These women are every woman: Jasmine, the 30 year old single Pharmacist; Anthonia, the 28 year old unmarried nurse; Moremi, the 31 year old engaged social worker (and occasional tailor); Offiong, the 30 year old wife, mother, and Lawyer; and Ebele, the 31 year old wife, mother, and bank manager.Individually, they’ve got their own issues in their homes, but collectively, they are every woman.
Today, it’s Jasmine’s turn to share.
Finding a man to love me enough to meaningfully say, “Jasmine, will you marry me?” has attested to be a lot tougher than I anticipated; and to think I was voted ‘most likely to get married’ in high school.Who would have thought that all my beauty will not get me a good man?But I am a tough cookie, so I remain determined to jump that broom.Everything is set; all I need now is the groom.
As I put my ear rings on, I wondered how the date I was about to go on would turn out.Even though it was a blind date set up by Ebby, I was still optimistic because I spoke to him on the phone several times, and he sounded pleasant.His name is Mark, and he is thirty-three and Igbo.When I was in my early twenties, I swore off dating any non-Ibibio men, but I have come to realize that the Ibibio men are limited in number, so restricting myself to them alone would severely sever my options.I have decided to be open to almost all men, although I would rather date a Nigerian – and an Ibibio man to be more specific.I was going to meet Mark at Chili’s Restaurant for dinner which would be followed by a movie, but he said it wasn’t nice for me to meet him; he preferred to do it the conventional way and pick me up.He may be Ebby’s coworker, but I refuse to be stupid, so I gave him Nia’s address.
“So you really trust Ebby to hook you up with a descent man?” Nia asked me for the nth time.She always comes up with nicknames for everyone.I’m Jazz instead of Jasmine, Offiong is Offy, Ebele is Effy, Moremi is Mo’, and of course, she’s Nia instead of Anthonia.We all love our nicknames.
“She’s hooked me up before, and they weren’t bad.Besides, I’ve been talking to Mark on the phone and he sounds okay to me.”
“Well, the dates she hooked you up with must have not been that good cause you’re still running your ass around looking for a husband.You Nigerian people are so dramatic.Why do you even need a man?”
Here we go again.Nia and I had had this conversation more times than I care to remember, but she obviously didn’t and still doesn’t get it.She’s half Nigerian and half African-American, so she has the choice of being either at any given time.Evidently, at this point, she has chosen to be African-American, hence her sour words towards Nigerian people – her other people.
“Nia, I’m really tired of having this conversation with you.”I said as I walked into the bathroom to pee for the last time before Mark came.
“And I’m tired of seeing you running around looking for a husband.Besides, you still haven’t answered my question.”
I rolled some tissue from the toilet roll and wiped myself before I stood up and struggled to pull my low-rise jeans back up.I contemplated not answering Nia, but I knew she wouldn’t stop asking.
“What question would that be?”I asked while I washed my hands in the sink and inspected my flawless face in the oval-shaped mirror.I hate Nia’s oval-shaped mirror.Even though I can always see my entire upper body, I always feel like part of me is missing.I always feel like the mirror is cheating me and not showing me all the parts of me that a round or square-shaped mirror like mine would show me.
“Why do you need a man?”She asked, while still inside her bedroom.
“Because I need to get married, Nia.I do not wanna spend the rest of my life alone; even God agrees with me.Why do you think he created Adam and Eve?Besides, I am thirty and I am not getting any younger.My biological clock is ticking.I need to settle down and have a family of my own, and I can’t really do it without going on a few dates first.”
“A lot of people have children without getting married.”She said nonchalantly.
“Good for them, but I need a husband.”
“Why?It’s not like I’m asking you to get a sperm donor, but you can have a baby with a man other than your husband.Like a boyfriend.Like Luke.”She was really trying to persuade me.I don’t know why.
“Well, seeing as I don’t have a boyfriend, I don’t think I have the option of having a baby with a non-existent boyfriend.”I told her while I closely inspected my eye lashes in the mirror.
“What about Luke?”
“Nia, you know he’s not my boyfriend, so quit bringing him up.”
“So what the hell are y’ll doing then?You should have a baby with him; he’s fine anyway, so he’ll give the baby good genes.”
