Nothing chicken about this pox

I had the misfortune, early last month, of contracting chickenpox. According to history books, the origins of chickenpox date as far back as the 14th century. It is unclear where the disease got its name from. One theory is that it is called chickenpox due to its relatively mild nature, when compared to smallpox, a now eradicated disease with similar symptoms but a much higher mortality rate. That theory is bullshit. There is nothing chicken about chickenpox, at least not when contracted in adulthood. Now that we’ve established that fact, let me tell you a few conclusions I’ve reached after my experience with this truly awful disease.

First, let’s get this clear: the chickenpox people contract in childhood is not the same as the chickenpox others get as adults. Medical books would tell you that chickenpox is more severe in adults than in children, but I’m not talking about severity here. The chickenpox people told me they had when they were 6 or 7 and laughed about and said was over in about a week or less after rubbing calamine lotion cannot be the same disease I was afflicted with last month. Virologists may not know this yet, but there are 2 variants of the virus – the type that likes to pester kids and is little more than a nuisance, and its vengeful, malicious sister that only goes after the few of us that were lucky (actually, unlucky) to have escaped the former in childhood. For the purposes of this write-up, we would give to the variant of chickenpox that people contract in adulthood the fancy name “chickenpox AD”.

Chickenpox AD was invented by the CIA. No, I didn’t spend all my time in quarantine gorging on conspiracy theories, and I haven’t lost my mind either. But I am 100% certain about this: Chickenpox AD was deliberately created by a covert programme established by the CIA. I arrived at this conclusion, not through research, but intuition and very simple logic. First, chickenpox AD is not a creation of nature. Why? Because nature does not have the capacity to create a disease so evil, so virulent, so … ugh. Words fail me. Man on the other hand? We all know fully well man’s infinite capacity for evil. It’s a smoking gun really: if nature didn’t do this, then man must have. If it was man, of course we know who was behind it. Like we know who’s behind HIV, the Middle East crisis, Ebola, Africa’s underdevelopment and half of the problems of the world. The Americans of course!

After contracting chickenpox, you realize, in a very profound sort of way, that you are (or used to be) very good looking; you just didn’t know it then. By the time the outbreak of blisters on your face is full blown and you look into the mirror and Gollum stares right back at you, you would realize – in that brief, illuminating moment – how beautiful you once were. My recommendation for anyone that is insecure with their appearance: a healthy dose of chickenpox AD with concentration on the face. You would be grateful to have your face (or a semblance of it) back when the blisters have scabbed over. By the time my black spots have completely faded – I hear this can take as much as a year (chai!) – I’m sure I will think I look like David Beckham.

One of the most remarkable ironies of chickenpox is that it is when you have it that some people will insist on visiting you. Now, that anyone would want to visit someone with a highly contagious disease that requires being in quarantine makes little sense, right? Well, so does the way of the world. I am not talking about the kind visits of genuinely concerned close family and friends. God bless them. No, I am talking about that guy that has been asking you out for several months but you’ve kept turning down. He would want to come around, offer his sympathy from the safety of a few metres away, while thinking to himself: so this babe can look ugly like this? Thank God she never gree sef. Who knows what her face will be like after this. Or that busybody neighbor that is a nurse, who takes the saying “seeing is believing” a little too literally, and would insist, in spite of your assurances that you have chickenpox, on visiting you to confirm it with her own eyes.

Apparently, everybody and their dog has had chickenpox at some point in their lives. The standard response from folks to my disclosure that I had chickenpox was that they too, their spouse, sister-in-law and third cousin had had it too. Although most people appear to have had it in childhood, several people contracted it in adulthood like me, and were willing witnesses to how awful the disease is when contracted in adult life. I don’t know whether those stories made me happy or sad. They may have been meant to provide some “you are not alone in this” consolation, but at that time I would have given anything to have roles reversed and be the one consoling the other person. Anyway, now that I’ve had mine – and survived it – I wear my survivor badge proudly around my neck and look forward to the day I have a first opportunity to comfort someone with my “oh dear, so sorry about that; I also had chickenpox in er .. yeah it was June of 2015”.

