It is Sunday February 13th, and I am at a convenience store picking up my favorite box of cereals and a gallon of milk to boot. Everywhere is full, especially with anxious looking chaps trying to do some last minute Valentines Day gift shopping. There are a couple of females too, but they look far more relaxed, picking up stuff like gadgets, electronics, video games and perfumes.
To my right, I spy a nervous looking man. He picked up a box of Godiva chocolates and a Sex and the City box set. Looking grossly undecided, he dropped it and then picked up a huge Teddy bear. In my mind, I was like, don’t do it player! After reflecting for a while, he decided to get a sizzling La Pearla lingerie set. My man! Love is about sharing, no?
When it comes to V-Day, I must confess, I am the worst. I once had an ex-girlfriend tell me that I was very error prone during Valentine’s Day. I seem to endure a reluctant passion towards Cupid’s birthday. I get it all wrong, just like a rich Igbo millionaire trader does with his pronunciation when he calls it “Valantine.” So shoot me. Some girls I dated nearly did.
Am I romantic? Well I have seen the movie “Love Actually” 5 times, and my best character in the Archie comics is Reggie. I also like the sitcom “How I Met Your Mother.” Make of it what you will.
It seems that if my Valentine’s Day history could be summed up in a poem written in one huge card signifying my life, it would say “Violets are red, roses are blue; I get them all mixed up, trying to Val you.” Hehe.
As I made out of the shop, with my purchase, I decided to reflect on “Valantine” days gone past, from the good to the outright reckless – from the quite immature mistakes to naivety of the highest order.
I have left out some years however due to the Vavavoom factor, you see. This is a family blog, you know.
Ah, I have learned since then.
I was dating a curvaceous brown skinned beauty by the name of Temi then. We were both in secondary school then. Her school was one of those federal government colleges in Oyo state, while mine was in Lagos state. February 14th of that year fell during the school term, and she was at her boarding school. I took a stroll from my house to “Baba Odu” bookshop on Adelabu Road in Surulere where I picked a fantastic card. The card ticked all the right boxes – it had nice colors, the wordings inside were not over the top, the word “love” was not used even once, the back of the card said “Made/printed in England” and the price was right – 12 bucks ( and I mean naira).
And no, I am not a cheap-skate. =N=12 was a lot of money back then. It could get you 2 tokens for the arcades at Entertainment World on Saka Jojo Street, VI. You could also treat yourself to a Sierra hotdog at Terris with that amount.
I signed the card, sealed it and posted it at the post office in School with a 50k stamp. Problem solved. During mid-term break a month later, she called me telling me how thrilled she was when she received the card at school. She had read the card so many times with her friends that they had all memorized the words.
Ah, that was a glorious era.
Sadly me and Ms. Brown Skin broke up amicably a year and a half later, but trust me it was not because of Valentine’s Day of 1993. I hear she is now married with 3 kids and lives in Glasgow, Scotland, UK.
I had met a beautiful, charming girl called Chineze the year before and I was absolutely smitten. Chineze was everything a girl should be – nice colour, good shape, firm legs, intelligent and classy. When I met her, we were in Jamb/ O-level School waiting to gain admission to University the following year. We would have long, long chats on the telephone until her mum shouted at her angrily to drop the phone and come help in the kitchen. She had a pet name for me as well. I was in 7th heaven with this chick. If you had shot me with a gun whenever I was with her, I wouldn’t have died.
But there was one problem; she refused to be my girlfriend. It was one of those mysteries of life. We chatted for long hours, we spoke intimately with each other, she sounded jealous if I spoke of other females, I held her round her waist once as I fondled her, but when I asked her out, she refused and couldn’t give me a reason. If it were in the present, I would have been ok with it, seeing that we were everything else but officially dating. But sometimes when you are younger, you want a name/tag on everything. I also think it was because I really fancied her and wanted my scent all over her like an Alpha male lion.
When Val’s day approached, I had Hamlet on the brain – to v or not to v? Should I Val her or pal her? Just some days before I had received a windfall of cash, and as the money laid in front of me, I was confused. I asked a couple of my best mates, and they were like I should not bother giving her anything since we were not exclusively dating each other. I was fine with it, so we all decided to hit a couple of joints, have a few beers and hang out till late.
Every single place we went to that evening was filled up. Couples were every damn where. After a few beers, we decided to call it a day. I took a cab home. Once I came through the door, my sister told me that Chineze had tried to call me like 10 times. It was already late so I couldn’t call back since it was a house phone and these were the days before GSM phones in Nigeria.
I changed, got into bed, and decided to turn on the radio and listen to the rave of the moment station “Raypower FM.” It was worse – Kenny and D1 had a program where lovers called in and professed their undying love for each other.
I really felt somehow that day.
The funny thing is that Chineze called the next day a bit upset that I hadn’t even called her or sent her wishes on Valentine’s Day.
First year of University, and I was dating a girl called Oyinda. I attended a University located in a small university town, so most chaps were sending anyone going down to Lagos to help pick up some stuff for the girls.
I had a friend called Ogbe who was heading down to Lagos on the 12th of February for a family barbeque. He was supposed to return back to school on the 14th. So I gave him some money, and asked him to get me a really nice card, some chocolates, a bottle of wine and nice silk night dress.
On the 14th, evening time came and there was no sign of Ogbe. From 6pm, chaps had started sending gifts to their ladies, or driving up to the girl’s hostels to pick their lassies up for dinner before exchanging gifts or whatever. By 8pm, my girl had sent a message through someone that she was waiting for me. An hour later, Ogbe had not come. My girl sent another person with a message saying that she didn’t mind if I hadn’t gotten her anything; all she wanted was for me to come to her room where she was waiting for me to come and get her so we could spend the rest of the day together.
