“So how many today?”
She was still so upset and absorbed about the entire day; he had to repeat the question.
“Huh?” she finally poked her head out of the fridge, after finding nothing but a drink. Even though he was squatting her and her younger brother for a while, the least he could do was stock up his fridge. Geez!
“I don’t want to talk about it. I’m really pissed.”
“You must be,” he said while swirling the ice-cubes in his tumbler full of juice. “if you are willing to drink ketchup!”
Stunned, she looked into her hand at what she’d picked, and the ‘Heinz’ label said it all. Gosh! Was it getting to her that much?!
“Arrgh!” she tore the door open and threw it back in, while her friend chuckled to himself.
“Sister, I’ve told you: your time has come.” quipped her brother, who she thought…no, hoped was absent from the current conversation and immersed in his French textbook. *Sigh*. Here we go again…
“You have reached the age of a mature flower: is it not right for bees to come flocking?”
“You don’t seem to be getting the point,” she emphasized for what must’ve been the umpteenth time. “These guys just come out of nowhere!!”
“They were waiting for you all this time na, na you wey no wise” chipped in her juice-sipping friend.
“But throughout primary school, secondary school, even university: none approached me! Why now, all of a sudden!? And I’m not even 23 yet!”
“I think the mistake you are making,”, advised bro, “is that you assume because you were never voted ‘Most beautiful/pretty girl’ and that not many came during all those years, you are not beautiful, or that no one was interested in you. Not true: you’re pretty, smart, well-balanced, and wanted, apparently!”
“And ‘pretty’ is enough for a lot of men out there, talk less of all four! Hmmm! Ọmọge! [i]”
“I’m telling you that can’t be the whole story! I’m telling you that from every angle, a guy is walking up and asking me for my number! And it all started all of a sudden, very recently: like a neon sign got lit above my head, pointing ‘Available!’. Can’t be coincidence!”
“C’est la vie![ii]”
“Wo, see, we’ve told you already: you are pretty, in and out. You better get used to turning down many in the process of finding the one. Anyways, you haven’t answered my question: how many today?”
“1…5…it doesn’t matter, because my ‘no’ response was always the same anyway. I don’t even want to remember…” She was tired, and still upset at the ludicrousness of it all. Why me?! *Sigh* A good night’s nap will do me good. She made for her room…
…and was almost there, when an idea suddenly jarred her friend.
“What?” she asked.
“How many did you say?”
Uh oh. Damn those ears of his! “I told you! I don’t want…”
“Ah an…c’mon! She said “1 or 5”, dude; she doesn’t remember right now. It happens. How can 15 guys have asked her out in the space of one event? You and your imagination! Right, sis?”
She didn’t look in any of their directions. Bro became intrigued. Her friend was already grinning.
“Sis? I am right, right? You were asked out by only 1 guy, or 5 at best, right?”
“Dude! She didn’t say “1 or 5”…she said “1”, paused, then “5”! 1…5…FIFTEEN!?!?”
Both of them stared at each other with blank looks, and then jointly stared at her, who was still avoiding eye contact.
He was already trembling with the inevitably approaching guffaws, and had to drop his tumbler, preventing an accident from occurring due to his loosening grip. Then, with his now free hands, he gripped his ribs and laughed, hard.
“HAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!! 15!!!! Guinness, come and hear oh…15 guys!! IN AN EVENING’S EVENT!!! It’s a new record!!”
“Record ke?” shot-in the now-comprehending brother, already rolling on the floor! “It’s a new standard!! Ọmọge super!”
“But this is serious! 15! Come, bro, your popsy jazz am at birth ni? Maybe you are right to be puzzled oh! Asampete[iii], wait! Don’t run away now! This is your moment of glory!”
“Shut up, the both of you! Gosh! Incomprehensible…”
“I say ‘wait’ sę!” he said while shoving himself in front of her door, cutting her off before she reached it. “Na your moment be this! Ow! Ye! Stop hitting me! Wait, what am I saying? It’s an honor to be hit by such a standard maker! Hit me more, your majesty!”
