WARNING: Some Use Of Strong Language!
To say that what happened between Derin and I in that restaurant parking lot confused me – is an understatement.
So naturally the next day I ended up in Maminat’s Old ikoyi residence seeking clarity.
Naturally we sat in her lovely, airy, morrocan tiled patio – under a recently purchased and vibrantly healthy looking Persimmon tree growing through a circular hole that had apparently been cut right through her floor to allow access to the soil beneath her house.
Naturally she was serving me Oolong tea in the skillful Gong fu style from a Yixing clay teapot over a water tray that she assured me had been hand carved from pure granite by an actual – Chinese – artisan – monk – that she still exchanged emails with every now and then.
For once though, I didn’t have time to be overwhelmed by my friend because the matter on ground was too urgent.
Over the mellow tea I told her everything that happened, step for step, careful not to leave out critical details like my estimates on the amount of pressure, friction and temperature of what I was currently calling the “happening” or the amount of time it took me to recover, get into my car and drive home.
“You’re sure it was lips you felt? Not fingers like this – ” Maminat reached forward and softly brushed the back of her fingers against my lips.
I stared at her.
“Even if that’s what he did, would that be normal?” I asked her.
“Wouldn’t it? Don’t guys always do that? Even when you’re wearing lipstick?”
I frowned, “No?”
“I thought it just meant shhh,” she frowned back.
I shook my head determined not to be distracted, “Maminat, he kissed me!”
Maminat sighed, “Honestly, this is an unexpected escalation,”
“Escalation?” I was starting to wonder if i’d ever had a lucid conversation with a person I considered one of my best friends. “Escalation of what?”
The look the beautiful girl pinned me with then was decidedly sly.
“Girin,” she said cryptically.
“What is that?” I asked but the dread was already creeping up my spine even as Maminat leaned forward, smiling into my face as her warm perfume wafted over me.
“Gigi and Derin… GiRin.”
Anyway, that’s how I ended up finally deciding to root out my other best friend, Dienye who may have been an introvert but was at least sane and loyal enough not to ship me with the husbands of my other friends…
Dienye lived in her parents pleasantly shabby old, SW Ikoyi duplex and as far as I knew she had no plans to ever move out.
Not even to get married.
She lived her days doing cool graphic design stuff for companies and the occasional celeb.
She did it all from her bedroom and when she wasn’t working, she was watching Korean dramas and salivating over her latest Oppa*. (cultural notes below)
Well, ok, maybe loyalty wasn’t her strongest point but I have never known a person more content with her life just as it was.
She answered her door in the slacker uniform of old t-shirt and track downs, yawned then scratched her tummy while peering blearily at me through her glasses.
“Did you bring donuts?” She asked and of course I had since I’d told her this was an emergency and like I’ve mentioned, I never approach problems without sugar.
We settled down in her bedroom where her HD LCD screen was frozen at a scene depicting her current Oppa* flexing picture perfect abs and pecs in an obligatory shower scene.
Sitting on her quilted bed, surrounded by Dienye’s environment that hadn’t changed much since Secondary School days always made me feel like a teenager.
Actually, the whole situation I was currently in was giving me serious war flashbacks of my adolescence.
“I’ll just come out and say it, “ I told her before she’d even sunk her teeth into her first sugary treat, “he kissed me.”
“Sh*t,” Dienye said eyebrows flying, “is that good or bad?”
“It’s very bad, Dienye and you’re supposed to ask who kissed me?”
“Who kissed you?” she asked obediently.
“Derin” I dropped the bomb.
Dienye’s expression didn’t change, “Who?”
I breathed deep.
I love Dienye a lot but she’s ALWAYS like this.
If a person doesn’t play a central enough role in her life (like “Mother” “Father” “Immediate Best Friend for the Last 10 years or so”) or feature in a Korean drama then they’re just names to her.
And she really doesn’t care so it can be infuriating…
“Akudo’s husband, Dienye,” I explained slowly, “ Akudo’s husband smooched me in a restaurant parking lot last night – and I’m losing my mind”
“F**k!” Dienye said the donut falling from her hand. I finally had the response I wanted. “Why?”
“If I knew, would I be here feeding you donuts?”
“You’re right,” Dienye agreed, she was finally awake, “Ok, please start from the beginning. Help me to understand.”
More than a little gratified that I was finally being taken seriously I broke it all down for her just the way I had for Maminat, pausing only to breath or answer the occasional sharp question interjected by my friend.
When I was done, Dienye who was sitting crosslegged beside me put her hands down decisively on her thighs.
“Here’s what I’m getting from this Gigi,” she said, “and I’m drawing from my wealth of experience as someone who has watched every kind of romantic drama there is in at least 4 different languages and cultures….”
I prepared myself for her sage advise.
“This Cat wants you.” Dienye told me soberly.
I realized my error immediately.
Of course it would look like Derin was interested in me if you weren’t aware of his and Akudo’s messed up dynamic.
I had always kept the things I’d witnessed about their relationship mostly to myself. It wasn’t my drama to share. Except now – all of a sudden it sort of was – and so I proceeded to quickly fill Dienye in on the background mess that preceded the ‘happening”.
