This is the story of how we almost lost our virginities, Dare’s and me’s:
Yes, Dare and me, again—we had moved back to their house; Mum and Dare’s mum had made up and were now as close and cosy as newly-weds again. As for Dad, we never heard from him again. Well, I saw him one time. On TV. On this Economy Today on NTA. Talking about The-Econometric-Policy-Evaluation-Of-Nigeria-Under-A-Rational-Expectation. He sounded impressive, like a book, a textbook, a university one; and he looked like it too—boring, bored, bulky. Yes, he looked fat, fatter; fattened (by who?) His finger, when his hand came up in explanation, was ringless.
His eyes were lightless, lifeless, empty, when he looked at me; motionless, emotionless, when he looked at the interviewer; she was spotlessly pretty; you couldn’t look at her emotionlessly—you had to fall in love with her at first sight! But Dad’s eyes were loveless, even lustless! His lips were different; smileless, grim, just moving, making words. When Dad’s name came up, at the bottom of the screen, the lips beneath his noble nose matched the title beneath his name—Head of Department, Economics Dept. University of Lagos. Ah, just perfect!—matching pair of sad, important academic lips on a somber Head (of Dept.)—the typical egghead, Dad. My own stupid melon head felt heavy, swelled for him; I was impressed, and proud of him, and sad for him, and missed him. . .
Well, back to my story of our close shave with virginity loss. . . We were so stupid then, so dumb, so caught up in the TV prison of our video games that we did not even know that we had any virginities to lose; while, out there in the world, all our mates, classmates and all, were mating away and losing their virginities all over the place like animals.
We had reached that age when everybody was in a maddened haste to lose their virginity, to anyone, or anything; just lose the bloody thing and get on with your life; but we couldn’t see past our Nintendos, so we came to the game late; when the whole world had lost their virginities. We were all alone, and became desperate to lose ours, almost losing our minds in the desperation. . . We begged, we paid, we cried, we lied, we charmed, we smiled, we prayed!. . . I even went as low as going back down to my old neighbourhood to beg Glory Imasuen and her teeth! She just shook her fat head No (and in pity) and asked me to Accept Jesus. I asked her if she would let me lose my virginity on her if I Accepted; she said if I Accepted Jesus I wouldn’t need to lose my virginity. She didn’t know. She couldn’t understand—she had joined her mother in that other world where sanctimoniousness stank like halitosis when they talked (preached) to you.
Now it had become a race between Dare and me—who would lose it first; sometimes we were a team, like on that fateful night. . .
This was also the age when wearing a sad face was fashionable; we called it “boning”. Even when you were happy you had to keep your long face on, like a shit-mask. The girls liked these our sad faces; it got them smiling all over their bodies like imbeciles. But that was all they ever did—smile—for all the effort Dare and me put into our boning, Dare doing it more than when he was Scarface, me doing it more than when I was bed-ridden melancholic. We both wound up looking like a pair of moronic gangsters. When that didn’t work Dare smiled a plan in my ear one morning (the morning of the fateful night; the night we almost lost our virginities, to the devil. . .)
We had made more money than politicians from the elevator that day, so we were bulging with cash (and the accumulated weights of our virginities).
Dare’s mum took Mum for a vigil in a mad church where white-gowned lunatics were clapping and dancing and writhing, and whining like the wind, jumping everywhere to the wild drummings of a young drummer possessed by evil spirits, while the priest, the Woli, just swayed on a spot, trance-like, for hours. These two mums had dragged us along because, as they put it, they couldn’t trust us not to burn the building down if we spent the night alone at home.
We stepped through the door of the church just as the people were singing the Top Spirit, Emi Oke, to enter—wo ‘le wa, wo ‘le wa o, Emi Oke, e wo ‘le wa o. I didn’t see him enter. He must have been waiting outside, for the right moment, maybe when all eyes were closed; then he would sneak in through a side door and sit in a dark corner to watch the gyrating girls and their waists. . .
Dare’s mum joined the madness as soon as we entered; even though she had said this wasn’t her church, that she just came here, once in a while, for “special prayers”. The Woli, aptly named Baba Aladura, looked like a fellow that needed prayers himself. He was sick! And pig-filthy; his hair, brown and wild, a burning bush (burning with lice and madness), it fell all over his jungle-bearded face.
There were women everywhere, going mad; the Woli was almost the only man, and he wasn’t any less mad. There were many children too, thankfully unmad, sleeping about, or just scurrying in and out of the doors like church rats. Dare and me, we just sat in a corner, insulated from all the madness around us, by our atheism. We waited for the right moment to set out on our plan, while the women waited for the Top Spirit to enter the church (or them?).
The right time came early—when Dare’s mum began convulsing violently, like the other women, and the Woli took Mum out of the church, secretly, into the dark, with a strange lascivious light in the dead eyes beneath his tropical rain forest hair. That is when Dare and me snuck out, into the night. We must have passed the spirit on our way out, because I felt the hairs on my neck rise (maybe it was just the excitement of anticipation, the rush of adrenaline?)
Our destination was just a spit-fling away, just beside the church, sitting close to her like a sister, sharing a fence; but she couldn’t have been a sister—the place was a ‘hotel’; that’s what they’re called, but that’s not what they are inside. Yes, there are rooms, but not for lodging or sleeping in. It was a run-down duplex in which Lust and bootleg love lived; downstairs was the bar, where drinks were sold; and upstairs held the rooms where the picked women were used and artificial affection was sold. . .
We were the only boys in the place; there were men and women and girls everywhere, dancing, smoking, whispering, howling, chewing, groping, loving, lolling, going upstairs, coming downstairs, going out, coming in. . .
