world to him, and on Valentine’s Day, he bought me a huge fluffy teddy bear, chocolate and a frame with romantic words in it. I was in heaven, or so I thought. Oscar’s parents were very wealthy, so it was no surprise that he could afford to buy me the gifts he bought. For Valentine’s day, we planned on sneaking out of our boarding school at night and spending the night at an expensive hotel because “that’s what lovers do” according to Oscar. He had the N250 to bribe Ali the gateman, but as fate would have it, that night Ali was sick and was replaced by someone who refused to let us out no matter how much we offered. We begged and begged along with other students, but it was a much wasted effort. Oscar and I ended up doing some heavy smooching in the cafeteria at about 1A.M in the morning. He wanted to disvirgin me, but I refused to let him simply because I did not want to lie down on the table and stain my white shirt with oil. Things went smoothly for Oscar and I that term, but when we went on holidays, I did not see or hear from Oscar. His family sent him to London for his vacation. When he came back the next term, he acted like he did not know me; he boasted of an English girlfriend he had in London, and of course, all the boys lobbied around him to hear more. I choked it up to experience and moved on.

At age seventeen, I realized how silly I was to think that I was ready for a relationship at the age of fifteen; I believed that I was now mature at seventeen. That was when I met Joseph who refused to stop pestering me. He wrote me several love notes and professed his undying love for me, but Joseph was Hausa, so I refused to give him a try, but that was until he took me to the newest club in Jos and spent a lot of money on me. He made me feel like a queen and before I knew it, I was in love with him. We ate suya every weekend and drank it down with fanta. Joseph proved his “manhood” by giving me the speech about how sex was a result of love. I told him to go to hell with his lies, but that was until he bought me the reigning shoe at the moment. I gave up my virginity and thanked the Lord for bringing Joseph into my life, but that was until he introduced me to Jennifer, his “true love”. I cried for weeks, maybe months before I decided to choke it up to experience again and move on. At the age of twenty, I attempted yet another failed relationship. Tunde and I instantly hit it off and we truly believed we were meant to be, or at least, I believed so. Even my friends called us husband and wife, and once again, I let my emotions cloud my judgment. I became sexually intimate with him and at first, it was great. Tunde was on my mind every single second and life was good, but then his family won the U.S visa lottery, so he had to relocate. I went with him to the airport where I shed my sad tears; he promised he would come back for me, but that was the last I heard of him. It was time to choke it up to experience. I had two more years before reaching my target age for marriage. I figured I had two more years to find, date and marry a man, so I strategized. I found Iyke, but something was not right with him and I soon found out what it was the day he pressed his hands firmly against my neck and tried to strangle me because he suspected I was cheating. I ran for my life and never looked back; thank God, I had not fallen in love with him.

From that point on till I was twenty-seven, all I did was date one man after another after another and sleep with every single one of them. It was not my intention; I was only trying to make it work. On my 28th birthday, I met Tony who seemed a lot more mature than all the men I had been dealing with. Though I was not physically attracted to him, I did not waste any time before deciding to date him because I was already six years past my target age of marriage. Tony turned out to be a wonderful man; our relationship was so good that he even proposed marriage to me. I wasted no time in accepting his proposal because not only had he proven to be a real gentleman, but we were also deeply in love with one another. We set a date for Tony and his family to come and officially ask my parents for my hand in marriage, but that day came and passed with neither Tony nor his family. The next day, Tony’s junior brother came to our house to inform us that Tony had been in an accident and his body was now lying in the mortuary. I blacked out.