I emerged from my experience with chickenpox generally a more grateful person. The denial, during the period that you are infectious, of little liberties we often take for granted – a hug from your spouse, carrying your child in your arms, taking an evening walk in your neighbourhood – generally leave you a little more appreciative. I’ve told some folks that in order to ensure that Damisi – my 19 month old son – didn’t get infected, my wife locked me up in a dungeon in the basement of the house and passed food to me under the door. That, of course, is a joke – but that was how my 10 or so days of isolation sometimes felt. I am still haunted by the bewilderment in Damisi’s eyes that evening he innocently ran towards me – expecting me to sweep him up in my arms and I had to literally flee from him. It almost took having to get a certificate of discharge from a government hospital for my wife to readmit me into our bedroom. I cannot remember any other time sleeping on my own bed had felt so good.

The word “affliction” has several definitions in most dictionaries. One of its definitions in the Free Dictionary is “a condition of pain, suffering, or distress”. I don’t know why the writers of dictionaries bother with so many words. If I ever get to write a dictionary, here’s how I would define the word “affliction”:

Affliction

noun \ə-ˈflik-shən\ Chickenpox AD.

 

Little man, big drama

I’ve wanted to write about babies and the delightful quirks associated with them for some time. It is fitting in a sense that this post coincides with the end of a week in which my wife – for the first time since Oluwadamisi, our son, was born – has been away from him for an extended period of time. In the two nights that she’s been back, boy, have we seen some drama! Here’s some insight – from the perspective of a 10-month-old father – into the complicated, mind-boggling world of babies.

Toys

Look at this poor fella...
Look at this poor fella…

Let me give parents-to-be some free, useful advice: don’t waste your hard earned money on those things they call toys. As far as babies are concerned, they are an utter waste of money. Invest instead in durable and inexpensive mobile phones, remote controls and laptops, for these are the things babies find most attractive. They ignore the splash of red and green easily within their reach and instead gun for the TV remote control – in all its majestic blackness – that you had tucked away where you thought they wouldn’t notice it. It is as though they can tell that all those brightly coloured toys are cheap and worthless. Having a baby is expensive enough, save some money on toys until they are toddlers.

Sleep

Don’t be deceived by those cute pictures of babies in blissful slumber; it is often hard work to get them to sleep. Generally, with adults, the more tired one is, the easier it is to fall asleep. Not so with babies. The more exhausted they are, the crankier they are. The crankier they are, the harder it is for them to fall asleep. Twisted baby logic. There’s a lot of drama with babies, but the drama that comes with sleep trumps them all. They want to be rocked and nursed to sleep, and they don’t care if it’s 3 in the morning. On other days, they wake up at 4 am, wanting to play.

IMG_1362
Don’t I just love when he is like this

Picture this: after two uninterrupted hours of turning the living room upside down, it looks like Damisi has finally worn himself out. I pick him up, sling him over my shoulders and begin pacing about the room. Ten minutes later, I spy his shut eyes in the mirror. Just to be sure, I pace about for a few more minutes. I go up to the bedroom and place him, gingerly, on the bed. He is now fast asleep. I shut the bedroom door gently behind me and go back downstairs, already relishing the prospect of an hour or two of serenity whilst he is asleep. Five minutes later, I return to the bedroom to get my internet dongle and there he is seated upright on the bed, wide-eyed. My wife calls them “power naps” – short, intense 5 – 10 minutes of sleep that leave him reinvigorated, fully charged for another couple of hours of wearing himself and everyone else out. If ever there was a misnomer, “slept like a baby” is one.

Living on the edge

It is true that the intrinsic nature of man is to be disobedient and it is that which is forbidden that we are most drawn to. Damisi has convinced me that much. I’ve already talked about how babies are drawn more to remote controls than to their toys, but their proclivity for danger and the forbidden goes beyond this. Enjoy those first few months when you can leave your baby somewhere and return to find her in exactly the same spot. As soon as they can crawl, babies are all about living dangerously. I find it perverse that it is the things that pose the greatest risk to them that they are most bent on playing with – wires and electric sockets are easy examples. They never stay in the middle of mum and dad’s king-sized bed to play; rather you are most likely to find them precariously at the edge of the bed, one turn away from falling over and landing on the floor with a thud. The edge of the staircase; the top of the center table; the base of the standing fan: these are the little ones’ favourite places to play.