“Unless there is a way to transport sperm over the internet or the phone, I don’t see how Luke can get me pregnant all the way from Iraq.Besides, when people talk of good genes, I think it surpasses mere physical appearance.”
“Whatever.You’re just tryna change the subject.Why don’t you tell me why you really need a husband?”She honestly sounded confused; she just doesn’t understand why I have to be married.
“Nia, let me be, please.”I said as I came back into the bedroom.”Every child needs a father.I don’t wanna be in the statistics for single black mothers.”
“Well, I was raised by my mother, and look how I turned out.And let me remind you that my mother married a so-called good African man, but where did that leave her?Alone and bitter.”She said reassuringly from her bed.
“Yes, I see you, Nia.You’re the reason I know I need a man to do this.”I said jokingly.
We both started laughing.
I added, “And your father did not leave your mother; your mother left him.”
“Yes, but only because he couldn’t keep his ding-a-ling in his pants.”She paused for a moment, as if thinking.Or maybe she was waiting for a reaction from me.When I didn’t say anything, she added, “And don’t tell me that bullshit about American women not being patient enough with marriages.”
“You know it’s the truth, Nia.And besides, just because your parents’ marriage didn’t work out, doesn’t mean I should deliberately have children out of wedlock.”
“All I’m saying is you’re putting too much into this husband-search of a thing; you’re gonna miss out on the real person.You gotta wait for him to come to you.”
“And this is coming from the girl who can’t get a simple vibrator to last long enough with her.”
She laughed and said, “I told you Jimmy suffered a heart attack!”
“I wonder why.”I said sarcastically as I stood in front of the mirror and applied more mascara on my eye lashes.
She just burst out laughing again.Jimmy has always been her vibrator, even though she has had plenty Jimmies.Whenever one gets spoilt, she replaces it and keeps the name.I still don’t know why they never last; what the hell does she do with them?After I applied the mascara, I started inspecting my outfit again and tugging at my shirt.
“My God, Jazz, you’re okay!You’ve been in front of the mirror for hours.You are fine.”
“You sure?”I asked while moving a strand of hair away from my face.
“Yeah,” I answered as I applied some lip gloss on my ever-moist lips.
I decided to believe my friend and wait in the living room.It was five-forty-five, and I was expecting Mark at six P.M.I hoped he would be on time.Africans are notorious for being late for dates.I sat on the couch and wondered what my mother would say if she found out I was open to almost all men.I laughed at the thought.She would definitely have a fit.
While I sat down in solitude, my mind traveled to Iraq, and to Luke.Luke is the Nigerian guy I fell for in my gym.I wondered how Luke was doing.Was he fighting bombs off?Fighting the insurgents off?When I spoke to him a few days ago, he told me Fallujah had become pretty violent.I worried about Luke, and said a silent prayer for him.
After praying for Luke, I was literally following the seconds’ hand on my watch with my eyes when Nia interrupted my thoughts with her phone call.She walked into the kitchen with her cell phone pinned between her right ear and her right shoulder.From the tone of her voice, I didn’t have to wonder who she was talking to; she was talking to Byron – her off and on boyfriend for three years.
“You know what, Byron?Go straight to hell!And take that bitch with you!”She screamed into the phone as she opened the freezer.
I wasn’t surprised by the tone of her voice, or by the words that spat of her mouth, so I just sat there and shamefully listened to her conversation.Anything was better than counting seconds on my watch.
“Yes, I called yo’ momma a bitch; so what?Byron, I’m done with this.I’m done with you, and I sure as hell am done with yo’ momma.Lose my number!”She closed her phone shut and let out what sounded like a sigh of relief.I didn’t want to ask her anything about her talk with Byron, so I just remained on the couch quietly.Minutes later, she walked out of the kitchen with a teacup of ice cream, and came to meet me in the living room.
“Can you believe that fool?”She asked me as she plunged into the loveseat.
Honestly speaking, I wasn’t in the mood to talk about Byron again.I had been listening to Nia talk about Byron for the past three years.I don’t know why they are even still together; it’s obvious their relationship – or lack of it isn’t working out.
“What did he do this time?”
“He wants me to follow him to LA tomorrow.Can you believe him?”