Two years later, I turned 30 and won the U.S lottery, so I moved to California where I met Steve, an architect who stimulated my mind and body. At this point, I had practically given up on finding my true love because from where I was standing, my true love and soul mate was Tony and since he was dead, there was nothing else for me. At this stage of my life, I had decided it was time for me to indulge in meaningless sex, which people preferred to call a “one night stand”. I was sitting at the bar alone when Steve approached me and told me how beautiful I was. I told him he did not have to kiss ass, and that if he wanted sex, I was open to almost anything. Steve seemed shocked and appalled by my offer, but not enough to refuse it, so I followed him home that night where he sweated out my curls… a man I had just met. The morning after, I did not feel so good about how cheap I had sold myself. I wished things had turned out differently, but I was just too tired of falling in love, having it blow in my face and then having to start all over again only to meet yet another dead end. I figured it would be more beneficial if I just satisfied my physical and sexual needs without getting my heart involved. I had learnt the bitter lesson that falling in love meant letting my guard down and exposing my heart to a battle field where my ribs could not protect it. No more; I had had enough. When I woke up that morning and looked over at Steve who was snoring lightly; he looked really nice and seemed like someone who would have taken good care of me, but I refused to let my heart think that way. I got dressed and walked the walk of shame back to my one bedroom apartment. When I got into my house, I dropped my bag on the floor and wept. There I was, a beautiful 32 year old lady living in an empty house. No pictures on the wall, no husband, no kids tearing the house down…just me and my furniture. Apart from me, there was no other living thing in my house… not even a plant. I was still standing there and crying hysterically when someone knocked my door. I wiped my tears and unconsciously hoped it was Steve. I opened the door to see a maintenance technician standing in front of me.
“Yeah?” I asked irritably
“Morning ma’am, I’m from the apartment office. I’m here to fix your fridge.”
“There is nothing wrong with my fridge.”
“Isn’t this apartment 6A”? He asked puzzled.
“No, it’s 9A. The ‘9’ lost a screw and that’s why it’s upside-down and…”
“Oh, I’m very sorry about that ma’am. My apology.”
“Yeah whatever. Bye.” I said and banged my door shot. I felt bad for displacing my feelings towards the innocent man, but not bad enough to run after him and apologize. I was still standing there when there was another knock.
Without looking to see who it was, I snapped “I said there is nothing wrong with the fridge!”
“Good. Does that mean there’s breakfast in it?”
It was Steve. I was ecstatic and the broad smile on my face was a living proof.
“How did you find me?” I asked not really caring.
“I followed you. And you left your wallet in my house.”
“Oh thanks.” I blushed.
“Can I come in?”
“Yes, definitely.” I said. I had forgotten that he was still standing outside.
“I love your home.” He said.
“It’s just a house. I’m the only one in it.”
“What about me?” he asked smiling.
Steve and I spent the rest of the day together and discovered we had a lot in common. He didn’t leave my house till the next day and ever since then, the story has been different. It had been almost two years since we started dating and it was great, though I could not help being reminded that I was 12 years past my target age of marriage, but I refused to be bothered…a lot. Steve and I had planned to go out and see a movie, and I was driving to his house…that was until I woke up in a strange room. After looking around for about 30 seconds, I realized I was in a hospital room. I started screaming to get someone’s attention.
The nurse came flying into the room and said “oh, good, you’re talking.”
“Of course I’m talking. What kind of stupid question is that? How did I get here? Where the hell am I?”
“Calm down ma’am. I’ll get your doctor.” She said and walked out hurriedly before I had the chance to reply. A few minutes later, an Asian doctor came in and introduced herself as Dr. Yiu. She told me that I had been in a psychiatric hospital for the past two weeks and I had been diagnosed with schizophrenia. She claimed that I had been having visual and auditory hallucinations; I had claimed that I lost my soul mate, Tony, but that in reality none of it was true. How couldn’t it have been false? I pinched myself to wake up from the bad dream, but I did not wake up. I asked her why I could not remember anything about my stay in the hospital and she told me it was because I had a fight with my hospital room mate the previous day and that she had pushed me into the wall so hard that I was temporarily suffering from amnesia. How had this happened? As far as I knew and remembered, I was on my way to my boyfriend’s house. Had I had an accident and died? Was this what heaven was like? Or maybe hell? Dr. Yiu was still trying to explain the enormity of my illness to me when Steve came walking into my room.
“Hey sweetie! I’m so glad to see you’re finally awake. How are you?” He said as he reached down and kissed my lips passionately.
I was very happy to see him because his presence gave me some hope that the doctor did not know what she was talking about. If Steve was still my boyfriend, then how could I have been in the hospital for the past two weeks? “Wait here; I have a surprise for you.” he said and walked out of the room excitedly. I was sure he noticed the apprehension on my face.
“Did you see him? He’s real right?” I whispered to Dr. Yiu. Even though I believed in the love Steve and I shared, the past 10 minutes had been the most confusing of my life, so I wanted to be sure I was not hallucinating again.
“Yes, of course I did. He’s your husband.”
“What?! When?! How?!” I exclaimed and looked at my finger. That was when I saw a ring with a huge rock sitting on it.
Before I could gather my thoughts together, Steve came back into the room “baby, I’m back! I brought our children to see you.”
I blacked out. When I woke up, I was still in bed, but not in the hospital one I remembered being in. I jumped up from bed and looked around me, but I could not recognize where I was; I was in a bedroom, but whose was it? I spotted a picture on the dresser so I went closer to see who was in it; it was a picture of me, Tony and the two kids Steve said belonged to us. What the hell was going on? Tony was dead or maybe non-existent as Dr. Yiu claimed, and I could not remember being married or having kids. Could it be that…

*the preceding story is a fictional account.*

I Will Really Show You!!

If there is anything I have learnt from being in a relationship, it is the fact that a lot of times, once one partner realizes the other loves him/her, he/she begins to act out. What is it with them? I have taken the time to write a letter of anger to my partner who thinks life will not go on without him in my life.
My Dear,

It has been almost a year since we started this sick, twisted, strange and perverted saga that we stupidly call a relationship, and I am yet to see the benefits. Ok, maybe there has been some benefits (in the beginning and a little now), but the fact that we have both invested reasonable amounts of our time into this will not stop me from putting a screeching halt to it. I did it before and I will proudly and happily do it again without a second thought. This is exactly what happened between me and my ex; as soon as he realized I was in love with him and dependent on him, he decided to start malfunctioning. Yes, I said it… malfunctioning.
You always say how much you love me and how much you want to spend the rest of your life with me, but instead, all you do is break my heart every chance you get. Either that, or you embarrass me in private or in public. I have tried so hard to make this work just because I love you. I take your insults and inadequacies simply because I love you and also because I foolishly think you will change. Every time you mess up, you apologize, I take you back and you do it again. In case you have not noticed, you’re not the only man out there, so if you are not ready to commit to me in the manner that I deserve, then I advice you find love some place else.
Tell me, what is it you want that I have not given you? What is it that I have not done for you? You are with me practically 24/7, so you cannot possibly say I abandon you. You are the first person I see when I wake up, and the last person I see before I go to bed. I cater to you like all men wish their women would do, and I have never for one day mistreated you. I respond to your every need no matter when, where, and how. I find myself doing things that I never thought I would do, yet you have the effrontery to treat me like I’m nothing. Why? Did you find someone else? Are you in love with someone else? It is only a matter of time before she realizes what a pain you are and will continue to be. You’re a liability and I am sick and tired of your instability. You either change or we are over… for real this time. I was brought on this earth for many reasons; you are not my sole purpose and mission on earth. God put me on earth to be many things to many people; I am my parents’ daughter, I am my friends’ friend, I will be somebody’s wife, I will be the mother of some future children, I will be the author of the book someone will be reading in the future, I am a student at my school, I am a T-Mobile customer, and I am even a Yahoo! and MSN account holder, so you see, you’re really not even my priority.
So my dear Nokia 3660, if you think you can keep tripping off when you feel like it or not ringing when you don’t feel like it, then you have another thing coming for you. For your information, you are not the only phone out there; yes, T-Mobile has other Nokia phones… new flip ones for that matter. Just wait till December when I’m due for an upgrade… I will really show you!

Is It Really Wishful Thinking?

