I like my beer-glass filled to its brim. It gives me more than fulfilment. The sight of its foam makes the throat itch for a sip. And the content, especially the golden coloured glittering and seductive liquid, looks like a present one should give to a bosom friend on the day of his marriage to his heartthrob.
My beer drinking happens on Friday nights. While Chief Menegbo, my cool Ogoni friend drives me to our favourite hang-out for the night I usually tell him all there is about beer and life. I tell him of beer as a special part of the life of a grown man. I tell him how beer is adored and worshipped in the Czech Republic. I tell him how I would love to go there to worship someday. I say many things to Chief Menegbo, despite our differences in tribe. I tell him how I would love to own a house next one of the giant breweries in the Czech Republic and connect a tunnel where I could steal as much beer as possible. Chief Menegbo, a fairly rich man who I met during my finals at the university could be funny. His wit, though subtle had brought us together.
I once told Chief Menegbo how beer can as well be brewed in my local community in Warri, Delta State, since I love it so much than anyone I can think of, except the Chief, of course. Chief Menegbo laughed heartily and called me a nonsense-drunk who was drunk before the actually act of drinking. He told me to shut up and allow him the peace he deserved.
Chief Menegbo thinks I am usually drunk. He thinks I wake up drunk, maybe sit inside a bowl of beer and watch the tap pour down assorted brand of beer on me. As much as that may be my pipedream I am far from it. I save my energy for Friday nights. There is nothing as good as fantasizing about a particular day of the week when the demon of drink would be let loose.
I do not blame the Chief; after all you do not get angry with the man who pays the bill. I do not dislike him either. But like him, everyone on my street feels that way too. Most of the people on Victoria Street, Down Town, Port Harcourt, have never seen me walk unaided to the house. They only see me in the late evening, on Fridays, in the midst of two young lads who usually walk me home. The street people never see me leave the house as early as 4am on a trek to Oyibo where I run a shop because the stupid government would not create jobs. They never see me walk unaided and focused on the road, refusing to look at the people who call from across the streets, those who greet me and those who just want an engagement.
Chief Menegbo works with an insurance company. He is the worst beer consumer I have ever seen in the city of Port Harcourt. I do love beer but I stutter each time Chief Menegbo drinks. He would sit quietly at a table, wipe imaginary dust from the table, straighten the tablemat and order a beer and the cleanest glass in the bar. When the lady brings the drink, Heineken, mainly, he would thank her gracefully and admire her from behind as she walked off. Then like a careful Man of God administering communion he would pour his beer into his glass and watch every drop roll down the glass and then he would make a sign of the cross over the filled cup and sip. The Chief visits the glass twice after the first sip and like magic the content would disappear. The Chief repeats the process of calling on the bartender as many times as possible until the bartender brings a crate of empty bottles as evidence of his pathetic drinking habit, which means good business for her.
Chief Menegbo should own a beer company in his house. He is such a retarded drunk. So while we rode to the bar on the last night we drank as friends he kept avoiding my assertions, calling them bluffs. The Chief asked me if I knew why he visited the bar every Friday nights. I turned at him. When I could not tell the expression on his face, whether he was serious or just wanting a talk I turned on the light in the car and saw his eyes. There was something mischievous about it. I smiled. He smiled also and maintained a focus on the road. The Chief asked again if I knew the reason he visited the bar every Friday nights. I tried to think but my answer came in the negative.
‘I seriously expected a no, Oghene’ he said, hitting the steering wheel of his car to the rhythm of “Truth Don Die” by Femi Kuti.
A man who had slowed down in front of the Chief raised his head from inside of his car and looked back at the Chief. The man did not permit an overtaking. When the man, maybe a drunk banker, saw the Chief he raised a middle finger in the air and turned around to make sure Chief Menegbo got the sign. The Chief did not think for a second when he called him a bastard and overtook him.
“So do you have any idea why I visit the bar every Friday night?”
“What?” he asked.
“To drink, of course” I replied.
He laughed so much that his body jerked. He started nodding proudly to the fast rhythmic beat and asked for a second guess.
“That fat ass bartender, you retard” flew from my mouth without a mince. The Chief stopped the car abruptly, turned at me with a look. His heart panting and his eyes staring at me, he drew a quick smile.
“You are right, bastard!” he cursed.
I laughed for his words and he laughed too for my words as he drove to our Friday hangout.
At the bar we picked our usual seats, somewhere at an extreme, where the light shy away from shining. The bartender, as usual walked majestically to our table, in a black short skirt which rested around her thighs, therefore exposing a bunch of creamy flesh which could make a man drink out his salary. With her purple blouse raised like two giant watermelons were dropped on her chest, under the blouse, to make her walk with such sexiness. When she walked her hips swayed from side to side, like she was trained to walk into the emptiness on a man’s soul. Her heavy, well rounded buttocks sat, strapped in the black skirt and as she walked across tables to ours I could see the men protruding their faces like they were stakeholders in her cosy hands. With no particular courtesy she requested for our brands like she was seeing us for the first time. The Chief placed an order and as she walked away repeating a process that could rip out a man’s heart. Chief Menegbo stared at the bunch of flesh behind her, with an open mouth until a drop of spit landed on his shirt, which he quickly wiped. I giggled and he turned at me.
“I should own a bar and employ this lady to be serving just me.”
“What?” I asked.
“Yeah” you heard me. “
“What did you say?”
He smiled and played with his phone until the drinks arrived. I uncorked mine, bent the glass, and poured the beer with all gentleness refusing to look at the bartender for no particular reason. My beer went down my glass and as it came close to the brim I turned the glass vertically and poured the last drop which filled the glass.
“You should marry her if you like her the way you look at her” I advised.
“I must not marry her, man. I just want that ass on my bed, that’s all.”
“And where would your wife be when you are having that ‘ass’ on your bed?” I questioned
“Anywhere but home, man”
“Will you chase her away?” I asked again.
“If it would get that succulent backside against my trousers I wouldn’t mind, after all that wife of mine is older and I am tired of what she offers.”
He sipped his beer.
“And her money?” I asked.
“Hey, you must not say that in public, man. I just love that bartender, that’s all. I wonder why the gods bless bartenders with more backsides than housewives.”
“You are asking the wrong god, man. The last I checked you married that woman, your wife for her money, so you should stay married and enjoy what she brings.”
“Oghenovo, you are a stupid agric fowl. Why do you talk like that? Is my wife paying you? Why should I eat a fruit when I can actually make fruit salad, ehn, tell me? Hey, look, I will get that bartender’s number and she would give it to me. Trust me.”
“And if she doesn’t?”
“I will make her do; besides no woman refuses me a number.”
The bartender returned with our bill on a tray. Chief Menegbo cleared his throat and asked for her name and number. While she whispered the name into the Chief’s ear, she wrote down her number on a piece of paper and gave it to me. Chief Menegbo opened his mouth wide in surprise. While I was surprised also I kissed the number and pocketed it. I trekked home that night, not drunk. I could not drink to my satisfaction. The Chief left the bar angry with me and the entire world.