HOW DO YOU SOLVE A PROBLEM LIKE TESS?

HOW DO YOU SOLVE A PROBLEM LIKE TESS?

Over time, I have come to realize that I love being around tomboys, and even having them as friends. Typically-feminine girls are not at all my fancy, because I was scarred by the horrible experiences I had with girls during my primary and secondary schools. In those formative years, I wasn’t into typically masculine things and only loved to be in the company of girls. But the girls I hung out with often turned out to be nasty, always talking down to me and sometimes even bullying me and getting physical with me, something they could get away with because I wasn’t aggressive by nature.

By the time I got into university, I’d sworn off making friends with girls. But with time, I realised I had a better camaraderie with masculine-presenting girls. Tomboys. Girls who didn’t wear skirts or waste too much time with makeup. There was always this positive, vibrant energy around them that drew me to girls like this.

However, meeting Tess marked the change of everything.

She was a transfer student to my school and I noticed her for the first time in the lab, being very responsive for a student who came late in the term. Two months after resumption. She walked with a bounce, had a really low, husky voice, and had a forceful attitude. I was immediately interested in being her friend.

Eventually, I was able to engineer the two of us coming across each other after class, and we began talking. I learned that she’d been attending a private university run by a church. And had gotten rusticated for not being a model student. She was studying Biochemistry, which I was too. So that felt good, to know that we were in the same course.

Initially, her attitude toward the friendship I was pursuing from her was lukewarm, like she wasn’t quite sure she wanted us to be friends. I figured she was still feeling bad about the life and friends she was made to leave behind in her first school. And so, I was often calling her to talk on the phone. Always inviting her out for us to hang out. All in a bid to make her adapt better to her new circumstance.

By the time we returned in the New Year for a new semester, our friendship was officially a thing. We were hanging out a lot. Talking on the phone all the time. having each other’s backs during classes. We had our differences though. She was an ardent churchgoer, complete with all the speaking in tongues characteristics that go along with those who love to worship God. Even though this was not me at all, we somehow got along very well.

Then she began calling me pet names like “boo” and “sweetie” and “baby boy”. I was startled by these endearments. After all, I was her “girlfriend”, and girls are often this affectionate toward each other.

But then, this graduated into her making passes at me. she started by making flyaway remarks about how she was horny, accompanying the comments with a suggestive look thrown at me. I was startled the first time she did this; it was clearly a come-hither look, and all this time, I’d nursed it in the back of my mind that Tess was a lesbian. Then when I refused to rise to the bait (pun intended), she dialed it up a notch. One time, while we were in the company of some girls, she held up her breasts to me and said something coquettish about how I should think about touching them. I didn’t. Instead, I felt a wave of embarrassment heat up my face at this. Then she stopped being coy and came right out and told me one day that we should fuck. I recoiled from the proposition, returning her directness with one of mine when I replied that I wasn’t interested. I also tried some guilt-tripping when I asked why she would want to have sex with me when the church she went to was clearly against premarital sex.

At this time, I should have had the wisdom to sever our friendship. I didn’t think the “woman scorned” thing applied to tomboys. I mean, come on, Tess had the emotional maturity of a guy.

Or so I thought.

One day in class, a very good-looking guy, flaming hot, broad-chested with a full membership of the beard gang, walked into our lecture room. And Tess asked me who he was and if he was in our department. I said I didn’t know.

Then I added, “He’s a handsome guy. Are you crushing on him?”

“What sort of nonsense is that?” Tess snapped, her caustic tone causing me to look around at her. before I could respond, she fired on, asking why I would be fancying my fellow guy by acknowledging his handsomeness.

I was stupefied, unable to get a word in edgewise as she carried on with a diatribe. All I did was ask her if she was crushing on the guy. When she calmed down, she asked me if I’d gone to a boarding secondary school. I said no, and asked her why she wanted to know. She said because boarders are gay. She spat the words out, in a way that left no doubt in my mind as to what she thought of that. When I asked her what that had to do with anything, she said that it was because I’d acknowledged a guy’s handsomeness.