Is it really wishful thinking to actually believe I would end up with my dream man? I guess that depends on who my dream man is. Well, I dream of a Nigerian man (at least six years older than me and educated) that would love me day, afternoon and night. I dream of a man that would love me on day one, and love me as much or even more on day ten thousand when we are wrinkly and old. I dream of a man that would bring me a rose for no reason; he does not have to do this every week or every month, but once in a while. I dream of a man that would hold my hand whenever we go out; I dream of a man that would be proud to have me as his woman. I dream of a man that would find me enough for him, and not have the need to run after another woman. Tell me, is that too much to ask for? I dream of a man that would occasionally sit with me in the kitchen to keep me company while I’m cooking (after all, he will open his wide mouth and gladly let the food pass through his esophagus), and I also dream of a man that would know and understand me inside and outside. I dream of a man that would be wise enough to show and teach our children the right examples. Tell me, is this a wishful thought? I dream of a man who would not hit me out of anger, or call me names. I dream of a man who would want my success as much as he wants his. I dream of a man who would not be an alcohol, cigarette or drug user, and I also dream of a man who is God-fearing and family and career driven. Am I still thinking wishfully? I dream of a man that would respect me and not treat me like a grocery bag from the dollar store; I dream of a man that would trust me and be confident in our union and know that there isn’t anything I would need from any man that he already does not give me. I dream of a man who I can tell all my dreams and fears and he will not throw it back in my face, and I dream of a man who I can talk to all day and night and not feel the least bit bored. I dream of a man that would not make me start pulling my hairs out or seriously start considering chewing a bottle for lunch because of his inability to stop pissing me off. I dream of a man who would love to hear my voice first thing in the morning and last thing in the night instead of his news station. Finally, I dream of a man who is undeniably dreaming of me right now and “wishfully thinking” I am dreaming of him too.

If God could create King Solomon full of wisdom, Daniel full of faith, David full of courage, Joseph full of generosity, and Jesus full of love, then why not a Nigerian man full of Vera’s dreams? In the past, people have often called my dreams “wishful thinking”, but God in his infinite mercy has made them all reality, so why not this one? Can someone tell me that there is no single Nigerian man on the face of God’s green earth that can do all of the above? Apart from causing heart ache and producing the key ingredient for making babies, what else can men do? Well, I refuse to settle for less. I do not want a man who is only called a man because of the package he carries between his legs; I want a man who is my man. Life is too short and marriage is too long, so even if I can settle for a shoe from payless because of the unavailability of funds to buy one from Bloomingdale’s, I cannot do the same for my man. He’s got to be designers, and I’m not talking Kenneth Cole or Calvin Klein ‘cause those are cheap and common; I’m talking designers that will only make one brand and one item that has not even been heard of, and that one brand and one item is mine and no one else’s. Is this still wishful thinking?

I do not think this is wishful thinking because I know that one day I would make a great wife to a great designers man, and he has to meet me half way. I’ll be that wife that men believe do not exist anymore; do not get me wrong, I do not mean I will become a computerized robot who only hears the commands of her husband, but rather I would love and nurture him so much, he will not know what hit him. But do you know what wishful thinking really is? Wishful thinking is when you believe a man will change…. Ha! That will not happen; hell would have to freeze over and a midget would be able to reach the top shelf at a “Big n Tall” store before a man changes, which is why it is not one of my dreams.

I would love to continue writing, but you have to excuse me; I have to go think wishfully… it has really been paying off. (Maybe I should wishfully think of winning ten billion dollar lottery.) At the rate it has been paying off, you all need to watch out for part II, which would be me capturing (since he has been found) this dream man of mine; my soul mate in every shape and form. It is never complete if it is not a trilogy, so after that, you can watch out for Part III (Operation ‘Marry My Soul Mate’). Off I go to capture him; as you know, there is a huge scarcity of soul mates in the market these days (I wonder if like gas, it has anything to do with the war in Iraq).

Imprudent Heifers

There really isn't anyway for me to call a woman an "imprudent heifer" and mean it in a nice way, unless of course there is a new meaning to "imprudent" that I do not know about. I chose to use "heifer" because my other choice would have been "bitch", but since I am not a fan of that word, all hail the "heifer". Pay attention closely because you might be one of them. I know most people are used to me pointing out all the wrong deeds of the Nigerian man, but let's face it, we are not saints.

I cannot count how many times I have heard Nigerian men complaining about how Nigerian women have suddenly become ?smart? because they have left Nigeria. While some of what they say is only due to their inability to handle a little independence in favor of the woman, the rest of what they say is actually true. In one simple word, most of us (Nigerian women) are extremists. Instead of being assertive, we are either idiotically passive (in Nigeria) or ludicrously aggressive (out of Nigeria). Why does it have to be that way? Have I lost you? Let me explain. In Nigeria, when a man cheats on his wife, what does the wife do? She does nothing; instead, she consoles herself by saying "he's a man; he will always be a man and act like one". Out of Nigeria (America, for example), if the man so much as looks at another woman, they are headed for Judge Mabeline Ephraim at the Divorce Court (ok, maybe not Judge Mabeline, but somewhere along that line). Not only will she divorce him, but she will also claim alimony even if the man never gave her a dime throughout the marriage. Unless she decides to marry a non-Nigerian, I hope she knows that finding another Nigerian man to marry her and all her baggage will not be a day's work. Divorcing one Nigerian man is like divorcing them all, because they will believe that if "Man A" got divorced, then he will likely be taking the sane path; not to mention that in the event of the divorce, he will be loosing half of the house he solely owns.

