With a flick of the switch, light flooded the house as I dropped my purse and kicked off my shoes by the coffee table. Damn stilettos. My feet hurt from walking in them for a long time. But the physical pain I felt was nothing compared to the emotional pain I was feeling from Evans ripping off the band aid that had been safely holding my heart together. What was supposed to be a courtesy dinner date had turned out to be a disaster.
I wiggled my numbing toes as I walked up to the mini fridge. The bottle of Apothic Red wine I had been keeping for months would finally put itself to good use. Glass and bottle in hand, I dragged my feet back to the couch where I dropped like a sack of potatoes. The first sip hit me just right as I closed my eyes to replay it all. From the beginning.
Oiza was in no way surprised when she got back from her Master’s program in Canada and met me the same way she had left me; single with no interest in dating. She should know better. But as my best friend and self-acclaimed love guru, she insisted three years was long enough to mourn and it was time for an intervention. Her ‘intervention’ turned out to be signing me up for online dating. I laughed my ass out as I watched her set up the profile, putting a catchy bio and pictures. There was no use stopping her especially when she couldn’t stop talking about how she had met her fiance on a dating app.
I agreed to go on a date with a guy I had matched with just to prove to her it was a terrible idea. Our date however turned out better than I expected. Not only did he handle himself well, our conversation was as smooth as velvet and…he likes cats. Bingo! Even though he spent a lot of time rambling on and on about his work problems and I felt like my ears were going to bleed, I was able to give him some advice.
A week later, he called. Work was looking up. Then he asked for another date. No, thanks. I gave a lame excuse and that was that.
From then on, Oiza called me an ‘Agony Aunt’ and secretly changed my profile to say I was giving free counselling services over lunch. I wanted her head on a bamboo tray but I decided to go along with it. Just because. “You are such a natural. Use your gifts to help people with real life problems,” she said. Well, who doesn’t like a free lunch? Plus I could always meet up with people not so far from the office. Win-win.
My first ‘client’ was a guy who got his heart broken. Turned out it was by his mum. She died. I definitely wasn’t prepared to watch a grown ass man bawl in the middle of a restaurant. Thank you, Oiza. Later that night, he called to apologise and thank me because he felt better and had come to peace with her untimely departure.
My second date surprisingly was a woman; a single mother who didn’t know how to squeeze out child support from her really stingy baby daddy. Three more dates after that and what started as a joke became a full time, past time. It was really tough choosing whose request to respond to. You never can tell which of them can turn out to be a serial killer. Some days I would have to squeeze in two, three dates. It was amazing getting to talk about really intimate issues with total strangers. It was more comforting that they could trust me with their problems and some, secrets.
But I decided to quit as it was taking its toll on my personal time and affecting my day job as an advertising assistant. My nights where getting shorter, my attention divided and the mental weight crushing me. Kola had messaged me on the night I was to deactivate my account. I wasn’t sure if it was the way his eyes smiled or the fact that he thinks pizza is overrated but I was curious about this guy. One last date, I promised myself. The universe was probably saving the best for the last.
We met two days later. While waiting for him -he was running late- I took my time to go through the menu. It made me shudder when I realised the price of a glass of water is enough to make a small pot of soup. Every other thing of course, was a no go area. It was a good thing Mr Sophisticated was paying since he chose this overly priced restaurant. Speaking of Mr Sophisticated, he arrived 18 minutes late and walked in looking like the Nigerian version of Thor. Well, without the blonde hair and the ridiculous costume of course. Did I mention he had a bunch of flowers in his hand? How romantic. For a brief moment, aso ebi colours flashed across my mind before I slapped myself into reset mode.
We settled down and ordered straight away. For starters, we had Buffalo wings with deep fried Calamari. For the main course, I had a pasta dish with a creamy sauce made with tomato, prawns and chicken while he had German noodles with a side of stuffed beef and green beans. Dessert was cheese cake, all of which was washed down with a bottle of Catuma wine. The night took a quick detour when he reached out for my hand across the table. The overly lit area revealed a slightly lighter spot on his left finger. How did I not see that earlier?
After I threatened to leave, he admitted to being married. Apparently, he wasn’t sure if he was still in love with his wife and felt maybe seeing someone else on the side would be a good idea. Not me, Mr. I agreed to help if things would be kept strictly professional. We booked another date and after listening to his avalanche of problems, I could make out the major problem; they had stopped being lovers the moment they got married and magically expected things to run smoothly from then on. I recommended a couple of books and videos they could watch together and although we never met again, I kept tabs on their progress.
