By the grace of God – This is my least favorite (Nigerian) expression right after “Manage it”. My aversion to this phrase has nothing to do with my faith or beliefs; it just irks me because in it is embedded an abdication of responsibility. For example, you take your fabric to a tailor and ask him if it will be ready next week, and he says, “By the grace of God.” My response is always something like: “God’s grace is always available, and God is not the one sewing the cloth Himself. You know how many jobs you currently hold and you know how fast you work. So how about you consider these factors and go ahead to give me a realistic time frame for collection.”
This abdication of responsibility is also seen in our country’s leadership; we pray to God to end insurgency rather than taking a sustained military offensive against the terrorists. As a young Catholic boy (yes, you read right, I even fancied being a priest at some point before ‘worldly pleasures’ distracted me), I remember scoffing at that “prayer against bribery and corruption in Nigeria” (do they still say that prayer in Catholic churches?), because even at that age, I knew that God would not come and end corruption in Nigeria; it is Nigerians themselves who will put an end to it. At some point, you have to take responsibility for your life.
A few days ago here, we were discussing the piece about validation and the writer talked about categorizing people based on financial means in the gayborhood. This rings very true, and the reason why it’s so much of an issue on this side of the road than on the other side is simply because being gay is an expensive sexual orientation. I mean, for starters, to have sex, you need to buy KY jelly of 1000 naira (which you may exhaust in one session). Lol. So having some measure of financial independence is critical to surviving in these waters. Men are visually stimulated and gay men are mostly vain too, so you need to wear nice clothes, smell nice, take care of your body etc to get any attention in this big meat market. And these things cost money. I mean, meet a guy on grindr and chat with him, and the second or third question is always “What do you do?”, and if you don’t give a satisfactory answer, you are given the BBM rapture treatment (lol). I know straight men that are unemployed and have no dime to their names, but still have very good-looking girlfriends who believe they are riding out the drought with them; but when I was fresh out of school and hustling for a job, no one wanted anything more than just sex with me. Some things are just that way.
I was with a few friends the other day having drinks, when they mentioned that one guy (whom I know) got married the week before. Now this was strange because I had this guy on BBM and he did not mention the wedding neither did he even share a picture of the ceremony. I know that I am not really one to change photos everyday (I can use one DP for one year without changing), but at least it was his wedding, so I was curious. When I got home, I buzzed him and asked him if he did get married. First he was evasive and cagey, trying to find out how I knew. Then he finally acceded and apologized, saying that he did not want to invite many people to the nuptials. I prodded further and got the full gist: he lived at home with his family (wrong move for any adult gay man), and his brother stumbled upon him and a guy in an uncompromising position and reported to their father, who is this very prominent politician in Rivers State. This confirmed the father’s suspicion all along, and the old man gave him an ultimatum – to either get married immediately or be cut out of the family. And this friend of mine is a businessman, who is mostly into small government contracts, with all his businesses built on the connections that come with his family name. So he buckled and got married, against his wish (and naturally did not feel joyous enough to tell his friends). I am not one to kick the wounded, but I reminded him that I’d told him to move out of the family mansion a long time ago; being gay and living at home with family (in Nigeria) DOES NOT EVER WORK. His mom kept making him stay with excuses that she needed him around, and that besides the house was big enough to accommodate him. Now he is in a marriage he absolutely detests; and to make it even twisted, the new wife knows he is gay and has been assigned by his parents to watch his every step. I feel really sad for him; I shudder at the thought of being forced into something like this. I always say that Nigerian families take a lot of things for granted.
My computer packed up recently and I needed a new one. My mind was set on buying a particular brand when I went to the gadget store. I was looking at different models of the said brand when I locked eyes with the most beautiful man I have ever seen manning a stand for another brand of computers. I suddenly found myself standing in front of this guy (who couldn’t have been more than twenty-two years), and I had no idea how I got to his stand. He started pitching a laptop to me to buy, trying to sell me on its features, but to be honest, I did not hear a word of what he was saying. His sales monologue sounded like a distant echo while I took in his features – his white teeth, his jaw line (my weakness), big succulent lips. I thought that Max is the only guy who combines a strong jaw line and juicy lips (besides Dammy Krane, of course), but this guy looked like a black Greek god. When he turned to place something on the shelf, I caught a glimpse of his cakes and I swooned and fell into the lagoon.
Anyway, before I could stop myself, I heard myself say, “I will take it.” My inner subconscious called me a slut and I slapped him shut. I ended up buying a brand I wasn’t sure was durable or fully understood how it works; this kid seduced me into making a purchase and on the drive home, the guilt started to sink in.
Much later in the night, I was struggling to set up my accounts on the device and I just couldn’t make heads or tails of it. Then my phone buzzed with a Whatsapp message, and it was the guy. I wondered briefly how he got my number, and then I remembered I filled an invoice. I responded to his hello.
Him: How are you enjoying your device?
I wondered if he was flirting with me or if he was just very good with customer care.
Me: Do you always check on all your customers?
Him: It’s called after sales service sir, and I do make an exception for some.
Okay, so he was definitely flirting with me, and I recalled the exaggerated gesticulations with his hands when he was selling the device to me. His femininity was subtle, like a bait; just enough to stir your interest.
Me: Drop the sir, I hate it. Makes me feel old.
Him: Dropped… So, enjoying your device?
Now positive that he was definitely flirting with me, I went in for the kill.
Me: No, I’m not. It confuses me, and this is the result of allowing a distractingly handsome young store attendant talk me into buying a device.
Him: Lol, it can’t be that bad. I know you are not used to the interface. It will grow on you eventually, and you will be happy you met me that day.
Me: I doubt that very much.
Him: How can I make it up to you?
Me: Have drinks with me and maybe help me set up my accounts, settings and all.
Him: Will do, when?
We met up the following evening. He helped me set up the settings and we had a few beers . . .
And that is where the story ends for all of you. *blows air gently on my coffee and takes a sip*
See you guys next week.