As we drove from my house to wherever he had in mind, Ighodalo and I engaged in small talk. Normally, I get bored answering questions but I didn’t mind. Anything to make my sad emotions vanish! He was quite a chatterbox and I found that pleasant. A girl could use a chatterbox in her life every now and then. Judging by the lot I’d observed, his best colour was brown. That wasn’t such a bad colour, though. I’m sure some psychic somewhere would be able to convince me that even though he likes a colour I don’t like, there was some “connection”. Wait! What was I thinking? Already? Slow down,jor oh!
“Here we are…I hope you like the place. I’ve been eating here since I got to Calabar.” Ighodalo was saying as he pulled up in the car park of Adrian’s place. I had never been inside the hotel but I knew it almost too well. That’s the thing with this town,it looks big, but it’s way too small. You know everywhere and everyone. I sighed and got out of the car,stood still for a bit to get a fair share of the rays of the sun which was rather mild this afternoon,smiled and said finally, “it’s fine.”
We were welcomed by a cold blow of conditioned air. After settling into a table, he called that the menus should be brought.
“What would you like to have?”
I grimaced. It was always tough to make up my mind. Conscious of the fact that I was delaying, I raised up my head,beamed and replied;
“I’ll have a meal of rice with shredded beef sauce.”
“Will that be all for you,madam?”I nodded. And the waiter turned to him.
“And you sir? What would you like to have?”
“The usual.” The waiter and Ighodalo exchanged knowing glances as he went away.
“Are you okay?” He asked with genuine concern.
I feigned a smile and replied calmly, “ sure,why not?”
“you look worried,frustrated and defeated.”
I raised my eyebrows at him,”Yeah right!”
“Okay. So,let’s talk about your boyfriend, Niyi”
“Let’s not! please.”
A smile formed at the corner of his lips. He sat quietly as if to observe every bit of me. For about ten minutes,he said nothing. I began to get scared. I hate psychoanalysis.
“You have a relationship crisis on your hands.”He said finally,confidently.
The food had just arrived. I wasn’t ready to complain to a ‘stranger’ so I heaved a sigh of relief.
He let out a short laugh that sent all the wrong signals to my brain. OMG! His laugh. Sexy! I grinned and shut my eyes to say grace after which I stuffed a large fork of rice in my mouth to suspend further conversation.
We were alone in the restaurant at the time but not for long. Amaka just walked in a few minutes after I had started eating.I hadn’t seen her since the day of the ‘incident’ and it occurred to me then that I wasn’t sure if she was a snub or not. So, I decided to continue eating.
“You know her?” I raised my face for the first time to hold Ighodalo’s gaze. How does he do that? How does he read me?
I shook my head lightly and felt a pang of guilt in my stomach as she walked over to me.
“Hey,Zina. Long time. I haven’t seen you since that day. After our ‘show’, no calls,texts,nothing. You’ve dumped me?”
“ahn ahn! It’s not like that oo, I’ve been busy. You know,exams and all.”
“hmm… I’ve missed you. I still have a picture of your boobs in my head. You are quite endowed sha.”
“Amaka, you’re such a darling.stop jor.”
“it’s true jor. Anyway,I have to run, I’ll call you. But before then, this your date, should I be worried?”
I laughed hard. “No dear. Bye”
As soon as that phase was over and I was about to resume eating my lunch when I noticed a puzzled Ighodalo staring at me.
“What’s the matter?” I asked immediately
“why didn’t you tell me?”
“you are….” He broke off his words and started gesticulating but I couldn’t relate.
“speak english” I ordered frustratedly.
“…that she’s your boo”
I was confused. Boo ke? I thought back to the conversation I just had with Amaka. Suddenly,I froze and the fork dropped out of my hand as it hit me. He thinks I’m a lesbian! Damn!!!
“errrrr, i’m not… she’s not…we don’t even know each other that well.” I paused to observe his expression but he wasn’t believing me.
“For real! ask anybody!”
I got so uncomfortable and drank down my glass of red wine while waiting for him to say something or at least move a facial muscle but he didn’t. He ate in silence and only spoke after swallowing the last bit of his Yam porridge meal.
“You didn’t eat.” He began
“Lost my appetite.” I grunted.
“That’s not right. Do you want it to be parcelled as a carry-out?”
“I’d love that. Thanks.”
After that was done,
“shall we what?”
“Where’s your mind,Zina? Let’s go na.so i can drop you and make it back to work.”
As we drove home,he kept talking about how he wouldn’t have guessed I was gay. Honestly,it was quite irritating but when I detected sacarsm in some of his statements,I knew better than to ruin it for him by complaining.
“Casa de Zina”
“ah! You’re not easy oo.you deceive yourself for Spanish too?”
He laughed and was almost hysterical and I joined in.
“Thanks for coming to lunch with me,I appreciate it a lot.”
“I’m glad we could do this. Thanks. oh! And I’m not gay.I barely know that girl.”
“I figured. All your smiles were fake. She probably is sha. But you still need to prove to me that you’re straight.”
I thought for a moment.
“How?” I asked, finally.
I didn’t see that coming. After much hesitation,I leaned towards him and we kissed.
Yes! It was the perfect ending to a good lunch date. I beamed as I waved goodbye and walked into my compound.Thank God I had Womi on speed dial.