FOREWORD: Here’s a new fictional series from the stables of Vhar-Vhar-Voom. 😀 It is actually fiction steeped in real life, a sort of retelling of events that happened. And this is the debut episode. Enjoy.
“Ugh, this sucks.”
“Uncle Moe! Language!” Khalil admonished before running off to attend to something that had gotten his attention.
I let my head fall back with a moan, as I caught sight of the dangling paper-cut Cupid swaying to the cool breeze of the air conditioner above my head. I narrowed my eyes accusingly. “I. Hate. You. So. Bad.”
I have never liked my birthdays, not because of what it stands for, but because there’s so much pressure attached to it. People expect you to be incessantly excited and happy. Everywhere you turn, there’d be a call or text or social media notification screaming things at you like: ‘Happy birthday! Where the parry at!’ or ‘Olojo ibi! Send my cake o. *Wink, wink. Kiss, Kiss*’ And when it’s not your birthday, there’s also the pressure to get the perfect birthday present.
And that was the hell I presently was in.
I snatched up a minion doll. “How is this supposed to be a birthday gift for an adult?” I peered at the big-eyed toy in distrust. “You have dead eyes.”
Why should I buy a birthday gift? Why was so much sentiment attached to birthday presents? We’d been to half a dozen stores, all pretty much carrying the same merchandise, and I was no closer to figuring out what to get Aliu than I had been five stores ago. This is ridiculous! I thought exasperatedly.
Aliu and I loved each other. We had been in love for almost two years. There were fights, at least once a week, thanks to me; and then great make-up sex. We’d stuck together through thick and thin. Hell, I spent most of my free time at his house. Aliu got up earlier than me most mornings just to make us burnt, crusty pancakes. He made cool lunches for Khalil, like dry toast and juice. He worried about his mother. He was both a good father and son, and an amazing lover.
With a sigh, I turned to face the long aisle filled with more stuffed toys, accessories, things I had no idea what they were supposed to be, chocolate, and a picture of a woman feeding her man chocolate. Humans have the most mundane, cheesy ideas.
“What about this, Uncle Moe?” Khalil had returned with another offering.
I hunkered down in front of the boy and raised both eyebrows at him. “What is it?”
“It’s a Pinky and the Brain teddy bear. You press the button here, and they talk.”
“I can see that.” I took the toy from him and pressed the button. It instantly let out a series of shrieks, startling the both of us, before warbling something about taking over the world something-something.
The world is definitely coming to an end, I thought with another exasperated sigh.
“That was extraordinarily horrifying. Why would they even make something like this?”
“That was creepy,” Khalil agreed, with his mouth in a pout. He dropped to his knees with an exaggerated heave, like his whole world had crumbled. “Uncle Moe, we’ve been to like a gazillion and one stores. I’m tired and hungry.”
“And we’ll go to a jazillion and two if we have to.” I dropped to the floor next to him. “This is exhausting. Why is this so exhausting?”
I could feel a headache rearing its head.
We finally left the store hand in hand to grab a quick lunch. Lunch was a quick affair of snacks and drinks, and soon, we were in another store that the mall had to offer. Khalil, in his usual fashion, ran off to peruse the aisles.
Walking around, I came upon an aisle that had interesting goods. My eyes caught something black and veiny. I picked it up, turned it this way and that, but no matter which way I turned it, I couldn’t figure out what it was.
Bottle of lotion? But what’s with the veiny imprint on it?
“Uncle Moe! How about this?” Khalil ran up to me and thrust a big round, stuffed toy into my hands. On it was inscribed: “You Rock!”
Inscription. Kids and stuffed toys. I looked at him with my patented exasperation. “Although your father does indeed rock, I think we’ll pass on this though.”
“Okay.” He cocked his head to one side and scrunched his nose. “Why are you holding a penis?”
My boyfriend’s seven-year-old son pointed to the ‘bottle of lotion’ in my hand.
“What are you saying? How is this a penis?” I held the object up. “I think it’s a body lotion. Look at the ember liquid inside.” And then I wiggled it.
“It is a penis,” Khalil maintained, and then pointed to the shelf on my left. On it was a cutout cardboard with an ad about the sex toy.
I let out an unmanly yelp, dropped the dildo, and dragged and rushed the boy around to the next aisle where I made sure it was safe and void of questionable packages, before setting him on his feet.
“You didn’t see that,” I chided.
Khalil rolled his eyes. “You’re such a prude.”
Ehn? Me, prude? The nerve of this precocious pikin!
He ran off before I could ask him where he’d learned that word, but more importantly to argue the fact I’m not a prude. Okay, maybe I am – but I just didn’t expect to find soft porn while shopping for a birthday gift, especially not in a gift store and certainly not in the same aisle as the other more mundane goods.
“I am not a prude! I love sex,” I said a little too loudly at his retreating back.
A woman entering the aisle placed her hands on her daughter’s ears and stared at me with cold chastisement before turning and walking briskly away.
“Kinni? Iranu! Like you don’t know what a penis looks like or sucked one before?” I called out after her. “I was stating a fact though. I’m not a pervert!”
“Sir, I’m going to have to ask you to keep it down,” a stern voice said behind me. “You’re disturbing the customers.”
I turned to set my frown down on a small-statured, pretty young woman in a blue uniform and a nametag bearing the name ‘Uche’ tacked to her breast pocket.
