It had been a long week.
My Friday plans: work, an afternoon case review and a private cash-in-hand gig I had taken to make some extra money.
I woke up feeling exhausted and distressed.
Most people looked forward to their weekend; mine was going to be filled with paperwork and long hours.
I stood in the mirror and stared at the redness of my eyes.
They were so hollow.
I felt dulled by the morning fog.
I got dressed, had coffee and toast and ran to meet my colleagues for the taxi.
It was 7am and an hour-long drive awaited me to a remote country town for an assignment.
I maintained my composure during the bumpy ride and exchanged banter with my colleagues.
Entering the briefing room, we all sat with solemn expressions.
Back arched, notes out, I was mentally fit for the session.
Physically however, I felt uncomfortable.
For some reason, things in the chest area felt loose and bouncier than usual.
Gravity’s effect felt heavy and my back felt like it was supporting a heavier weight.
I looked down in confused shock.
The breasts looked softer and the curves were much more noticeable.
I excused myself, ran to the bathroom and checked.
In complete disbelief, I touched my breasts, touched my shoulders and finally looked down my blouse.
“Oh sh–, I FORGOT TO PUT ON A BRA!”
Who in the history of women-dom has ever forgotten to put on a bra?
I’m aware of when the bra stays off: at home, in the shower, in bed etc.
In a meeting? Throughout a bumpy hour-long drive? How did I not feel the tug of gravity on my chest when the cab driver swerved to avoid that dead rabbit?!
What on earth happened whilst I was getting ready?
I replayed this morning’s scene in my head: I wasn’t in a rush, I was calm but tired, yet somehow, my brain made my hands skip adhering my friggin’ bra to my chest.
My mind panicked and worried: Early-onset dementia? Would I have to start tying strings around my finger to remind myself to put on my bra? Or set a calendar reminder every day for the rest of my life to strap support to my chest?
Now I stared at myself in the mirror.
Not only were they swinging lower than usual, but the cold office air had brought on its effect and made another pair of small hills underneath my purple blouse.
I tried patting them down with no luck.
Walking into the bathroom was Carla, who I shared my problem with, hoping for empathy, but mostly for her thick, woolly sweater.
Then handed me her sweater and wondered how could I forget?
“I can understand an A or B cup going without a bra….but a C? You’re a C cup! How could you not feel it or sense it?”
Carla made me feel as if I lost my womanhood senses.
The bra misfortune was the first red flag, any more and my gender, intuition and all that came with it would be questioned and stripped.
“I’ve been having a tough week Carla.”
“I hoped you checked you have panties on as well!”
More raucous laughter from whom I hoped was an empathizer.
You can’t buy sympathy nowadays.
But just make sure I had them on, I laughed and subtlety grazed my hip.
Yep, they were on.
I excused myself, went to the meeting and sat straight, back arched with breasts swinging lower than usual.
“Besides he dresses horribly…”
“He smells like he never showers; count yourself lucky you don’t have to lay with his rancid-ass anymore.”
“I saw him kissing some slut outside a gig last week….it was disgusting, she looked like she belonged in an alley”
My turn: “….and he has eczema..!”
Everyone turned and looked at me.
All my girlfriends turned and said: “M…what?”
Male-bashing is primarily a post breakup ritual.
It exhibits itself other times as well, but post-breakup, it’s a compliant code of conduct.
Most days I’m pretty colourful with my insults, but today, for the 5th day in a row, I was pretty exhausted.
I couldn’t think of anything more insulting to say about “J”.
Him and “L” we dating less than a year when she found out…wait for it…he cheated and he was bi-sexual.
She suspected his propensity for all things feminine, but the cheating was of course, unacceptable.
She was the conservative and her male counterpart would always be the wild-emotionally-vulnerable-need-to-be-fixed-man-whore, which is fine, because I can always count on a soap-dramasque story to entertain my inbox.
My problem was Keeping Up Appearances.
There were only so many Friday nights I could spend picking out flaws on men who I hardly met, let alone do so objectively. I know it’s silly to even think that in any girlfriend support situation, objectivity is priority, but hey-ho, that’s me and my “benefit of the doubt” theory.
Tonight of course was wine, tissues and male-bashing.
“K” started it off, and alternatively, as a group should, we continued bashing.
I hoped a slow-witted comment on eczema would bring comedy and maybe change the subject.
