It was 2016 and half of the people I know today were not in my life then. I was not many things that I am now. I was a writer. I have always been a writer. Aside being a writer, I cannot remember anything else that existed then that still exists now. I was not a romantic then. I was not yet obsessed with love and aroha and the many other things that trouble the hearts of men and send women to the pool of tears. I was not yet writing love poems. Then, I was more into death stories, stories that crawl on the skin of men like leeches and suck the joy out of them. I was still very active on Facebook and did not have an android phone then. I was still using Nokia Asha 200; white and swish. No WhatsApp for me then. And really, I did not care much.
I had not met Oyindrop. If I had, perhaps I would have been saved the embarrassment that is the basis of this story. I would later meet Oyin in an induction meeting in Luxury Kitchen, New Buka. It was my first meeting that wasn’t academic, spiritual or literary. I had just joined a team of media guys at OAUEVENTS as their social media manager. I had no idea what I was coming in to do. Of course Emmanuel Faith had given me a great pep talk and all but still, I was confused. He said he saw potential in me and felt I could do it. I did not see any potential in me, God knows. But then, I smiled like SpongeBob and walked into Luxury Kitchen. Everyone introduced themselves normally but you know Oyin is never one for normalcy. She was extra. At first, I sneered and thought, What is doing this one? Do you know who I am? In all honesty, even I did not know who I was. Or perhaps I was simply nobody. But then, later on, I would wish I had known Oyindrop earlier. She would have saved me a whole lot of trouble. But I had not and I even met her on a bad note and so when October 17 came and a girlfriend called and asked to take me out, I did not know what to say. I was never one to reject an chance to fill my stomach so I said yes. And then she asked us to meet at SUB.
It is important that I make this clear before I go on. If you didn’t know me in 2016, you would find it difficult to believe this. I was just some village boy from Ogbomoso. I had never gone out to any restaurant to eat. No one had ever taken me out and I had never taken any one to anywhere except chapel and ICT lab. Then, I was part of the people who used to think it wrong to spend money on ‘one small jollof rice’ in a restaurant. I did not know then that those who go to restaurant hardly ever go there for the food. Most times, they go for the space. And remember, I had not met Oyindrop.
And so when this lady friend (whose name henceforth will be Rita) asked me to meet her at SUB, I did not think much of it. I thought she would just take me into Forks and Fingers, ask me to buy whatever I wanted which could not exceed N400 anyway and then she would buy a bottle water and we would end it with a prayer. I did not know that those thoughts were being ministered to me by my village people.
Rita came to me at SUB and hugged me. It felt more like a squeeze but who was I to object to this magnificent lady who wanted to fill my stomach? I received the hug with meekness and just then, it all became awkward.
Again this is 2016 and I was just balancing my feminist ideologies then. Of course I had read Adichie and I had listened to Emma Watson and all but still, I was finding it difficult to find a definition for what I believed. And so when she came, the alpha male in me rose up and was ready to steer the meeting. As expected, I failed woefully. I mean what were you expecting? I had never been to any restaurant to eat. I had never taken anyone out to eat anything. But still, I felt I was the male so I should be in charge. If we were going to Forks and Fingers, of course I would have taken charge and would have steered the convo so much that it would seem as though I was the one taking the both of us out. But suddenly, Rita turned her back to Forks and Fingers and said, ‘Let’s go to New Buka.’
New Buka?! I could not pee my pants. What was this girl’s plan? Had she signed a contract with the enemy to ensure that I did not enjoy my birthday? This was 2016 and I did not think too much of birthdays then. If she had not called me, it would have been like any other normal day. I would have been in my room, received calls and prayers from my family and messages from those who had forgotten all about my existence but were reminded by Zuckerberg that I was a year older that day. Things would have gone fine and the day would have been a normal one. But here was Rita calling.
