Other People’s Husbands
Akudo was extremely late and I’m not even sure who was more pissed between me and Derin.
His friends weren’t even online and losing to Japanese players just wasn’t as fun without the pidgin/slang, smack talking, back and forth between us – so gaming only got us so far.
I suggested Netflix but he didn’t want to watch any of the trending shows without her. So freaking sweet but sad news for Netflixless me who’d been looking forward to her GOT fix.
This left very little for either of us to do but mope and, in my case, regret the longa throat that brought me there.
It is at times like this that one might, while deeply engrossed in the lovely upholstery of a quite tasteful couch (so as not to be engrossed in the matter at hand), become aware of how hideously awkward hanging out with a friend’s hubby sans friend can actually be. Even when it’s Derin and me who actually really get along.
I almost fell off the lovely upholstry from enthusiasm when my phone rang.
It wasn’t glasses/club guy but it was Maminat and that was still nice.
“Maminat!” I cried into my phone joyfully, “where are you?”
“At home?” she answered briskly, “Look, Gigi, should I buy a tree?”
As usual I was caught off guard.
“A tree.” I drew the word out like it had 27 consonants and I needed to spell it.
“Leaves, trunk, roots?” Maminat contributed helpfully.
“Why do you want to buy a tree? I mean not that you shouldn’t if you want to -”
“Because my house is devoid of life,” this said with deepest, darkest dissatisfaction, “I just realized it during meditation.”
“That’s not true, Maminat, you have all those cacti and – those – things with the fat leaves – ”
“my Succulents” Maminat said the word with relish and my nose drew up cos it always sounds so wrong when she does that.
“Yeah, your nasty name thingys…”
“Gigi be serious, when I say a TREE obviously I’m talking about BIG life, not tiny, cute life,”
I was swiftly losing my enthusiasm for this rescue call.
“Babe, I’m not against you buying a tree – ”
“Good. I want a feminine tree. A fruit tree.”
“Fruit trees get insects,” I warned from my vast experience of a one day stint at my secondary school’s Gardening Club.
“I like insects.” Maminat said which I should have seen coming. “Ok, lemme go check online – ”
“Wait!” I cried out a tad loudly as she was about to hang up.
She paused. “Is everything ok, Gigi? Where are you? Do you need a rescue?”
I blessed her oddly perceptive heart even as I denied it.
“No, no – I’m fine!” I insisted. “I’m at Akudo’s.”
There was a silence which was actually the sound of her rolling her eyes because her opinion of Akudo funnily enough mirrored Akudo’s opinion of her.
“What’s she using you for now?”
“We’re not having this conversation, Maminat,” I said loftily then in desperate hushed tones, “especially because Derin is like less than a foot away from me!” I added .
“Poor old Derin,” she said sadly as she always did when I mentioned his name. She did it the way some people say may they rest in perfect peace when you mention someone that is deceased. I resolutely ignored her.
“I just wanted to know if you really don’t remember the guy I was talking to last night at Nytrogen? He wore glasses? Cute in an older, afrocentric, blipster kind of way? ”
“You mean Folarin Fergus?”
My mouth fell open.
“You know him?” I finally gasped.
“Nope, ” Maminat answered, “but I know people who do and since he was asking about us, his name came down the grapevine and fell into my lap.”
“He was asking about – us?” I asked my heart falling. Not me? I was suddenly remembering just how stunned he’d looked at the sight of my friend. From a sober perspective, it suddenly didn’t look so good for me.
“Don’t sound like that Gigi…” said Maminat who knew me too well, “You don’t even know if you like him and I definitely don’t want him.”
Somehow that didn’t make me feel better. Like at all. When you’re never the person who gets picked it’s little comfort to be told that the person who does – doesn’t even want the distinction.
But, it wasn’t today I started life as the friend of the hot girl. I was kind of used to having my heart pre-shattered. Or maybe it was my ego since my heart never usually got a chance to become involved. It still hurt but it was a survivable hurt and so far – and maybe even a little strangely – it hadn’t taken away from my friendship with Maminat.
I just added it to one of the amazing amount of reasons that Bolaji Folorunsho aka Gigi the Nerdy One had managed to live life until the age of 24 without ever getting a boyfriend – except for that one hour in secondary school I already mentioned.
“So do you want me to find out more about him?” Maminat asked.
“Nah,” I said deciding that I wanted to be over this before it became humiliating.
“Ok!” Maminat said cheerfully dismissive of the whole matter, “I’ll let you know when I find my tree.”
“Yup. You do that.”
My friend hung up and I was left once again with my current drama for which my working title was: The Angst of Derin.
I should’ve left but I think I’m one of those kinds of people that always finds themselves serving and sweating through their brand new Zara (the one that looked like Balmain that they went without for a month just to get) in the kitchen at family friends’ parties and no idea how they got there. So I stayed.
