2. Maminat is Weird
I may have told myself I wanted to forget but for some reason, roughly 15 minutes after I’d been ushered over Maminat’s lush old Ikoyi threshold by her elderly steward, Osifeso, I was relieving and rehashing for all I was worth.
I spilled over an invention that Maminat, resplendent in a gold lame romper suit, told me was called “Mint Pepper Soup” (“like saying Pepper Mint in reverse?” she explained, “but it’s mint pepper soup. I think Otunba will like it. I’m trying to expand his food experience”).
Maminat listened properly like she always does. She listens with her whole self, body tilted slightly towards you, eyes hooded but laser focused on your face. It’s weird to say but that kind of intense attention, it actually makes you feel kind of loved (Milan Kundera said, “Love is a constant interrogation” and that he wouldn’t be surprised if lonely people secretly yearned to be taken in for cross examinations from time to time to give them someone to talk to about their lives. He’s obviously right and that’s why therapy will always sell).
It’s Maminat’s super power and it’s what more than anything else, makes her a good Geisha.
About that. She found it cute when I once asked her if she was a Nigerian Geisha but she calls herself a professional Mistress and takes it very seriously. She’s had only two clients that I know of since we both graduated from the University of Ibadan and that’s because her first one passed away.
He was called Otunba too come to think of it which I’m sure must have eased the transition to her current client a bit.
Now this is a bit of ( i.e.: a HUGE) social minefield because most people would and yes, have told me that my friend is just a glorified prostitute. Maybe if I didn’t know her, I would see her that way too after all who doesn’t like to simplify?
But I do know her. I’ve known her since my freshman year when I noticed her because she was the only person I knew who read as much as I did but still managed to fail every test and every exam.
And what was even weirder was how unbothered she was by that or by the fact that none of the girls liked her because all of the boys did.
She just floated through lectures in an impenetrable bubble of gorgeousness and indifference. It took me till our second year to muster up the liver to talk to her. It turned out to be one of my best decisions ever because I discovered in her a funny, space cadet of a nerd hidden in the body of a pre-discovery super model.
She never became my best friend or anything like that. She was always too self sufficient for that kind of thing plus I had other friends that still didn’t like her. Those friends are still confused about why I’m still friends with her even now when everyone knows what she does. What can I tell them? That Maminat is very different from “normal” people and so cannot be expected to live by “normal” people standards? I just don’t think it’s something they can understand without knowing her and since they don’t want to then…
I did ask her back then about why she kept failing her exams though she slept with books like Machiavelli’s The Prince under her pillow. She told me then that the exams never asked the right questions. And that kind of pretty much sums up Maminat, I think.
I felt a little better after I finished telling her my pathetic story and I expected to feel even better soon because she’s the kind of friend you could tell a story of humiliation to and get a shiatsu massage as a direct response (to release bad energy and enable you to put he painful past behind you, she would explain).
Instead, though she looked sympathetic she said, “I have to go to Nytrogen to see someone tonight. You could stay here and take a nap with my bergamot humidifier if you want but I think you should come with me and try to meet someone.”
It was such a none extra response for her that, completely weirded out, I went.
And that’s how I ended up at Las Gidi’s trendiest night spot (or should I say Nyt spot? *smirk*), Nytrogen instead of sensibly going home to drown the memory of that night in ice cream and any movie that was originally a Nicholas Sparks novel.
Sadly, even my recent discovery of my lack of moral fibre did not stop me from enjoying strolling past the long line outside the club and then being ushered around the free for all at the door thanks to a shiny black card in Maminat’s possession.
Once inside though I felt very cold. Most likely due to what felt like a few hundred industrial sized ACs on full blast. The music was sound barrier defying but hardly anyone was dancing and it may have been my paranoid imagination but the glances that trained on us as soon as we stepped into the cavernous space seemed watchful and even unfriendly.
Maminat tugged at my wrist. “We’re going in there,” she motioned towards a cordoned off doorway further inside. Self consciously I trailed her as we headed towards it, feeling like I was embarking on my second mistake of the night.
Inside was darker and less cold. Probably because it was smaller and more populated. It was as if most of the people allowed within Nytrogen’s rarified interior ended up here which I figured from the sheer amount of champagne bottles and plush leather furnishing, was the VIP section.
Plebs chilled on the street and the main floor stayed deserted. All in all it didn’t seem like the best of business plans but I was a branding and social media marketing staff not a nyt club manager so what did I know.
Even as Maminat looked around for her party, an older lady dressed in last years S/S Versace got up and approached us. Something about her expression and the kind of stiff way she held herself told me that this was a business meeting. This was intriguing to me seeing as she was female and my friend’s clientele was predominantly male. But then Maminat turned to me with a solicitous smile, said, “Good luck, Gigi,” and went forward to meet her.
As I was sensible enough to recognize a dismissal when I met one, I quickly found myself a place to sit and prepared for a night of well earned penance.