What about the spinsters? In Nigeria, sex is considered sacred. Something you only do with your husband, or at least with someone you're indisputably in love with, but once they are out of Nigeria?forget that. Sex becomes something you indulge in once you're horny. Heck, you do not even have to be horny; just have the craving to be horny and everything else falls into place. In their defense, "men do it, so why shouldn't we?" Who are these men and what do they mean to you? Let's just be realistic for a second here and answer this question honestly "who is really loosing? The man or the woman?" If you were honest as I asked, then I know you will have the same answer as I do right now. Of course the woman is loosing. Think about it; what are people's reactions when you scream out "he slept with thirty women!"? They will probably say something that sounds like "Nna, na him own better oh!" What if you said "she slept with twenty men!" instead? Then you?ll hear something like ?I bin know say the girl na proper aseowo!? God has not given us the privilege to know all about anybody?s life, neither has he given us the right to judge, but we are humans and we do it everyday. Just because she has slept with twenty men does not make her a whore, but that is what we think. She may have fallen in love twenty times and been intimate with all twenty of her lovers; she might have been raped, or maybe she just likes sex, but either way, we are not at liberty to judge. If she likes sex just as much as the man next to her, then why does she get called a "whore" and not the man? Let's face it; there is a double standard and sanity is a personal race. Our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit, so keeping it a temple should not be about the man, but about you. A woman's private part is like a new pair of shoe; every time a different leg steps into it, it changes its shape and no matter what happens, that shoe can and will never be the same.

What about our beautiful ladies (married and married) who have taken it upon themselves to wrong the man before he wrongs them? Again, their reason is that "men do it all the time, so why shouldn't we?" Why are you cheating on him? He seems to love you earnestly. "Oh, men do it all the time, so why shouldn't we?" Why are you leading him on when you know you're really not into him? "Oh! Men do it all the time, so why shouldn't we?" Why are you dating his money instead of him? "Oh, men do it all the time, so why shouldn't we?" Why do you want to have his baby just to trap him in the relationship? You know the answer to that one. There is only one word to describe these behaviors "IMPRUDENCE!" That is the only sane reason why someone will deliberately hurt herself and think she's hurting someone else. You say "men" do it all the time, right? Who are these men? This is a classic case of being penny-wise and pound-foolish. Basically, you cheat on Akin because word on the street is that Mr. Okeke cheated on his wife, but meanwhile Mr. Okeke is off to Paris with his new blonde girlfriend and does not know that Akin is receiving punishments on his behalf, but even if he knows, who the hell cares? That's Akin's problem anyway. So think about it: who is really loosing? Akin may be hurt, but he'll move on and find himself a woman who actually cares for him. You on the other hand will have no lover, and we all know how scarce soul mates are. There are a whole lot more women than there are men, so good luck finding one.

Ariztos. I cannot help but mention this. Can somebody please help me to understand why a young beautiful woman would be sleeping around with a married man who is old enough to be her father? Being the "other woman" is a degrading position to take, and it will only lead to hurt, heartache and sometimes, even death. Yes, death because a woman scorned (the wife) will do anything to avenge her anguish. I recently met two ladies (whom I would only call beautiful on a freezing day in hell) and when I asked them how they would feel if their husbands (assuming they got married, of course, which I really doubt) were sleeping around with women young enough to be their daughters, they said they did not care. As far as they were concerned, it was a man thing, and whether they (the ladies) slept with married men or not during their youth, their husbands were still going to do it. They were just going to pretend not to know that their husbands were doing it. May that not be my portion in Jesus' name, Amen! (I hope you said Amen too). What has marriage turned into? It is no longer a sacred union. If any man will marry me and still want to go outside of our matrimony to handle his business, then I beg him to take his proposal elsewhere because the repercussions of his infidelity will be very drastic on his side. Let's just say some things may or may not be functioning properly after his infidelity; I suggest you think more on the latter side.

What about heifers that are ready to engage in a "girl fight" for the sake of a man? Tell me, if he really cares about you, then why do you need to fight for him? As far as you're concerned, you're trying to save your relationship from another heifer who is trying to steal your man. And uhm, where is this man whom you're fighting for? Oh! That's him on the couch over there saying "baby, go on with your bad self and show her how it's done!? Who exactly is he talking to? From where I'm standing, there are two heifers fighting. Take it from me; any man who would make you fight for him (physically, verbally, emotionally or otherwise) is not even worth a second of your time. Why is he making you fight for him? Why can't he tell the other woman that she has no place in his life? You fight for him and in the process, you humiliate yourself in the presence of people, but when all is said and done, he will leave you for yet another heifer. So then, what did you stand to gain? Nothing! Nada! Zilch! What did you lose then? Nothing but your pride and dignity.

Imprudence is one thing, but being a heifer at that is just a damn shame. I've said my piece, but if you want to go ahead and still be an imprudent heifer, then all I'll say is "you go on with your bad self!"

Sticks Or Worms?

It does not matter what you decide to call yourself: girl, lady, woman, female, spinster, damsel… we all still want the same thing. We want that man that will sweep us off our feet and carry us to the land of forgotten troubles, which is why it’s a tremendous pain in the rear end when you meet a man who is a man, but isn’t quite the man. How many times have you had to start over because you had to accept the fact that “it’s just not gonna happen”? I know I’ve had to do so plenty times. As always, I will put my attention on Nigerian men because they are the ones I know. I have come to realize that [relationship-wise] there are three kinds of men: the stick, the worm, and the wormy stick. For most, if not all Nigerian women, we want the latter, the wormy stick, but of course, we are stuck with either the stick or the worm.

You go to Cynthia’s house and you meet Peter; you have a lengthy and interesting conversation with him, and at the end, he asks for your number. You give it to him, but he never calls. You run into him at the grocery store and exchange pleasantries, after which you ask ‘how come you never called me?” He says “I’m sorry, you look familiar, but I cannot quite remember where we met” even though he’s been blowing Cynthia’s phone up trying to ask about you. He’s the stick. He’s the man that will go above and beyond to prove that he’s tough and no feline can ever cut through him. He wants to make you work extra hard for everything, including things you don’t even give a flying boot about. He’s the man that will purposely forget your birthday and claim he “forgot” even though you spoke to him the day before. He’s the man that will tell you how troublesome women are, and how he can do perfectly fine without them. Like hell, he can! Let’s ask his mother. He’s unable to show emotions, unable to accept responsibility for his actions, unable to apologize, unable to say “I miss you” without breaking a sweat, unable to say “you look gorgeous” without loosing some hair, unable to say “I love you” without cracking a tooth or more, unable to make love, and unable to cuddle after ‘sex’ because he is not a “p*ssy”. He’s the stick; he’s inflexible.

