You were at the stage were being poor was simply a part of your life- like being tall or dark- you didn’t think about it, it certainly didn’t give you any heart palpitations when you had to pay your rent late or walk instead of taking the bus again. You knew you’d eventually make money and change your life.
It was at that stage I met you. I was used to a certain lifestyle, a certain kind of guy- on my last birthday, one of my gifts was a car- delivered to my office with no fanfare- that was the life I was used to.
You were so sweet. It didn’t make sense that someone so attractive would be so sweet- men, women, babies, old people- everyone loved you. I was no exception, I loved you from the minute you delivered those flowers to my office- delivery from someone else that I was getting a bit tired of. You were attractive but I wouldn’t have looked at you twice- not if you didn’t say something funny- honestly, not even then- maybe it was you clumsily dropping the water from the flowers on my feet- drenching my new shoes (another gift)
I was ready to yell at you- you know how I was with staff at the time- but I can’t even remember now what you said- it caught me off guard, enough time for me to forget I was angry- enough time to forgive you.
It was cute , but that would have been the end of that. This is not one of those ‘woman meets delivery guy and he sweeps her off her feet’ stories. My feet were only swept with things money could buy.
Then I met you again. At this time you had moved on from delivering flowers, you were so bad at it anyway- you managed a restaurant now- I don’t know how you went from that to that- we never talked about it- but it was one of the restaurants I used to go to with someone new- small, hidden but still charming — if you recognised me, you didn’t show it- hello madam, hello sir, welcome.
The old manager never greeted me even though I signed the cheques mostly- I mean the man always paid but I liked to be the one to pay the bill with his money.
Hello, usual table please- it occurred to me that you wouldn’t know my usual table and I was about to tell you where it was but you said ‘of course’ and started walking towards my little corner at the back- ‘here you go madam’, you said pulling out my chair- somehow that little action made your cheap shirt look a little less cheap. Thank you …? ‘Samuel’ — I hated that name- I had no reason, it was just so…Samuel? Really? Thank you Samuel.
You walked away and a waiter replaced you- I didn’t see you again the rest of the night. At the end of the night, the man I was with placed an envelope in the waiters hands ‘for Samuel’
You called me. Now that I didn’t expect- I wouldn’t have expected it in a million years- no make that a trillion. You? Calling me? The nerve — I hung up as soon as you told me your name- I wasn’t even intrigued- a flower delivery guy turned small restaurant manager calling me? Just because my number was on the books- have a little respect, please!
You called me again. I met a new man that I couldn’t take to the small restaurant because you were there. Annoying.
You called me again. I’ve always respected persistence above everything else- that’s how I was rejecting your calls from my paid for in cash apartment in a building with 24 hour electricity.
‘I only need an hour’, you texted. That text struck me- I forget why. Maybe you weren’t being inappropriate, maybe you needed help.
I offered to meet you at the restaurant, you said you didn’t work there anymore.
‘So where do you want to meet?’
You texted back the name of a restaurant — I was confused because even if you had gotten a promotion you wouldn’t be able to afford it but maybe you were a manager there too. You offered to pick me up, obviously I said no- at the time I had my first Benz and I was still enjoying driving it around- I also wasn’t trying to get into whatever dingy car you were driving around or God forbid a taxi
I dressed down, flashbacks of your delivery uniform and cheap shirts. I drove and wondered what I was even doing meeting you, but then I decided that I was bored and I had been looking for someone to help somehow. CSR if you will.
I saw you as soon as you walked in- well I saw your back. You were wearing something striped or checked- it didn’t look that cheap, trust me, I’m good at these things. Samuel? I knew it was you, of course but just because you dragged me there didn’t mean I wasn’t going to at least make it a little difficult for you to ask for whatever favour.
You turned around and stood up and I almost tripped- almost. You looked …good. Too good. Suspiciously good. The whole thing was very confusing , but I didn’t flinch or anything, I maintained my stride and took the hand you offered. You pulled out a chair for me, I had a minor flashback to your restaurant manager days but this was different.
So do you work here now? I had to re-establish the status quo- no, I own it. Own this place? How? I wasn’t shy to ask the questions- this is not a fairytale where the prince goes undercover as a restaurant manager-
You laughed “what do you mean?”
I mean , you were a restaurant manager less than 3 months ago- and now you own a restaurant? I don’t believe in fairy tales. And don’t tell me you were working undercover to find out restaurant secrets or something, this is Nigeria.
“So you’re not wondering why I’ve been calling?”
“I’m sure whatever it is can fit into what ever is left of the hour when you’re done answering my questions”
“I’m sorry, the story is a kind of fairytale”
I cocked my eyebrows- I believed in fairy tales up until the first man that courted me for months, put money on the hotel dresser the first time we fucked and went to pick his kids from boarding school. But this is about you. I asked you to go on.
The man that came in with you at the restaurant — he decided to give it to me.
That dinner was literally the only thing I got from that man. That dinner and a handbag, something small. He gave you a business?
The story of how he gave it to me is long, it can’t fit into this hour at all- but now I want to tell you why I called you
To be honest, at this point, I literally had no ability to care less about what he was saying- my whole soul wanted to know how a man he met in passing gifted him a restaurant — I wanted to know how you go from being a flower delivery boy to this in months. It took me at least 2 years of hard work (relatively) to start moving up.