Tolu’s point of view –
Tolu breathed a heavy sigh at the threshold of the restaurant. She did not want to do this because she thought blind dates could be awkward for the two people involved. But Lara, her friend, had insisted.
‘You’re not getting any younger, Tolu. Every woman needs a man and no amount of success and achievements can fill the vacuum a man’s love gives.’ Lara said, forcing her to give in, in spite of herself. Let her just get done with it so that Lara and everyone else would let her be. She thought; and if it turned out well for her date and her, all the better. If not, she had nothing to lose since she was not enthusiastic about it anyway.
She knew she was late already, but she took a quick scan of the glass door of the restaurant to see if she could identify her date, but could not make out which of the men, seemingly expecting their dates, was Segun.
On opening the door, she saw all the expectant men look towards her and was slightly taken aback by the one that stood and waved like an excited school boy at finding his mother. Segun had sounded gentlemanly on the phone when they spoke. Come to think of it now, he must have been so with the help of a tutor by his side. She remembered his short pauses as well as the frustrated whispers in the background. When she asked him about them, he had explained that he was trying to shove his whimpering puppy away from his sheets, because he was seated on the bed.
She felt all eyes on her, apparently because of her peculiar dressing. She would have to bare it; she did not know it would be this bad. Fine, he sounded nice enough on the phone and because she was impressed by it she decided to please him a little by wearing the colour he liked as an aid to identifying her when she would enter the restaurant. On a second thought, as the time of their date drew near, she decided she should not appear too interested in the soft spoken man, but to push him away first by overdoing the colour. In this way, she would not be disappointed if neither of them liked the other eventually.
She put up a smile to hide her embarrassment and to be polite. If anything, she was not a kind to be rude to a fellow person no matter what.
As she proceeded towards him and at the same time tried to ignore the on-lookers, she could not help but notice his lingering excitement that gave him a boyish charm. She did not mind liking that in a man, if only he would stop exaggerating it.
‘Hello!’ he grinned at her.
She had expected a hand-thrust to come with all that excitement, but found that he was a bit confused about what to do. ‘Hi!’ She quickly rescued him by proffering a hand-shake which he took hold of and shook with slight vigour. “Maybe he’s a mama’s boy and he’s nervous.” She thought.
‘Have a seat.’ He trotted to pull out a chair behind her. “Gush! Quit running around me; I already have enough attention wearing all this red.” She quarried him inwardly.
Taking his seat opposite her, he stood an elbow on the table and sat his chin on the palm of the same hand. “What’s that?! What’s that?!” she panicked with embarrassment, yet she had to put up a polite smile. ‘Why are you doing that?’ she even gave off a slight chuckle not to let out a trace of her disgust. She looked away and on the table, anywhere but at this embarrassing stare!
‘You’re a beautiful lady and I can’t help but admire you.’ He answered rather sheepishly, and she felt more disgusted. Yet, her manners prevailed and she acknowledged it as nicely as she could muster. ‘Well, thank you. But do you mind being less obvious about it?’
His proud reaction to this request made her think he must be thinking of her as a pet he was pleased with. “What have I gotten myself into?” she wondered to herself. As if this was not enough, he gave her a shocker by ranting thus:
‘Finally, we’ve met. I can’t wait to know you better even though I like you already. You’ll make a good partner wherever this takes us, God knows, marriage maybe. Don’t let us be presumptuous already though, there are things I like and others I hate about my women. I’ll let you know them in good time, but first let’s order. Good! The waiter is here!’
“Partner? Marriage? His women? Who does he think he is, Denzel Washington to fall for?!” She cannot believe this shocking tirade but swallowed it with a sigh, “Okay, he’s also egotistic. I can deal with that.” She smiled, “it only means I’m not disappointed now that I know I don’t and can’t like him.”
‘What would you like to eat, darling?’ he asked wearing that sheepish smile again, oblivious of her disgust.
“Now, who’s being presumptuous?” she frowned without showing it. “One minute he’s infantile, and the other he’s egotistic. What has Lara gotten me into?” She didn’t have an appetite before coming, and she already knew now that she would not even be able to swallow a thing. She just had to bear all this to the end.
‘I prefer you order for both of us, please.’ Tolu said half-heartedly. Her cheeks were already aching anyway from forcing a smile for too long, and she was getting irritated too.
‘If you insist.’ He said and made their order.
While he was at it she thought this was all a new experience for her. Yes she had had dates and many for that matter, but they were all for business. Not that she thought badly about having dates for pleasure, she just never thought much about it since her teenage heart-break and her resolve to shun men and focus on a career and good causes the rest of her life. If a good man came, fine. If not, her life would not be meaningless eventually; the world would appreciate and remember her for her contributions towards bettering her community and the larger society, and God would welcome her in heaven for her good works while she lived on earth. She believed in the adage that life is what you make it.
It was her friend Lara who practically forced this on her, having plotted the date with the help of some other friend of hers’ she called Sope, she frowned. If this was how romantic dates were like then she did not want to have another, she resolved.
After the waiter had left, he turned to her smiling and asked self-assuredly, ‘When would you like me to take you to meet my parents. They will love you!’
“What?!” Thank God she did not have water in her mouth; she would have deliberately spit it on him and apologize for not intending it. “Now that does it,” and put paid to her decision that she did not like him. Now she just had to tolerate him for the time being and politely end the relationship at the end of the outing.
“Look at him,” she chuckled amusedly, “he must think he’s really Denzel.”
To be continued …
© by Ifeanyi Oluwafemi Chukwudi – Jan 31, 2011