Crying

They say babies only cry when they are hungry, tired, frightened, upset or in discomfort. That is not entirely correct. They also cry for no reason at all; or if we must attribute a reason, because they are babies and crying is what babies do. It is this last category of crying that tests my patience the most. The others I perfectly understand and can accommodate. On those occasions when I am convinced Damisi is crying for no reason at all, I sometimes wish we could leave him to cry, just so as to find out how long he can keep it going. Luckily for him, his mum would never give me a chance to see this evil experiment through. Come to think of it, why didn’t I try this out whilst she was away?

… & some more drama

As a general rule, babies are most comfortable, when adults are in the most discomfort. How else does one explain the fact that they find it easiest to fall asleep, when someone is carrying them whilst standing or walking about? In some cases, the instant you attempt to sit to rest your aching back, they begin to fuss. You return to an upright position, and they go back to being quiet. You can almost hear them say: I’m not asleep yet; how dare you sit.

They also seem to have a knack for disrupting intimacy. I’m sure a lot of couples can relate to this. If they are not waking up whilst you guys are just about to get it on, they make sure they successfully wear you out beforehand. Why does it have to be the night you put a bottle of wine in the fridge and are looking forward to having the missus to yourself that your little one decides not to go to sleep without creating a fuss? Almost as if they have an inkling that what you guys are up to could result in another baby that would take their place in the pecking order, and are not prepared to take any chances.

Oluwadamisi
Oluwadamisi

It has to be one of life’s great mysteries how one so little has turned our lives completely upside down. But I wouldn’t trade any of it for anything else on earth. To my little man: here’s to loads of more drama.

Photo credits:

1. “Look at this poor fella” – Olutola Bella

2. “Don’t I just love when he is like this” – Olutola Bella

3. “Oluwadamisi” – Olatoun Okunnu

Ehen, who kom carry last na?

The parable of the workers in the vineyard is one of the stories in the Bible that baffles me most. For the sake of those who don’t know the story, here’s a quick narration: a landowner goes out at the break of dawn and hires some workers for his vineyard. They agree a daily wage of a penny. He sends them off to the vineyard to begin work. A few hours later, he runs into another group of people standing idly in the market. He hires them and sends them off to the vineyard to join the first set of workers. This sequence of events is repeated over the course of the day, with the last group of workers hired late in the evening. Nothing remarkable, I agree, but only until the day is over and it is time for the workers to be paid their wages. For some reason, he decides to pay the workers in inverse order of the time of their hire. He pays the set of workers he hired last a penny. Those he hired first also receive a penny. Predictably, they are upset, and not unreasonably so. Surely, it was unfair that those that had worked longest should receive exactly the same wages as those who had worked for less, right?

***

Life too, as many of us have now found out, is often not fair. We like to imagine that people always get their just deserts. That the smartest guys end up at the top; hardworking people achieve success in the end; and the wicked will eventually get their comeuppance. It doesn’t always work out like that. If there’s one thing life seldom gives, it’s what we think we or others deserve.

***

Remember Bayo that was in our class?

Bayo…? That had two extra semesters?

Yeah, that’s him. I ran into him at the bank. He’s done very well for himself o. He’s into real estate development.

Really?

Yeah. I saw him off to his car. The guy drives a 2013 G550 mehn.

G what! You’re joking. The same Bayo?

Many of us still react with an emotion that ranges from mild surprise to utter disbelief when we are confronted, in later years, with the success of people from our past. They might be a former classmate at secondary school; a fellow analyst at the firm where we got our first job; or a girl that lived on the same street as we did twelve years ago. Whoever they are, there’s that common denominator – we knew these people when they were nobodies, and not just that, at the time we knew them, there wasn’t the slightest indication they would turn out any good.

Remember that efiko† in your university days; the one who won all the prizes at the Convocation and was the darling of all the lecturers? Where do you think she is now? In a top job at a big multinational earning twice the pay of her contemporaries and higher up the ladder than co-workers twice her age, right? Wrong. Majority of the career high-flyers I have come across in my professional life were not top-of-the-class students. Wait a minute, don’t get too excited, they were not stupid either.

Well, here we are, all these years later, comparing notes, unpleasantly surprised by how well those we had written off as ne’er-do-wells have fared.

