Author’s note: Okay first I have to apologize for taking so long to post this, especially since it’s only the concluding part of part II (yes, this is my shameless plug to read part II). I also want to clarify that these postings are the beginning of what I hope to be a novel, so forgive me if the plot does not advance as quickly as a short story’s would. Thanks again for reading.
I was jolted out of my reverie by loud squeals of approval as the DJ slipped on makosa, instantly changing the tone of the party. In a split second, the crowd transformed from a group of posers intent on holding up every available wall, to expert dancers performing to an unseen audience. Even Dare and Ufuoma had begun making their way to the dance floor, picking up suitable partners along the way. Grace and I stayed back like we always did, preferring to be spectators.
I really enjoy watching people dance to makosa, especially my fellow Nigerians. I have never been a great dancer myself so I was easily impressed by their intrinsic sense of rhythm. Of course the true amusement came from the girls who invariably took it too far, turning the art of dancing into the more depraved display of “look what my ass can do”. I was just about to call Grace’s attention to Ufuoma, who was giving everyone a run for their money, when I heard a voice beside us.
“I’m sorry, I hate doing things like this, but you look really familiar. Have we met?”
I turned around, ready to laugh at the tired old line naija guys use to start a conversation, but quickly realized that the question was not being posed to me. Grace stared straight ahead, not even bothering to glance at the poor soul trying to talk to her, as she replied with a quick “No, I don’t think so” that left no room for challenge.
I stifled a smile, knowing exactly where this was heading, and being just a little surprised that it had taken so long for it to happen. It seemed to me that no matter where we went, there was always some would-be suitor who materialized out of nowhere and latched on to Grace like she was the last living female form. Seriously, if I wasn’t a better human being, I would be sick to death of playing the part of the friend-not-being-hollered-at while Grace did her best to get rid of them. I had initially thought her motive for rejecting these advances stemmed from misguided guilt that no one was paying attention to me. But I had more recently begun to suspect that she genuinely disliked the attention and viewed the intrusion as offensive. Which was a shame because, intrusion or not, this guy was fine and she wasn’t giving him the time-of-day.
I felt kind of bad for him as he hovered near us, clearly unsure whether to proceed or retreat. Eventually, unable to bear another minute of the awkwardness, I turned to talk to him, ignoring Grace’s look of reproach.
“Oh yeah, did you go to CAC as well?” I said, referring to our secondary school and hoping that he took advantage of the opening I was offering.
“No I went to Corona.” He replied, almost apologetically. “Wait, maybe it was more recently, where did you guys go to Uni?”
“I went to school inChicagoand, let me guess, you were in theUK. I can tell because you say ‘Uni’ instead of ‘college’ like we do.”
On the surface, it seemed like a perfectly normal exchange between strangers. Except that, although he was directing his responses to me, his eyes kept veering back to Grace, who, bless her soul, had found an absolutely fascinating spot fifty feet in front of us that she couldn’t take her eyes off.
The conversation began to lag again and it was becoming quite embarrassing how pointedly Grace was ignoring us. I finally tired of the situation and, on the pretext of looking for the bathroom, excused myself quickly so Grace wouldn’t have the chance to follow me. I knew she would kill me later for abandoning her. But really, the girl was twenty six years old; it was about time she started appreciating the finer points in life, like having the undivided attention of a good-looking guy.
I looked back to where they were standing, fully expecting to see Grace walking away, but was pleasantly surprised to find that they were having a conversation. Granted it seemed mostly one-sided and she was yet to make eye contact, but she was still standing there- it was a good step.
I was mentally patting myself on the back for my amazing match-making skills, when I realized that I had wandered away from the party and was in a much quieter part of the house. Judging from the oversized family portrait on the wall and the formal looking décor, I assumed I was standing in the main living room.
Aww, this is cute! Even in the limited moonlight, I could tell that the room had been decorated by someone who was more focused on creating a home than a showcase. It was likely his mother’s handiwork, but seeing it made me think of the other dimensions to Jide that were more than his “big boy” persona.
“Are you lost?” The voice came from behind me and I almost jumped from the surprise of finding out that I was not alone.
“No.” I replied, as I finally made out who it was. “I was just trying to escape.”
“Ah…so you’re not enjoying the party.” He replied with a smirk, or at least what sounded like one. It was hard to tell because, although he was clearly speaking to me, his eyes remained glued to the blackberry in his hand.
“No, it’s cool.” I said, trying to inject as much nonchalance as I could into my voice. “I was just getting a bit claustrophobic.”
“Yeah, I know the feeling.” He finally turned his screen off and straightened up from the chair he had been leaning on.
“My name is Niyi.” He said, reaching out his hand with way more self-assurance than one person should be allowed to have.
“I know.” I replied, and almost kicked myself at the stupidity of my response. “Sorry, I meant that in a completely non-stalkerish way. It’s just that everyone knows who you are.”
“Really.” he replied, raising his eyebrows. “Now I feel bad for not knowing your name.”
“It’s Femi. I know, it’s kind of a boy’s name but…what can you do.” Oh God, just shut up. My habit of needing to be the wittiest person in a conversation was actually making me sound like an idiot.
“Well, nice to meet you Femi.” He finally replied after shooting me a curious look. “I hate to be rude but I have to head back in there.” He said, pointing in the direction of the music. “Maybe I’ll see you again if you change your mind about escaping.”
I gave a half wave good-bye, figuring silence was my best move at this point. Watching him walk away, I couldn’t help but note the warning alarm in the back of my mind that usually sets off when I know I’m about to do something foolish. Was it awful that I didn’t care?