By Bunmi Sofola
Lately, I’d been regaling Dolapo, a former colleague’s FWB (friends with benefits) of decades, with tales of the escapades of some of my darling friends in recent months— especially in the last few weeks when a couple of them had virtually burnt their fingers with the spouses of their ‘bits-on-the-side.’ A few weeks after one of them, Kadijat had her annual birthday bash, when she almost got into hot water when Rex, her husband, who travelled showed up, she visited Jake, her lover and the ‘co-sponsor’ of her party.
He had conveniently disappeared from the scene as soon as he saw Rex, to avoid any embarrassment. “It was the first time we would have a decent chat after the party/ Kadijat explained, “and we were theorizing on what could have happened if we’d been caught red-handed by Rex, when Jake’s wife virtually burst into his office.
I’d seen her vaguely at one or two parties, sullenly looking my way as if daring me to say something untoward. But, what could I have to say to her? I scarcely knew her, though her face looked vaguely familiar. ‘Good afternoon’, she snapped as she breezed in and sat down on the chair next to me, almost breathing fire.
Jake was making a semblance of introduction when she cut in: ‘I know senior Kadijat now, she was four years ahead of me in secondary school’. No wonder she looked familiar. I instantly remembered she was one of the pests that were always making trouble in the school dorm in those days. She was constantly being punished by her seniors, myself inclusive.
“How was I to handle this tricky situation? I tried to make small talks and, in fairness to her, she tried to be polite until she suddenly asked; ‘Senior Kadijat, what are you doing in my husband’s office?’ She made me feel so old by her ‘senior’ tag even though Jake is only two years older than I am. I didn’t have an immediate answer but Jake quickly told his wife I was a friend’s sister. ‘I know whose sister she is,’ she sneered on the verge of being rude. ‘That still doesn’t explain why she is here. I also heard of her 50th birthday bash and the role you played in it. If you don’t mind, Senior Kadijat, I want to have a word with my husband. I think you should leave.’
“l was shocked but it was obvious on whose side Jake was as he squirmed uncomfortably in his seat. I stood up in anger and as I left, Jake’s wife’s threat rang after me: ‘Don’t bother to show up here ever again. I have people watching you, and if you don’t want any embarrassment, hands off my husband!’ It was a very humiliating experience. I didn’t know how I made it to my car!”
Kadijat’s experience jogged the memory of a few friends who’d experienced a similar ‘affront’. Joko recalled some years back when she’d gone to a thanksgiving party of Bob a boyfriend who’d survived an attack by armed
robbers. “I don’t often like to dine with the enemy,” Joko said, “so 1 told Bob I wasn’t interested in making his wife uncomfortable by showing up at such a private party. He assured me his wife didn’t know who I was, so I attended with a friend. The luncheon was self-sendee and as I hovered over the fried rice heating tantalizingly under a burner, Bob’s wife came over, pretending to see to the effective running of things.
Ignoring her, I took the serving spoon and as I made to scoop some rice, she was at my side in a flash, pressing the spoon and my outstretched hand deep into the hot rice. I gave a painful yelp! What are you doing here?’she whispered furiously into my ears, trying not to make a scene. ‘Just put down your plate and walk out or you will be in deep trouble’. My friend was virtually shaking with nerves. Unfortunately, Bob was amongst friends and didn’t realise what was going on.
My friend and I simply disappeared as quickly as we could! I’m sure Bob must have been told what happened but when he called a few days later, he feigned annoyance at my leaving so quickly. I told him his wife virtually hounded us out of the party, and he sounded shocked. The swine! Of course, he later made up generously for the embarrassment but the fact remains you shouldn’t take a fight to the enemy’s camp. A wife is a wife, no matter how hard the husband tries to convince you the marriage is now in name only. She can never be ‘the other woman’, no matter how much in love you are with her husband—and no matter how the husband assures you she’s no threat to your relationship.”
I’m sure it was some of these hair-raising experiences that prompted Dolapo to invite six of my friends to a New Year get-together recently. When I protested the year was well on its way, he said there was always a reason to have a good matter. And any time Dolapo extends his once-in-a-blue moon invitation, my friends jump. So, there we all were in our expensive ‘casuals’ with a handful of Dolapo’s friends trying to recapture their fading youths with clothes they must have borrowed off their grown-up sons! It was whilst the conversation verged on the antics of wives and their husbands’ girlfriends that Dolanp told me his wife wasn’t like that. “How would you know? Challenged Bisi, his FWB. I’d often tried my best to respect her by behaving like the good employee who had nothing but a professional affection for her boss and his wife. She was at my wedding, remember? She even gave me one of the loveliest presents I got.”
He smiled wryly. “You believe that in a company as big as the one we both worked with, no one would have told my wife about us? When virtually everyone knew what was going on? Of course, she knew about our “little arrangement’, as she called it. She came to the office several times to see the type of relationship we had and even encouraged you to bring your ex-husband to the house under the pretext of being a caring big ‘Aunty.’ It was after you got married that she told me she knew I was bonking you, but didn’t mind because you were a sweet lady who wasn’t particularly interested in husband-snatching! On top of which you were polite and not confrontational”. Bisi was lost for words.