I am writing this article with a particular man in mind. Yes, you know who you are; tall in an awkward lanky sort of way, dark with the inky black skin of Baba Suwe, and handsome if you find Shrek attractive. Okay, maybe I am being a tad dramatic, but I find it hard to give this guy any credit because he is such an arrogant character. If I was to describe him realistically he’s actually rather handsome; not the sort of handsome that launches itself at you at first glance, strikes you across the face and has your cheek twinging for days as a stark reminder of his supernatural beauty, but the sort of handsome that you acknowledge with a sharp nod and a quick once over, thinking I wouldn’t mind being seen with him.
I remember he dressed well. The first time we met he was wearing a crisp pale-blue shirt and some ashy-grey trousers that loosely outlined his slim figure. My uncle had arranged for him to give me a lift to work, seeing as I had no better option I happily complied. He had large keen eyes, with chocolate brown irises a harsh contrast to their snowy-white background. They made him seem wise and knowing, as if behind them lay years of untold knowledge. The more we talked the more I relaxed in his company. He was intelligent, laid back and seemed to enjoy the seamless babble that spewed forth from my lips about my horrific NYSC experiences. Having recently relocated back to Nigeria himself, he could really empathize with what I was going through, often throwing a sympathetic glance or some encouraging advice my way. We laughed, we joked and I couldn’t help thinking, this guy is actually a gentleman, well almost.
For the sake of anonymity we will call him Randy, because this man had a reputation that preceded him. I was bombarded with stories by kids and adults about his Casanova ways, and how women flowed in and out of his place as if carried along by an endless stream. To be honest, this didn’t bother me: 1) because I was in Nigeria for the purpose of completing my NYSC and not to find a husband 2) Nigerians have a tendency to over exaggerate, and I knew that my relatives would say anything to put me off this guy 3) I am my own person, and I didn’t want to prejudge him based on other people’s opinions. As they say ‘you can’t judge a book by its cover’.
So this ‘one off’ lift turned into more of a regular occurrence. I mean, who was I to complain? I was being carted around in a suave comfortable car, accompanied by a nice guy that had some decent banter, and being stopped from spending my NYSC slave wages on taxi fare. Life was good. It wasn’t until he offered to take me out for the evening that I started thinking, hmmm dude is biting off more than he can chew. If he thought that taking me out and driving me around would lead to anything more than friendship then he had another thing coming. Normally, if a guy that I am not interested in asks to take me out I look him straight in the eyes, mesmerizing him with my stony gaze and turning down the invite with an icy ‘no’, but because this guy had been so kind I decided to show him due respect and nonchalantly accepted his offer, hoping that his motive was to introduce me to some of Nigeria’s hot spots as we had discussed.
So the night came, I dressed up semi-casual and left the house to the disgruntled sighs of my aunt and uncle. He took me to a nice place that had a cool vibe about it, ‘Marquee’ I think it was. We sat outside on the balcony, watching the ebb and flow of Lagos traffic as it created frenzied patterns of light across the dark night sky. My long braids and bare face were massaged by the calming breeze and it was then that he made the comment, something about the simplicity of my beauty and how he would like to be with a girl like me. Flattered, I remember smiling whilst secretly fretting over when the damn music would start playing so that I could get up and dance. Eventually it did, and much to my despair he joined me with it, whirling around the dance floor with such granddaddy dance moves I found myself cringing and turning around in an inane attempt to appear alone. My horrified expressions and sudden need for distance obviously were not great enough hints, as he playfully moved closer, circling me with hip thrusts, arm rolls and even biting his lip for added effect. If the floor could have opened up and swallowed me whole, I would have been all too grateful.
But the worst part of it all was when a guy randomly approached me to compliment me on my dancing, and before I even had the chance to say ‘thank you’, Randy had me swept me up in a huge bear hug and proceeded to squeeze the life out of me. Moments went by with me kicking and hammering at his chest before he finally realized that I was in pain and could scarcely breathe. Even when he did release me, he had some smug look on his face, like he had succeeded in his mission to mark his territory before this competing male. I mean, he might as well have flung me over his shoulder, beat his knuckles against his chest and scampered around on all fours, roaring ‘This be my woman!’.
If that wasn’t enough, on leaving the club I ran into a colleague of mine. He gave me a brief hug to which Randy responded with such a violent look of disgust the next day at work my colleague confronted me, inquiring as to whether he had overstepped the boundaries since my ‘boyfriend’ had cast him such a hateful look he was sure he had done something wrong.
