He fired off a gloating “I told you so” look straight at the waiter then turned fully to face LG as she drew out a chair and sat down.
Only that something was horribly wrong: she wasn’t LG!
She was Woomie!
“Surprised?” she asked, as he stared at her with his mouth agape. He was suffering from a very bad case of shock if not he’d have noticed 2 other mouths drop too.
It couldn’t be! He couldn’t help but to stutter, “Bu - bu - but, you aren’t LG!”
“Of course I’m not LG. Were you expecting her?”
It was difficult but he swallowed a mouthful of expensive water before he could get his tongue to loosen from the roof of his mouth. “C’mon Woomie,” he said “you definitely knew I was expecting LG here. What are you doing here instead?”
She signalled the hovering waiter to order something or the other before turning to face him. “What am I doing here? I’m waiting to see LG too, of course! Or did you think you were the only one curious enough to find out her identity?”
It took that sentence for all his anxiety to return in full force. “Look, look, Woomie. You know this date with LG was supposed to be a secret. It wouldn’t be nice for her to come now and meet you here.” He looked around frantically as if expecting the real LG to show up. It would be embarrassingly difficult explaining Woomie’s presence at this scene. The coincidence was just too much.
She however, didn’t seem inclined to budge an inch. He appealed to her once more. “Please, just forget I told you about this, OK? It’s all well and good if you want to find out who LG is. No problem. I’d suggest you go to the bowling alley or somewhere nearby and wait. I’ll even flash your number when she comes, alright?”
Woomie broke out into a big smile that did absolutely nothing to boost his confidence. “Secret?” she said. “You think this date of yours is a secret?” She laughed mockingly, “Why, the whole Blogville already knows about it! Look, so many of us have been waiting like you to find out who LG is.” And to further bamboozle him, she turned and waved to the couple at the next table.“You see those two over there?” she asked as he nodded reluctantly. “The guy’s FBA while the lady with him is the one and only Bumight. Why are they here? Exactly for the same reason why I am.” And like as if she held his puppet strings, he kept on nodding. Now it made a bit of sense why they had focused on him all evening.
But Woomie wasn’t done yet. “You see that group over there looking at that car on display?” His eyes followed her pointing arm. “I’m even surprised you didn’t recognise a few of them. Say hi to Rayo and Esquire”. And true to her words they turned, saw her pointing in their direction and walked up to meet him at the table.
“Oh no!” he thought as he covered his face with his hands, “This is so NOT happening!”
She waved at another group and individually, they walked up to his table and began introducing themselves: Lil’ Woman, Tobenna, Naija Shawty, Dante, Miz Cynic, Ibiluv, Poetically Tinted, Charizard, even one of the Cerberus was there as well. There were even a whole lot of others he didn’t know and as they filed back to their original positions one by one, most with smirks on their faces, each name sounded like a nail driven into the coffin of his embarrassment and shame.
She sensed how he was feeling and put out an arm of comfort on top of his. “Look, don’t you realize that LG is the biggest mystery in Blogville? None of us has ever seen or spoken to her and yet she seems to know each one of us so well. Believe me, we were all just as curious as you are.” And he was still shaking his head when she gave him a wink and added in a conspiratorial whisper: “But honestly, I don’t think LG will come.”
His jaws dropped then he stuttered once again “Wh - wh - wh - what do you mean: not coming? What makes you think so?” Then he narrowed his eyes suspiciously. “Or did the two of you set this up to make a fool out of me?”
She laughed and picking up her glass, took a sip before replying him. “Oh c’mon, relax! It’s not what you’re imagining.” Then she leaned in close and dropping her voice a few octaves, proceeded to lecture him. “Think about this for a second: who do you really think LG is?”
“You?” he ventured.
“Stop being silly” she snapped “I’m not LG. But you see that lady over there?” And she pointed at someone she’d introduced at the table previously, “That’s LG.”
But then she continued pointing. “You see that one over there? That’s LG too. And that one? LG. This one? LG.” And the pointing game continued as she labelled every single female there as his possible date for the evening.
Woomie went on, “The point I am trying to make here is this, LG could be anyone and everyone. She’s a character, an enigma, the alter ego of any and every single female here in Lagos. You never know, she could be a petty trader, pharmacist, receptionist, café attendant, even a Senator’s daughter. Anybody who knows how to write and has access to a computer is LG. For all you know, she could be the girl next door or she could even be YOU!”
And at last, much as he tried not to comprehend her logic, he finally understood. LG, like Naughty Eyes, like Woomie and the millions of other bloggers out there was just a character, a phantom. She could be real or she could be a figment of anyone’s imagination. And gradually he did come to terms with the latter line of reasoning. LG, as far as he was concerned might have never existed at all. She couldn’t possibly be real.
Then with a smile, he did what he ought to have done a long time ago. He raised his hand and beckoned to the waiter to take orders for him and Woomie. And as they shared dinner together they clinked their wine glasses as he proposed a toast: “To LG!”
“To LG!” Woomie replied.
Eventually when dinner was long over, the bloggers having trickled away in disappointment, he saw her off and stood at one of the exits to The Palms reflecting on how this evening had gone.
What a date, he thought. What had been initially begun as a date with LG had finished in a date with Woomie. And where he had thought he would be discovering LG tonight, he had ended up discovering a whole lot of other bloggers. And they had discovered him too…
One more look at the borrowed watch made him realise how late it was and the long way to get back home. Just then he felt someone tap him on the shoulder and turned around to see who it was. It was that friendly enemy of his, the waiter.
“One lady say make I give you this thing” he said as he thrust what looked like a folded paper napkin into his hands before hurriedly walking away. Puzzled, he unwrapped it slowly to reveal a note scrawled with a beautiful feminine cursive:
“Sorry for standing you up but that was way too public my dear, don’t you think? Let’s meet up again next week, same place, same time…You know who.
PS: And please, do keep it to yourself this time. Norrin’ do you.”
With a steady hand, he folded the napkin same as before and tucked it into his shirt front pocket. Then just as calmly he flagged down a vehicle and jumped inside.
As the Lagos night swallowed up the yellow commuter bus, the woman sitting beside him couldn’t help but wonder why her fellow passenger was smiling like he’d just won the lottery…