I was like, Jeez, girl! Are you for real!

A couple of days later, she was eating a sausage roll. When I came up to her, I picked up the snack from where she placed it and took a bite.

Next thing I knew was her asking me: “Are you HIV positive?”

I was taken aback. Where did that come from? “Why are you asking?” I said to her.

“Are you?” she maintained, ignoring my question.

“No,” I said.

The next thing she said made my mouth drop open in shock.

“I just wanted to know,” she said to me, “before I eat this remaining sausage. Cuts might be present in your mouth which will have me infected from the sausage you took a bite out of.”

So, presumably, I was gay because I’d observed a guy’s handsomeness and I was HIV Positive because I was gay. I tried to make sense out of how this girl’s thought processes were working, but it was a struggle.

Next was when a senior guy in the department, Jake, passed by where we were. This dude was an acquaintance of mine, also gay, although he wasn’t obvious about it. When he caught our attention as he passed, Tess started on him, talking about how she hated the guy because the guy is gay, and yada, yada, yada. I listened to her in shock for a few minutes, before hastening over to my WhatsApp to buzz Jake, asking him if he’d been scandalized out of his closet or something. He said no.

When I refocused on Tess, I began to suspect that she didn’t really know anything about Jake’s sexuality. She’d probably latched on to some stereotype that Jake’s appearance fulfilled and simply ran with it.

She wasn’t done though. She carried on about how she hated gay guys so much. Warning me that I had better not turn out to be gay, and then narrowing her eyes on me as she said she was even suspecting me of being a homosexual. I couldn’t believe this girl. I still had my suspicions about her being into girls from some of the attitudes she exhibited. And if she was into girls, then this behaviour of hers would be internalised homophobia on a whole other level.

Then came the time when I got an A in a course that a majority of the class failed. The result wasn’t officially out but the professor whose course it was called me out during class to say some things to show how pleased he was. I am quite reserve by nature, wanting to go about my business unnoticed. What the lecturer did was embarrassing to me, and I stood next to him in front of the entire class, I wished I’d failed the course too.

But my woes were just getting started. Tess was apparently stung by this feat of academic excellence and whenever we met a crop of people together, she would lead with an elaborate announcement of me being the best student in so-and-so course. There was always a mocking tone to her voice that made it worse. Then she would go on to talk stingingly about how all this time, I’d been misleading her with what she thought was my unserious attitude toward my academics, making her think me and her were in the same boat of cutting class and just barely getting in the assignments on time. She hadn’t known I’d been deceiving her. I found this accusation ridiculous. I didn’t know I owed it to anyone to make them be serious with their studies, especially when they’d been thrown out from a previous school.

Whenever she went on these rants, I would ask her to stop. But Tess wasn’t finished with me. What was especially upsetting was that she turned on me in public, where there were other students to be her audience. She began to get outrightly insulting. Saying how I do not dress rich like other guys. Or even just generally behaved like other guys who chased girls and had girlfriends. She would wonder out loud if I was secretly a fag or something. Tess had always blunt and an attitude which I’d initially thought was charming was now being weaponized against me. I began to have flashbacks to the way I suffered in the hands of the girls in my primary school and secondary school. Tess was turning out to be an even worse manifestation of those horrors. I remembered how she’d said that she was expelled from her former school after her roommate snitched on her. She never told me what the roommate reported, but I began to wonder if it hadn’t been something terrible.

This girl was clearly evil.

The day came when I finally had enough and gave back to Tess as good as I got. We’d been in the lecture room with other coursemates, and I decided to catwalk past her, intentionally looking to provoke her. and sure enough, she rose to the bait. She began to snipe about how I didn’t deserve the A I got in that course or even deserve to have complete notes. Why? Because I am gay.