I waited for Nia to tell me the rest of the story; surely, she couldn’t have called his Mother a bitch because he wanted her to follow him to LA.
“And…???” I asked, motioning my hand for more information.
“So why did you call his mom a bitch?”
“Because when I said I wasn’t going, he said his mom said I was no good, and that I would fail him.So I told his ass to go straight to hell and take his mother with him.”
“Well, I understand how you feel, but don’t you think calling her a bitch was a bit too much?”
“Then next time she should watch her mouth.”
I didn’t want to start another fruitless argument with Nia.I have never understood Nia’s love life or Nia’s reasoning, and I never will, so I wasn’t trying to understand it now.As far as I was concerned, Nia would always be an enigma to me.I decided to leave the matter alone, but my curiosity got the best of me.
“Wait a minute; why don’t you wanna go with him to LA?”
“Because I have a date with Jake tomorrow.”
“The white boy?”
“Can’t you move the date?”
“And Byron’s reason for going to LA isn’t that important, right?”
“Not to me.He’s going to court for one of them custody things.You know he’s still battling for full custody of his rug rat.”
“Nia, you should go with him.I’m sure he needs your support.”
“Let him take his momma.Besides, if he wasn’t so busy cheating on me, then he wouldn’t be in this predicament, would he?”
“Is that why you’re not going?”
“Ever been licked by a white man?”Nia quickly changed the subject.
“I heard once you go white, you get licked right.”She said and licked the ice cream off her spoon in what seemed like a slow motion picture.
“So you haven’t been licked right?”I asked.
“I have.But I guess a white boy would be a righter licker.”
“Yes.”She pauses and then says, “I guess maybe a white boy would know how to move his tongue a little better.”She pauses again.”The white people invented French kissing, didn’t they?”
“I don’t know.I guess.”
“Why is it called French?Was it really the French people that invented it?”
“I don’t know, Nia.I haven’t really taken the time out to research French kissing.I just take part in it.”
“I’d like to know how the white boy licks.Does he have a special technique for flicking his tongue that the black man doesn’t have?Or does he simply do a better job at eating it up?”
“Maybe I am.But have you?”
“Have I what?”
“Been licked by a white man.”
“No, I haven’t.”
“That’s nice, Nia, but I really don’t care to know who you’ve been licked by.”
“What time is your date?”
I had almost forgotten I was supposed to be on a date.It was almost six thirty, and my date had still not shown up.
I sprang up from the couch and said, “He was supposed to be here at six.”
“Damn African men. Are you gonna call him?”
“No.Yes.I don’t know.Should I?”
“Yeah; just to make sure he’s okay, at least.”
“You’re right.I’ll call him.”
I got my cell phone out of my purse and dialed Mark’s number.He picked up after four rings.
“Mark, this is Jasmine.Are you okay?”
“Hey, Jasmine!Yes, I’m fine.Sorry I’m running late.I’ll be there in about ten minutes.”
“Oh.Okay.See you then.”
I got off the phone and wondered why Mark didn’t have the simple decency to call and let me know he was running late.Was I just being anal by being strict about time?After all, I am African, and I know how bad most of us are with time.
“So he just didn’t feel the need to call and say he’s on his way?”Nia asked me.
I shrugged my shoulders and said, “I guess so.”
It was another twenty minutes before we heard a knock on the door.By then, I was really pissed, but I promised myself that I will try my best to enjoy the date.Already, I was having a bad feeling about Mark.
When we heard the knock, I rushed into the bathroom to do a final, final check, while Nia went to open the door for my blind date.
I couldn’t hear their conversation, but I heard when Nia called my name out.
I did my best to walk gracefully into the living room without tripping over an invisible phone cord, and thank God I made it.But I was in no way prepared for the shock that awaited me.Mark was a tall man; he looked as if he was at least six feet and four inches, but I could have sworn that he told me he was five feet and seven inches.Maybe he said six feet and seven inches.
He wore a pair of blue jeans and a pair of black shoes that were to die for.I don’t know what they were, but they looked like they were made out of an alligator’s skin.Maybe they were.He had on a white long sleeve shirt with the top three buttons left open to expose his fine skin underneath, and a black blazer on top of the shirt.The man was looking fine!He was looking so fine that I unconsciously forgave him for his ill-mannered behavior.I made a mental note to send Ebby some thank-you flowers.Even if nothing ever came out of my date with Mark, at least I could boast of dating one of God’s best sculptures.
