THE MANAGER

THE MANAGER

“Good afternoon, are you here to eat?”

Those were the first words he said to me when I stepped inside the restaurant located in Wuse.

I had a lunch date with a lesbian friend of mine, and I had just entered the restaurant, believing I was early. As I stepped inside, I saw a young man who looked to be in his thirties make a beeline for me.

As he approached, I gave him a once-over. He was dark-skinned, bearded, with a good body that looked like it gets whipped into shape in a gym. A long, dangly earring was hanging from his right ear, and the top he was wearing was a bit cropped; it wasn’t completely resting on his belted waistline, giving me glimpses of his toned midriff.

“Hello, good afternoon,” he greeted warmly as he drew up before me. “I’m the manager. Are you here to eat?”

I noticed now that his nails were painted black and his eyebrows carved. At this point, I felt a speculative expression come over my face as I wondered just how homosexual this dude was.

“Yes, I am,” I replied. “But I’m supposed to meet someone here. I fear I may be too early. So I’ll have to wait.”

“That’s alright,” he said. “Please come on in, let me show you to a table.”

I was a bit surprised by the hospitality, but a quick glance around the room, which showed a minimal lunch crowd, made me understand why the manager would have the disposition to be this welcoming.

He led me to a table and I got seated. Then he left. He was gone for a few minutes, during which time I went to my phone to text my friend that I was at the restaurant.

Then he was back.

“Where’s your friend?” he enquired. “When is he coming?”

“They’re not here yet,” I said, not bothering to correct him that it was a female I was waiting for.

“Okay. So would you like to order anything while you wait?”

As he was talking to me, he was smiling brightly and appeared to be batting his eyelids at me. I didn’t know if this was still a restaurant manager being amiable to a dining customer or if this was supposed to be a come-on. I wasn’t sure, and I didn’t respond to his geniality. I simply said no, that I’d wait for my friend.

“You look very familiar,” he said then. “Do you go hiking?”

At this point, I let out a very low chuckle. It was becoming clear to me that this guy was hitting on me. First of all… You look familiar…Really? That’s like an age-old pickup line. Secondly, in Abuja, getting asked about hiking is a coded lead-in for a gay proposition. Don’t quote me on this o. But yeah, in my experience and from those I’ve heard of, when a random guy comes up to you in Abuja and starts asking you if you go hiking or if you’d like to go hiking, it’s most likely a pickup line.

I replied, “No, I don’t hike at all. But I do go to the gym.” Just in case he brought up the hiking because of how athletic my body looked.

He gave me a quick appraising look, as though taking in my body the way I’d taken his in earlier. “OK then. It’s probably at the gym that I saw you before.”

He mentioned the name of his gym. It was unfamiliar to me. I told him that I didn’t know the place, and then told him the name of the place where I work out. He said he’d never been there before.

Then he left, only to return moments later. This time, he pulled out a seat and settled in front of me at the table. Then, he started chit-chatting, random small talk that I wasn’t interested in. He went from asking if I’d been living in Abuja for long to encouraging me to come to the restaurant more often and bring my friends along. At this point, I was no longer responding, simply kept quiet and listened to him prattle on.

All this time however, I didn’t know that my friend (let’s call her Bella) had been at the bar section of the restaurant. She’d in fact gotten here before me and was having a drink and observing me and the manager from the distance.

Eventually, she sauntered over. I didn’t notice her until she was almost at the table, and then I beamed a “Thank God you’re here” smile at her.

Bella is brazen by nature, but even knowing that about her didn’t prepare me for what she said the moment she stopped at the table.

The manager had noticed her and was getting up when she said ever-so-saucily, “My guy, so you’re gay.”

I choked back a laugh. An expression of stupefaction flashed across the man’s face and for a moment, he simply stared at her, clearly rendered speechless by her comment.

Bella went on, “Shebi you were the one hitting on me back there at the bar. Now, you’re over here, hitting on my friend – and that makes me wonder which one you are, gay or a serial flirt.”

The manager’s entire countenance then underwent a change. Earlier on, his demeanour with me had been fluid, with a hint of effeminacy as he chatted me up. However, confronted by Bella’s comments, the shock passed and he stiffened, his attitude projecting a stoic masculinity as he protested, “Oh no, no, no. I was just trying to make him feel comfortable. I’m not gay at all. This” – he gestured at his appearance – “is just my aesthetic.”

But nobody said anything about your appearance, I wanted to say.

He continued, “I like to look like this, so that I can get attention for marketing purposes. So that people can look at me and ask me where I work, and that gives me an opening to market this place…”

He kept going on and on, a torrent of explanations no one asked for to rebut my friend’s audacity to claim he might be gay.

And he may not be gay. he may be a straight guy who, like every other opportunistic Nigerian heterosexual, is bending the queer aesthetic to serve his hustle (this whole thing where straight men are now painting their nails black is especially irritating to me) – but his long-winding explanations were not helping his case.

Bella, on her own part, was in her dramatic element. She’d taken a seat and was looking at him, a rapt expression on her face, as though she was truly interested in the seminar he was presenting.

Suddenly feeling mischievous, as he said something (yet again) about how he looks the way he looks because of his marketing objective and not because he’s gay, I interjected, “Me too. I like to suck dick, not because it means anything, but because dick tastes like lollipop in my mouth.”

Bella burst out into laughter.

The manager laughed too, but uncomfortably so, looking like he was trying to understand if I was making fun of him or agreeing with his point of view. He left our table immediately after.