***

Rotimi was that guy every girl wanted to be with and every guy wanted to be like. He was a good looking bloke – dark and tall, with an athletic build and boyish looks. His parents were well to do. He lived in a BQ in the Staff Quarters, drove a very clean Corolla and was always impeccably dressed. He had swag – not the in-your-face type that some of us find obnoxious – but a charming, likeable kind. As you’d expect, Rotimi had the pick of the best chicks during his undergraduate days at Ife. When I found out that he had been with Solape – a sweet, pretty 100 level law chick I was weighing a move on – I was very upset at how life and circumstances made it so easy for some guys to have all the chicks whilst the rest of mankind roasted.

Fast forward to present day. Wole – a friend from Ife – is getting married and I’m at The Haven, the venue of the wedding. I am threading my way down a narrow aisle – distracted by a girl in a red dress across the hall – when I bump shoulders against someone coming from the opposite direction. I look up to apologize and recognize the face. It is Rotimi, as devilishly handsome as ever.

Wassup. How you dey? I say. My tone is measured. I haven’t completely forgiven him over Solape.

Hey! How’re you doing man? he replies, clasping my hand enthusiastically. Long time.

Yeah I reply, noticing only then that there’s a woman standing behind him.

He draws her closer. This is my wife.

I burst out laughing. Okay, seriously, I don’t laugh, but I don’t know how I am able to keep myself from laughing.

Your wife I say aloud, stretching out my hand. What! How? Why? But I don’t say these aloud. Hi, I’m Tola.

My name is Fisayo, pleased to meet you she replies. Her voice is laced with a distinct Yoruba accent.

She is all smiles as she shakes my outstretched hand. But the smiles do not help the situation. I know that not everyone is pretty and I do not – okay let’s change that to try not to – judge people or discriminate against them on the basis of their looks. But I think everyone should look a little nicer when they smile and no one should turn up at a wedding slovenly dressed. I cannot believe my eyes.

Later on, I am seated at a table with friends, exchanging banter. But my mind is elsewhere. I am thinking of what on earth could have made Rotimi – the bad ass, smooth talking ladies man from back in the day – end up with a wife like that. Did she get pregnant? No, it couldn’t be: what would he have been doing with her in the first place. I am generally not superstitious, but I can’t help wondering if she had laced his food with a love potion, the way they do in movies on AfricaMagic Yoruba. I shake my head in disbelief. What was the point of dating all those gorgeous girls at Ife if this was going to be his last bus stop? I can make no sense of it.

Surely, I’m not the only one here that has a story like this to share. I know you must have run into an old flame at some social event, hand in hand with her beau, and come away from that encounter immensely pleased that she didn’t, if appearances are anything to go by, get an upgrade after dumping you.

There was a spring in my step as I left The Haven later that evening. It had nothing to do with the Moet I’d had at the wedding, even though I’d had quite a bit. It wasn’t the pleasure of catching up with old friends and former classmates. This is why I was thrilled: I may not have had an illustrious record in the dating game, but if there was a Girlfriends and Wives Contest that day, I could decide to show up without my babe and still finish ahead of Rotimi.

***

Would you have imagined, back then, that that your roommate at Idia Hall who was notorious for being an aristo‡ would be happily married today, with a devoted husband and two adorable kids?

She didn’t contract HIV?

Nope.

Her womb wasn’t damaged by all the serial abortions they said she’d had?

Nope.

Her husband doesn’t know or care about her sordid past?

Sorry, darling, no again.

It’s not fair!!!

Say hello to life.

***

I am no Bible Scholar, but I’ve been told that the meaning of the parable of the workers in the vineyard is this: the decision of the landowner – who represents God – to pay all the workers the same wage was an act of mercy – to the workers that were hired later – and not injustice – to those that were hired first. In other words, it is up to God who He decides to show mercy.