I walked over to Mark grinning from ear to ear, and when I got close to him, he bent over and planted a kiss on my cheek.
“Jasmine, you look great.”He said with so much sincerity in his voice.
“Thanks.”I was still grinning.And positively blushing.You probably couldn’t see the color on my cheeks, but I felt them getting warm.That had to be blushing.
Nia stood behind me and cleared her throat to remind me that she was still there and I had still not introduced her.
“Oh.Uhm, Nia, this is Mark; Mark this is Nia.”
“Hi Mark!”Nia seemed a little too excited.
“Oh, he didn’t tell you?”Mark said with a worried look plastered on his face.
“Who didn’t tell me what?”I asked.
“I’m not Mark.I’m—“
Nia and I both looked at each other in confusion, and with eyes ready to pop out of their sockets.I don’t know what Nia was thinking, but I was thinking shit, there’s a serial rapist in the house.A fine serial rapist.
“What do you mean, you’re not Mark?”Nia asked him.I was still too dazed to ask any question.I just stood there with my eyebrows arched high on my forehead in surprise.People might argue that it was more of shock than it was surprise.
“Well uhm…you see…uhm…a funny thing happened actually.”The stranger said.Everyone knows nothing ever comes out after a sentence that starts with ‘a funny thing happened’, so I braced myself for the worst.Mark was on his way to pick me up when he collided with an invisible mountain, after which he fell off the cliff and into the deep blue ocean where he was eaten alive by wild creatures of the sea.Yeap, that had to be it.That was the only plausible reason for Mark to ditch our date and have the nerve to send someone else out.Shit, one of said sea creatures better be excreting him right about now.
“Really?How come we’re not laughing?Whoever you are, what the hell have you done to Mark?And you better start talking before I start calling the po-pos.”Nia spat back at him.
I almost started laughing, but I couldn’t.
“I haven’t done anything to Mark.He—“
“Then where is he?”I asked.
“—is my friend.I’m sorry, but he said he couldn’t make the date, so he told me to fill in for him.”
I was stunned.Fill in for him???Who does that?Dates are not things where the people involved can be shuffled and replaced and filled in at any time.Was this some sort of sick joke?Yes, it had to be.For all I knew, this man standing in front of us could be Mark.Maybe be was just trying to pull my legs.Ashton Kutcher must have been trying to punk me.
“What da hell?Is this some sort of joke?What’s wrong with you African people?Do you not know how to like you have brains?Are y’ll stupid or just really stupid?”Nia barked.
Okay, I was mad too, but did she have to go there with the African-people-can’t-do-right talk?Fine, I guess she had reasons to.For some reason, I wasn’t even mad enough to take it out on this fine man; I think his fineness was clouding my otherwise sharp judgment, but I had to ask some questions.
“So what’s your name?”
“Ralph.My name is Ralph.”
Before I could say anything else, Nia said, “Ain’t nobody care what your name is, Ralph!Where is Mark?!”
“Honestly speaking, I don’t know.He called me and told me to come here for a date with a pretty woman.He said he couldn’t make it, and that he had told Jasmine all about it.I was reluctant, of course, but he said Jasmine was game, so I figured it couldn’t be that bad.”
“The hell she is!”Nia shot back.
I was lost in a trance, so I wasn’t talking.I was having what psychiatrists would refer to as ‘flight of ideas’.There were so many little and big thoughts running through my mind that I didn’t even know what to say.Every time I started to say something, something else that seemed like a better thing to say would come to my mind.
“I’m sorry.I can leave.I really didn’t mean to cause any trouble.”
“When did Mark’s bitch ass call you?”Nia asked Ralph.
“About an hour ago.Look at it.”He flipped his phone open and we saw that his last incoming call was from Mark.The call came in at 6:10 PM, and it was now 7:06 PM.I couldn’t believe it.That son of a bitch new he wasn’t coming when I called him, and he didn’t even bother to tell me.Why would he play such a prank on me?
“Ralph, may I please make a call on your phone?”I asked politely.