You go to Funmi’s house and you meet Lanre; you have a lengthy conversation with him, and at the end, he asks for your number and you give it to him. You have to leave Funmi’s house for another engagement, and as soon as you step your foot outside the door, your cell phone rings. You pick it up and it’s Lanre; he says “I miss you already, baby.” He’s the worm. Now, what are you supposed to say in response to that? “I miss you too, pumpkin”? The worm is needy and sometimes insecure. He wants to so desperately please you that he ends up repulsing you. He will call eleven times in ten minutes, and if you dare not pick up your phone, he will show up at your door because he was worried about you. On your first date, he will tell you he loves you and talk about marriage and even kids you will have for him. He will tell you how important you are to him and how he never wants to lose you. After about a week of knowing him, he will start attaching his last name to your name. In all honesty, for a man to consider you to be the one to bear his last name and have his children is an honor, but when you consider who the man is, it leaves you in a less than comfortable position. The worm is the man that will never give you a chance to miss him; “do you miss me?” he will constantly ask, and deep in your guts you want to say “you mean in the five seconds that I walked from your couch to your door? Urh…not really.” The worm wants to be at your side 24/7 and never gets tired or bored. I’ll share a personal experience of this particular day that I was in my friend’s house with blood-shot eyes and was aching to put my head on a pillow. There I was barely falling into the beta phase of sleep, and this guy (whose name I will not mention in order not to get beaten) was right next to me yelling on a cell phone. I decided to leave the leaving room couch and move to the bedroom, but he followed me (still on the cell phone). I moved back to the living room, but he followed me again; one last move to the bedroom, and guess what? He’s right behind me. What’s a girl to do in such a situation (apart from screaming at the top of her lungs)? And they ask me why it did not work out.

Now, you go to Vera’s house and you meet Toby. You have a lengthy conversation, and at the end, you exchange numbers. He asks you the best time to call you and you tell him anytime from 7pm. He calls you at 9pm and you talk for about an hour about nothing intimate, but just a little history on you both (like place of birth and middle name). He calls the next day and you talk for about two hours this time, and at the end, he asks you about your marital status. You tell him you’re single, and he says he’s single too. He calls you the next two days and asks you out on a date. He decides to take you to a pool parlor since you said you did not know how to play pool and would like to learn. The pool parlor would provide an opportunity for you two to talk, yet have fun. It will give him the right to intrude on your personal space without being an intruder. He compliments your outfit by saying “you’re really wearing those jeans”; it’s a light but appreciated compliment. He’s the wormy stick. You go on dates for about a month after which he makes his intentions known to you. He tells you he wants to have a relationship with you; you agree and you both put all (or at least, most) of your cards on the table and pray to God that everything goes well, and the ending is happy. He compliments you reasonably, not when you look tore up from the flo’ up and he knows it, but he lies through his teeth and says “baby, you look absolutely beautiful” (the worm); or when you look like a million dollars, he says “well, you hair is a little messed up, but you look alright…I guess…” (the stick). The wormy stick is the guy who knows the beauty and magnificence of boundaries. It does not mean he is perfect, it just means that his imperfect days are way lesser than his perfect days. He gives you time to feel something that he feels instead of trying to force it on you, or pretend it isn’t there. He always wants you two to be on the same page; he’s always by your side, not in front of you or behind you.

Women also fall into the same three categories, which is why everyone should hook up with his/her own type. A stick should be with a stick, a worm with a worm, and a wormy stick with a wormy stick, so that way both parties receive as much as they give, and everyone one is happy. Some men see the obvious differences, but they choose to disavow the warning bells. For example, when you ask a woman “you missed me, didn’t you?” and she replies with “ok”, that’s not a good sign. It means she did not miss you, but she does not want to make you feel bad. If you tell a woman “I love you” and she replies with “thanks”, it means she does not quite feel the same way and/or is not comfortable with you telling her you love her. And if she says something along the lines of “really? Aww, that’s so sweet”, what she’s really saying is “you what? You must have lost your damn mind.” Or as a typical Nigerian woman would think “you’re in love with who? See this fool that thinks he can get into my pants with this 3rd century lie. What year does he think this is?” I remember when a friend of mine (whose name I will not mention, but she knows herself) went on a date which started out nice, but at the end, she was not feeling him at all (you know how that goes). He asked her if he could give her a kiss, and she said “no, thank you.” What do you interpret this answer to mean? Well, it means “no, I’ve had enough of you already, but thanks for offering me more nuisance.” Without being told, you know he is definitely a worm. Nigerian men tend to misread every single vibe that a woman is sending. You should know when she’s into your conversation, and when she isn’t. If she’s constantly looking around and checking her time or giving her cell phone that “please ring” look, then you know you’re boring her. And no, telling you that you’re obnoxious does not interpret into “you’re a really cool guy; I want to get to know you better.” And “I have a boyfriend who I’m committed to” does not interpret into “I have someone I’m talking to whom I’m willing to leave as soon as you chase me harder.” Get this: unreturned phone calls mean “I don’t want to talk to you; you’re bothering me, so please refrain from dialing my number.” If you have fallen in love with her before you even met her, please don’t tell her that on your first, second, third or even tenth date; it reduces the weight of “I love you” from 1000kg to 1 once, and that is a massive loss. Give her time to like you; make her want you; make her appreciate every single second she spends with you.