This girl honestly said the damnedest things.

She would sling these insults at me with a laughing undertone, as though she was just joking. But where they didn’t sting, they outraged me because of her sheer ridiculousness. And that day, I was going to fire my own shots. I retorted that she was a lesbian in denial. Going on witheringly about the way she dressed and how she walked. Framing my digs as a joke.

And the people around us laughed. To them, we were having a lover’s spat. But Tess and I knew that we were no longer friends. The next day, she began to sit in another part of the lecture room away from me. We were officially through.

Of all the things that was wrong with Tess, the part I still find baffling is her homophobia. Like I said, I’d always suspected she was into girls. It wasn’t just about the way she dressed and walked and how she presented as boyish. It was in other things like how longingly she stared at other more feminine girls, moments of unguardedness that crept up on her when she thought I wasn’t looking. It was in the way she complimented the looks of other girls – their breasts, their hair – and would then get defensive when she would see me looking at her do that. It was in the way she took such offense when I joked that she might have a crush on a guy.

As a gay man, I of course know that there are guys in my community who suffer a major dose of internalised homophobia. But Tess was brand new to me. Before her, I didn’t know queer women could exhibit characteristics of internalised homophobia. Naïve, I know. But there it is. For some reason that has nothing to do with personal experience, I always assumed queer women would be better at being accepting than queer men. Or perhaps, Tess didn’t have internalised homophobia; maybe she simply just hated gay men.

Or maybe she isn’t even queer at all, and is just a regular straight, homophobic woman who believes that she can get infected with HIV from a sausage roll that had been half eaten by a HIV-positive person.

Written by KY Samsef

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8 Comments

  1. Mitch
    June 18, 08:41 Reply

    Wahala has so many faces in this life.
    You did yourself a favour by running for your life, my dear. This kind can stab you in the chest over some imagined slight. You’re better off without her.

  2. Wonda Buoy
    June 18, 08:50 Reply

    Ah! How did we get to this stage where as imported as homophobia, is now root deep in the culture? If you’re not homophobic, then you’re “one of them”. I told one of my friends the meaning of the word and dude was like “Yay… I’m 💯%”

  3. Rex
    June 18, 09:07 Reply

    Run baby run, run before she has evidence to leverage on to torment your life boo.

  4. Net
    June 18, 09:23 Reply

    Wow what a toxic person

  5. mike
    June 18, 10:15 Reply

    One word, she needs to get laid.
    I like head cases, honestly solving people’s mind puzzle is a hobbi, but I recently had to cutoff one nigga like that, cause the negativity was getting me and I didn’t catch it in time, cause I wanted to help. But oboy, I started to turn the knife on my own self, just like you will do if you continue staying around that girl.

    How you solve a problem like Tess ? . Run, run, run and run far , far, far. Away from proximity cause that shit is infectious.

  6. Delle
    June 18, 11:40 Reply

    Today, I know what toxicity is. Today, I’ve understood unrivalled hate and unfounded bile. Jeez.

    That girl needs therapy. I do not care who she is or what, SHE NEEDS REHAB!

  7. Black Dynasty
    June 18, 11:55 Reply

    Wow, wow, wow, wow!!! Such bitterness and hate, i can only imagine what’s going on in her head/mind if she can spit out such cruel words.

    Thank goodness you cut her off, just can’t stay around such people. Their poison will eventually hit you no matter how resilient you are.

    Damn, i hope she gets some help.

  8. That Ghana Boy Rudy
    June 19, 10:29 Reply

    Funny how she switched her sitting position after you snapped back at her. That’s how frail bullies are, the moment you pick up the courage to face them for what they’re worth(which amounts to nothing), they cringe and retreat. She’s a bilious character and the only way to deal with such is to Disconnect.
    Hopefully she finds help for her homophobia. You on the other hand my friend, was a gracious friend to her, a friend she didn’t deserve.

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