I did not have time to process the information. She already turned and was walking towards the road. I wanted to ask if she was sure she did not want us to just go to Forks and Fingers like humble children of God. But then, the alpha male in me was dead already. The obituary was up. I gave up totally and decided to maximize the time we would spend walking down to New Buka to think of how I was going to comport and not embarrass my ancestors. At least, I would have time to think about all the impossible possibilities that could occur. I was still meditating on this thought when Rita flagged down two bikes and said, ‘Let’s go, Michael!’ I looked at her with my mouth wide open. This would be the end of me, I knew it.
We were in New Buka in a minute. She asked where I would like to go and local man that I was, I did not know anywhere in New Buka. I had always heard of this place called Indulge so I told her I’d like to go there. She nodded and began talking about how she would have preferred another restaurant and how there was this particular place where their spaghetti was like Italian spaghetti. I maintained an auto smile all this while and I wanted to ask if she had ever eaten Italian spaghetti. But I did not.
Indulge was what I expected it to be; filled up, AC, nice smell and a bunch of waiters hungry to separate you from your money.
‘What would you like?’ Rita asked as one of the waiters came to stand beside us.
‘Er…er… where’s the menu?’ I asked, sweating already. Oh God, why did I agree to come to this place?
The waiter passed it to me and I checked through, using my index finger as though I needed to do an in-depth study before I could decide what would go into my stomach. In all honesty, I was not checking through anything. I was thinking about how Adam fell in the garden of Eden.
‘You want pizza?’ Rita asked, pointing at the menu in my hand. I looked and saw that my finger was on pizza. ‘Pizza, please. Large size,’ Rita said to the waiter.
‘What? No… I mean, yes. Pizza is fine.’ I smiled at the waiter and she disappeared.
I wanted to pee my boxers. What the hell was a pizza?
We waited for about twenty minutes for the pizza to be ready and within those twenty minutes which felt like two years, there was no prayer I did not pray. I asked the God of Elijah to send down fire. He did not. When the pizza came, it came in a carton. I was confused. Was this what I had ordered? Carton food? Rita did not seem to notice this or if she did, she did not see anything wrong with it. So she brought out her ATM card and made to pay.
‘Sorry, ma. Our POS is not working,’ the waiter said.
‘Wow. And there is no where to withdraw anywhere here.’
There was silence for a while and then she decided to take a bike to campus, withdraw and return. ‘Enjoy the pizza,’ she said and was off.
For a moment, I wanted to pick up myself and run after her. I had seen this in movies. How that someone would order something they could not pay for and then leave their partner in the restaurant to find a way to get themselves out of the mess. Was Rita trying to embarrass my ancestors? I did not want to believe it. And so I waited.
While waiting, I sharply brought out my Nokia 200 and typed into Google ‘pizza’. It brought something that looked like the tentacles of an octopus lying flat. Was this what was in the carton? I opened the carton and saw the content. The tigers in my stomach began to sing Kumbayah! I looked for the fork but there was none. I typed into Google again, ‘How to eat pizza.’ I will be eternally grateful for wikihow. I read about three articles on eating pizza and I realized that all I needed were my hands and my mouth. And so, before my benefactor came, I had devoured about three slices of the beast. When she returned, she paid for the pizza, took a slice or two while I finished the rest, my secret shame safe with me.
It’s been a long time here and what’s up there is a bit rusty, I know it. There are those who are checking this space for the first time. No need to be clumsy like I did with my first pizza experience. Have fun. Read a post or two after reading this and drop comments. This place is a basket of art and so if you love anything art -and you should- you are in the right place.
Had a 2 hour convo with a friend today on everything gender equality. Should write about it soon.
And in case you are wondering, the picture up there was designed by a friend of mine. He’s incredibly good at what he does: Graphics design, UI/UX and all those geeky stuff I don’t know much about. He’s trying to teach me how to design but I am a sloth at these things. Time is a good friend, anyway. Need some dope design? Got you covered! Contact +234 903 946 9863
Now, shall we begin?