I cannot help but talk about this foolishness of Nigerian men: do not ask her very personal questions in the beginning, if at all. Do not ask questions like “are you a virgin?”, “how much do you weigh?”, “what’s your favorite sex position?” Those are the wrong questions, and God help me, I do not believe there is really ever a wonderful time to ask such questions, that is, until you know her better; as in, until you actually begin a relationship. If you’re the kind that likes to spend on your woman, then read this properly: START SMALL. Some men are so eager to impress a woman that they go in dept, and I mean serious debt. Start by buying her flowers, or maybe her favorite ice cream or candy...just be creative. Ibo people say it’s little by little that you lick hot soup, so please start small. Do not under any circumstance promise her more than you can give her; you want a woman to love you for who you are, not what you are or what you can do for her. Do not tell her that you’ll take her to a big fancy restaurant where you’ll have a candle lit dinner and end up taking her to TGIF. Now, that’s something that does not look good on your credit record of relationships. And get this, girls talk. When you do nice things for them, they tell their friends, and when you go wrong, you better believe your behind is being roasted, so when you get that funny look from her friends, you know what it means. When you do go on a date, do not spend the whole time talking about yourself, your accomplishments, and yourself. If I’m right, she probably stopped listening after your third sentence that started with “I…”. Ask her about herself, but do not be too personal, and do not press her for answers when she already said “I don’t want to talk about it.” Be a thoughtful man and open the door for her, pull her sit out for her, and if you’re dining out, please don’t place her order for her; that’s the first sign that you must be a control freak. When you go out with a woman, she has a mental list in her head and she is watching your every move, and of course you know we are better listeners. And do not do that thing where your head practically wants to break off because your eyes are following another woman; that counts for three strikes, and if you get three strikes on one date, that means you get dropped. Breaking your neck because you are looking at another woman takes you from the list of A-Active to C-Inactive, and it will take the Grace of God to get you back on even A-Inactive; being back on A-Active will only be a figment of your imagination. Finally, please, please, please and please, be sensitive to the vibes she’s sending. If she wants to be kissed, you will know. Do not spring a kiss on her lips when she is not looking or least expecting it; it’s neither cute nor sexy. It’s disgusting and repulsive. If I may, I’d call it a lip-rape, and as soon as the congress passes it as a law, I’ll be sure to put all you lip rapists behind the bar.

I could go on and on and on about all the wrong things Nigerian men do, but frankly, I neither have the stamina nor the desire to do so, but with the little I have written, I wish everyone a happy dating life, and I pray to God that you meet that special someone one day (preferably before menopause and before you start receiving senior discounts at the local grocery store), Amen.

This Scarcity Of Soul Mates Sef

I am always looking for a married person who will coach me on how to find, capture and marry my soul mate, but it seems like the more people I talk to, the more confused I become. Some say “love is natural”; there is no need to work for it. Whatever is meant to be will be, but on the other hand, some people say “when you see what (who) you want, go for it (him).” Now, would someone please tell me which one of these theories actually work? Amidst all this confusion, some other people have the nerve to tell me that in order to have or find true love, I have to have an open heart; I am not allowed to decide that there is no way anything can happen between me and a certain person. Apparently, I am supposed to give everyone a fair chance. While I am trying to digest this not-so-pleasant piece of information, other people say that I have to be watchful of who I interact with. They say that it is obvious that some people are most definitely not for me. What??? So let me get this straight – I should not work for love because whatever will be will be, and I should also go for what (who) I want when I see it (him), and while I am at that, I should not be judgmental about people, but yet I should know that not everyone is for me. Hmmm, I do not know about you, but from where I’m standing, that is humanly impossible. Am I the only one having this problem? I guess the quest to find my soul mate is a personal race, huh? No rules apply. All that matters is the two people involved: my alleged soul mate and I.

The next phase of this soul mate search is recognizing and observing my “spectrum of possible soul mates.” What does this mean? I mean who is my type? My type would be an Ibo guy who is at least six years older than I am. Just by stating this fact, I have already broken the rule of giving everyone a fair chance at being my soul mate. I have cut off every guy who is less than six years older than me and is not Ibo. After determining that an Ibo guy who is at least six years older than me falls in my “spectrum of possible soul mates”, I then have to add all the little details like tall, educated, Christian, etc. With this new addition, I have also excluded all non-Ibos who are not tall, educated and Christians. Nawa o. So who is left? Well, let me mention that he has to be living in the same state as I am because I am not interested in a long distance relationship. Once again, I have cut off all Ibos who do not reside in Maryland, USA. Anything else? Did I mention that he cannot have a history of dating anyone I know? I would not want to be dating any leftovers. Yes, I know this sounds very petty, but what’s a girl to do? I know that any man I date would have a history with other ladies, but I would like to be oblivious to that fact. Once again I ask, who has been cut off and who is left? This means I cannot date Uzo because he has dated Chika (my friend’s former classmate), and this means that I also cannot date Emeka because he has expressed interest in Nkem who I do not like because she expressed interest in Obinna, the guy that I wanted to date a year ago. What about Tochukwu? I do not think he would be a good candidate since he is not tall enough. I guess that leaves Ike…but shoot! He’s not a good candidate either because I once almost dated his ex-girlfriend’s cousin. Damn! I’m almost out of names in my spectrum of possible soul mates. One more thing, he cannot be Americanized, londonized, canadanized, or any other kind of “nized” that is not Nigerian, but while not being “nized” by any other country, he cannot be “too Nigerian” either. Damn, I just kicked Ugochukwu off the list.

