You know something about Life? We always say we’ll try to live one without regrets, don’t we? We rejoice in the ups and weather out the downs and then convert these phases to life experiences. But sometimes, despite all our best efforts not to regret, Life comes back and bites us real hard in the ass! I’m not talking of a tiny nibble; I’m talking of a great big chunk of your ass hanging around flapping like a flag in the wind for all to see.
Why the sudden philosophical bent? Well, you see, I met the Ugly Duckling recently…
Ok, let me clarify this first. When I say Ugly Duckling, I am actually using a very wrong choice of adjectives here because this ugly duckling in reality was one very fine duckling indeed; truly one of God’s masterpieces. I just call her ugly duckling to illustrate the massive make-over that she has undergone to become the very beautiful, beautiful goose that she now is (and yes, I did say beautiful twice).
I ran into UD towards the end of last year in Lagos and I must say I was totally taken aback by the transformation. For where she had been a clingy, mercurial-in-character, not-too-sure-of-herself, mildly irritating phase of my life, she is now an extremely confident, sexually ravishing looking female with a gait in her stride, a swing to her trim hips and the story of an impending marriage in her kitty.
UD and I do go some way back to the time when I was going very steady with my ex. It was during my I. T. programme and there was this fine, slim, fair-skinned, slightly snobbish Ibo gal Engineer who seemed to be the cynosure of all eyes: mine, the top management brass and even the lowest factory hand inclusive. The attraction to her was a given seeing that the presence of females were ultra-scarce in the factory environment we worked in. There were actually other girls around but the Quality Control girls tended to act real bitchy, a strategy they obviously devised to truncate our amorous intentions. And so everyone was forced to jostle for a smile, a wink, a corny pick-up line, a stolen touch or an “accidental” brush with UD’s vital stats.
I knew UD was dancing to my samba right from the minute we met. There was that spark. I had never felt it before. I remember the vibes were flowing in very shockingly clear defined waves that I even told her a few minutes after we met not to let me fall in love with her. Frankness has always been my forte and the caution sign was necessary. My heart has a notoriety for not knowing when to keep still.
I had then what I considered the best relationship in the world and unfaithfulness wasn’t going to be an issue as far as I was concerned. But things turned out otherwise.
It was innocent at first. The discussions. Going together to solve an Engineering fault. Spending time together during Break. Waiting to sign out together. Hanging around till she got transportation back home. Looking out for each other in church…
That was when I learnt the lesson that even the Presidents of two major world super-powers who fall in love with each other can still somehow squeeze out time for their rendezvous. But again I use the wrong analogy here. We weren’t in love. Or rather, I wasn’t.
After a while, it was obvious (to both of us at least) that UD was in love with me, much as we tried to hide it within the gears, grease and pulleys of work. But I still stress that the feeling wasn’t reciprocal. I wish I could say I loved her a little but that was so untrue. If anything, lust was the major factor. That, and the power it gave me to know that without even moving a muscle, without a dime being spent and despite my total lack of influential power of any sort, the most beautiful girl in miles around had inexplicably fallen in love with me.
The roles were clearly defined. I was in love with my ex. My ex was in love with me at that time. UD was in love with me. I didn’t love UD. I didn’t want to break UD’s heart though. Here I was, a foolish Sir Galahad caught in a nasty love triangle. It was the first I had found myself in, others before just being “crush triangles”.
Things came to a head when I got to UD’s house. A true African girl is taught out of some crooked, old-fashion relationship manual handed down by their mothers to never be the first to admit she loves the guy. I could clearly read the signs of the dilemma UD was going through. As she seductively wrapped her long self round me, tugging at my last shred of commonsense and reducing me to a hunk of testosterone-saturated goose flesh, she kept on begging me for just one thing. She said it time and time again: “Tell me you love me”.
But I always had a problem with following authority most especially when my senses are incomplete.
She begged, she pleaded, she cajoled, she tempted. “Say you love me”. But I didn’t. I knew those words were the key. I could have said them and meant nothing by them. Any other guy would have. I just had to say the magic words and she would be mine forever.
Don’t get me wrong at this point. UD wasn’t a tease or a temptress or gold-digger or anything of the sort. Lord knows that at that time I had virtually nothing to offer her and she knew I had a girlfriend. Anyhow the game went, it would be a lose-lose situation for her.
But I clearly knew what she was. She was just a young lady who - misguidedly I might add - had sensed the potentials behind starting a relationship with the male involved even though he in this case wasn’t interested in her. She could have told him she loved him and maybe convinced him to leave his belle but that wretched manual laid down by her female ancestors whose ideas of a romantic get-away was an arranged marriage, a couple of white goats and a barn full of yams said that if she did, the guy would never truly value her.
If she dared admit to being in love first, she could be assured that a time would come in the near future when their relationship would run into a storm and the guy in question would then say the words women have dreaded hearing over time immemorial: “After all, you were the one that asked me out”.
To cut the long story short, he never said the magic words and her love for him slowly turned to heart-break, then anguish, then resentment and later to wonder as she pondered what she had seen in such a foolish boy anyway. For indeed, he must have been very foolish to have gone and told his then girlfriend about the erotic moments they had almost shared and how he had said no at the last minute and given her a kiss before walking away.
But his ex never believed that was how far things went and slowly their relationship crumbled after one episode of mistrust or the other on both their parts. Not long afterwards it broke down totally and even though he made efforts to pick up with UD where he’d left off, she sensed the anger in his heart and knew that his ulterior motive bordered more on a mission to wreck vengeance on womanhood for his break-up than to love her as honestly as she once loved him. They still stole a few kisses but she could clearly read the label on the bottle: 100% lust content.
Even when in a erotica-fuelled moment he did finally manage to say the magic words, she had learnt her lesson already and didn’t trust him. When he called her on the phone to ask her if they could begin a relationship, she asked him the other magical question: “Are you ready to get married, say in 2 year’s time?” Any other man would have done the usual “guy thing” and lied but he still hadn’t lost his frankness and stupidity, so he said no. And so slowly, they drew apart and this time she had the satisfaction of being the one to walk away.
He ran into the ugly duckling in December 2008 and she looked even more beautiful than ever. She looked radiant, painted in the blushes of love and all he looked into was his own cupboard of skeletons. She’s wearing hip-hugging jeans now (she only wore skirts before) and he’s looking unabashedly at those hips and thinking to himself, “They fit snugly into someone else’s palms now”
She tells him she is getting married in 2009 to a guy he used to hear of but never met and he wishes her luck. When they depart he remembers those past times, those stolen kisses, her picture in which she’s smiling with those twinkling eyes of hers straight at him which she gave him as a gift. He remembers how good she always looked in her skirt suits and even work overalls.
He remembers his ex too, lost to him forever. He recalls the love triangle. He recalls that moment when he could have said the magic words.
He will never cherish the opportunity of having two beautiful, intelligent women passionately in love with ordinary, drab him because it never happened. Her hips disappear around the corner and he thinks to himself, “Just look what I’ve missed”.
He knows he was never smart after all. He never was a “guy-man”. He was always too frank for his own good.
That ugly duckling is now a beautiful, beautiful goose. He, on the other hand, was just plain stupid…