“But wait oh…” said bro, now joining in to shove her back into the parlor. “Is it your face? Your figure? Hmmm…my business needs clients oh, and I’ve tried everything! Perhaps if I rub this handkerchief in my hand on your face, or switch towels with you, whatever is attracting them to you will also bring them flocking to me!”
“You guys should leave me alone! I’ll scream oh!”
“Scream! We send you?!”
“NO oh! Please don’t let her do that. Don’t scream oh! It may be the sound of your voice above certain decibels that attracts them, and you know how’d weird it’d be if we fell under your spell!”
“You get point! Ha…your fiancée will not find it funny oh! Mum will roast me for it sa, tufiakwa[iv]! But I’m sure they’ll both understand clearly when we tell them you are the lady at the bottom of it all, la plus belle[v]!!”
She struggled, not because she was genuinely upset, but because if they went on like this, her resistance would eventually break, and she’d join in the laughter too. It always ended that way! Not this time! She wanted to be angry at the day’s events, and be angry she’d be, darn it!
“Leave me alone!” she shoved, and finally they yielded: they were too weak from all the laughter anyway! She bounded for her room door.
“You guys are not behaving any different from some of the idiots I turned down today!” Yikes. She knew she’d gone too far, was letting the anger get the best of her: that last statement slipped out almost unconsciously. But her ego didn’t let her apologize…
…and that was her undoing, for now her younger bro turned on her.
“Na we send you?!” he scolded. “I say na we send you?! If you’d been très douce [vi] like many other girls, would this be happening?”
“Bro, cool down free her now…you con de bring French join am ni?! It’s all fun and…”
“No sę! We suppose yarn! Why she go event for club? Haven’t we warned you about such places before? As a fine girl, she should know that such things as numerous guys asking her out could happen, especially there na! Is it our fault that she went to such a place, earning a world record?! You stop laughing jare, na true yarn! Wo, see, it’s all on your head: you may be angry, but do we care? Thanks my brother for your solidarity. Watch your tongue oh!”
She wanted to reply, but caught herself at the last moment, thank God. They’d both relaxed now, and were beginning to stabilize after tottering with laughter. She knew she deserved that play-rebuke, some of it anyway, but again, her ego didn’t allow her apologize, so she just walked to her door without saying a word.
“Oh, you’re wrong about one thing, Monsieur”, she said finally, without looking at them.
They both stopped grinning and looked in her direction.
“This didn’t happen in a club, know-it-all. It happened in church!”
With which Parthian shot, she opened her door and quickly ran in, at the last moment realizing what a fool she’d been for revealing that last bit. She wanted it to prove him wrong! But, again, the words flew out faster than her brain: a miscalculation she already knew would backfire. As she closed the door behind her without turning back, it wasn’t hard her imagining the two of them giving each other that same blank look again, and her friend dropping his tumbler, again. Indeed, her assumptions were spot on, as no sooner had her door clicked that she heard that same coarse “HAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!” surprise expression, and those same loud guffaws once more blended with more unified chants of “le plus belle sainte![vii]” and “Ọmọge super!” reverberate into the midnight. At least I’m safe in my room now. She immediately collapsed on the floor, laughing herself to tears.
[i] Ọmọge – Yoruba, slang used to refer to a (usually pretty) girl
[ii] C’est la vie – French, “That’s life”
[iii] Asampete – Igbo, slang used to denote a “Fine/Beautiful” woman/lady
[iv] tufiakwa – Nigerian slang used to denote strong forbidding of/prayers against something.
[v] la plus belle – French, “the most beautiful one (lady)”
[vi] très douce – French, “very mild/gentle”
[vii] la plus belle sainte – French, “the most beautiful holy one” or “the most beautiful saint”
© Adeleye Adeolu, 2012. All Rights Reserved. No part of this story must be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the author’s permission.