Your Partner’s The Most Extra You
Every year, the extended family comes together for a single day of merriment. We throw open the gates to friends, colleagues and neighbours, spreading the goodwill of the new year through bites of rice and strong sips of red wine and beer. Resolutions would be made and broken over the sound of Fuji superimposed with contemporary Afrobeats, with the old timers keeping time with tapping feet and bobbing potbellies.
Three blocks down, another family hosts the same. Their sons and ours have been friends since before we, the younger generation, were conceived. It is a ritual, to devote an hour of party time to the party at the Ls. Let’s call them, Ls, today. It is to this place we have come, to visit with Mr. L.
He’s a towering figure, welcoming us with his wife, who all but folds us into her boubou as she offers a plate of fried goat meat with one hand, and reaches into the drinks barrel with the other. She’s warm, loving. I’ve never known her any other way.
Mr. L settles across the table and asks me, point blank, in flawless Yoruba, “When will I come for the 5th level of the cake?” I am taken aback. He grins and begins.
“You see”, he opened, “all I really want on your wedding day is to dance, and take the 5th level of the cake away. The 1st level would be frozen and stored until your first child is born. All the other levels can be split among the wedding guests. Me, I just want the 5th level.”
By this time, I am overcome with laughter. Uncle L, sha. I watch him peel the leaf from a lovely-looking red. Lovely looking because I would not taste it before leaving.
“Do you know how old I was when I met my wife?”, he sets the bottle aside as he speaks, resting both hands on his belly. “We were both 16 when we first became friends. We have been friends for well over forty years.”
By this time, I’m reaching for my bottle of water for a long pull. Straws and paper cups are pointless here. Pull up, straight.
“But, Uncle L”, I began, “the times and the people were different…”
“Hmmph! Some things don’t change. You young people should ask yourselves why you are searching for things that don’t exist.”
“Don’t you want to be happy? Isn’t that the most important thing?”
I feel old, quite suddenly. I’ve never had a heart to heart with Uncle L on the subject of love. I haven’t told him I’m not seeing anyone, presently.
He continues, “…you just need to find someone who understands you, and who you understand. You can’t agree all the time, but you must agree on what matters.”
I try to chip in here, “…its not like we are not looking…”
“Ptaah!”, he exclaims, “Uni’s the best time to find someone.”
He leans in, waving his hands vaguely, “Let’s even forget about that. If you meet someone today, ask him on a date.”
My siblings are dramatic. Largely silent until this point, we all erupt in laughter.
Uncle L is not done, “Look, as long as you’re not going to offer him sex on that date, it’s fine. You can even set a 90 day target for yourself, so you’d know if he’s serious or just looking for sex.”
I wrinkle my brow as I nod pensively. It’s comforting to know that some of my more unusual ideas are held by members of an older generation.
He reaches for the forgotten bottle once again. “When you’re with the right person…she’s no longer just a wife.”
His eyes seek our Mrs. L. I can tell he’s looking for her, connecting across the crowd. “…she’s your sister and you love her. She’s basically an extra You.” Their eyes connect, and they exchange a smile.
He had a score more insights to share; personal stories, anecdotes from friends, stories of failed tests and many more. Perhaps I will share them in subsequent posts. Perhaps.
We left the party with the easily-forgotten bottle of red wine. It’s made in Nigeria, btw. Full bodied, somewhere between sour and sweet, and pegged at 12 percent alcohol volume.
It seems I have a tweet for damn near every situation, LOL. Read this:
The short and sweet conversation validated a number of strongly held opinions of mine. People are important, yes, but we need to remember to manage our expectations.
@DareOgunmowo had quite a bit to say on this, too. People need to be what they are, and not what we expect them to be.
P.S- “Try More Drinks” is on my list. In the spirit of collaboration, I might be willing to make a bottle or two available to the right person. Being the right person begins with actually communicating and leaving feedback. I do want to hear what you have to say. Save a girl from boredom!
Happy New Year!