\s3 months later, I got a call from his wife. They wanted me to be their guest at their anniversary dinner. Of course I accepted, feeling like madam love doctor. Sorry. Emeritus Madam Love Doctor.
It was a really intimate party with a few family and friends. While I felt honored to be invited, I stuck out like a sore thumb since I knew no one at the party. I eased myself to the east balcony with a glass of wine in hand as I looked at the long stretch of water below. The wind caressed my face as if saying, “well done.” I was relieved that my ‘Aunt Agony’ days were finally over. Tonight, Kola and Preye looked happy, really happy and I was so proud to be a part of that.
I was so lost in thought I didn’t realise someone else had joined me on the balcony. Great. My hideaway has been ruined. I was going to refill my glass anyways. There was one problem though. The doors leading back into the house were closed and wouldn’t budge. I waved to no one in particular. Did Preye just pretend not to see me?
“Save your strength. Those doors won’t be opening any time soon.”
I took a deep breath and looked at the stranger. He looked like a younger version of Kola. Finer too. Where are they producing these kind of men?
“What’s going on?” I managed to ask, making sure it wasn’t obvious his gaze was having an effect on me. He stretched out his hand.
“I’m Evans. And you must be the love guru…or should I say love doctor who patched those two back together.” He tilted his head slightly to the left with a smirk on his face.
I blushed slightly. “It’s the least I could do.”
“Hmmm. It seems that’s the guise you side chicks are using these days. That way you can control the home from the inside.”
The smile on my face disappeared. “Excuse me?”
If there was any one who could go from absolute adoration to complete contempt in milliseconds, that was me. I suddenly didn’t want to breathe in the same air as this asswipe. I ignored his stupid glare and started to pound on the doors like my life depended on it. The volume of the music went up. This is so not the right time, I gritted in frustration.
“Kola is very rich. And good looking too. I don’t blame you. I’d date him too if I was a single lady on the prowl.”
I turned to look at him, ready to draw blood. “What nonsense are you spewing from your mouth?”
“Oh, please. Stop acting all innocent. I’m not the one who swiped right with a married man on a dating app.”
My mouth formed a big O. Kola must have told him. “I have no business talking to you right now.”
I regained composure and walked to the rails, dialing Kola’s number. He was clearly ignoring my calls. What is going on? And then it hit me. I went into a spasm of laughter as I turned to Evans. Kola had mentioned his ‘single and searching’ brother at some point. He set this up! Big fat mistake. It was obvious he wouldn’t be letting us out till it looks like we are getting acquainted. I decide to play along.
“You wouldn’t understand.”
“Make me.” he said, taking a step closer.
“I had no clue he was married when we first met.” Please let it go. I’m starting to freeze out here.
“Hmmm. Of course.”
“Listen, I don’t know what your deal is and why you are acting so cocky. I had no intentions when I met with Kola. Only to help. It’s what I do.” Did, I wanted to say but it didn’t matter. I needed to be out of this cold like yesterday.
“You are saying Kola didn’t hit that?” He had a sick smile as he ran his eyes across my body. Disgusting.
“Why is that so hard for you to believe?” I ground my teeth in frustration and went on to tell him about the whole deal.
“You expect me to believe all you just said?”
“I don’t and honestly at this point, I don’t care.” I resumed my knocking on the door. Kola, this was definitely a bad idea. He still wasn’t picking his calls yet he was in my line of vision.
“It seemed like you got a kick out of this.”
“I enjoy talking to people.” Except you.
“Or you are trying to fill a vacuum in your life?
I stopped mid- knock and turned to him. “You really are hell bent on getting on my nerves.”
“Why did you do it? Really?” His eyes glistened mischievously and his lips hinted mockery.
“I already told you.”
“I don’t owe you any explanation, Elsa or whatever your name is.”
He flinched. That got to him.
“You are single, aren’t you?” He continued, as if undeterred.
“None of your business.”
“Did someone break your heart?…”
“…leave you at the altar?”
“You live a loveless and you go about looking for mini projects to distract you from the fact that you are lonely when what you should be doing is looking for a man to tap that fine ass.”
I couldn’t tell whose face bore more shock; Evans as he held on to his cheek, me realising I just hit a man for the first time or Kola who had finally come to open the doors a little too late.
I lay on the couch after the wine started to buzz and let out a deep sigh. What a day. What a night.