After that incident Randy apologized profusely, although claiming not to be aware of his stand-offish behaviour. I forgave him and we continued our friendship. Valentine’s day was on the horizon and I found myself agreeing to go to dinner with him ‘as friends’, with emphasis on ‘friends’, if he bought me a present worthy of inciting jealousy in my colleagues. Yes I wanted them to be jealous! The women in my office thought they were so fly and were always making fun of this JJB with her ‘correct English’. It was time I brought them down a few pegs. If anything this seemed to me like more of a business transaction; his presents for my time. And if you are wondering, is this girl a gold digger? Didn’t she feel bad? Well no! I could have done with or without the presents but this guy insisted on my time, and fervently maintained that there were no strings attached and all he wanted was my company as a friend, so with my stony-faced house girl by my side, creating a somewhat hostile atmosphere so that he didn’t get any funny ideas, I reeled off the terms and conditions.
To his word I received the presents on Valentine’s day; delivered directly to my office …by him. Not a courier as I had expected, but him. He had come straight from his office, brazenly announced my name at reception, and with bated breath and mischievous smiles the security guards awaited my arrival. If he had been my husband or long-term boyfriend I would have been elated at this outright display of ownership, but because I knew that we were just friends and that ‘Bimbo’s mysterious man’ would be on the lips of every workplace gossip, I felt a little frustrated. Nevertheless I thanked him, only to find him planted at the front of my workplace a few days later to pick me up. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly appreciated his efforts but couldn’t he just have waited in the car? I mean, why not just brandish ‘Bimbo’s man’ across your forehead for all to see?
Weeks went by and much to my relief I got the impression that he had given up on wooing me. Our conversation grew lighthearted again and I really felt like I was talking to my big brother, so much so that I was giving him advice on girls. He offered to buy me dinner and took me to a nice little Italian restaurant. He’d informed me that there was a girl that he liked and was going to call whilst we were out. I was happy for him and encouraged him to do so, assuming that he would have had enough courtesy to cut the phone call short so as not to leave me dining alone for too long. Well, ladies and gentlemen, he went to make the phone call; 20 minutes later the food arrived, 40 minutes later and I had finished my meal, 1 hour later and his food had gone cold, 1hr 20 minutes later and I had resorted to BBM for distraction, 1hr 40 minutes later and I was dodging the impatient glances of the waitress wondering when I was going to pay for the meal. Finally 2 hours later, he strode back with that infuriatingly smug look on his face. It took every ounce of my self-discipline not to hurl myself at him from across the table and claw at his jugular with my blunt nails. Yes, I can be a beast when provoked. Instead, I held my breath and composed myself, telling him to take me home before I got really mad.
Would you believe the dude never apologized? To this day he still fails to understand why I was never swooned by his supposed class or charm, instead he jokes that it’s because I prefer the young boys with swag and can’t recognize a classy man. I guess his ego won’t let him comprehend that a ‘small girl’ like me rejected a ‘big man’ like him.
So let me set the record straight. To all you guys like Randy with over-inflated egos that feel like you are ‘entitled’ to the adoration and attention of every woman, just because you have the money, car and status. Yes, it’s more than likely that despite your arrogance you will find a woman to put up with your intolerable ways, because unfortunately too many of us prioritize wealth over character, thus enter into relationships with men that feel entitled to treat us anyhow because they bring status to the plate, however please know this, a good woman won’t tolerate being disrespected and mistreated regardless of how much money or power you throw in her face. If at all, her affection will be earned over time with consistent love and respect. Respect her for the entity that she is and don’t force or impose your presence, It is not attractive! So if you are one of those dudes that lurk behind a woman like an ominous shadow ready to scare off the next guy who dare steal a glance, you need to stop!
Girls like guys with humility; someone that’s honest about their intentions and doesn’t try to convince them that they only want friendship when really they want a lot more who you think you’re fooling?, someone that apologizes when they have genuinely done something wrong, and doesn’t see her as someone that they are entitled to, but someone that they aspire to be with. If she isn’t interested then she isn’t interested, abeg is it by force? Just move on to someone who can return the feelings, but don’t treat her with any less respect because of it- I know some men have a tendency to abuse women that turn them down.
Ultimately my message is, “men, stop feeling entitled because you aren’t entitled to JACK! And women stop reinforcing their entitled behaviour!” When you start using your man as a bank, demanding this and demanding that then don’t blame them for feeling like they can treat you anyhow. If we didn’t provoke and put up with such foolish behaviour in the first place then men would not have the room to act the way they do.
Photo Credit: astoldbytope.com
Bim Akinmade is a budding writer and Psychology graduate; raised in England but with hopes of one day returning to Nigeria. Communication is key, and she believes that the time is now for people to empower and encourage each other by sharing their experiences and beliefs. Bim recently completed her NYSC in 2012; a tumultuous journey with several twists and turns, all of which are documented in her blog. Follow her on Being Me 360 and on Twitter @Bimmykins2012 to engage in thought-provoking discussions and share your experiences on a vast array of topics.