By Bunmi Sofola
It took a lot of effort for me to don my glad rags recently and attend the engagement ceremony of a colleague’s daughter. We’d been quite friendly in the finance company I worked with for some years, but had lost close contact when she left for greener pastures.
We run into each other from time to time at social gatherings and it was at one of these gatherings that she discreetly passed the invitation card to the wedding to me. It seems to be the fashionable thing to do these days – the post office services are so erratic there is no guarantee that whatever you post will arrive at its destination, and in good time too.
Courier services too seem to be costing the earth and if you’re sure to dispatch some of your bulky invitation cards at a few parties before the d-day. You might easily dis0ose of a large percentage.
The thing is, I find it a bit impersonal to be handed an invitation at parties. What if I hadn’t turned up, would my colleague still send me a card? She doesn’t even know where I currently live. But I’d liked her once and she’d followed up the invitation with a few calls.
That was why I happened to be sitting at a table with a couple of past colleagues when, who should turn up on our table but Joan, my friend from hell? No wonder I had this reluctance to attend. She squealed with glee when she saw me; “How nice to see you after all these months! My goodness, you look smashing.”
Now what? I thought, my guard instantly up. Joan is always trouble with a big T. The last time I’d seen her was when she ruined a well-planned weekend away with a couple of friends by feigning the loss of a necklace she claimed was pure gold. When she realized the host wasn’t exactly eager to offer the cash equivalent of the missing ‘gold,’ the item mysteriously appeared!
So what’s up? She wanted to know. I wished she would disappear to where, she came from. My slight indifference was lost on her as she plunked herself on the chair next to me, chatting a mile to a minute. “I need to see you,” she said, suddenly becoming serious, “I toyed with the idea of coming to the office but thank goodness I ran into you here.
“This was definitely the crunch, I said silently. “A group of us are getting together to set up a construction outfit,” she started. She’s certainly full of surprises. I arched my brow and she continued, “I’m only a sort of power broker.
I help them find investors and they pay me a commission.” I heaved a sigh of relief. I’m scarcely the type of proposition to invest in a construction company! “What this company does,” she went on excitedly, “is build several categories of houses to be sold to members of the public. Shall I drop by your office to show you the prototype of the buildings?”
I said nothing, I was seething inside. Who was she to tell me what my contacts should do with their money? On and on she went… In the end, I reluctantly asked her to drop the prototype in my office. She did better and came clutching the pamphlet as if it was a crown jewel. As I flipped through its glossy pages, she gushed.
“Have you told him yet?” she asked, referring to Mike, a very good friend she implored me to contact. I said no. I needed to have my facts before I talked to him. Only she had a better idea. “Why don’t you arrange for me to meet him so I could explain everything to him? I could bring one of the directors as well.
Better still, why don’t you give me his phone number so I could talk to him myself and fix an appointment?” How far should you push your luck? I told her handing Mike’s phone number to her was out of the question. We then agreed on a Saturday for her to come to the house to talk to Mike after I must have briefed him. Of course, I had no intention of doing anything about her hare-brain scheme. But came she did.
About an hour later, and a few drinks down her throat, she wondered if I should call Mike as he was running late. I told her it was a no-no to call him at home even on his mobile. That he usually called me if he needed anything. I feigned annoyance that he hadn’t even called, if only to cancel this appointment he fixed himself.
I would get him on the phone at work first thing on Monday and let her know what would happen next. “Why don’t I call him myself and make an appointment to see him in the office?” she offered. Nice try. I told her not to worry I would get back to her. She had the common sense not to pester me again after the brush-off I gave her.
Barely days after that, a fairly close friend came into my office. I was genuinely glad to see her and as we exchanged gossips… she told me she’d recently been thrown out of her flat. “That’s why it’s not a good idea to let from a woman,” she hissed. “You don’t know how long her legs would be. Because I owed my landlady some rents, she took me to court and before I knew it, bailiffs were hauling my things out of the flat in full glare of the neighbours.”
Didn’t she get any court summons? She said she did, but was hoping the court would arrange a mode of payment for her rent arrears. We were nattering away when who should stop by, but Mike to tell me about plans for the evening. He looked good. Money certainly sat well on him, and has turned him into a merry widower, I thought, as I proudly saw him off. I noticed my friend giving him an interesting look.
“Is he your flavour of the moment”? she wanted to know as I came back. “The things is, the reason I really came to see you is that a relative in Surulere wants to dispose of his one-room bungalow and would gladly let me have it if I could manage a down-payment of N12 million.
Now, if I could find someone to give me a loan, I would pay it back within six months…” I laughed inwardly. A woman who couldn’t pay her rent now wanted a twelve million naira loan. “Things are a bit rough for everybody these days,” I told her. “We’re all clinging to the spare cash we have.”
“Do you think your Mike would give me the loan if you put in a good word?” I was taken aback. How daring can some people be? How she expected me to wheedle twelve million naira off Mike and hand it over to her beats all logic!
When I told her to forget it, then followed it with a string of financial commitments Mike had, she looked at me as if I were a traitor. Friends! Who needs some of them! Just when you’re relieved your life is on an even keel emotionally and financially; some of them suddenly surface, wanting a bite of the cherry. And who knows to what length they would have gone to get that bite if I’d handed Mike to them on a platter?