I have made a resolution not to speak up when LGBT issues are brought up in my office. My colleagues talk. But I strive not to listen or contribute. For some time, it had become my intention to live my life one day at a time and free of complications; getting embroiled with my colleagues over their incessant homophobic views was a complication I was determined to stay away from.
This was out of character for me, and because of it, my colleagues speculated; whenever a gay issue was brought up, I could feel their curious stares on me as they waited futilely for me to jump in, the LGBT warrior. I wasn’t just not partaking of these contentions because of my determination to stay away from complications; another reason for this was because I was in a constant state of resentment over the work load that kept getting pushed down to me. In the beginning period of my employment, I’d been a very conscientious staff, tackling my work and dispensing of it on time. My immediate management seemed to interpret this to mean that I wasn’t doing enough work, and before long, gradually, my work load began to increase with no assistance proffered to help alleviate it whenever I got swamped. I stewed in silence, especially when my work became routine, unnecessarily tedious and time-consuming, and not adding to my intellectual capability. It was boring, not challenging enough, and provided nothing new for me to learn. My boss observed this, especially when he was in the process of assigning a task to me and fed up with the work load, I snapped and told him in an icy polite tone that I couldn’t take on any more. He didn’t take any offense at my borderline insubordination. However, the week after the incident, a notice went around the workplace and the management was interviewing new contract staff for my department.
During the period of the interviews, I was walking across the lobby, where the small number of interviewees was seated, when I spotted one of them and almost missed my step.
This guy was super-duper hot! Jaw-droppingly cute! He was impeccably groomed, more dapper than the others. Even seated, I could see that he had an incredible physique; his suit accentuated rather than concealed the sinewy strength of his body. The quality of that suit, the detailing of his tie, the shine of his shoes – it all me positive that this was someone who would never accept a contract staff position; I mean, he looked too polished to be anything but a full-fledged staff of any institution.
But I was wrong in my presumption. When the interview process ended, someone was hired. My boss walked into our departmental office with that someone. It was him!
As usual, he was looking seriously hot as my boss introduced him around the office as (let’s call him) Xavier. When he spoke, he had the kind of baritone that matched his incredible height. And right then, even though I knew that it was, on some level, because of me that these hire was made, I began praying fervently and silently to the King of kings and Lord of lords for this incredible specimen of human hotness NOT to be assigned to me.
Dear God, please do not let this guy be made to report to me… Please, please, please… I silently prayed with all my heart. With his looks, there was just no way I could be entirely professional with him. I have a strict code of conduct at work in relation with my colleagues: I believe in getting the job done so we can all go home. I didn’t see myself getting the job done with this hunk. As his superior, I could envision myself cutting him one too many slacks should he not keep up with his work. He had the most winning smile, which he flashed at everyone he was introduced to, and I just knew that smile would make me not be the hard-ass supervisor I would be expected to be.
So I prayed to Jehovah God, and my prayer was answered when my boss assigned to someone else. I’d rather tackle my overwhelming work load than be assisted by that major piece of distraction. Another subordinate was assigned to me.
Even though Xavier wasn’t working with me, he was still going to be working in the office. In the first few days after his employ, I found myself exerting the most rigid self control I’d ever had to call on in my life. I was consciously keeping him out of my sight, because the mere vision of him could make a brother stare and forget his destiny. I worked on not making contact with him, almost becoming borderline cold to him in the process. All this I had to do consciously, deliberately, because my natural instinct was to drool all over him.
But the witches in my village, who had lost the battle of his assignment to God in heaven, were determined to get me one way or the other. A week after his employment, he developed a problem with his computer. Naturally, he sought the attention of his supervisor for rectification, and the supervisor called the IT department for immediate assistance. IT couldn’t send anyone to us immediately, and asked for some time. But Xavier needed to get sorted out at once, and so I overheard his supervisor say the deadliest four words I’ve ever heard: “Go and ask JBoy.”
In addition to being an accounting staff, I’d also acquired the reputation in my department of being someone with some good knowledge of IT. And so, whenever my colleagues aren’t able to get someone from IT to sort us out, they turn to me. And I am able to fix the problem, provided it isn’t too technical.
What had made me quite appreciated in the office now turned out to be my dooms day calling, as I observed through my peripheral vision as Xavier sauntered over to my desk.
“JBoy…” he called.
That smooth baritone sent shivers down my spine as I looked up into the eyes I’d been fighting so hard for a week not to stare at. This is it, I told myself. I’m most definitely done for.
He brought his problem to my attention, and it turned out to be one of those easy ones I could fix. When I was done, I returned to my work station. Minutes later, he walked over to me and said, “Thank you very much. You are truly the best.”
