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New friend or new beau? I can't tell anymore.

N. F. Kenure

After a hectic day fighting Lagos traffic and only managing to live to fight another day, I’d only just wolfed down my first meal; a plate of fried yams, plantains and the oiliest plate of egg sauce. All of this to say I was tired and it was not a day to be fitfam conscious.

Just as I unbuttoned my jeans and sank back into the couch, Kay, a friend called and wanted to talk.  She was at a bar, less than a five minute drive, so I went out for what was supposed to be a brief twenty minute chat.

I get there and we talk for about thirty minutes, as we round up, a man in a uniform (for his privacy, I will not divulge what field) walks into the bar. Kay immediately swings around, clearly enthralled by the stripes and begins to talk to him, admiration dripping from every word. She questions him about his job, -and who does not enjoy the occasional flattery? Mr. Uniform relaxes even as he zips up a jacket to cover up, and is soon regaling us with juicy insider information, garnished with a smattering of a namedrop or two.


Now, Kay who initiated contact was clearly enthusiastic, and while they spoke, I wondered for a second if she was flirting. I reprimanded the thought immediately, I have apparently become so jaded that niceness between opposite sexes can't just be nice. After all, when I first met Kay about seven years ago, she stopped me as I walked out of supermarket to tell me she loved my hair, ask for details about the hair and then exchange contacts. She is clearly not afraid of reaching out to strangers and has a vast network of friends to show for it.

Relax. Be nice. You don't know how to make friends. This is how people do it, by talking to all kinds of strangers.

At this stage, I finally go along with the conversation. I’d thought it would be two seconds of Kay acknowledging his job and then we would get back to us, but she was all in, and his responses only spurred more questions from her, so that I’d been nursing my drink to the side, while I asked a question or two. After a few more minutes, I say to Kay in Igbo,

‘A ma hapu gi ngaa.’ I will leave you here.

She wants me to chere ntakiri as she is not yet done. Mr. Uniform suddenly code switches too because of course, he is Igbo.

I was not as enamored with his uniform as it was quite familiar to me through one of my father’s close friends. It is just another job.


As he’d been standing for well over an hour while Kay interrogated him, she asks him to sit, so he sits between us. Another man walks into the bar, he is Kay’s friend, he joins us and is immediately a hilarious raconteur.

Our conversation soon turned from the lack of professional ethics in Nigeria to personal banter and and as we talk and laugh, Mr. Uniform would touch my thighs as he made a point, or rub my back in agreement. He was a tall middle aged man and I remembered how sometimes I have to ask my dad not be so handsy with acquaintances no matter how innocent he means it to be. Maybe that’s what this is, a man who just does not understand personal space. I begin to sprinkle some ‘my husband’ into my dialogue and have to take one facetime video call with my kids. There’s suddenly a light punch to the side of my stomach in the middle of a big guffaw and I remember thinking “mehn my obliques took that like a champ, but did this guy really just hit me?”.

Again I had to wonder each time he touched me. Is this normal? Is this still new friend territory?


Why was I second guessing myself?  Kay had been doing the same thing to him. Everytime she asked a question, she’d press her palm to his hand which lay on the bar  as she tried to explain herself. Seriously now, is she flirting? Is admiring something about the opposite gender flirting? I shake the thought out of my head. It isn’t. I know this. I’ve been there, I’ve given a guy a simple compliment to find he thinks it means stalk me because I'm crazy about you but I don't know it yet, and I thought men who did this were idiots. So why am I thinking like an idiot tonight? This is the first time I don’t know what a man wants -from me. Usually, it’s in the voice, demeanor and most especially in the eyes.


I’m hella confused. Mr U. asks the new funny guy for his card and then asks for my number, I put it in his phone but when he doesn't ask Kay for her’s, I think I have to block his number immediately.

It’s about 1AM when we walk to our cars, and as we saunter along, he gets Kay’s number and I am back to thinking I'm just an unrefined little girl.


The first thing I wake up to is a call and a message from him at 6AM.  

Naaah! I no dey abeg!

Kay calls me and I am right. She’d thought some things he’d said or did were odd, it wasn’t just in my head.


I am staying in tonight, making my own cocktails and staying away from grey areas.




Mar 22, 2019