Then Bella turned to me and started gisting me about how the guy had hit on her when she got there and chose to sit at the bar. He’d told her how much he liked her hair, her dress, her tattoos.

“I even thought he was straight, but, you know, metrosexual, given how he is dressed, not knowing that he’s just a confused soul,” she said.

Soon, we got started on lunch, gisting and eating and just generally enjoying each other’s company.

However, the manager didn’t seem to be able to help himself. In spite of the earlier awkwardness, he kept dropping by our table to check if we (read “I”) were okay and if we (again, read “I”) needed anything. He tried to make like he was being a hospitable host, but it was apparent he was trying to get at me.

Upon his fourth visit to our table, Bella had finally had enough. She said, “He’s fine o! My friend is just fine, thank you very much. He doesn’t need any help.”

The man didn’t return to our table again. I half-expected him to accost us on our way out when we were done with our repast, perhaps to ask me for my number, but we didn’t see him anymore. Maybe the presence of Bella at my side had scared him off. Maybe he really was a heterosexual restaurant manager who simply paints his nails, carves his eyebrows and wears cropped T-shirts for the aesthetic.

Written by Zen

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  1. Danté
    June 05, 12:22 Reply

    Phew… FTC

    This is sooo relatable. Similar experience at one of the food courts in SPAR PH. Was out with three friends and as if of one mind we homed in on this fella that served there before we even took our seats. Now the guy wasn’t as flamboyant as our restaurant manager but to our trained eyes this guy was leaking rainbows and confetti. The ever so slight sway in his hips, the unconscious gesticulations, his singsong type of voice and of course -the black painted finger nails.

    Knowing the mad friends I have, they started making small chitchat with him when he came over to serve us, throwing thinly veiled innuendos here and there. Gosh the guy was fidgeting nervously. I thought he was going to pass out sooner or later.

    Eventually we let him go but throughout our time there one of us would occasionally nab him glancing in our direction every now and then.

  2. McDuke
    June 05, 14:30 Reply

    I find a lot of statements and opinions disturbing in this post but today’s not the time to talk about how troubling I find this post to be….let me just focus on what the country is turning into….smh

    • Francis
      June 05, 15:44 Reply

      If you don’t share what you find troubling in the post, how are we supposed to know and do better? We no be winch na

  3. Sugar daddy in Transit
    June 05, 17:15 Reply

    Totally don’t agree with judging a person by their appearance so he flirted with you and your friend, maybe he’s gay or bi or still figuring it out. On the other hand the whole thing with heterosexual men painting their nails black infuriates me because it’s still this same people that would attack gay men saying things like that’s girly or that’s gay but then they turn around and want to express themselves buy painting their nails but only dark colors yunno so it’s manly lmao smh

  4. Demi
    June 05, 19:55 Reply

    I felt the manager dude did too much with the chit chats and over the top hospitality but hey zen could have shielded him a lil from bella’s accusations… I especially don’t like how she brazenly accused him in public of being gay, the guy must have felt bad which is the opposite of how he made yall feel even if yall were alil uncomfortable… las las everyone will be fine..

  5. Baddest
    June 05, 20:04 Reply

    I find this post very disgusting … I feel bad about that manager, I hope he meets better people next time .. tufia

    • Jason
      June 16, 10:10 Reply

      Lmfao, it cringe the entire time reading.
      They where just mean as hell for no reason. 😁

  6. Delle
    June 06, 02:23 Reply

    So, this story didn’t entirely sit well with me.

    Came off like we’re supposed to appreciate you for being mean and standoffish. And your friend’s quip was excessive, definitely not an ember to fan.

    I would shaa not want your lot in my restaurant.

    • Jason
      June 16, 10:13 Reply

      They thought they did something.
      Making people look stupid when they’re being nice is outrightly disgusting.

  7. Francis
    June 06, 06:58 Reply

    See ehn, let me just just say as an introvert, I’m biased in the author’s favor. I’m not a fan of people who lack the ability to read the fucking room and serial flirts especially the ones that move as if they used flirting to swear for them from their village.

    Am I supposed to open my mouth and tell you, that you’re invading my space before you get the message and leave me the fuck alone? I came here to eat with a friend not sit down and have a chitchat with you. Bitch I don’t know you like that. Read my face. I’m not interested in whatever it is that you’re selling.

    From personal experience (which is why I hate people like this), people like this are users. Friendship is NOT by force. It starts from them invading your space in the name of friendship and the next thing you know, they’ve started offloading their many problems on your head and turning you into their personal ATM. It took this happening 4 consecutive times before it clicked and I quit being a fool. I don’t care if you think I’m stand-offish. Your business, not mine.

    There’s something about jumping from one person to another in the span of seconds in the same fucking space that rubs me the wrong the way. I had a classmate like that who literally had girls fighting themselves because of him. You could clearly see the dejection on their faces when he was done flirting with them and had switched on the charm for another person right in their presence. Some will call it having game but I call it being a fucking asshole.

  8. trystham
    June 06, 11:07 Reply

    It’s how compliments have been taken to mean flirting for me. Of course, I’m pretty obtuse about things like those, but ur lesbian friend saying he must be gay, out loud, smacks of high level crassness. He just ‘flirted’ with you FFS. He could be acting as manager and making y’all comfortable. Either that or u both are much too scarred from piss poor Nigerian service

  9. Raine
    June 10, 01:39 Reply

    Both you and your Lesbian friend are Mad.
    Pretty disgusted.
    I lost it when you silly friend tagged him as “confused”.
    It’s so unfair

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