Perhaps there’s logic to the events in the other stories after all. Bayo may have struggled to remember what he had just read the instant he flipped the page, but what does that have to do with an eye for opportunities and good judgment, which are integral to succeeding in business? Here’s what I tell every young, bright-eyed student that asks for my advice: read your books, but don’t imagine for one second that good grades would give you anything in life more than bragging rights amongst your peers and a shot at a decent first job. It was possible that Rotimi had finally realized that meaningful relationships didn’t have to be hinged on physical attractiveness. Perhaps Fisayo had some extraordinary virtue I knew nothing about that compensated for the sloppiness. Plausible, hmm? To be honest, not that I care. The next time I see Tony at a client meeting dressed in an oversized suit – the same Tony that made some of us not want to come to school on Out of School Uniform Day because his older siblings that lived in Yankee sent him box loads of baffs♠ – I will still smile smugly, adjust the lapel of my tailored jacket and say to myself ehen, who kom carry last na?♦

I am on twitter @bellanchi

Efiko – Slang meaning “nerd”.

Aristo –  Slang for a young girl or woman (usually a student) who regularly has sex with older married men for money. Could also be used to refer to such men.

Baffs – Slang meaning “nice clothes”.

Ehen, who kom carry last na? – Roughly translated, spoken cheekily: “so who finished last after all?”

My Daddy’s Mercedes is bigger than your own

Growing up as child, one of my most triumphant moments was mounting the shiny blue BMX bicycle I got for my tenth birthday and riding it in the neighbourhood for the first time. Few things can match that feeling of being the subject of attention of an entire street. Without looking, I could see the children huddled in the doorways of the Face-Me-I-Face-Yous; staring at me as I rode along. I could feel their eyes on me; their admiration and envy crawling on my skin. If you grew up in a neighbourhood where chasing after disused car tires was the kids’ favourite pastime, you’d get what I am talking about. Today, we examine that wonderful, near-universal human trait of flaunting ourselves and our possessions to the world.

Most of us have been showing off as far back as when we sprouted our first teeth. The proof is in those wide smiles in our baby pictures; how we so wanted to show off that shiny white enamel in a sea of pink! We moved quickly to flaunting, before our playmates, our toy cars and Barbie dolls. A good part of school was showboating; how we longed for the first day of the term when we got to show everyone else our spanking new tennis shoes and schoolbags. In secondary school, closing hours were primetime TV. It was all about the kind of ride your folks or the driver came to pick you up with. Though we’ve traded, in the intervening years, Super Nintendos for smart phones and Timberland boots for Armani suits, it seems notice me has stayed with us all the way. Many years have passed, but majority of us haven’t outgrown that childish inclination to show off our new toys to drooling playmates.

Where you live should be more important than what car you drive right? Wrong. I know peeps that live in rundown apartments in the slummy outskirts of Lagos but drive Range Rovers. The logic to this is quite simple: whilst we can carefully choose who to invite into our houses, we have less control over who we run into as we go about town. Our penchant for SUVs is not just about protection from potholes and floods, it is about making a statement. We want to be seen in bigger cars – as big as any driven by our peers. You’d think that in these perilous times when kidnappers are on the prowl, no one in his right senses would opt for vanity licence plates. No way! What’s the threat of kidnappers compared to the envious stares a “BELLANCHI 1” would draw as I cruise by.

There are no boundaries to what can be shown off. Young women are quick to flaunt engagement and wedding bands at social gatherings, as eager to announce to their peers “Girls, I’m off the shelf” as they are to dismiss the guys: “Sorry, I’m taken”. Surely, it cannot be love of alma mater that makes that friend of mine wear his Harvard Law hooded sweatshirt almost every other weekend, often in the sweltering heat, or is it? We’ve seen a 50-something-year-old public figure subtly brag about the women he was involved with in the heady days of his youth. Ask guys that went to boarding schools or stayed in hostels on campus; they’d tell you about how their well-hung mates went about bathing in the communal showers with a certain carefree confidence. If that wasn’t showing off, pray, tell me what is.

How parents love to flaunt their kids! We say we want to give them exposure and opportunities we never had, but oftentimes we are merely catering to our own whims. For many new-generation parents, the choice of school for their children is as much a function of the quality of teaching on offer as who else’s kids go there. We say the reason our children have British and American passports is so that they can have choices we didn’t have, but we can’t deny that it’s also become fashionable to have kids whose nationalities and accents are foreign. For the father, seated in the living room with visiting friends, beaming as his seven year old daughter plays Handel’s Messiah on the Steinway, it is more about the adulation of the visitors than appreciation of his child’s talent.