Other events of that evening included Derin retreating to his home office to work and me beating some of my own Candy Crush High Scores while finishing up their bottle of groundnut (and consequently feeling like I’d face rinsed with groundnut oil.)
I tried messaging Akudo a couple of times. She answered me back the first time with, “I’m coming,” which could have meant anything – but after subsequent non-responses my guess was that it actually meant, “I’m not coming.”
I was finally plotting my exit (escape) strategy when Derin stepped out of his study and said with an apologetic smile, “Should we just eat?”
The ribs… okay they were incredible.
Jesus freaking Christ incredible. Melting off the bone like butter incredible. I noticed growing up that everyone around me tended to like their protein highly spicy and with some chew to it. My Dad for instance didn’t like to eat chicken that didn’t practically put up a fight with his teeth. It had to be those free range, Usain Bolt, Athlete chickens or nothing. He was horrified the first time I made him my chicken vegetable gravy sauce and ever since then he’s always looked a little haunted every time I entered our kitchen back home to “help”.
What can I say? I like my meat soft. I even like a hint of sweetness in there. I want to spread it like jam on garlic bread, fam and I swear you could’ve done that with Derin’s freaking incredible ribs. That’s how I was able to ignore how across from me, he ate without any real enjoyment, repeatedly checking his phone for messages.
It was getting towards 10pm, I’d already done dishes and Derin seemed to finally be reaching his sulking limit.
We were drinking cranberry juice from wine glasses and he gave me the apologetic smile again.
“My company sucked today, sorry.”
“That’s ok,” I said lightly, “your cooking more than made up for it.”
He gave a genuine laugh which was good to see.
“You are such a cool girl – how are you still single?”
Aaaaaaaand that brought us back to awkward. At least for me. No, wait it can’t just be me. How the heck do other singles respond to this question from their married friends?
Ah – probably by not having married friends.
A series of possible answers marched through my head while I tried not interpret his question as: what is wrong with you that is not visible to the naked eye.
Because I’m focused on my career right now? Obvious lie.
Because you haven’t hooked me up with your hot friends? Thirsty and desperate.
Because I didn’t meet you first? Eeeeeek! What? Eeeeeeeeeeeeek!
Because I can only cook soft chicken and, yes, I sometimes throw honey in that?
…. no lie, that could actually be it….
I didn’t say that though. I just gave a weak laugh and shrugged. “Who knows?” I asked.
“Maybe it’s because you’re like a dude,” Derin said thoughtfully.
I hadn’t been expecting insults. The cranberry juice in my mouth seemed to get even more sour.
“Ah!” Derin exclaimed holding up his hands, expression comical with surprise, “No, not like that! I don’t mean – I mean you’re actually very feminine – dammit, I can’t believe I said that!”
“No, it’s ok, I get what you meant!” I didn’t but I was willing to give him space to explain and make it all better.
“You do?” he asked and his relief was so palpable it was actually funny so I cooled down and nodded and he continued, “I just meant that me, as a guy, I find it so easy to be with you…”
“You’re just saying that because I play video games with your nerdy behind” I said lightly again but inside I was kind of sweating.
Guys I’ve watched all the Tyler Perry movies (don’t judge me, they’re addictive like caramel popcorn) and, fine, with my guy track record it’s clear that I’m not exactly tempting siren spec – but I know the signs of a good man driven down a dark path by a –
“You know what? Me and Akudo are going to make a project out of this. We’re going to get you a boyfriend!”
Ok. Well. Maybe that wasn’t the case here …I can’t believe Tyler Perry was wrong…
“Derin! You’re embarrassing me!” I strove to maintain that light note, “Do I look like a charity case to you?”
Derin looked at me, “……No.”
I won’t lie. That pause hurt me to my soft chicken loving bones.
Time to go, I thought and started to look for my hand bag. And that’s when the doorbell went.
Derin and I glanced at each other in pure surprise like we’d forgotten that we’d spent the whole evening expecting Akudo.
Derin’s face lit up in a crooked smile before he got up and rushed to answer the door before Patience could get to it. I hoped he never realized how sweetly obvious his feeling for his wife were. I trailed behind him and got there on time to see Akudo standing in the doorway with a bottle of Merlot gripped in one hand and her eyes on fire.
“Sorry I’m late guys!” she said breathless and triumphant, “but you won’t believe who I ran into!”
She stepped in then as Derin stepped aside and I realized she wasn’t alone. There was a tall, good looking guy behind her.
A tall, good looking guy that – holy CRAP it was Etomi!
My mouth fell open.
Guys… remember that only boyfriend I ever had? The infamous one hour relationship of my glorious secondary school years?
FYI: All the chapters for this story can be found HERE on Channel Two with the most recent chapter at the top.