Wait a minute, that’s not all. I have to mention that he has to possess other qualities like loyalty (faithfulness) and honesty. He must also not be a product of “ward robe malfunction” according to my standards. This means that he cannot be spotting a gold tooth, dreads, afro, twisties, corn rows, big baggy pants that are down to his knees, blinding and unnecessary bling-bling, long white T-shirts, and of course multiple offensive tattoos. Let’s reevaluate my spectrum of possible soul mates: Chidi is off the list because of his inability to be honest at any given time; in fact the only truth from his mouth is ‘good morning’. Nnamdi is also off the list because of his “Americaness” which is expressed in his extensive use of words such as “f*ck”, “mother f*cker” and “bitch”. Ifeanyi is off the list because of the bush he is growing on his head; he calls it an “afro”. Nonso is also off the list because he seems to overly enjoy calling me a bitch. If I were a bitch, I would be with Skippy, my neighbor’s German shepherd dog. But now that I think of it, I cannot even be with Skippy because he was once involved with Chinwe’s female German Shepherd dog. I do not like Chinwe because she did not tell me she dated Obiora who I almost dated, but ended up not dating because Ego told me about their failed three-week relationship. Oh! Uche is also off the list because of the snakes on his head (which he prefers to call twisties) and the flakes that lie beneath them. I refuse to be with a man who needs more ‘Head n Shoulders’ than I do. Nawa o…my spectrum of possible soul mates is drastically decreasing; I wonder why.

I would also want to date a man who is romantic. I am skeptical about using the word “romantic”; I would rather say “thoughtful”. Of course this means that another person has been kicked off the list; this time, it’s Amaechi. Though he gave me a gift last year, he did not give me a gift two years ago, and from the current looks of things, I doubt if he will be giving me anything this year. Like any other reasonable lady, I want a childless man because I do not want to go through any baby-mama-drama, so this means that Dozie has also been kicked off because though his ex girlfriend lost the child, the point is that she was once pregnant. Whew! That was a close one; if I had not taken a closer look, I would have dated a man who almost had a baby mama. How would I have explained my situation to my peers? Last but not least, I must say that in reality, this is a very important factor to me: security. I need a man who I can be secure in and who can be secure in me. What does this mean? It means that when I go to bed at night, I do not have to be afraid that when I wake up, he would not love me anymore. It means that when he says he is hanging out with a friend, I do not have to be worried because I am secure in what we have. It means that when we have a fight (which we obviously will), I do not have to be afraid that our relationship is over. I need security. With the kind of weight that security bears in my life, I am afraid that a few more people have been kicked off: Afam, Obijiaku, Kelechi, Ugorji, Olisa, Halim, Ibekwe and Zerenjo were all kicked off because I found no trace of security in them. Afam claims he will love me as long as he does not meet someone else. Obijiaku says he wants a relationship that is free of arguments, and since I know it is impossible, I have crossed his name off. Kelechi wants me to always tell the world that he is my man. Why would I want to do that? That would ruin my chances of getting to know another man. Ugorji does not believe that it is possible for me to have male friends; he believes I must be sleeping with all of them. Olisa wants me to prove my love for him by cooking for him all the time. What does he take me for? Evidently, he has lost what is left of his mind. Halim has been kicked off the list because he takes pride in stalking me just to make sure I am not cheating. Ibekwe believes that when he says “jump”, I should ask “how high?” because he is the man, and I am the “mere woman”. What century does he think this is? Contrary to his name, Zerenjo has refused to avoid sin. In order for him to have a relationship with me, I must first prove my fertility by giving birth to a child, and not just any child, but a male child. Oh yea, they have more value in the market these days. I told him to sit down and get comfortable while I come and give him whatsoever his idiotic heart may desire. Looking down my list, there is only one person left, and that is Somto, but unfortunately he has also been kicked out because I am just not that into him. Now that I have no one else on my list, what do I do? Well, since it is often said that “the beautiful ones are yet to be born”, I will just cross my hands and wait for my Prince Charming to be born, so that he can come and sweep me off my feet.

Ok, on a serious note, how in the world does a lady go about finding her true soul mate? I see couples all the time that look so happy until they open up their mouths, and I am often in disheartening awe. If there is something I know for sure, it is that I truly do want my soul mate. I know we will have problems, and I know there are times when I would want to call it quits, but after all is said and done, I need him to still be my soul mate. In reality, there is a redundant scarcity of soul mates. There are men, but they are either taken or not good enough to be taken, so basically, if he is single, I begin to wonder why, and sure enough, there is something wrong with him. He must be one of the following: immature, a liar, a cheat, a player, an engaged man still claiming solo with his fiancée in Nigeria, an unpaid gigolo, a selfish lover or a drama-filled man (babies and baby mamas), or in worst case scenarios, he is even a combination of them all – just a bomb waiting to explode. Or are we females just too picky? Well, can you blame us? The demand for men in the market of marriage is outrageously high, yet the resources remain devastatingly low. While it is unrealistic for me to keep cutting people off my “spectrum of possible soul mates”, you must understand and acknowledge that in a sick and twisted way, that really is what we females (especially Nigerians) have to go through. We have our standards and we want to maintain them, but you know what is really ironic? In spite of all our rules and regulations, most of us still end up marrying the “wrongest” person. Why? We are hoping for a change; a change that will not come. Before we know it, we have kids for this man, and then we begin to feel trapped, but as for me, that juju will not work on me. Besides, once juju has crossed the border, it becomes deactivated…right? I sure hope so.

Marrying a Nigerian man is like buying a car from an action. What you see is NOT what you get. What you see is a fine man who promises to give you the world and beyond; what you see is an honest and mature man who is secure in you and what you both share. What you get is a man who cannot control his sexual urges and wants sex on demand; what you get is an insecure man who panics at the mere mention of another man’s name. What you want is for him to change, and what you do not get is change. Marriage is a difficult investment, so I have to say “more grease to your elbows” to all the married folks out there. Investing in marriage is like buying a computer out of the auction; it is not guaranteed to work, there is no warranty, a return policy is non existent, a refund is most definitely out of the question, you are guaranteed that tons of viruses would be visiting you and crashing your system, the price you pay for it has nothing to do with its quality or the services it would render, hackers would definitely be accessing your computer, no company would want to insure it because they see it as a definite “liability”, and it will come with missing parts that cannot be replaced because they are off the market. So you see, if I will go through all these for the sake of marriage, do I not owe it to myself to at least marry my soul mate? Be knowledgeable that marrying my soul mate does not mean that he has all his parts; it just means that he is functioning without them.

