The RomCom Heroine
I know it’s not easy to meet someone nice.
Everybody wants to but no one seems good enough for anyone – and the less willing you are to compromise, the more alone you find yourself.
Bottom line is we all end up with just two choices; you either make peace with the idea of being by yourself or you decide companionship is worth tolerating reality’s imperfections. There are no actual fairy tales and if you see something that looks like one you should, at the very least, handle with extreme caution.
I get that.
Sincerely, I do. I can even admit to feeling smug about getting it while I watch my RomComs and judge the female leads.
Ok I had this Aunt who had this friend who had an indeterminate connection with that guy, Alex Madukwe who everyone knew because his family owns oil blocks in Akwa Ibom – and they said that he was having trouble meeting a nice girl –
– and I am fully aware of how clueless it was of me to believe for even one second that this was true and that maybe I (haha) could be that that nice girl –
(and I’m only admitting this to myself because it turns out that shame tastes like malaria and chagrin makes your hair fall out so…)
Truthfully…. For a while there – in my head – I’d already started rebranding. I saw my future personal letter head and it went: From the Desk of Gigi Madukwe. Flourish.
Visions of $10,000 weaves, private jetted weekend spa trips to Dubai with “the girls” (chronicled on snapchat with obligatory naughty inside joke hashtag) and being on first name, three air kiss basis with Marc, Tom, and Karl took root in my subconscious and spun out the fingers of my poor, tired moral compass.
And on moral compasses – I have one. Usually.
As the product of a society that puts “open eye” over philosophy and idealism, I like to think that I’m self aware enough to understand that if someone offered you – you here being a single and perpetually broke though it is not your portion female – a chance at a date with the filthy rich and eligible scion of an oil family – you were supposed to grab that chance with both hands and run with it. Right? Unless of course like me you had… y’know, the moral compass thing.
That first sentence in Pride and Prejudice (Google it lazy, I’m not quoting) may have been tongue firmly wedged in cheek but obviously it only worked as a genius comic device because people really think that way. The thing is – till the moment I received that proposal from my Aunt – I guess it hadn’t ever actually occurred to me that “people” also meant… me.
So back to blind date proposal – because that’s what it was; I told myself that even if nothing came out of it I would at least have gained a nice (subconscious subtext: see Expensive) meal and maybe even gist for my desk buddy at work tomorrow. No problem.
But then life is always just so much more rude and real than the smug, short sighted projections of little know it alls like myself.
The meal was expensive O. My subconscious was right about that part. It was served at an old, members only country club on the island (you don’t know it. Don’t feel bad you’re not supposed to. Wait, no – actually, you should feel bad). Apart from that, everything else about the “date” was an unpleasant exercise in self discovery.
Let me explain. My date Alex Madukwe, whom I was used to seeing only on society blogs attending exclusive champagne company branded parties or being celebrated for one filthy rich guy accomplishment or the other, spoke with a clipped British accent. But other than that he was extremely nice.
Like in the jpgs i’d seen of him, he was quite tall, fair skinned and beefy if not exactly toned (a reassuring look for the Nigerian female psyche as I’ve observed. A little pudge shows life is good. I’m not personally on that train but, yeah, that was Alex Madukwe). He was good looking in that unmistakable clean and quiet way that only actual affluence achieves.
He didn’t like me though.
I mean, it wasn’t like he was rude or anything. In fact he was flawlessly polite at every turn and was really very discreet about checking his gorgeous IWC timepiece.
I’m no psychic but my Mom once told me that I’m a little on the sensitive side and I need to toughen up or it would keep me from getting as far as I could go in life. My Mom may or may not be right about that but the fact is, that night I caught something – a look? or even – I guess – a non-look?
Whatever it was I suddenly experienced this burst of insight about our date and a couple of things hit me really fast. Firstly, he was not in the slightest bit attracted to me. Not even just to smash and move on. As in, if there had been half a lump of Semo in the centre of my chair instead of me, there might have been more chemistry in the air that evening.
Now I’m fighting the humiliating need to defend my femininity. I’m not going to do the easy thing and take shots at his masculinity. Just as I had sensed his lack of interest, I also knew it wasn’t anything do with him as a man or me as a woman.
But just to keep things clear, I’m not hideous. It’s true that I don’t have much of a relationship track record but I’m fairly sure that it’s not because I actually physically repel men. (I am at least 95% sure).
SO that was the first thing. The second thing was something I already knew but chose not to think about – which was the fact that Alex Madukwe was not the type to need any kind of help in meeting any kind of person. At all. I mean, I do not exaggerate when I say that during the course of our meal, almost every other party in that restaurant at some point or other made a pilgrimage to our table to “greet” him and, of course, he was charmingly apologetic towards me after each and every one.