It didn’t, so I poured another glass a wine…
“M, you know L has eczema as well, how could you say that with such disdain? It’s a sensitive issue! It’s no one’s choice to get eczema!”
I drank more…
“I mean really, if you can’t support L right now, maybe you should go.”
I would, except my Friday night had nothing else on the agenda.
“No it’s alright M, don’t worry. He never took care of himself, and he was bad in bed!”
Here we go; the good stuff.
“I mean what kinda of man needs a weight lifting belt for sex? And you know after he finished, he always did a celebration dance, like he scored a touchdown, and when I gave oral, he smoked and had the nerve to drop the ashes in my hair!”
Fits of giggles across the room and a snort from me.
Geez, women put up with anything these days.
I felt sorry for L and proud. She ended it, but I wonder how much horrific or humiliating things she put up with before the cheating came to light.
“…ugh and I remember our second date when he took me to a sports bar and sneaked in McDonalds burgers because he didn’t want to pay for bar lunch. I thought it was frugal and thoughtful, but looking back, he never cared!”
“…and my underwear always went missing! I had to start buying the cheap stuff now, ugh, vile right?”
“Totally! And ew!”
I didn’t say much after that, solely because it was all being said for me.
I know I would get the phone call the next morning chastising me for being the idiot at the ritual, but what they saw as unsupportive, I saw as preserving my perception of relationships….and being bored.
I sent L flowers the next day with lovely a hopeful message.
Did I mean it?
Of course! Isn’t it customary to end the male-bashing weekend with empty messages of hope?
Glaring across the room they sit, fingers intertwined, breathing synchronized. A playful touch on the nose and a rapid peck on the forehead solidifies their ties. Lovers. Months in and they’re affection never wanes. She tilts her head back and lets out a rambunctious laugh. He tickles her throat and they fall again into hysterics.
Carefully analysing their every move, another sits. She ponders on the significance of each gesture he makes towards his lover and each subtle grimace, She records and analyses. Hiding behind large hopeful eyes and a yearning heart, She stares.
She studies his lips, the smoothness of his freckles and the deep throaty laugh. Every motion he makes induces a throbbing, and a heat. She bites her lips. Her yearning unrequited, blocked by another woman she disproportionately despises.
On any given day, she would extend her hello. He would be alone, standing, poised, sexual, inviting. She would enter: makeup polished, blouse slightly unbuttoned, girdle choking her waist, perfume and pheromones languidly hanging between them. All a bid to arouse attraction and perhaps a spontaneous grab and grope. Far-fetched and delusional, she laughs at his jokes, gently squeezes his arm and subtlety licks her lips.
“C’mon! Find me attractive!”
Desperation begins to seep through her pores.
Conversation ensues: “So how about that Ronaldo eh?”
Football was her greatest weakness, but his laugh, his eloquent explanation of even the most mundane topics sent her skin hot, and her legs shaking. Though, it was all still unrequited. He gives in, talks, jokes, and then extends his goodbye with a quick hug around her waist. She melts.
She calls every girlfriend and every perceptive male friend.
“What does it mean?”
Opinions waver from:
“Nothing, possibly something, but most likely nothing.”
“You’re getting close, wear a tighter skirt. Talk about his interests!”
The chase is arduous. Eight months on, small signs processed and love-related data are then extrapolated. The protocol for obsessive preoccupation with one man has never been explained to her. She smiles broader, studies his interests to seem poignant and profound. Still all remains unrequited. Infuriation gathers when she sees him with a different lover: buxom, yet utterly unattractive.
With alcohol-fuelled rage, she sends him an Instant Message. Confidence and a technological wall in place, she sends a barrage of honest, bitter questions reminiscent of melodramatic teenage rejection.
“I really like you, don’t you feel the same?”
“Lol, really? I never thought you were interested.”
“Well, you never talked about yourself, and you seemed pretty distant and serious.”
[All my smiles were in vain?]
“Do you find me attractive?”
“Are you kidding? Every guy I know wants you. I just always assumed you were too serious for flings. Unless you’re interested….? Come over, or shall I pick you up?”
[Part disappointment/Part excitement]
The conversation turns from IM to phone. She laughs and her skin tingles over his sensual sayings of nothing and everything. Gentle boasting and soft coaxing, He imagines for them both. Yet still, Her hope rise & fall. Her obsession over the past eight months seem to have been over a personality she created to fit into a handsome human being that could never exist.
