INSTINCTS

“Guys, you wouldn’t believe what happened to me at work last week.”

I was in the middle of a match with Phantom. We were at my place – Cynthia was having a girls’ day out with her friends. I told the boys about Rosemary and, in typical fashion, they dove in.

“I need to understand something first Bobo,” Wole had a hand raised. “What impression have you given to those people in Port Harcourt that somebody will bring meat for you to watch? My mother will say ‘what kind of play is a dog playing with a tiger?’”

“Fam, I’ve been wondering the same thing.” Phantom roared with laughter, setting everybody off.

“So, what exactly happened after?” Sly wanted to know.

“Well, she’s been out of school for a bit but has never worked. She got a job once with an Oil servicing company but, because it would take her out of town, her boyfriend told her not to take it.”

“Wait, she has a boyfriend?” Sly asked.

“That’s not the important thing here…”

“It is o.” Sly and Wole chorused.

“…The important question should be how a boyfriend who did not pay your school fees and hasn’t put a ring on it will ask you to pass up a job and you will do so.” I finished.

“There’s that,” Wole said. “What has the boyfriend done to help her land a job then? Or is the Ibinabo guy the boyfriend?”

“He’s not o… Oh crap!”

Phantom had scored.

“No more talking, for now, let me set this guy straight.” I leaned forward in my seat.

“You still haven’t told us if you gave her a job,” Sly said.

“Or if you got one yourself.” Scar laughed.

“You guys know I’m married ba?”

“Married shmarried.” Wole said. “A leopard doesn’t change his spots, I know this.”

“There’s actually an opening for a receptionist, and I think Ibinabo knew this. I’ve asked her to apply, and there’s an interview scheduled for her and five others next week.” I said.

“I hope she gets the job,” Scar said and they all burst into laughter again.

***

“I hope she doesn’t get the job.”

Cynthia and I were catching up on Scandal, the series. She was sitting on the couch, her feet propped up on a stool while I was lying on the floor with my head resting on a throw pillow. I told her about this girl a colleague brought in to see me at work, and how she passed up a fantastic job opportunity because of her boyfriend and now, five years later, she had zero work experience and was looking for work.

“What about the boyfriend?” She asked.

“He’s still there, not committing to anything but not letting her go.” I said.

“Did he put her through school?” She asked. “I mean, what does he have on her? Do they have a child together?”

“I kuku asked these questions o. Nothing. She met him during her service year and he wooed her with big gestures. She loves him and I think he has convinced her she can’t do better than him.” I said. “I feel for her.”

My brain engaged only after that last part slipped out. I hoped Cynthia didn’t hear it, but the brief silence that followed convinced me she did.

“I told her to apply for that receptionist position that would become open at the end of the month, if only for the interview experience.”

Cynthia’s voice low, but not too low that I didn’t hear. She wanted me to hear it.

“Babe, everything okay?” I turned onto my stomach so I could look up to her.

“See Bobo, I know your heart is in the right place and your instinct is to do right…”

I hope you can’t read minds.

“…but you do this thing where you want to save everybody. You seem to look for, or attract the broken – I don’t know which. You will want to help them, fix them but you can’t be there for everybody. I have seen this need to help take its toll, seen people take advantage of your kindness. They will take and take till you have nothing to give, and they will take some more and then they will leave. And those are the nice ones. By the same token women are drawn to you and, you may not see but I see, in time they want more. More than you cannot give, and this is when you become the enemy. I can name at least three people that we both know who do not talk to you anymore.

“So while I would not wish that someone who qualifies for a job doesn’t get taken, I hope she doesn’t get the job.”

Wow.

“Oh wow. That’s quite a stretch, don’t you think?”

“I don’t like it when you do this,” she said with feeling.

“What?” I tried to feign ignorance.

“This thing you do where you take serious issues and make them either into a joke, or make it seem like I’m blowing things out of proportion.”

“I’m sorry,’ I said in a conciliatory tone. “I will not get involved with her interview or whatever, and I’ll watch myself where it concerns her.”

“You’re a good man, babe. I love you.”

I sure am glad you can’t read minds.

“I love you too,” I said and sat up to massage her feet.

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