He was, to be honest, charmingly everything. Despite his zero romantic interest in me he made what seemed to me like heroic efforts at engaging conversation and the intensity of his efforts also gave him away. He came across as disingenuous and I knew I was watching a nice guy trying not to let on that he had a poor opinion of the girl he was with and her motives for being there.
At a wild guess he was doing his best to be nice out of respect for who ever or whatever made him keep this date and not to impress me. Realizing all of this was like having a bucket of chilled Lagos sewage (aka kpoto kpoto) slowly tipped down my back and into my panties. Overpowering, overwhelming gross out.
He thought I was a gold digger. Actually gold digger might even be a tad glamorous because nothing about my cheap but cheerful high street ensemble or my sensibly priced bob styled weave indicated that I was either at a professional level at gold digging or even any good at it.
What I was, was much sadder.
A deluded charity case.
And don’t think I didn’t try to deny it to myself. After all I had been asked on this date, even if not by him specifically. Was I supposed to have refused because he was filthy, stinking, abominably rich? Was I?
Yes, a quiet damning voice said from the darkest hinterlands of my soul. You should have refused. Not because he’s rich but because that’s the only blessed thing you know about the man and it shouldn’t have been enough to make you want not just to date him but to have his babies.
Bad, bad, silly, morally compromised Gigi.
The mortification I felt did not bear speaking about. My conversation deserted me – well, technically that happened from the moment I opened my door, saw him and – inhaling the aroma of soft expensive leathers, cigars and shops I will never have access to that just wafted off him – realized I was no longer looking at a jpeg. To my complete dismay, I was starstruck and no matter how many times I reminded myself that he was just a person who burped and farted like the rest of us, I couldn’t shake it off.
The date felt Sisyphean. The expensive food tasted like nothing and just sat on my tongue. I think I might have been making a weird face while I chewed because he did ask at a point if maybe I wanted to order something else which I quickly refused because I knew that every entry in that menu might as well have been sand. Sautéed sand, Pan Seared sand, Tossed sand, sand Flambé… Stupidly expensive sand.
I could tell about when he figured out that I knew how he really felt about our forced evening together because he finally stopped trying to act like he felt otherwise and became silent. We reached a state of mutual awkwardness filled with my embarrassment and what I imagined was his deep desire to be in another location sans myself.
We therefore sat in what must have looked to observers (and there were those) like a studious silence waiting for the bill (another round of purgatory. Why is the service always so slow in these venerated type places? Is it because the staff are Septuagenarians?) because Alex Madukwe refused to put the bill on the family tab when it was offered. As we waited he would send the occasional too tight around the corners smile to show he really wasn’t ignoring me and making it completely obvious that he was.
And that was okay because I was trying to ignore him too. At this point it just seemed like the polite thing to do.
The height of our conversation was when we were finally able to part ways. He expected to take me back to my place but I balked at the thought of the ride and lied that I had somewhere else to go and someone was supposed to be picking me up. The sweet light of relief warmed his eyes and we shared our first and only genuine moment of camaraderie.
He left with an air of satisfaction. He had handled himself well in an unpleasant but unavoidable situation. I hurriedly called a cab.
It began to rain while I waited. I accepted it. It was my punishment for mocking all those shallow RomCom heroines who were clearly my antecedents. I passed the time avoiding thoughts about what was happening to my sensible weave by imagining how this would have gone if my life really was a RomCom.
For one thing, my lack of principles would at least have been matched by my leading man’s arrogance and that would’ve made us even. Then, of course, my awkwardness (or as some may call it – straight up lack of social skills) would have come across as disarming and intriguing to my Mr. Right who would still be pretending to be Mr. Wrong.
We would’ve sparred all dinner long, sexual tension almost as tangible as the food on our plates just sizzling between us. By the end of the date we would have convinced ourselves that we hated each other and after haughtily refusing a ride home, I would have ended up here, in the same place, simmering with affronted dignity which I think is better than no dignity at all. And little would I have known that it was just the beginning of our story.
In real life however, the dizzying distance of the social disparity between the Madukwes and me would keep us from ever having to cross paths again and even if by capricious chance we did – a dead horse is a dead horse and that’s what this Cinderella story was.
My cab finally came and, damp, repentant and in the mood for self flagellation, I got in. Half way to my side of Lagos I changed my mind about spending the night relieving the date in HD slo-mo. No. I wanted to forget it. Exorcise it if possible. So I called Maminat.
Note: I can’t believe it! I’ve finally published the first segment instead of just endlessly thinking about doing it! Hip hip hooray!!! You better tell me now if you hate it bcos I will carry on pretty much at this pace and tone if you don’t! Let’s cross our fingers that this is the first step of a succesful journey!
xx Indigo Radio
FYI: All the chapters for this story can be found HERE on Channel Two with the most recent chapter at the top.