There are few things we love showing off more than where in the world we have been. No vacation is complete without loads of pictures splashed all over Facebook and Instagram. Really, what‘s the point of a trip to Paris if you’re not going to slap in our faces pictures of you beaming, set against a background of the Eiffel Tower or the Arc de triomphe? It would have been okay if the look-at-me-travelling-all-over-the-world stopped at our summer vacations in exotic destinations. Methinks it gets pretty ridiculous when the rest of the world has to know every time your office sends you abroad on training. As if to remind the rest of us that have regular office jobs what boring, uneventful lives we have, peeps whose work involves a lot of travelling are constantly twittering about where in the world they are. Surely, I am not the only one here whose timeline is regularly splattered with those irritating Hello New Yorks or Touchdown Madrids? So you didn’t realize that the Show My Location/Timezone feature on your BlackBerry was enabled, right? Come on guys, who are you fooling? We both know you wanted us notice. Isn’t that why when we ask “you’re in Seoul?”, you are so quick to reply “yeah, for a few days – business trip”, as if you had been waiting, finger hovering over your keypad, for someone to ask?

Social media and technology have made bragging easier than ever. In this piece previously published on Bellanchi, we examined the role of Facebook in modern day showboating. Twitter and Instagram come in just as handy. The most incisive commentary on a tennis game I have ever come across was not on ESPN or any sports news website, but in the tweets and BlackBerry updates of a friend that was in the audience at the All England Club. You don’t get to watch Wimbledon live and not announce it to the world, do you? Savvy users of twitter know how important the retweet is to self-promotion. Take for instance that retweet of some big shot in government new to Twitter courting your followership. You think we can’t tell that you’re just showing off?

These types of bragging are less obtrusive. Strangely, they are the ones I find most irritating. There is something low and shifty in going about showing off in a roundabout way. I prefer that you take a picture of yourself in your 2013 Range Rover Evoque and post it on Facebook under the tag “Cruising in my brand new ride” to a smug, oblique tweet: “This Evoque wasn’t a bad idea after all”. If you’re going to brag, be upfront about it. Boasting is crass business anyway, so what’s the point of trying to make it look tasteful?

It’s been several years since that toy car got broken and the Barbie doll lost her head; some have grown potbellies, others have begun graying. Looking around, this much is certain: there’s still that little boy or girl in you and me.

I am on twitter (showing off) @bellanchi

if you must eat a frog

Meet Jide, a company executive, who works in Lagos. He is in his early thirties and is happily married with two kids. Jide travels to Nairobi on business. He gets to meet Rahel, a tall, beautiful Ethiopian woman at a meeting and strikes a conversation with her during a tea break. They find out that they are both staying at the Crowne Plaza. They meet up for drinks at the hotel bar later that evening. She’s wearing a short dress that shows off her svelte figure and slim legs. The banter progresses into very engaging conversation. Jide thinks there’s something flirty about the way Rahel intermittently brushes, away from her face, her dark, lustrous hair. He orders a second bottle of wine. We can all tell where this ends.

Before we go any further, let’s establish some ground rules: we would leave morality out of this conversation. I took off my moral hat before penning the first word, and I expect that – if you subscribe to any moral values – you’d put them away for just a bit. This is going to be a purely rational enquiry into infidelity.

If you ask me, I’d say I perfectly understand why Jide cheated on his wife. If the circumstances – the person, the place and the time – are right, any man OR WOMAN (deliberately emphasized so that we can immediately discard that silly notion that men have a greater predilection to infidelity) would cheat on their partner.

But whilst I get the randomness and spontaneity of anonymous sex with an attractive stranger, there are some types of infidelity that I struggle to comprehend. One such example is Wedding Eve Infidelity. Stories abound of grooms-to-be that bed anything from their fiancée’s best friend to a stripper on the night of the eve of their weddings. Like a testimonial match, such rendezvous are supposed to be a Player’s farewell to the Game; the final act before the curtains fall – a swan song of some sort. In reality, such guys would probably only last their honeymoons before they cheat again. In my view, there’s something fundamentally wrong – and by “wrong” I do not mean a moral wrong – with a groom-to-be shagging, the night before his marriage, someone other than the woman that he is to marry. I mean, what’s the point of entering into a legally binding monogamous relationship when you have no intention to ever be with one woman? You might as well stay single and free. Why complicate things by getting married? It’s plain stupid.