“My dear Uche,” I began in a supercilious tone, “it’s too late. They’re already disturbed. I’m disturbed. I’m all for artistic expression and advertising, and hey, I’m the last guy to have a problem with peni— whatever it is you’re selling or otherwise” – I jabbed a finger in the direction of the aisle I’d just escaped from – “but I don’t expect to find them next to the jellies and perfumes, and certainly not at my son’s eye level.”
“Sir, they are goods. It’s either you buy them or leave.”
I stormed around to the aisle, swiped up a thick black dildo with button eyes and marched back to the lady.
“Today isn’t Hump Day or Valentine’s Day. Even if it were, it’s not what Valentine’s Day is about.” I waved the sex toy at the girl, and then paused. “Maybe it is, but in the bedroom, or kitchen, or restroom. Maybe a secluded part of this mall. But not in a gift store!”
“Sir, I would appreciate it if you didn’t wave that in my face.”
“So this is my store, ehn? Abi iru insolence wo leleyi naa?” I snapped.
“Sir, if you don’t calm down, I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”
“Don’t bother. Gba oko e.” I tossed the plastic genitalia at her and marched off. “KHALIL! We’re leaving this den of iniquity!” I located my boyfriend’s son at once and snatched his arm, practically hauling him toward the exit. “Rubbish!” I called out over my shoulder as I stalked out of the store.
“Why did they kick you out this time?” the boy asked, looking up at me.
“They didn’t kick me out. I left.” I walked down two stores, maneuvering our way around teenagers that propped selfie sticks in air and were posing away, around a couple who annoyingly stopped in the middle of an aisle just to make out.
Ew! After they will say it is us that are waving our homosexuality in their faces. Nonsense!
“And oh, I’m not a prude,” I told to very grimly tell Khalil.
“Debatable,” he shot back.
“It’s not your fault na,” I huffed. “Iranu!“
“Abasha,” he retorted again.
I heaved a sigh. Oluwa on High, better hold me now before I strangle this child.
We soon located empty lounge chairs in front of the only escalator in the mall and crumpled into the seats. Just then, a figure walked up to us.
“Hian! Get up, you two!” the figure shrieked dramatically. “I can’t believe you are giving up already. You’ve been to what, two stores –”
“A jazillion stores,” Khalil corrected.
“Whatever! Oya, gerrup abeg. I haven’t got all day.”
I glared up at my best friend, Ivan. “Where in the world have you been? You’re supposed to be my second pair of eyes.”
“Ode! That’s what the telescope you call the eyeglasses perched on your nose is for. Anyway, I was helping out. I sat at the ice cream shop with my tablet and checked out online stores while licking my ice cream spoon like my life depended on it.”
“And what did you find?” I supplied the answer myself. “Nothing. And this was your idea,” I growled, pushing myself up and hauling Khalil up, who went limp in my arms.
“See what you’ve caused? He’s turned to jelly. I have a jelly child now.”
Ivan laughed and scooped Khalil up, carrying him over his shoulder and tickling his belly. The boy squirmed and giggled.
“How many stores was this dude kicked out of?” Ivan asked him, as we walked down the aisle in yet another store.
“Five,” the traitor said with a giggle. “And he threw a penis at a saleswoman.”
Ivan stopped and arched an eyebrow skywards. “Why do these things happen when I’m not there, eh?”
“That’s because you have more issues than Complete Sports,” I said.
“Ha! That one pain me o.”
“Deal with it, mbok.”
I stopped in front of the small jewelry section. “What do you think a wrist watch…or a bracelet? The wide array of things in this mall has turned me into a confusosexualist.”
Ivan stopped and eyed me, before we both began laughing.
“You’re just not serious,” he gasped. When he sobered up, he held up a leather wallet. “What about a wallet?”
“Come on!” I groaned. “Don’t you have any idea what I could buy? Surely you can think of something, or haven’t you gotten some crush or boo any birthday gift before?”
He looked at me. “Uhm, no? Why would I want to?” He moved Khalil from one hip to the other as the boy inspected a stuffed grenade toy. I caught sight of the inscription on the toy, which said: “You’re the Bomb!”
Seriously? Who comes up with these things?
“I’m not big on gift sharing of any kind and I don’t expect any either.”
“You aren’t? You don’t?” I echoed.
“I’ve just never been interested.”
Could it be that I was driving myself crazy for no reason? This was just another day in Aliu’s life. It wasn’t as though he’d even made a fuss about it to begin with. There wasn’t even a party planned. I was the one worrying and making the day a big deal. And maybe Aliu was just going along with it because of me. He was an expert at pretending he liked something.
I mean, he does that all the time when Ivan comes over and prepares one of his horrendous delicacies, I thought with a wry smile.
“Uh-oh…I hear wheels turning,” Ivan said, reaching out a hand to wriggle my ear.
I batted his hand away with a scowl.
He chuckled, unfazed by my countenance. “You’re overthinking this,” he said. “It’s still Aliu. Stop worrying about all this” – he waved a hand at the assortment of gifts on the rows around us – “and focus on your man. It’ll come to you.”
I sighed again as Ivan walked off with Khalil in his arms. As much as I hated to admit it, he was right.
Stop worrying about all this.
Focus on your man.
It’ll come to you.
And just then, it came to me. A light bulb came on in my head. I couldn’t help the wide smile that wreathed my face as I fished out my Blackberry from my pocket to begin setting things in motion.
Written by Vhar