Eye Candy

by Sola Osofisan

Hey Doug, how far?

How far?

How far now?

With what?

I said how are you doing?

No, you did not. You said “how far?” How far with what? How far to where? When you say how far, it suggests distance and accessing that distance. What are you talking about Sa-la? Helloooo?

First lesson in Nigeria-speak, Doug. We don’t necessarily use the English language the way you do. When a Nigerian asks you “how far?”, he’s not interested in the number of miles between New York City and Baltimore, no. He asks like the British say “how do’ do?” without really expecting anything other than “how do’ do?” right back.

So, how far begets how far?

That’s a good way to look at it. It basically means “how are you doing?” It is an expression.

Well, since we’re talking about cultures, you shouldn’t forget the fact that those two words combined – how and far, accentuated by the question mark – mean something else elsewhere. There is a popular saying… when you’re in Rome do speak as the Romans!

Ah, but speaking as the Romans makes it impossible for the Romans to encounter the world and embrace other cultures. All they will be seeing will be clones of themselves. This education you’re receiving from me wouldn’t have been possible if I’d just acted the Roman and said hello!

You call this an education? This is no education, Sa-la. I assure you, it is a mis-education! A total misuse of words! Why would anyone say “how far?” when they mean “how are you?”

Do we have to go through this, Doug? Americans do more damage to the English language than any other people I know –

That’s a baseless generalization. It has no foundation whatsoever.

Alright. What’s that you’re wearing?

What do you mean?

Just tell me what you’re wearing.

The company’s medical insurance covers eyesight problems –

Is it so difficult to just open your mouth and tell me what you’re wearing, if only to humor me?

Okay, sweats and pants –

Aha, to some of us, what you just called pants are trousers. Pants are those tiny things you wear under trousers to keep the river Jordan from overflowing its bank. We wear our pants inside. Not on the outside like your Superman!

I wonder how I get into these conversations with you.

You need to be paying me for all the education I have given you.

Education? You use that word again? Doesn’t matter. My vacation starts soon. I will get away from you for a few days.

I just returned from vacation too.

Oh, where did you go?


Any pictures?


You didn’t take any pictures?

That’s what I just said.

Oh, you took a video camera?

No. I didn’t.

And you didn’t take any pict…How can you go on a vacation without taking pictures?

Because I went home.

Home? What do you call America?

It isn’t something I can explain easily. This is home too, but it is home because I live here now. Just like renting an apartment. Home, really, is where I come from and I don’t need to take the picture of home. I know what it looks like. How can I forget? It is permanently imprinted in my mind.

Well, the whole point of a vacation – American style – is to get away from home. Away, Sa-la, out and away from all that you already know and are familiar with. Awayyyyyyy! Why do you Africans go back “home” and then call it a vacation?

We go back to see family, my friend. Again, it isn’t something that can be explained to you unless you have had cause to live elsewhere and long for another place.

You couldn’t even take a picture of the street or buildings so we can at least know what this Africa you speak of so highly looks like?

I went home to see family and friends – people, not buildings. And I do have photographs of my people, but you don’t know anyone of them, so why bother showing you? Have you ever seen the look on people’s faces when they have to look at a whole photo album of unknown people doing unknown things? You don’t want me to subject you to that, do you? You should be thanking me, man!

Why do you always do your things the odd way, Sa-la?

Why do you always consider what you cannot understand an oddity?

Okay, let me tell you…Here’s the picture of the Eiffel Tower from my vacation to France last year. This is the Notre Dame. The previous year, I went to England and this is Buckingham Palace…the London Bridge, the Tower of London… And this is my personal favorite. La Torre di Pisa itself! The Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy… Look at the photographs I’m trying to show you –

Why? Have they changed any from what we see in all the travel catalogs and all over the Internet?

Excuse me?

I mean the Pisa Tower, is it leaning any further than it used to? Did the Queen have Buckingham Palace remodeled or repainted?

Why would you contemplate such a thing? How can you even think of tampering with a masterpiece?

What I mean is this: If those monuments haven’t changed any from what I see all over the Internet and in documentaries, then I have no use for paying such prohibitive fares just to see them. I don’t see Nigeria on your television or in any of your documentaries. The only Africa I see feature lions and giraffes, animals I don’t see walking the streets of my own neighborhood in Nigeria. Don’t you think it makes sense for me to spend my hard-earned money on the things that matter – like family and friends and home – than on towers that are nothing but eye candy?

Eye candy? You’re a killjoy Sa-la.

Not a realist?

What has reality got to do with a vacation? That’s why it is called a va-ca-tion! By vacating a place and period for another, you escape from your reality, substituting it temporarily for another. You don’t escape by taking a dive back into the familiar and well known – and that is what home is: a known commodity. Go elsewhere so that when you get back to resume work, you would be rested and ready to roll for another year.

Good point. Very good point, I concede. But my reality is different from yours-

How so? You live in America like I do. You have bills to pay like I do. You have to work like everybody else… What makes your reality so unique that you have to turn an escape from all that’s familiar into the embrace of all that’s familiar?

I have a different cultural orientation –

That’s the same old BS – if you pardon my language – you pull out of a hat every time we disagree over things. You make it sound like Americans don’t have any culture whatsoever.

Oh, but you do. It just isn’t anything like mine.

Well, you should be trying to understand ours.

I am trying. That’s one of the benefits of living in your country. You, on the other hand, can’t even try because you never go to Nigeria for your vacations –

Is that what this is all about? Americans don’t go to Africa? If you guys made Africa safe like the European countries, wouldn’t we go there to see the animals –

You assume the only things to be seen in Africa are the animals.

That’s what you think I assume, and you are incorrect. Totally misguided. People like you give the tourism business a bad name.

People like me improve the economy of my country by taking dollars back home.

Ah, I give up. It is hopeless arguing with you.

Arguing? I thought we were having a conversation! Let’s go get something to eat man. It’s lunch already. This isn’t getting us anywhere.

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Anonymous July 26, 2005 - 4:09 am

i think it makes an interesting reading.And to some extent reflects the African/Nigerian perspective of Vacation.

Anonymous April 22, 2005 - 12:52 pm

It was Stupid


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