That’s why I have a certain admiration for players and hustlers in their purest forms; the ones that are self aware enough to accept that they are not cut out for monogamous relationships and do all that they can to avoid them. Joe Player who is upfront enough with the naïve, beautiful girl that has been crushing on him by letting her know he’s only after a good lay, and ravishing Tina Hustler who would screw anything if the buck was right. I love such folks for their honesty. Next to them, many of us cut poor, pathetic figures: the analyst who lies unashamedly – going as far as swearing by his forefathers – that he does not have a girlfriend just so that bedding the Youth Corper recently assigned to his office is less complicated; or the businessman who religiously removes his wedding band the instant he boards a plane on a business trip and stows it away. Really, how low should one have to go in order to get laid?

Another variety of infidelity that bewilders me is that which does not discriminate. It is true that some folks have unusual levels of libido, but even that cannot be explanation for the Company MD that sleeps with everyone from the front desk officer to the service girl at the beer parlour across the road.

There should be loads of women (and men) in the world every man (and woman) should find not even remotely attractive. And their zero sexual appeal should have nothing to do with them being your fellow chorister, a friend’s husband, your girlfriend’s best friend or falling into any of those other categories of the opposite sex that are by social norms ordinarily out of bounds. It should be because they do not – and simply cannot – appeal to you. Finish.

I went for a friend’s bachelor’s party sometime last year – I have since decided it is the last I’d ever attend. Everything was fine until the girls that had been organized for the bash arrived. I have seen a lot of ugliness in the world, but never in such numbers all at once. I made a quick exit. I don’t think the other guys shared my sentiment. For many of them, not taking a girl – any kind of girl – home from that party meant a night wasted.

Indeed, there is evidence that not all men or women possess the capacity of being able to discriminate in their attraction to the opposite sex. I sympathize with the women who are unable to feel completely safe leaving their boyfriends or husbands with any other woman and the guys that are constantly worrying over who their trophy girlfriends might be screwing. It must be quite distressing to a wife when even Comfort – the housemaid who you can tell from the lingering body odour where in the house she’s been – is a potential threat.

Similar to infidelity that doesn’t discriminate is that which involves a downgrade. I’d share with you a friend’s philosophy on adultery: she must be such a babe that if my wife ever runs into her, she (my wife) would be like hmmm, I see. In other words, he or she must be such a hottie that your spouse wouldn’t have to struggle to make sense of why you done it. If you can manage to rein in your self-righteousness for just a second (can I hear indignant protests of cheating is not justified under any circumstances already?) and not burst a vein, you too would see the beauty in this principle, which I’d brand Thou Shalt not Lower the Standard.

As much as we are led by music videos and fashion runways to believe that there is an infinite supply of beautiful women in the world, in reality there are only so many of them. Thus, if (i) your spouse is a dead drop beauty herself and (ii) you are faithful to the commandment Thou Shalt not Lower the Standard, your chances of being unfaithful to her are as limited as your options. And that, my friends, is why you should marry a Halle Berry. Admittedly, there are some things that rank higher than physical attraction in the choice of a spouse, but if your reasons for marrying him are nothing more than that he is caring, or you had to console yourself with “well, she’s the homely type” before you could pop the question, then you’ve signed up for a lifelong struggle against flesh.

So was there any other way Jide’s night could have ended? Certainly. At the end of the day, everything – including whether or not to walk away from the titillating prospect of a one night stand – is a choice, and we are responsible for the choices we make. The easiest way was to never have suggested hanging out in the first place. From there on, it was only going to get more difficult.

Now do I expect this commentary would result in one cheat less in the universe? Of course not. That was never the object of this piece and it is fantasy to imagine that a half-serious take on infidelity would turn a serial cheat into Guy Faithful or make Miss Slut turn from her easy ways.

I only ask one thing: if at all you must eat a frog, pick the juiciest of the lot, okay?

I am on twitter @bellanchi

do you remember the time…

Do you remember when driving slowly around your neighbourhood, with one hand on the steering wheel, your right shoulder hunched up, and music blaring from the car speakers made you feel like a G? Or when, back on campus, the fact that you had the most toasters made you feel superior to your roommates?

Come to think of it, it wasn’t that long ago you and I were complete juveniles. Hindsight is a beautiful thing. Looking back, it’s laughable some of the things we did and what we considered important.

