Giving presents is an art. Some men don’t have a clue, whilst some are so romantic you wonder how many trials and errors they’d had before they got it right. And there are the in-between ones who give presents that make you growl with resentment. A recent experience with Ola, an old friend who i’d lost touch with comes to mind.
After we’d resolved our latest tiff, he called to let me know he had something for me he would love to drop right away if I was free. Excitement bubbled. What had he bought as an olive branch – jewellery, an expensive fabric, perfume perhaps?
I didn’t have to wait for long. He came in, holding out a disgusting – looking carrier bag. “I though you should get it fresh”, he said planting the bag on the kitchen sink. When I peeped inside, I raged with disappointment. It was a fairly big fresh cat fish already cleaned and cut into steaks.
“My regular customer brought it. And she included some fresh peppers too so you cook it right away?” To Ola, a typical Lagos boy- fresh fish is the height of delicacy. Kissing me on the cheek, he left with a spring in his feet. I felt like throwing the fish after him, but I chucked it in the freezer. I didn’t fancy puffing and huffing over a hot stove because of a gift I didn’t even want.
Not long after, my younger sister rang. She wanted to know if I was in as she was on her way. She had a crashed marriage some years back and was left raising two adorable girls. She was lucky. Her ex-husband is quite generous with his children and Mercy, my kid sister didn’t was for anything. Any hope of reconciliation dripped when her husband travelled abroad for good. She was devastated at first. Then: “I can’t let him ruin my life”, she fumed.
“I’m only 32 and intend to have fun. Two children are all I want and after the trouble my ex took me through (he was the home-loving type who resented Mercy’s party-till-you-drop attitude), I intend to have fun”.
She was true to her word. A very pretty and petit lady, she’d never failed to pull men. She overhauled her wardrobe and soon had the men drooling. In the end, she settled for Fola, a fairly successful happily married man with kids of his own. “They are the safest kind”, gushed Mercy. As far as she was concerned, married men are the safest if all you want is sex and a good time. All married men cheat in her books, and she intended to beat Fola at his game.
Quite a dishy man when I met him, they’d dropped in from one of the numerous dinners he was always taking her and dropped some Chinese take away for me. “He might be good-looking sis, but he’s dull”, moaned Mercy the next day when I called her.
“You should see the way he picked his teeth whenever he has a meal-gross! But I don’t care. I’m not planning to marry him. As far as I’m concerned, he’s nothing but a sex object. And does he fit the bill! He’s really rung my bell and given me my confidence back. I don’t have to fall, head over heels in love – he’s already married with children. Me, I’m happy just enjoying the steamy sex, the expensive gifts in cash and kind; and the free dinners of course. I mean, men like him seldom leave their wives and that suits me to the ground”.
Things started changing when Fola began staying the odd night. He’d then complained about his marital problems and how his children were a handful. “He’s starting to get on my nerves”, Mercy had complained.
“Lately, he’d even admitted he was in love with me. He made me admit I loved him too,but I had to say that because I was sure he was confusing lust with love. Only, he’s started being so clingy and hanging around the house for too long. When I told him to be careful so as not to make his wife suspicious, he said it wouldn’t hurt the wife to know that other women found him attractive”.
I was glad that Mercy was now on her way. She’s always been a darn good cook. She might just be in the mood to cook the fish., Ola just lumbered me with. “I need a stiff drunk”, she said as she swept past me when I let him in.
“Fola moved in last night”. Moved in? To where? What about his wife? “His wife told him she knew about us and wanted to know if it was true he was having an affair with me. You know the idiot admitted to everything? How stupid can you get. His excuse was that when I eventually get pregnant, it would not be a surprise to his wife. That he loves me and wants to make me a second wife. His wife was livid, he complained bitterly, and she’s proving very difficult.
“I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! Second wife? We never discussed any of that. Of course, his wife raved and ranted some more and banished him to the guest room. That was when he packed his bag in a huff and came to stay with me. What could I do but let him in? He pays the rent. What would happen to his wife now?
I never meant for him to leave her and the children. They love him. I don’t”. In between her out bursts, I persuaded her to tackle the fish and I was glad she did.
“What am I going to do?”, she waited. “Fola’s habits drive me crazy. He’s good for the occasional nights-in, but I don’t w3ant to be with him all the time. How do you think I can let him down gently and send him back to his family? I don’t want to lost my new found freedom to a permanent relationship”. Talk about wanting your cake after eating it!
A million-dollar question which I don’t have any answer to. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that free dinners always come with strings attached. When I discovered she was going to make herself comfortable to avoid gong home to Fola, I packed some of the fish stew and rice in a warmer and sent her on her way. She’s made her bed, let’s see how she enjoys having to lie on this one!