“Go ahead.”He was so sweet; or at least, he seemed like he was so sweet.
I took the phone and dialed Mark’s number.I figured he won’t pick up if I dialed from my own cell phone.
He picked up after one ring.”What happened?”
Before he picked up the phone, my intention was to curse him out and call him all the names in the world I could think of.But on second thoughts, I realized he wasn’t worth it.I had gone out shopping to buy myself a brand new outfit for my brand new date, and I had spent hours in front of the mirror trying to look good for said date.I wasn’t about to let Mark’s foolishness ruin my day, so I hung up the phone.He called right back; I flipped it open, hung up on him, and turned the phone off completely.I’m pretty sure Ralph was wondering if I had gone crazy.I had just met this man, and there I was turning his phone off like it was mine.
“Ralph, did Mark pay you to take me out on this date?”I had to ask because if he was paid, that would be my breaking point.
“No!”He answered as though the thought of it was appalling to him.
“You still wanna go for the date?”I asked him.
“Yes, if you don’t mind.I know you’re upset, but once I saw you, I was glad I took Mark up on his offer.”He sounded honest and innocent, but then again, even the dogs like Mark sound honest and innocent.I wasn’t about to let a stranger sell my dream to me – at a very cheap price too!
“Ugh, Jazz, are you sure you want to go through with this date?”Nia asked me.
“Yeah.Don’t worry about me.I’m already all dressed up; I don’t wanna miss out on the whole day.”
“Ok, but I’m coming outside to copy his plate number.”She said in a serious tone.
“That’s fine by me.”Ralph said.
“Who cares?Just cause you’re fine doesn’t mean things have to be fine by you.Matter of fact, let me see your license.Who knows, halfway through the date, you might confess you’re not Ralph either.”
“Gurl, don’t Nia me.Let me have the license.”She told Ralph in a matter-of-fact way.
Without hesitation, he pulled the license out of his wallet, which was lodged in the back pocket of his jeans.My, what I would have given to be in that back pocket.
Nia took the license and disappeared into her study room.After a few minutes, she emerged with a smile on her face.
“What did you do?”I asked her.
“I made a copy of his license.”
“You did what?”
“You heard me, gurl.And it’s colored too.Now, let’s go outside, so I can get the plate number.”
Ralph just took his license back and smiled as he shook his head from side to side.
“I’m sorry about this, Ralph.”
“It’s okay.I don’t mind at all.I guess you must be really loved.”
“You’re damn right, she is.”Nia said.
I can’t say I was surprised by the way Nia was acting.She was just being herself.Without further ado, I grabbed my purse and my sweater and headed outside for my blind and deaf date.It was a blind date because I had never seen him before, but it had also become a deaf date because I had never spoken to him or even heard about him.Wow.We walked to Ralph’s white BMW where he walked ahead of me and opened the door for me.I stepped into the car as elegantly as I could while Nia stood outside scribbling his plate number down.
“Any other thing?You want my social security number?”Ralph asked Nia.
“Don’t tempt me.”Nia said.”And she better come back without a single hair missing.”
Ralph just smiled.I watched him as he put his long body into his car.I was surprised he could even fit into it.
“You smell so good; what’s that you’re wearing?”He asked before starting his car.
“I could tell you, but I’ll have to kill you.”I teased.
He shook his head from side to side, exposing his set of white pearls.”If I weren’t such a gentleman – and Nia hasn’t gotten my info…mm mm mm.”
I just laughed.I couldn’t wait to go on my date.Thank God mark didn’t show up; Ralph seemed so much more interesting.Without asking where we were going, I let the perfect stranger drive us to wherever his heart desired.
As we drove to perfect-nowhere, my mind thought about Luke.We weren’t dating – at least not yet, but I couldn’t help but feel guilty.The man I had literally fallen in love with was fighting bombs thrown by psychopaths off, and there I was about to go on a perfect date with a perfect stranger.Once again, I said a silent prayer for him.I believed in my heart that Luke will come back alive and complete – no missing pieces.If I had to choose between Luke coming home alive and well, and the two of us becoming an item, I would rather he come back alive.I loved him and cared for him, but it won’t mean anything if he came back in a box.
The End – Watch Out For Chapter 2