I was about to get set to leave, when Ogbe burst in panting and carrying a huge knapsack. He explained that his bag containing stuff he helped me buy got stolen at the car park on the way from Lagos, and so he had to stop over at Ibadan and pick some replacement articles. He opened his bag to reveal some Cadbury chocolate finger sticks, a really colorful card which sang a depressing tune when you opened it, a bottle of something that looked like Bacchus Tonic Wine and a red ladies thong pant. The pant looked like something the wrestler Jimmy Fly Snuka would have worn. Or the female Norbit.
I was too weak to start laying into Ogbe. He obviously had bought me some cheap goods and pocketed the change, and was just telling me porkpies to put me off track. Snatching the stuff from him, I promised him that I would get back at him later. I threw the “thing pant” into the thrash, gave the bottle of wine to some heavy drinking dude that lived in the room next to wine, and dashed for my girl’s room.
She stayed in a premium girl’s hostel, and I managed to get there on time before visitors were prevented from entering anymore. When I got to her room, she opened the door wearing the shortest red dress you can imagine. Apparently, she knew how much I liked, eh, ‘fitted’ dresses and decided to wear one for me on this special day. There were scented candles everywhere, and a 112 CD on repeat in the deck. The room was also empty, as her roommates were all “conveniently” out. Obviously they were in on this arrangement, because the room was usually stacked with loads of girls and their friends.
I gave her the card I had with me, and started to explain what happened to the rest of the gifts, but she hushed me as she gave me soft kiss. In my mind, I was like wow, something for nothing. Happy days.
Well it should have been “happy days”, but it was “fright night” for me. For some reason I wasn’t comfortable. Something was wrong. I gave her a cheap looking card and wasted time before showing up, and now I was about to get some? Awoof de run belle o.
I looked at her outfit; she was nearly spilling out of it. Imagine putting Mercy Johnson in tiny Daisy Duke Shorts, or making Omotola wear one of those tight skimpy dresses Eva Longoria would wear.
I told Oyinda that I needed to rush out briefly and drop the box of chocolate fingers for my friend Femi downstairs who had wanted it to give to a girl he had been trying to hook up with.
I dashed downstairs and ran into my Femi and a couple of other chaps I knew as well. Everyone there had handed over their gifts to their girls and were just chilling in the car park of the hostel gisting and having a laugh. Femi said he wasn’t interested in giving the girl the chocs anymore as they had a tiff some moments earlier.
It was almost 11pm now, and one of the chaps suggested that we all go down to mammy market and get some pints of beer. He offered to get the drinks in, so we all headed down there.
The guy ordered drinks, and as the waiter brought the tray down, I broke open the packet of chocolate fingers, and everyone dug in. Chocs and beer – what a combo. As we laughed there, and took the piss out of each other, we saw one guy called Bunmi walk in carrying a huge box card.
Someone one asked him whose card it was and Bunmi said that a girl who had secretly admired him for a while had just given it to him. Now if ever there was someone who was a loser, Bunmi was one. He was a pathological liar and someone who couldn’t pay a girl to date him. All of us now looked at him shocked – dude actually had someone that admired him enough to buy him a card, never mind a huge box one.
We were congratulating him, and someone had even instructed the beer woman to bring him a chilly bottle of premium lager, when suddenly someone snatched the card from Bunmi’s grip and noticed that it was actually addressed to someone called “Janet”. Bunmi had been spreading falsehood again.
Needless to say, we all laid into him furiously. It was all light banter though and he took as well as he got.
The next day when I ran into my girl Oyinda in the class area, she couldn’t even look at me. She called me a “jerk.”
I had only just graduated from University, and was dating some girl called Ololode. She was really a fearless and feisty character. She lived in Ikeja; so on V-Day around evening, I went to pick her up at her place. She had to sneak because her folks were around. There was a Valentine’s Day dinner concert with the American singer Joe at Oceanview in Victoria Island, if I can recall. But we decided to skip it, get some takeaway, suya and drinks and drive to her Uncle’s house in Lekki. Her uncle and aunt had a massive house in Lekki, but they were doctors and walked in Saudi Arabia for 9 months of the year, and only came into the country during the summer. They didn’t want their house lying fallow and ill maintained, so they gave Ololade and her elder brother keys to the house. Olalade’s brother worked in a financial institution on the Island so he spent weekdays in the house and returned to his folk’s house in Ikeja for weekdays.
So we got to the house, and went to the lounge upstairs. Ololade then lit scented candles all around and set some soft blankets on the ground, then turned off the lights. She then put some music on, and spread the food and wine on a low coffee table in front of us. We then exchanged our presents. We then ate the food and drank the wine. We were making out seriously when we heard the sound of a car horn and then the gateman opening the gates to the house. Her brother and his friend had arrived with their dates. They were supposed to have gone for the Joe dinner event, but decided against it.
In my mind, I was wondering how all this was going to pan out. Ololade didn’t care obviously; she said that her brother and his date could hang out downstairs while we did our “thing upstairs.” Hello, I am the type of chap who goes to a party and then sees his sister or female cousin there and is not able to have fun any longer. There is no way; I can be in a house where my little sister is being “nailed” by a randy upstart on the floor above. I would race up the steps with a baseball bat in my hands, ready to smash him. Keep your snake in your trousers, dude.
Even if I had Scarlet Johansson trying to come on to me, I wouldn’t be able to concentrate. Ok I am exaggerating now. That one na lie o
Thankfully it all went well. Her brother stayed downstairs with his date. I bared my snake like Medusa, and we all even had lunch at noon the next day before going our separate ways.
There have been other February 14ths but I would rather hear from you. How have your days gone? How did today go?
Standing there beautiful/
Like what am I going to do with you/
Camron (Daydreaming, 2002)