Building Bridge

Small talk about movies showing later, my (our) order arrived and I requested paper plates and cups to go.

“You didn’t say if you are going to see a movie, or what movie ” he asks, a little carefully.

I realise I’d been off-ish with him but his actions have been too careful,I’m certain there is more to it.

“I just wanted ice cream to eat while walking” he doesn’t say how ridiculous I sound but his face does.

“You are going for a walk?” He asks instead.

“Not in the fitness kind of way. I just want to walk on the bridge and eat ice cream” I leave out the part where it is on my bucketlist. Only one of us is allowed to be embarrassed for the duration of this meeting.

“Cool.  Can I come? ” he asks, actually interested. I hesitate, unwilling to share my experience with a “stranger”, when he adds “you can’t possibly be afraid of hanging out with me. I’m not technically a stranger, you know my grandparents.”

LOL! If only he had an idea, that I don’t even know his grandparents name.

But he does shed light to another bit I had overlooked, silly me! SECURITY!!

“What were your own plans?  You were just going to buy wrap and go home?” I ask.

“I was supposed to meet a couple of people here and catch a movie  but they can’t make it, so I was just going to buy the wrap and go home, actually.” He answered. There was a small pause between meet and a couple of people when he spoke,  I noticed but at that point couldn’t care about what he had wanted to say.

” Fine! You can come with me but I’m going to send your picture to my friends for security.” I quickly take a picture of him before he can mull over what I said and give his consent.

I send the picture to my silly neighbour, who is also a new bestfriend. In case of emergency,  I type, I was last seen with the fellow in this picture.

He giggles and I turn to find to him looking over my shoulder. “My name is Onyema. You can put that instead” he suggests smiling.

I don’t smile back, but I quickly add, His name is Onyema.  To which Stella replies “use rubber.” I already mentioned Stella was/is silly right?

“How did you get here?” I ask, because now that I’d decided to let Onyema come with me, we needed to sort logistics and get going. Midnight don’t last forever.

“Work Vehicle, but I have an Uber on standby. You?”

I’m a little befuddled as to how you keep an  Uber on standby, instead of responding, I let out a small sigh.

“If you really would rather go on your walk alone, it’s fine. You seem pretty uncomfortable with the idea”

“I’ll live” I mutter, not the most encouraging of responses, but I signal for him to follow. “I borrowed a vehicle, I can drop you back here when we are done walking” I say.

“Splendid”, He follows my lead.

I hear his gasp and I can imagine his face, Gboyega’s car always pulls this reaction from people.I’m really lucky Gboyega doesn’t have a girlfriend he trusts with his car more than he trusts me.

“It’s not my car. I borrowed it” I find myself saying without prompt.

“I heard you the first time.it’s a really beautiful ‘vehicle’ ” I can hear the cheeky in his voice especially when he says ‘vehicle’, and the unvoiced question ‘so whose car is it?’

I had an answer ready for whenever he mustered up courage to make his enquiry.  “my sugardaddy. He doesn’t want his wife to know he spent money like this” was my tailor-fit response to such inquisitions.

The beauty of driving past midnight is definitely on the clear roads,  streetlights strobing and very calming breeze. I don’t bother with airconditioning and my passenger seems to be relishing the experience.

I pack in the middle of the bridge, wordlessly and begin to go out of the car.

I can feel Onyema’s eyes boring my actions. “What’s up?” He asks, the edge a little on his voice. “I’m starting to think maybe I need to send your picture to my family and friends too”.

Now that was funny, so I laughed. Again.

“Too late”, I tease, and grab the bags of our food. I place them on the bonnet and start to share them between us. Onyema joins me.

“This moment is so snapchat worthy, but I’ll have questions to answer if I do” he gushes.

Clearly he is as smitten by the ambience as I am. “Your girlfriend will have you hanging by the neck” I tease, in reference to his reluctance to snapchat.

He giggles, “you know what’s funny?”

I shake my head.

“Do you remember when we met at my grandparents party?” He asks.

I’m a little torn as to whether to keep up the ‘I don’t remember’ charade, but it seems this is the puzzle piece I have wanted for so long, so I shrug instead.
He is not deterred. Surely he is not that forgettable.

“So when I walked up to you that day. I thought you were my girlfriend”.

I burst out laughing. I was laughing till I cried. I mean! What kind of boyfriend cannot recognise his own girlfriend in public.

“I’m sorry. WHAT?!!” I exclaim, catching my breath.

He is handling his embarassment pretty well.” I’m willing to explain” he says through his smile.

I motion for him to go ahead.

” So at the time of my grandparents party.I had met her only a couple of times. I think 3 times only. Her friends are my relatives and they were setting me up with her.

If you recall, I did say you looked diferrent with make-up on.

So yea! We had been talking when I mentioned that I’d like her to be my date to my grandparents party when the conversation froze.

I tried to call, but it wasn’t connecting. I spent the hours wondering if I’d said something wrong, and upset her enough to Barr my calls. I didn’t want to ask her friends, before they went on to tell her I was smitten, or used it as leverage to tease me. So I’d been lowkey looking out for her.

My God! You guys are so similar,  it’s almost unreal! Anyways, I thought you were her and playing games with me.”

In clearer light, his actions were very understandable. Heck! I’d do the same too if I were him.

“So what happened between then and now, because it appears you sorted your issues now, if she has become official girlfriend”, I can’t help fishing for more gist.

He chuckles, as if in understanding “it so happens that she was robbed after our last communication. My relatives heard of it after the party and we went to visit her. She hugged me and expressly told me how much she had missed me in all this time apart. It was a good feeling, we decided we were going to go steady, see how it plays out.”
I resist the urge to point out how dated”going steady” sounds, I give a small applause instead.

“I’m really grateful for the opportunity to apologise. I realise I must have been a jerk that a day we met? But you must understand my plight now.”

I cocktail my head,”are you apolosing or making excuses for your bad behaviour?”

He laughs,”I’m apologising. Really.”

I roll my eyes and he imitates me.

My ice cream is all melted so I gulp it up and have a momentary brainfreeze. Note to self: breeze from the water and ice from ice cream is overdoing it. Thanks.

When I recover , I fish for more gist. “So today, when you said ‘a couple of people’ you did mean to say ‘girlfriend’ ”

He blushed, “Ha! You noticed. Well, yes. Sometimes I feel a little presumptuous addressing her by that term so often and so soon.”

“Presumptuous? Is there a rule to these things?” I’m not sure why he has such opinions/ideas.

“No such thing. It’s just the type of person I am. If I use a particular word in over ten sentences within an hour, I tend to seek out synonyms to use. There’s a whole vocabulary full of such words to pick from”

“So it’s not just with girlfriend you have the reservation?” I ask, volunteering my neck to set him free for himself.

He nods in agreement.

“Cool. Cool” I start to pack up the leftovers and used items into the polythene bag that had housed our meal. True to his word, he had eaten only half of the jumbo wrap and saved half for me.

He takes cue and gets into the car waiting. When I get back in, Stella is calling on videocall. I answer it to put the twat to shame. The only reason she is videocalling is to garner evidence on her dirty conclusions.

“Oh, you are still alive. Okay o! Bye!” That was all she said, grinning wide.

“My friend, Stella, she is a nutcase.” I explain to Onyema, who nods in agreement.

I drop him off at the diner.

He offers his thanks and gets into an Audi (that I noticed was parked there before we headed out too). He probably wasn’t kidding about the standby  Uber thing.

It only occurs to me as I make note to ask him about it next time that I realise that I didn’t give him my name or take his contact.

Good job Das! Well played. Rme!!!

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