What was I thinking wearing those clothes?

Suomi: Kani Baggy-Jeans

If you cringe every time you see an old picture, do not despair; you are not alone. It still beats me how we thought it was okay to wear those garish shirts that were one or two sizes too big. How were we not able to see we looked like clowns?

In retrospect, the so-called big boys and babes on campus didn’t fare any better. The last time I saw a group picture of some club boys in Ife way back in ‘02, I laughed till my ribs ached. They looked like misfits, dressed in oversized shirts, baggy jeans and the sort of trainers kids in Yankee play basketball with. It provided some consolation: I may have been an average Joe in school, but my dress sense was no worse than that of the guys who ran the town. Yeah, I know it’s too little, too late, but if I knew a tenth of what I currently know about style, who says I won’t have been voted best dressed guy on campus every single session!

How we now consider pathetic what we once thought trendy still puzzles me. It can’t be that we had such poor taste then; more likely that like wine that matures with age, our sense of style has simply been refined over time.

Small dreams & little ambitions

1996-1997 Honda Accord photographed in USA.I chuckle whenever I remember how, back in ‘em school days, a clean Honda ‘Hala’ with slightly tinted windows, glittering alloy wheels, a factory fitted A.C and a solid sound system represented the omo boy’s ultimate dream. For some girls, the biggest trophy was dating a club chief; for others, it was having their own space in the crowded hostels – a “corner” bunk, furnished with a rug and tabletop fridge. Come to think of it, you only needed to reside in a BQ in the university’s staff quarters to be ascribed a certain status, and that’s forgetting that these BQs were designed for domestic servants, or as they are called less fancifully, houseboys/girls.

Looking back, I find it difficult to come to terms with how superficial some of our short to medium term goals and aspirations were. I am ashamed of how much time I invested during holidays dreaming up money making schemes, and wince when I recollect how I agonised over never having enough new baffs to launch at the start of each new semester. Yes, we were young, with few responsibilities, and there was pressure to measure up, but are these any excuses for having such lowly goals? Think of how many guys risked jail terms just for US$500 Western Union payouts, or the number of girls that surrendered their goodies to sugar daddies each weekend in return for a cheque of N20,000. It‘s never possible to justify internet fraud or prostitution, but then couldn’t they at least have done these things for significantly bigger rewards?

Free midnight calls? What the heck!

Permit me to use the concept of free midnight calls to illustrate just how much things have changed. You’d probably be alarmed if you were roused from sleep at 1.30 in the morning by your mobile phone ringing. God help the caller if it’s not an emergency, and God help you too if you’re with your partner and the caller is someone of the opposite sex.

Rewind to your university days (for those that went to school in the 2000s): a call at past midnight was almost 100% certain to be from your girlfriend (taking advantage of the zero tariff between midnight and 5 am to regale you with gist about her latest spat with a jealous roommate) or your boyfriend (who required the help of midnight freebies to meet his obligation to call you a stipulated number of times each day).

Fastforward to present day. If like me, you work long hours, it’s very likely you’d want to commit murder after someone wakes you up at 2 am for any reason less than an absolute emergency. It still amazes me how an idea that seemed like heaven at the time now sounds likes sheer, utter madness. We may not have realized it then, but the only categories of persons that found free midnight calls of any use were students and the unemployed.

Now that we’ve found freedom, what are we gonna do about it?

Psychologists say it’s the forbidden things that have the greatest appeal. Surely, you can’t have forgotten already how living with your parents sometimes felt like imprisonment. We resented being told what to do, not being able to go and come as we pleased. Well, here we are, with all that freedom we so desperately craved for. What are we doing with it? Living wild, reckless, carefree lives? For the vast majority, not at all.

So is it that freedom has suddenly lost its allure? I don’t think so. Maybe it’s that we’ve only now realized, being older and wiser, that with freedom comes responsibility.

So…

Next time you come across a group of skimpily dressed, gum-chewing, teenage girls acting silly at Silverbird Galleria; or run into the next-door-neighbour’s son feeling like Jigga as he cruises around in his dad’s Range Rover; or see a dude wearing sunshades at 10 pm, as you glare at them with disdain, do not forget that not too long ago, you were just like them. They too will grow up; it’s just a matter of time.