As I arrived Silverbird galleria in Victoria Island, I put a call through to Paul to find out if he was there yet; he was. I looked at thetiny black box Tunji had given me yesterday, shut my eyes for a minute or so with no clue whatsoever what action to take. I called Becky to find out what movie we would be seeing and where everybody was, then I stepped out of my car.
I went to meet my colleagues. Everyone seemed rather excited about the day, a break from all the mental stress of work I guess: from the thinking and adjusting of sales pitches, to creating and recreating promotional materials for one client or the other and now, just faff around the cinemas, eating popcorn, sipping a drink and watching movie. We were so noisy, it felt like everyone had been on a vacation and just got back today and now, because everyone felt the need to talk about one thing or the other. I just took my movie ticket and excused myself. Then I heard someone call out,
“I would keep a seat for you right next to me”. I turned to find out who it was, but I am sure you already know that it was Becky right?
Getting to Mr. Wang, an upscale restaurant et lounge which served as my meeting place with Paul. At the first contact of our eyes, he smiled deeply, when I got closer, he got up, pulled the seat out for me to sit and then returned to his. He was some gentleman, but my head was filled with Tunji’s words, - I should allow you start afresh with a total stranger, waste two years of your life trying to figure him out all for you to realize that we are all the same. Do you think the riff raff doesn’t have a girl friend? Which twenty first century guy doesn’t have a girlfriend now? You must be the biggest joker if you think he had been sitting single for however long, waiting patiently for you to waltz through so he would get hooked up with you and probably marry you, hmmm, you must really be a joker-, yeah, those words, so gentlemanism, wasn’t going to distract me.
“How are you, you sounded really urgent, I was not going to tell you, but I would; I let my personal assistant and head of business development attend a meeting I was supposed to attend in person to create this time to see you”, he said.
I looked at him really blindly. What was he saying? That whatever I had to say must be worth his time and stress; really? Juju, calm down, I said quietly to myself, smiled and met his gaze, then said,
“I should probably cancel this meeting because I fear that it might not be worth all the stress and time you put into allowing it happen”.
“Oh, please, no, that wasn’t what I meant, that was just an opening line for me. Meeting you, after yesterday and how carried away I was with you and our conversation, my nerve kicked in immediately I saw you and I had no clue what to say at first, so I just heard my mouth say what it said. You know what? That’s enough, we should check the menu for something to eat and drink. A little alcohol in my system will do me good at this time.”, he said.
We ordered chicken wings, potato chips and a bottle of red wine, then I went all crazy: "You seem like a nice person, really naïve, but interesting. You are pretty established and a handsome young gentleman as well. For the better part of my life, I had always believed that there was no good-looking successful young man in Lagos and Nigeria as a whole who didn’t have a girlfriend, better yet, some lady he has serious commitment with, until I met one who tweaked my theory a little bit.
In his case, he had not met that serious lady, but he had quite a number of unserious ladies he was hanging with. So my dear Paul, tell me, what is your story?"
He took a deep look at me and said, “Why do I feel it is you who should be telling the story here. You seem pretty deep and slightly wounded. Like the guy who changed your theory changed it with you. Like you were the serious lady who was constantly hurt by the numerous unserious ladies in his life. Tell me, Ojuolape,” he took my right palm in his left and continued, “have you been hurt? Are you hurting? What is your story?”
At this point, uncontrollable hot tears began to fall down my eyes profusely, I was tired and confused, I couldn’t even talk to another man without him sensing what Tunji had done to me, this man has made a vegetable of my emotional being.
I took my hand from his, took a piece of serviette from the table and wiped my face, then had a full gulp of wine and said, “My company is out on a treat to the movies now and I asked to be given thirty minutes away to meet you, by now, my thirty minutes is far spent, plus I am sure the world needs your attention to make money for them, so let’s get on with our lives and meet at a more convenient time.”
“What I think we should do, is leave here to somewhere more serene, somewhere the breeze can blow your hair up and down, where you would get a good massage and sweet sleep, then tell me all that your young mind has been burdened with; but, before we do that, I’d have you know that, guys aren’t all the same. One thing I believe is that for there to be an imitation of a product, then there is certainly an original of the same product; so if there are men who are total assholes, then there are some who are worth the try.
Now take another thirty minutes to wrap things up with your company while I seat here and make preparations for what I just proposed. And please, as you walk back to the cinemas hall, use the time to think straight about what you would like to do this weekend: Take a harmless break from it all to clear your head or just go home.”, he said.
I smiled and headed straight to meet the team. In less than twenty-four hours, my life has been full of crazy experiences: Tunji flipping up on me; My mother being overly excited that her daughter had finally been proposed to, not minding what kind of life her daughter would be living in the marriage; And now, a weekend get away with a young handsome gentleman I just met two weeks ago.
Does these come with age, because it feels like the more I live, the more complicated my life becomes and nothing, absolutely nothing prepared me for adulthood at all. With each day comes a new level of strange.
Anyway, the day ended with no single call from Tunji, so I decided to take the lead, I put a call through to him and I got the worst response of my life.
“Hello, please who is this, Tunji is having his shower”, in a female voice.
“WHO IS WHO??? WHO THE HELL ARE YOU”, I was standing now and screaming on the top of my voice, then the call went off.
“Wait, whatttt!!! She had the guts to cut the call on me, kai, Tunji is just a bastard”, I said, then called his number back,
“Hello, how are you Ojuolape? Tunji asked.
“Oh now, I am Ojuolape right? no longer Juju because of that stupid thing you have in your house right? Ha Tunji, what sort of a man are you? Which man is there who engages a lady one night and is with another the next night? Who? If not a bloody cheat like you?” I said, screaming and fuming with anger.
“You will never call me and shout at me, have you heard me? You will never question me at all, have you heard me? And one more thing Ojuolape, it was a ring I gave you and not a question.”, he said then ended the call.
My heart shattered into pieces, what did this man just say to me? This man that put me in a confused state all day, just made a big fool out of me.
I picked up my phone and sent Paul a text message: What did you say about that serene place…