But then not even a minute later, a waiter came up to me with a tall glass of something that looked cool, fruity and bubbly which is a combination I have nothing against. I looked to where Maminat sat with a smile of appreciation. Such thoughtfulness is typical of her. But my girl didn’t look up from her conversation with the older lady on the other side of VIP.
I shrugged and enjoyed my drink.
Another one followed it before I had quite finished the first. This one came with a message by way of the waiter jerking his chin towards some guy sitting with two other men not too far away. I realized with dawning horror that the drink must have come from him and I may very well have just ingested my first ever date rape drug.
I looked over at Maminat again. She and the lady were laughing together now. My friend gave no indication by any kind of body language that she had not in fact arrived at Nytrogen on her own.
When I looked towards my benefactor’s table again, he was half way to mine.
I searched my brains for solutions and found only curse words and not even good ones. Things like son of a f*ck. It must have been the drink. I could only stare at him with dread, trying not to twitch until he reached me.
He was not overly tall but slim and nicely dressed a la afropolitan chic. On him that was a loosish, white linen top over Ankara print pants and nice leather slippers. His hair was neatly trimmed, he was clean shaven and he wore steel rimmed glasses.
As he stopped at my table I noticed two more things. The spray of grey at his temples which showed he was probably older than he looked and a quick dimpled smile which as a rule I’m susceptible to.
All in all, I didn’t think he looked the date rape drug type so I relaxed a little.
“It took me more nerve than I realized I had to walk over to your table,” he said and the dimple twinkled in and out. “Especially with the way you were looking at me just now.”
“I thought you put something in my drink,” I said which was proof that said drink was actually stronger than I realized.
The man’s eyes lit up in what I happily realized was mirth and his dimples did their trick again before he nodded gravely saying, “and that will be the last time I try to indicate interest to a woman by sending over a drink.”
“It is mildly sleazy,” I added having another sip of the drink which, in his defense, was delicious.
He laughed then and asked, “can I sit with you?”
“If you want,” I said wondering how this was going to go and if I was interested.
Well it turned out that it went quite well because he was funny. Like witty funny not – is this a huge cosmic joke funny. And the more I laughed, the more attractive he got.
Plus, I really liked the way he kept looking at me like I was something exotic that he didn’t know if he had the finesse to capture. It was tiger balm to my black and blue ego. No doubt the yummy drink was also having its effect on things, drugs or no drugs.
All I know is that at least an hour passed like five minutes and we were chortling like a pair of old bff crones and I was very nearly sitting in his lap but it didn’t feel weird, just nice and a bit fuzzy round the edges and a part of my mind began to wonder if this is what good chemistry felt like or if I was stupid because he really had slipped me something after all.
Then I noticed he was staring at me again.
“I like your hair,” he said softly like it was something profound.
“It’s not really mine,” the drink said in my voice. Oh, well. Never mind. It just made the dimples flash again. He clearly found me at least as funny as I found him which was a feeling I really, really, liked I realized.
“I like your eyes too,” he said.
“I like your glasses,” I said because I really did.
“You can have them if you want,” he said bringing his face close to mine as if to let me take them. “I have three more pairs just like them at home.”
“Oh.” I said wondering if he was drunk but feeling charmed all the same.
“Can I kiss you now?” he asked.
“Wha -?” I said wondering if he’d asked before and I had somehow missed it. His face was still really close and he smelled of after shave, cigarettes and just a hint of pot. His pupils were dilated. It could have been the pot or me. I wanted to believe it was a combination.
He must have read my face because then he said, “I’ve been wanting to kiss you since you basically called me a date rapist.”
“That’s what – pushes your buttons?” I asked trying not to sound judgmental. I mean we all have our flaws I guess…
“Not usually, no.” he answered to my relief, “maybe the way you unjustly accuse people of nefarious intention is just really – “
“sexy?” I provided.
He grinned then stopped suddenly and looked serious. “Yes, that too.”
“Too? What did you really want to say?” I wanted to know.
“Can I kiss you now?”
“No,” I said but only because it was so cliche to kiss a guy you just met at a club.
“Then can I have your number instead?” he asked with lightening fast reflexes.
I was so impressed at how he had walked me into that one that I gave it to him even though that’s an even bigger cliche.
I was about to ask him for his but then Maminat suddenly materialized beside me. My new friend looked up at her – her lush hair and features, her long, absolutely stunning limbs gleaming palely in the darkness, her shimmering romper suit – his mouth fell open.
Maminat looked through him, “Hi,” then turned to me, “Gigi, sorry but we’re leaving.”
She yanked me to my feet and began to herd me out which was not hard to do since I was just a little bit drunk and therefore suggestible.
I peered over her shoulder and tried to wave a bye at the guy whose name I didn’t even know. He was still staring in our direction with his mouth slightly open. He raised a hand in answer but his heart didn’t seem to be in it.
Too buzzed to care I let Maminat drag me out of Nytrogen muttering about how female pimps were the worst.
FYI: All the chapters for this story can be found HERE on Channel Two with the most recent chapter at the top.