What’s a girl like me to do? All I can do is get down on my knees and say to God “this scarcity of soul mates sef…e get as e be oh!”

Monday, December 05, 2005

The Beauty Of African Time

A person who is hearing the phrase "African time" for the first time would probably think it has something to do with time difference between countries or continents. But in reality, it has nothing to do with that. African time is more of the time when each guest decides to show up at an occasion.

When I was younger and back home in my native country, Nigeria, I did not understand why we could not be at an occasion at the specified time. There was always a preferably unspoken rule about being at the occasion at least two hours after the specified time. Of what use was this? I could not possibly figure it out at my fragile age. My father was naturally a late comer at every single even, church inclusive, so it was really hard figuring out if he was trying to follow the concept of African time, or if he was just running late. We used to go to church so late that by the time we were arriving, the priest was saying "you may now go home in peace" and we would stand outside and interact with the rest of the congregation and talk about how wonderful and "spiritually moving" the service was. Most times, my father preferred to claim he was allegedly running late though he deliberately started getting ready late. At times that we seemed to have gotten ready on time, and by on time, I mean about an hour late instead of two at least, he would sit outside and watch the chickens interact; anything to blow off that extra hour. Once upon a time, that used to get me extremely agitated, but now, I am the proud queen of African time.

When I came to the United States, I was amazed at how prompt people came for occasions, and when I say people, I mean the Americans. Apparently, you can take the Nigerians out of Nigeria, but you can not take the Nigeria out of them, and the concept of acting like the Romans when you get to Rome obviously did not strike a nerve with our way with time because be it Nigeria or America, we will be late. When Americans say they were running late, it actually means they were running late, not that they are just trying to blow off that extra time. If there were Americans at any Nigerian event, their faces were always swollen by the time I got there. Unfortunately, they were not and still are not used to the art of African time. These unfortunate naive victims of African time would show up even before the scheduled time. "Who does such a thing?" has always been a permanent question on my mind. I guess the Americans do. The ironic thing about the African time is that often, the hosts of the occasion ensure that they inscribe "NO AFRICAN TIME" on the invitations in bold print and upper case letters, but the hosts themselves show up two hours later or even more. Yeah, right! If anything, the inscription only serves to remind us to endeavor beyond reason to come late. A classic case is that of my beautiful aunt, Chinelo who went two hours late for her own wedding. How late was she? Not that late; some guests were still on their four hour journey from New York, and yes, they intended to witness the whole wedding. Everyone wants to make a grand entry into the occasion in such a way that at least seventy-five percent of the crowd would notice. I can definitely acknowledge to loving the attention I always get when I walk in. Being a Nigerian, I can definitely read what is on the mind of the other Nigerians, especially the women; often they are thinking something (as I would have been thinking if I was sitting down and watching someone else make a grand entry) "what is she feeling like? I wish I had not come this early". To them, or rather us since I am one of them, coming early is a sign that you are just over zealous about the occasion, or worse, just hungry. Of course, no one wants to be labeled the popular "hungry lion" for showing up on time. It is funny that the first question on the mind of a Nigerian when he/she gets an invitation is "what time is it? 2pm? We'll be there at about 4:30pm then". This question precedes the all too famous "is it free?" question. Yes, apparently we are known for loving free things. That would explain why we cannot get enough free condoms at the public library. "Free condoms? I better get some for when I start having sex (even if it's not in this decade.)" A mentality we possess? Most definitely without a doubt.

In spite of how intoxicatingly irritating this habit of ours is, I can declare right now that I do not intend to stop anytime soon. What's the fun in arriving early for an occasion? Especially one that you've had to spend hours of makeup for in front of the mirror. Sure, the men do not have to go through the make-up session, but they do have to walk in with the one wearing the make-up. He too wants to be noticed as the man who is walking besides the beautiful well made up lady. The simple trick is to set your time about two hours ahead of when you actually want to start the event. For example, if you want your occasion to start at 2pm, then do yourself a favor and set the time at 12pm. Of course, you do not want to set it too early because it will make it so obvious and your guests would know it is only a hoax to get them there on time, so for punishment, your event gets to start at 4pm. Another thing is never to calculate your occasion time starting from the time you have so dearly printed on the invitation cards. Basically, if you want your occasion to start by two and end by ten, which is eight hours, the last thing you want to do is rent a hall out for eight hours because if you do so, then at the end, you would be paying the landlord for spending some four extra hours that obviously were not included in the plan. By 9pm, you would have guests still coming in and asking "how come it started so early?", and of course they would want to get their groove on before leaving. You cannot possibly be callous enough to throw them out at ten. If you do, say goodbye to guests and gifts at any other Nigerian social gathering you may be planning in the future. Do not under any circumstance forget to have more seats than guests you actually invited because your guests would bring their guests who will bring their guests who will bring their guests, so you would be needing a lot of extra food, drinks, seats, tables and the likes. A Nigerian gathering is not one that you can accurately plan for. If you invite 500 guests, then do yourself a massive favor and plan for 1000 guests or even more, depending on how popular and likeable you are.

However, the most important factor remains the timing. Time as they is money, so if you would not want to be paying any extra money for unforeseen circumstances that were evidently not included in your already tight budget, then make sure you include "African Time" as one of your guests because she will be there. For all you Americans and/or foreigners who are ignorant to the concept of African time, I can only hope that this little piece of information serves you some good in the future. When a Nigerian invites you for an occasion that starts at 2pm and you have to work till 3pm, do not feel bad and call off work because you will live to regret it. Join the club of "believers in African time" by going to work, coming home, and taking a shower, and maybe even a little nap too before heading out for the occasion because chances are, you might still be among the first guests to arrive. Isn't African time beautiful?