A female friend called me last week to say she was having cold feet in regards to her impending marriage. By all account, and from what I know of her and her fiancé, theirs is a relationship “made in heaven.” They met in college when they were both in their first-year of law school; but prior to that he was a high school teacher in Sugar Land, near Houston, while she was a professor of economics at a nearby community college. After several years of drifting, he decided to return to school to specialize in oil and gas law. She found her calling in life and became a corporate lawyer with a Fortune 500 company.
Thy have similar backgrounds: he is part Hausa and part Igbo; she is part Yoruba and part Igbo. He was educated at the University of Ibadan and at the University of London. She graduated from the University of Benin and then went on to the University of Chicago. Both arrived in the United States seven weeks apart, became US citizens and went into the U.S Peace Corps. Furthermore, both came from polygamous homes and have fathers who were actively involved in party politics. She was a Christian who later became an agnostic. He was a Muslim who became an atheist. Their irreligiousity was the topic of attraction when they met by chance some summers ago at the beach in Galveston Island.
After all these years, he gave her cause for concern. Her complain was that he seem to have developed wandering eyes. She suspects he might have cheated, or is cheating. And lately, he has “gone African”: expecting her to cook and clean and wait on him. He also expected her to attend to guests — especially his male friends — to fetch the food and drinks and clean up afterwards. It is her duty, he says; and that he would be much happier only if she could or would take cues from “real African women” back home.
To her chagrin and consternation, he called her parents to complain about the negative influence of Oprah and American culture on their daughter. And they — especially the father — have been calling and writing and accusing her of waywardness. He believes she didn’t turn out right because her mother failed to raise her to be a “proper and dignified African woman.” What’s her mother to do? She is grown and independent and need not take orders from both parents. Or is she? In moments like these — when there is a clash between tradition and modernity — what’s one to do?
My friend is mightily scared because she is afraid she would lose her voice and her identity and her essence if she were to go along; and at the same time, she is afraid she will lose him and lose everything she has worked for these past years. What would her friends and family say? Especially her mother? She is 35 years old and has invested time and emotion in the relationship. What is she to do? Be an obedient wife? And to think that after all these years abroad he hasn’t evolved, he hasn’t assimilated? That in spite of his education, he hasn’t freed himself from the shackles of agrarian culture? If she agrees to his demands now, what other demands would he make in the future? She wondered. And she is scared. Her life seems to be coming off at the seams. She was no longer sure of anything and of anybody. In shock and in exasperation, she called. It was almost 3am.
Now, what was I to say? What counsel was I suppose to give? Love is a very delicate matter, a matter I do not fully understand and am not about to encourage anyone to disregard it and move on. Personally though, the idea of romantic love scares me. I have always thought it trite and overrated and undeserving of my attention. It was invented for fools, and only fools I am told, fall in love. Moreover, I was not about to referee two lovers’ spat because there is a boomerang effect associated with getting involved in lovers quarrels.
Lonzen is a dear friend. I have always thought he was a nice fellow. Evelyn is also a dear friend. But more than that, she is like a loving kid-sister. I like her. A lot! I like her as a friend and as a human being. As a rule, discussions about their sex life and their financial challenges were off the table and she was not to badmouth Lonzen to me. Other matters were fair game.
This is a fascinating couple. Evelyn is a cross between Gabrielle Union and Halle Berry — only taller and more elegant and more of everything. I swear! Lonzen is debonair and could easily win the Jeopardy quiz contest.
That he cheats or has cheated didn’t exactly surprise me. Oh no, not at all! Most men I know have cheated. And sooner or later the vast majority of the men between the ages of 19-60 will cheat if the opportunity presented itself — more so if they are sure or assured their wives or lovers will never get wind of their escapade. For men, infidelity is almost an entitlement. Women, they believe are meant to be had, to be taken, to be sexually conquered. Sex is very important to men. Not romance. Forget romance; forget foreplay; forget the music and the candles and flowers and the dim-lighted room. Forget all that. Romance is women’s invention: a ploy to tame the selfishness in men, to tame the beast, to have the music play longer.
Most men just want it here and now. After a long day at work, most men want to wind down by being laid. After a nasty quarrel, most men want to have sex. After a particularly bad day on the job, most men want their wives or lovers to calm them down by way of sex. A man wants sex before going to the war. He wants it so bad after battle that he can’t wait to get home and be with his partner. The first thing most men wants after their tenure in jail is to be laid. Push the right buttons and most men will tell their innermost secrets during sex. Promise a man blowjob and he will promise you his soul. Most men, at least.
But to look and sound sophisticated most men go into denial and will swear in the name of the Lord and tell you how romantic, sensitive and considerate they are. Bull! A big fat bull! A man just wants to be laid. When he is all spent, he may not even remember your face or name, or remember what the fight was all about. He is probably thinking of the next game, the next conquest, the next face. Women should know this about most men.
Knowing your man will cheat — and he will whether it is today or tomorrow or the day after — why not pack condoms with his trousers when he is traveling? Why not stuff condoms in his briefcase when he is about to leave for the office? Why not slip some in his wallet when he tells you he is meeting with some friends down the road. He is what he is so just deal with it. Deal with it. A man is a man is a man and most men live mostly for sex. He may be a poet or a lawyer or an engineer or teache
r or an artist of some sort, still, he thinks about being laid more than half of his waking moments.
If a man wants you to cook and clean, well, that may be okay if in turn he is willing to do the carpets, the laundry and the garden and the trash. But what if he refuses? What if he wants you to do all the cooking and the cleaning and be his doormat? Then, we have a problem. We have a huge problem. This is one of nine problems I don’t have solution to and I am not sure there are manuals on how to deal with such scenarios. For sure, in most African homes, this won’t be considered a crisis, but in America, you have a grenade on your hand. How do African couples living in America relate to things like this? How do they cope with marital conflicts in this globalizing society? Gee, I don’t know. Do you?
Why did Lonzen wait all these while to tell Evelyn he wanted an “African wife”? Why did he act “modernized and westernized” for three or so years taking turn taking out the trash, cooking and cleaning? He’s been known to be at her service. I have seen him do her nail, do the laundry and iron her clothes, cook and clean up after himself. I have seen him do it all. And now with less than 3-monthst to the marriage, he suddenly remembers he is an African — an African who wants an “African wife.” Is this shameful or what? What happened? What took place in his mind?
At 35, Evelyn is acutely aware of her biological clock. She is aware of what her friends and family will say. She is afraid of what “society” will think of her. To start all over again? And with whom? As it is, educated and marriageable men are not easy to come by. Going to Nigeria or the UK to find a man is out of the question for her. What is she to do? What is she to do?! Stay in the relationship with the hope that he will see the light? If she gives in now, what’s he going to insist on next? Sex on demand? Sex on ice?
Or is this just a ploy to get her out of his life so he can import an obedient wife from Nigeria? I wonder! Life, as we all know is full of surprises. I saw her last night — needing advice — but she was all tears. He was out and about with his male friends…