Last week was Valentine’s week, which I have never been a fan of; for starters, I don’t like the crowd mentality and doing things that I am expected to do, so I try to avoid the Valentine craze. Also I think that Valentine’s Day is way too commercial, and when you combine that with the materialism of Nigerians, you get overkill. This is the time that some of my (female) colleagues display huge bouquets of flowers on their desks so you will know that they are “happening babes” (that’s in case you did not know). We also have a love feast at work and a small party; they do a ballot and you pick a name of someone you will buy a gift for. I generally don’t like my colleagues (Fine! I like one guy), and the guy I picked this year unfortunately is a jackass and the biggest homophobe ever. I hated the fact that I was going to spend my money on him, as I try to keep our interaction to a minimum. I ended up wrapping something I was given at a wedding and gave him. (Re-gifting is the new rage, no?) I aint spending none of my cash on a homophobic bigot.
Someone I just met sent me a gift – something inexpensive, but I thought it was really sweet and surprising, seeing as we had just met and were still trying to be friends. I did not get him anything and I felt pressured by his gift, but it did feel nice to receive something at work, with all the nosy people trying to figure out who it was from.
Speaking about things I don’t like, I don’t like titles. I know it is the most un-Nigerian thing to say. We like pretentious respect, but “sir”, “boss” etc irritate me. I just don’t like them. “Chairman’, “bros’, “senior man” are even more annoying. I often tell people that it is okay to call me by my first name only. I realize that Nigerians are big on this; I recall in my final year at university, when I did not add “Mrs.” to my supervisor’s name (I just called her Dr. Xxx), it had to take the personal intervention of the HOD for her to accept my thesis. I also remember last year when we had a meeting with a top government official, and when I was introduced to the man, I gave him a firm handshake with one hand. On our way back, my boss gave me an earful for not doing the handshake with two hands as a “mark of respect”. (“You think you are in oyibo land,” she fumed. “Is he your mate? That man is old enough to be your father”) I started to say something about the man not being more than forty-five years old and certainly not my father’s age mate, but I decided against it. I think we are all about appearances and pretentious hypocrisy with no emphasis on being genuine, and we think respect is in those things.
I attended (yet) another wedding last week. The groom is an old friend with some history there (*sips coffee*), and I was a groomsman along with nine other gay men (lol). I am a wedding lover anyways, so I tried to have fun and ignore the guilt that was eating me up, because I knew the bride personally too and she had no idea what she was getting into. I stood at the altar in this Winners’ church, in a crisp blue suit, and watched the groom recite his wedding vows. I tried not to think about the fact that the bachelor’s eve party that went down in the groom’s suite last night ended in an orgy, and here he was professing to love and cherish this woman – vows I know that he will not keep. Every now and then, throughout the ceremony, I felt a stab of guilt that I was part of this big scam. But as my dear Khaleesi always says, these women are part of the society that created this problem in the first place. So they should naturally partake in the harvest. However I looked at the bride again and she was happy – genuinely happy and glowing – and I thought to myself: If this guy will make her happy everyday like she is now, then it’s not such a bad thing after all.
I have always said that Nigerian families take a lot of things for granted, and this always ticks me off. I went out on Friday with a few old friends, and one of them is a real drama queen; Ross Mathews has nothing on this guy. He wears the tightest pants ever and you can smell his feminity from Abuja. He is one of the smartest guys I know and on his way to becoming one of the youngest consultants in Port Harcourt. We were at this hotel right and in the middle of alcohol-fuelled laughter, when my cousin (who lives in PHC) walked in. Naturally he came over to say hello, but I did not miss the brief look of disdain he cast on my friend – my friend, who didn’t even bother to exchange pleasantries with him. It was apparent to me then that they were already acquainted. My cousin couldn’t sit with us as he came with his own party, and I made a mental note to ask my friend what the look was about. However, I forgot.
Later in the night, my cousin buzzed on Whatsapp. Now I hate Whatsapp for this singular purpose: once someone gets a hold of your number, they barge in like Miley Cyrus on a wrecking ball and you cannot shake them off, unlike BBM where they have to ask for your pin and you can give them and then leave them on the ignored list for eternity.
Anyway, let’s call my cousin Eric, and below is the conversation we had:
Eric: Did you get home safe? You had a lot to drink.
Me: I had 3 orijins. I was perfectly fine.
Me: I know you did not buzz me to ask about my drinking habits. So what’s up?
I was getting irritated at this point because he had never buzzed me on Whatsapp before.
Eric: Are you gay?
Me: And you ask this because?
Eric: Just answer the question; it’s a yes or no question.
Me: I need to know why you are asking a very silly question that is none of your business.
Eric: I am your brother; everything about you is my business.
Me: Cousin, not brother; second cousin actually, as it is our dads who are cousins. You have also been living in this town for six years, and you have never asked me if I live under Rumuola Bridge or if I even have a job. I think it’s too late to play happy siblings.
Eric: I have heard rumors about your activities in the past and I ignored them, but that guy I saw you with today went to UNN. He was a well known faggot in school and you were drinking and laughing with him like old friends. Odiegwu o.
Now I was ballistic.
Me: How dare you use derogatory words on my friends? I am not answerable to you! I will not answer any questions.
Eric: In law, silence means consent.
Me: I am struggling not to tell you to go fuck yourself, you and the law.
I crossed a line, as he is almost seven years my senior, but I was too angry to care at this point.
Eric: I will tell auntie that this is what you are doing in Port Harcourt.
‘Auntie’ is my mother.
Me: Whatever! Knock yourself out. Please when you call her, help me tell her that I will send the money next week. Save me that phone call. And please do not buzz my line ever again.
I blocked him and deleted his contact and every trace of him on my mobile. I was so furious, my head was pounding, and for two hours I couldn’t find sleep. Was he going to tell my mom? I don’t know. If he does and she asks, will I deny? I don’t know. This was one of the days that it hit me again how easy my life would have been if I were straight, but then again, it is what it is.
Enjoy the rest of the week, guys.