Dare and me sat in a corner, overwhelmed, for about one million minutes, until one of the women came over—she was as wide as a doorway and built like a bookshelf, and her bottom was a burden that slowed her walk towards us; she had to drag it along, she would have just left it on a seat somewhere if she could. I felt sorry for her. The tiny, tight shorts that held the load together looked as if it would give way in front where the remnants of a large stomach fell across the shorts’ zip as she dragged herself and her bottom towards us. It was when she reached us that we realized how large it really was—a cheek was both our heads together, Dare’s and me’s! That’s four heads she was carrying around as an ass! I almost died! She could kill a person by just having a crush on them. Dare looked away, politely. It was quite unlike him to be polite; he was probably scared to death. By an ass!. . . Or it was just respect. She was as old as both our mums, together. I tried to imagine what her child would look like—Isla? A man. . . She had a green bottle in one hand and a brown London in the other, and was chewing gum and very broken English, together.
‘How fah! Una mama los’?. . . You no go fin’ am for hia o!’
When we didn’t answer she touched my chin, raised it, in a grandmotherly way (Dare’s chin was still pointing away), ‘Wetin una want. . . breas’milk?’ She laughed a storm at this watery crack, and took a large gulp of beer to wash the joke down. I stared—her breasts were not funny; she could have run a large-scale dairy from her bosom, conveniently like that.
She pulled me up; I pulled Dare, and we pulled, like that, out of the room, all three of us, one chain; two boys and their ‘mum’, pulling, through the warm smoke and hot flesh and hard noise.
I followed her lavish buttocks up the stairs; Dare followed my meagre one, meekly. . . Halfway up the stairs, she suddenly stopped, so abruptly I almost rammed my whole face into her bum (my face would have been a pretty wreck!) Then she turned around and—How mush una get for hand sef?
All the money we had was in Dare’s pockets, but he had lost his tongue. ‘Plenty,’ I answered for us.
‘Whish one be dat? Na naija currency?’
‘Yes,’ I said.
She laughed and rubbed my head, the way Dad used to, fondly. ‘Come whish one una want—tousch or short or long?’
I didn’t understand the options, but I figured “tosh” must be touch, because she had touched her large-scale breasts, lifted them; since that was the safest option, the only one we understood (short and long being too vague, and dangerous in the circumstances to try) so—
‘Touch,’ I said.
She looked disappointed—as if we had let her down. Boredom slid over her eyes like a curtain—the show was over, for her.
‘Okay wey your money?’ The bird in her voice had fallen flat and died.
Dare was already in his pockets, unthinking.
‘How much?’ I asked, clear-minded.
‘How mush you get?!’
‘Uhmm. . .’
Dare came out of his pockets with all the money we had in the whole world. She grabbed the notes out of his undecided hands and they disappeared inside her vast bra before we could say ‘Shit’.
‘Shit!’ I whispered—
‘Go wait for down,’ she said, and turned around, taking her bottom up with her.
When we didn’t move, she repeated, ‘I say go wait for down! I go call una when I ready! Abi!’
We waited for ever and ever and ever; until kingdom came, and our big woman didn’t, neither did her bottom. While we waited, we watched men come in alone and go upstairs with women, and come back downstairs with women and go out alone; we watched them come in with their sadnesses and go up to find love, then go back home to the miseries of their marriages.
People came and went, kingdom came, and went; we grew old, and were almost about to die, where we waited, when two women entered, and came through the smoke (it was a different kind of smoke from the church one—the turari—less thick), squinting in the blue and red and purple lights, looking for something, looking for trouble. . .
Before I could say Lord! Dare had fallen to his hands and knees and was galloping away between the stretchmarked legs and trousers all over the place. Me, my own legs just went on a vacation, taking my balls and brains with them, leaving me sitting there with only arms and a head in which a mouth opened and closed and opened and—
It was Dare’s mum that saw me first. It was Mum that killed me. With a thousand slaps on my face. Sharp, cutting my face up in one million places. She slapped me all the way out of the hotel, and out of the hope of virginity loss.
‘Where is that Dare?’ his mum asked.
Dare was inside the church when we got there, clapping his hands to bleeding, and shaking his head and stamping feet like the other mad white-gowners. I couldn’t believe my swollen eyes!
‘God saved you,’ his mum said to him.
Why hadn’t He saved me too?! After Mum had wasted her hands on my face and head she passed me on to the woli—he licked his lips with relish, got a broom and led me to a room, where he spent the rest of the night cleaning me out, ‘sweeping’ out the “evil spirits”, until I pretended to have fainted. He went and told Mum I had “gone into the spirit”—Mum was satisfied.
I should have just accepted Glory’s Jesus. I had almost lost my life that night; and my virginity was still intact. . . for a long time. Dare gave his own to one of the white-gowner girls a few days later. I couldn’t believe it!—what we had gone out to get (and had almost got killed!) could actually be had right there inside the bloody mad church.
I think whom you lose it to that first time determines the kind of people you’ll give it to the rest of your life. After that church incident, Dare kept it within the general religious circle—he had a high level of ‘religious tolerance’ ; he didn’t discriminate—from the door-to-door Sunday afternoon Jehovah’s Witnesstresses, to the black-hijabbed muslim girls, to the maxi-skirted, tightly-scarfed, earringless fire-eating and –spitting prayer warrioresses and the luscious-legged neo-pentecostals. . .
And thus, Dare, throughout his teenage and early adult years, made a most unholy act seem almost sanctified! While I lived most of mine as a celibate Father, under the unmoving eye of a Mother Superior, Mum.
Well, that’s how close we came to losing it that night: just a sniff. . .