Dienye frowned and nodded. “that’s well and good,” she said, “but he wants you, sha,”
“First of all,” I told her, “I wish you would stop saying that because it bothers me.”
“Sorry” my friend said meekly.
“Secondly, didn’t you hear me? He’s literally co-dependant on Akudo. He loves her.”
“I understand,” Dienye said, “that’s why it’s so weird that he’s crushing on you. At least he’s admitted it to himself. I really hate in dramas when you’re like 15 episodes in and the guy is basically stalking the chick but he still doesn’t know he likes her… like, how does that even work?”
“Dienye this isn’t a drama – it’s my life.”
“Ah – yes. Noted.” Dienye pushed up her glasses and shifted me a speculative glance, “But if it was – and I was writing it? I would make you confront him – wait, O! First of all how do you even feel about this? Do you like him?”
“Are you mad?”
“Just checking,” my friend smirked, “Anyway, like I said, I would make you straight up ask him like – my guy what the actual f**k?”
“I can’t believe you’re giving me the same advice as Maminat…”
I really couldn’t because as people they couldn’t be more different! How could they be on the same P on this?
“What did Maminat say?” Dienye asked with interest. She was probably the only friend I had that didn’t just see Maminat as a runs girl that I should totally stay away from.
Dienye thought Maminat was “mad cool” and always said she would’ve made friends with her if she hadn’t stopped making new friends after Primary School.
“Maminat said why don’t I just ask him why he did that?” I admitted.
Dienye nodded her head in agreement, “Why don’t you?”
“Because!!!” I wheezed in fear and exasperation, “Then it would become REAL!”
Dienye gave me an exceptionally deadpan expression as she bit into her donut then spoke around the bite, “s’already real fam, what’re you talking about…?”
“No, it’s only real if Derin and I talk about it,” I insisted because everyone intuitively knows that, right?
“Or if Akudo finds out.” Dienye added and I caught a mild panic attack.
God knows I would NEVER in a MILLION years want to tell Akudo about this but – what if Derin did? I mean – who knew what was going on his head anyway?
“Was it good?” Dienye asked. Her gaze had turned speculative again.
“What?” I asked distracted by the new threat of Derin snitching.
“The kiss. Was it good? Does Derin got the moves? Did he he hydrate your panties? What would you score him?” her eyes were sparkling behind her spectacles now.
“Ok, ew,” I shifted away from her, “Can you not perv on this? I keep reminding you that Derin is real and very married to my friend AND boss!”
“Sorry. My bad. It’s just been never since you’ve gotten any – I feel… excited!” She shrugged unrepentantly.
“What, like you’ve gotten any.” I challenged her, peeved.
She stared back at me poe faced.
“Wait – ” I said.
Her gaze stayed enigmatic. She bit into her donut again.
“Dienye Briggs have you… are you…?” I suddenly understood her excitement for my drama because now that the shoe was potentially on the other foot my inner gist monster had suddenly awoken.
Dienye was even worse than me when it came to guys (though she has managed to have at least one relationship) because she never even goes out and she has her Oppas.
“Am I what?” she asked disingenuously finishing up her donut and licking sugar off her fingers.
“Do you have gist?” I asked, my spidey senses tingling.
“Nope!” she said smacking her lips with satisfaction and reaching for another donut. , “Now back to you…”
I knew she was lying. My inner gist monster could smell the gist on her… but my problem was pressing so I let it go for now.
“What’s the thing that worries you the most about this whole kissing thing?” Dienye asked adjusting her glasses and suddenly looking scholarly. Well – except for the now sugar encrusted, I-work-at-home couture she had going on.
“Well… everything, “ I said, “but mostly I’m freaked out that it might mean something and that Akudo’s going to find out and murder me.”
“So if you leave it alone and he doesn’t say anything – and nothing else happens – then you’re good.” she suggested.
“Exactly,” I said loving that scenario.
“Must there be a ‘but’?” I moaned.
“Well, do you maybe have mind control powers you could use to salvage this situation?” she asked and I don’t so I shushed, “as I was saying, if Derin is not the tall, dark and silent type – if he’s in actuality more the, tall, sensitive and chatty type – then he’s a wild card, Gigi.”
My heart thudded in my ears.
She was right.
Derin was definitely sensitive and chatty.
“Since you say he’s that crazy over Akudo, did it occur to you he might have done it to make her jealous? In which case he would need her to find out about it?”
My heart rate sped up so much I wondered if I was actually having a heart attack.
“H-he wouldn’t – do me like that though – right?” I asked.
Dienye shrugged callously, “girl, I dunno..”
Sh*t. Sh*t. It really hadn’t occurred to me though it should have!
This was a nightmare. I had no choice but to confront him about it and stop him!
I stood up abruptly. “Dienye I have to go!” I said hurriedly stepping into my flats and grabbing my handbag.
Dienye grinned at me understandingly as she got up too. “Go for it Gigi! Don’t become a hashtag.”
She walked me out, hugged me then showed me her fist and said “Fighting!”*
Then I was alone in my car wondering just how the heck I thought I was going to handle this.