I looked up at him, and then looked quickly away as I muttered my acknowledgement. You’re welcome, I thought. Welcome to take me away and ravish me anyhow you want! My thirst was screaming inside my head.
Following that interaction, he began to befriend me. He’d greet me especially whenever we encountered each other. Asking me for things such as some of music from my phone media, or movies that I’d saved in my work computer. He was relentless with his acquaintanceship and I soon, I couldn’t keep on staying aloof. He was charming, funny, goofy, always calling out to me for one silly thing or the other. I was going to be his friend whether I liked it or not. And he heightened my interest in him when, as he was going through my phone’s gallery one day, he saw the picture of one of Pink Panther’s exes, who was a friend of mine, and said to me: “So you know this guy.” I replied affirmatively and asked him if he knew him as well. He said yes, that they’re friends. And all of a sudden, I found myself wondering if there was more to their friendship, if there was more to him. Xavier was very enchanting to me. And he didn’t seem to care about how our rapid closeness would be perceived by the rest of our colleagues.
But I knew these people I’d been working with for so long, and I knew that they were observing and wondering and quietly speculating.
One day, Missy (from this column’s previous entries), the woman whose tatafo-meter will not let her destiny be great, quipped in the middle of Xavier’s banter with me: “Hmm, Xavier, the way you are now calling JBoy’s name anyhow, the both of you seem to now be acting like husband and wife.”
I bristled at her words, but swallowed the resentful retort that sprung to my mouth to lash at her. I hadn’t been speaking to her for a long time, because her homophobia is the most of the lot that I can’t stomach. And I didn’t want to give her the satisfaction of knowing she had riled me. So I kept mute.
Xavier however didn’t let the comment get past him. With a smile designed to hide the sneer behind his response, he said, “Eh, how is that your problem? You saw two colleagues relating well and you’re saying they are acting like husband and wife. If that’s the way you and your boyfriend act, then you two are just learning.”
Missy was taken aback by his rejoinder, and for a moment, she gaped at him, not sure how to take his comment. He was smiling after all, so she didn’t know whether to take it as an insult. Then she said, “ah-ah now, be nice. I was only joking.”
Xavier said, “Me too. I was just cracking a joke with you.”
Her eyes narrowed, as though she was starting to pick out derision in his tone. That made her slightly defensive as she said, “Nawa to you o. I was only pointing out that, small thing you’ll call JBoy as if he’s your father, next thing, you’ll call him as if he’s your lover. It just smells somehow, that’s all o.”
Xavier responded in a most melodramatic manner, “Hmm, it’s in your body, Missy. We know your type o! Everything – you’ll be sniffing, as if in your former life, you came to this world as a dog.”
There was an eruption of laughter in the office at the comic jab. Missy began to glower at Xavier, speechless, and it was clear to me that she didn’t like him very much any longer. In that moment, I didn’t care. I was relishing her smack-down thoroughly.
As the day waned however, I realized that I needed to talk to Xavier. I saved his number from the company address book and when I got home at the end of work that day, I called him. This was my first time speaking to him over the phone, and his voice when he said ‘Hello’ washed over me like a balm on my soul.
“Hello, Xavier, it’s JBoy,” I said.
“Oh hi, my main man! My personal person!” he hailed from the other end.
There was something so gratifying, so heady about his constant unabashed adulation of me. But I hadn’t called to get carried away by my attraction to him. I called him to caution him. I began speaking to him about the general attitude of the office he was working in. I let him know that these people we work with are quick to label others, especially when these others did not go with their flow. I told him that I didn’t know anything about his private life, and I didn’t want to know unless he told me, but whatever it is, he should be careful to keep it away from the office if he didn’t want it to be something used against him someday, and that included his effusive interactions with me.
“I’m not saying you should cower and withdraw or not relate with people,” I spoke into the phone to his attentive silence. “In fact, do not ever be intimidated. Collectively, they can be quite an intimidating lot, but as you’ve proven today, you can’t let that get to you. Stand firm. But…”
“I shouldn’t give room for what happened today to happen again,” he supplied.
“Yes, please, don’t. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t embarrassed by it. God knows I’ve heard worse about me from my colleagues. I am grateful for your defense of me. I just wish, for your sake, it doesn’t become a norm – you having to defend me over their perception of us as more than just friends.”
I could imagine him nodding from the other end as he said, “Thank you, JBoy. I appreciate your counsel.”
“Good night then, Xavier.”
“Good night, JBoy.”
And I disconnected the call.
Written by JBoy