The other day, while going through my Facebook timeline, I happened on a post from NoStrings; it was asking about the things we did or still do to pass for a heterosexual. A lot of people revealed their secrets. The first guy said he had to stop singing in public. The second person said he had to fake liking a female derriere in the presence of his straight friends.

Then I thought to myself, what did I do to pass as a straight dude?

The answer was nothing.

First off, I don’t keep hetero boys as friends. We can’t go pass the ‘hello’ stage. That’s if you get to that stage at all. This is not to say that I’ve always had gay friends. As a matter of fact, I didn’t have any until recently. Keeping to myself is something I’m really good at. I love the comfort of my solitude, though it can be suffocating sometimes. But when I do keep friends (heteros), they are usually females. It’s very easy to be less the image the world wants you to see when you’re hanging with straight girls. And apart from the zero room for temptations, I find their friendships a bit more relaxing and less tasking.

However, during the course of my acquaintance with girls, I’ve had a few crushes. The first was in primary school. We meet in the school’s playground and became friends. For two children with a capacity to feel affection, we loved each other. She’d trip and fall or injure herself, and would remain inconsolable until I came around to either help her up or say sorry. My affection for her became clear when her class teacher organized a play with her class as part of the send-off activity for those in Primary 6, and her character was wedded to a boy in her class. Observing this, I felt something in my stomach, something cold and churning, something I’d later recognise many years later was a mixture of jealousy and betrayal. Watching them, I remember cussing that I wasn’t in her class so I could qualify for the role of her ‘husband’.

She didn’t resume school after that term. Her father, a pastor, got transferred to another town. I don’t remember her these days; the only memory I have of her is that she was light skinned, soft spoken, with very tender hands and skin. The hands that, when she touched me, would trigger a wave-like movement down my spine.

In secondary school, I meet Rita. A dark, skinny girl with sparkling dentition. She was a bundle of cheerfulness, selfless in nature and beautiful to the beholder. We met and became friends in our JSS2, during March Past practice. We’d go to practice together, go for break together, exchange lunch. She’d help me copy my notes when I was too tired to. She liked me a lot more than I liked her even, and didn’t bother hiding it in the company of her friends, the way most girls did back then.

Inevitably, we soon became the class couple. She was kind to me. She cared so much for me. She defended me when the boys made degrading comments about my mannerisms. She would refuse to play ‘oga’ with her friends if they refused to let me play. I may or may not have appreciated her well enough, but one thing I know is that Rita was a girlfriend I didn’t recognize, perhaps because I was too busy thinking about boys and testosterone to see her.

And now, I’m in the university, another girl has showed up in my horizon. Her name is Chiamaka. She is nice too, sweet. And I’m here twiddling my thumbs, wondering how this will play out.

Written by Michael

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