Lean Pickings

Standing in the shadows cast by the low-hanging plants, Wale and I feasted on the spread in front of us. After a moment of gawking I continued to the poolside while Wale hung back.

‘Hi,’ I muttered to people I passed until I got to the table where the drinks were. I set down the shopping bag and proceeded to add our drinks to what was already on the overcrowded table.

A girl dressed in very short cut-off jeans and a loose-fitting t-shirt knotted just under her breasts walked up to the other side of the table and gave me a quizzical look.

‘This must be the hostess,’ I figured.

‘Hey,’ I said to her. ‘I’m friends with Wale over there,’ I pointed to where he stood in the shadows. She followed my finger and squinted. I don’t know if she saw him, but when she turned to face me she was nodding, her expression more relaxed.

‘Leave the drinks there,’ she said. ‘My name’s Ify and this is my party.’

‘Bobo,’ I said.

She raised an eyebrow, but didn’t say a word. I got that quite a bit when I first tell people my name.

‘Small chops are over there, drinks here and cupcakes there. Feel free to serve yourself but, for some things, ask about suitability before you eat them.’

‘Was that a gleam in her eye?’

She turned and was gone before I could decide.

Wale parked his bulk beside me just then.

‘Dude, I see you’ve met Ify.’

‘No thanks to you.’ I smiled. ‘The girl take style fine, but her breasts small.’

‘You wan take her compare this one wey just enter now? Dem don fall finish.’

I followed his glance to a group of girls that just arrived. They were doing the customary plumage dance girls do at these events: yelp, flutter hands, hug and kiss the air around each others’ ears. There were five girls there but I could tell in an instant the girl he meant.

Slim, light-skinned and dressed in a long loose-fitting gown, she was easily the most beautiful of the group. She turned away from an embrace and I saw what Wale had referenced.

True, her breasts would fail the pencil test, but I liked what I saw, and I wanted to get to know her.

‘What do you think about Ify’s warning about what one ate here?’ Wale’s voice close to my ears – the music had come on.

‘I think she meant some things on display are dubious,’ I yelled to be heard above the din, ‘and that includes the punch.’ I slapped his hand that was reaching for the ladle in the punch bowl away.

‘Safe to mix your own drinks, eh?’ Wale asked.

‘You betcha.’ I said in my best imitation of a Texan drawl.

More people arrived and we were joined by three people Wale knew. I knew one of them, the girl. We got more drinks and stood around the small chops area for ease of access.

‘You know those cupcakes are spiked right?’ one of Wale’s friends said.

‘Stopeet.’

‘I’m serious. You can ask Ify. And the punch too.’

‘This is my problem with these parties,’ I said after a while.

‘What?’

‘Look at us,’ I rolled my head round our circle standing there, ‘we’re four guys and a babe. Meanwhile see that group there,’ I nodded, ‘and there, four girls no guy and three girls one guy.’

‘It’s because you people come to parties as groups, and you don’t trust yourselves enough to mingle.’ Wale said.

‘Imma remedy that,’ Wale’s other friend said, raised his red cup to us in salute before downing its contents.

‘Plucky bastard,’ friend one said. ‘Watch them cut him to size.’

‘Nah,’ Wale said. ‘He’s a fine boy, dem no go fall hin hand.’

‘See,’ I said, ‘they’ll let him settle in and then they’ll find reasons to go do something. Soon he’ll be standing there cup in hand wondering what happened.’

We watched him pull up next to the group of four girls, #TeamChimamanda judging from the natural hair they were wearing in puffs and braids and doughnuts. And when some talk floated across the water from them to us, it carried with it phrases like “favourite writer”, “that was deep”, “book club”.

A plump girl dressed in a floral gown, the one with her hair in a doughnut, was the first to leave. I counted to thirty-five before the next, a painfully thin sort, waved her left hand and left.

I wished then I had initiated a bet with Wale.

They moved to a mixed group gathered a few feet from where I stood. The light-skinned girl in black was in the group. They were getting ready to play a game.

I sidled next to her and listened; they were about to play Taboo. I had never played, but from the way it was described, it sounded a lot like 30 seconds without the board. And I fancied myself a decent player.

We split into two teams and I wound up in the same team as Ms Light-skin. It wasn’t too hard, all I had to do was stand in her general vicinity.

I introduced myself and learned her name was Ivanse. She had this gothic thing going: black gown, dark shawl, eyes lined in a fashion reminiscent of Egyptians with the swoosh at the corner of the eyes, black lipstick, no smile and limp handshake. She had a dark nail polish on.

The game was going okay and it was her turn when the DJ started playing 9ja jams. The game was abandoned in an instant.

Wale and the others had hooked up with two other girls while I was away playing Taboo, and I got introduced. I forgot their names as soon as Wale said it.

‘What’s the point of a pool party if no one is going to get wet?’ It was Wale.

‘I’ve always wondered o.’ I said. ‘How about we get in the water?’

We had come dressed with swimming trunks under our jeans, so it was a matter of dropping our pants, tossing our shirts and diving into the pool.

Okay, we did not dive. The pool didn’t look that deep.

We swam around, just the two of us, and initially I was self-conscious, but I soon forgot about everyone else the more laps I did.

‘Dude,’ I tapped Wale’s arm, ‘I gotta get out of this water, the chlorine’s burning my eyes.’

‘Chlorine? What chlorine?’ he asked me like a retard.

Without replying him I climbed out of the pool and went to the bathroom where I splashed water in my eyes – eyes I did not recognise in the mirror hanging over the sink.

Surely those bloodshot eyes were not mine.

The irritation was so great that I couldn’t stay any longer at the party.

‘I saved you one of these.’

I turned to see Ivanse holding her left arm out to me.

I looked from the cupcake in her hand past her slightly parted lips to her eyes and there was no mistaking the come on.

‘No, thank you.’ I said, trying to smile. Those were the hardest words I had to say in 2014, but my eyes were streaming, my nose runny and my cornea screamed with each movement of my eyeballs. Even the light breeze of the night felt like a thousand grains of sand under my lids.

I managed to drive home without hitting anyone or anything, my eyes open and unmoving for most of the drive, my windows wound up, air-conditioner off.

At home I rinsed both eyes out with water again and again until the irritation subsided, then I crawled into bed, shut my eyes tightly and hugged my pillow.

P.S: Do you have resolutions for the year? Have you broken them yet? No? You are the real action superheroes. You can follow me on Twitter @BoboNkiti to catch up everyday before Wednesday

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3 thoughts on “Lean Pickings

  1. When I was about 7ish, we went swimming with our family friends. I didn’t have swimming goggles and was still learning how to swim. I shut my eyes and tried swimming under water. When I opened it, all I saw was this huge black butt almost smashing into my face. Scared the shit out of me. Till date, I swim with my eyes open!

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  2. Lol…Keme’s head is catching Bobo, Africa Magic style. How can you go to a pool party and come back empty handed? ehn?

    lol @ Team Chimamanda

    I try not to make resolutions but this year I made a teeny tiny secret one, here’s hoping I make it work till December

    Like

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