Now, He smiles, He calls. She ignores. All remaining unrequited.
Opinions waver from:
“Good, I told you he wasn’t worth it.”
“I don’t know girl, I think you still should’ve seen him naked.”
I went speed dating once. A friend kept telling me how much of a great experience she had, so I wondered, “why not put myself out there?”
I told my friends and they laughed. “Desperate move!” Sure it was desperate. I didn’t expect to have a husband by the end of the night, but I wanted a different social experience. Albeit it might be seen as a desperate one, but it was a unique experience!
I didn’t know what to expect. I wore a black dress with tan heels and a matching tan bag. I wore my hair out and wore soft sensual makeup. You know the kinda lipstick/lip gloss that draws attention to the curves of your mouth *ahem* and stuff. I looked ok. I was confident and ready to attempt some flirtation skills I read online.
Walking in, I wish they had told me that everyone had brought a buddy or several buddies for “social support”. I just brought myself and a bit of confidence. Damn! Every guy looked nervous and every girl clung to her wine glass, myself included. I did the typical thing: I scanned the room for hot men and black men (or hot black men). Only a few were present. And by a few, I mean hot men. Nevertheless, I was ditching my vain need for hotties and decided on getting to know people – that was the aim right?
Rules were explained: 2 minutes per table. Women were to move to each table and tick whether they found him likeable enough to date. My first date was cute, had a great engineering career, but he struggled with his English and when he told me he was from Transylvania, I thought he was pulling my leg. I really wanted to make a Dracula joke like: “aye! you ain’t gonna drag me to your dungeon right? Cuz’ I hear y’all love snatching people up!” But that would’ve been childish and I certainly am not childish….on a date. The entire 2 minutes with him was spent helping him gather enough words to become interested in each other. By the time I had enough information, the bell rang and I was semi-relieved.
Guy to Guy I kept moving and hoping for a spark, but it’s kinda hard to get a spark when you have to ask all the right questions and at the same time, play it cool.
“What do you do?”
“Where are you from?”
“What would you do if I gave you 10 bucks, whip cream and Russian vodka?”
One guy was pretty vocal about interviewing for a wife: “What’s your hobby? Can you cook? Do you want kids? Would you consider getting married in 6 months?”
One date kept me cracking up like I was at the Apollo, just hysterical. Too bad I guffawed him outta interest. He was such a nice guy and I really wanted him to take me out (hehe).
I couldn’t help notice the competition women in the room. One girl confessed to me that she was only there because of the open bar and made damn sure to nab a bottle of white wine, which she proudly took from table to table. She was obviously drunk and really pretty. And they say pretty women don’t have issues! Puh! One girl wore the tiniest dress and flirted her way through a lot of phonebooks (which was totally unfair, rules are rules! Hello?). It was unbelievable and commendable, but the competitor in me needed to step it up to her level, but I didn’t have the gall to. Homegirl said some lines which I thought were explicitly meant for lovers. Just phenomenal.
At one point, I honestly felt that my ideal match would show himself, emerging from the corner in full Bollywood dance and song “My lovelyyyyyyyyyyyyy!” The flirty girl would be jealous and try to entice him and all the dancers would be singing in high-pitched voices: “No no! He only has eyes for herrrrr!” And we’d be carried away to an exotic date on an elephant. Of course, if this were Nollywood film, the flirty girl would have poisoned me with a bit of obeah and he would be in a loveless marriage with her trifling ass.
I know, I’m delusional.
I found guys I liked: 10 out of 25 men. I was pretty excited with my selections. They were smart, engaging, funny, ambitious, loved books, art galleries etc! I couldn’t wait to go home and see who I matched up with. I signed in, and scanned through, the computer says, “Number of matches: 1! Contact him now!”
Wow 1 guy? That was my reaction! One. Single. Uno. One shot with one guy. I felt mortified and slightly confused. I thought I was sexy? I thought I was funny? I thought I was interesting? I thought I used my flirtation skills right? I mean I played with my afro hair, I smiled, and I didn’t overshadaow him, blah blah blah….!
I know I shouldn’t have based my attractiveness level on the response of 25 men. But, it was just mind-boggling, brutal and semi-honest.
Will I go speed dating again? Probably not. It was fun, but there’s only so much desperation a girl can put out there.