Frank rushed into Ola Mummy canteen in Bodija, hungry as an abandoned baby elephant, and made his order of two wraps of pounded yam, fish and ewedu. So hungry was he that it wasn’t until he’d swallowed the first wrap that his eyes came down, and he could once again see like normal humans do. It was at this point he decided to slow down so he wouldn’t choke. He took his first sip from the 75cl Eva table water bottle the waitress with the blue Staff 24 tshirt had placed before him, and looked around for the first time whilst tenderly unwrapping the second half of his meal.
That was when he saw her.
She wasn’t drop-dead gorgeous, or anything, but there was just…something about her sha. She was intriguingly attractive, for the quite complex reason that there was actually nothing particularly attractive about her. She sat eating jollof and dodo at a table with six chairs around it, but she was alone. Her head was buried in the screen of her pink phone, as she absentmindedly chewed her meal. He began transporting morsels of his iyan from plate to mouth on autopilot, so taken was he with the way she chewed. It was a kind of scattered, carefree moving of jaws which, for the strangest reason, reminded him of a rabbit. But a cute, fluffy rabbit, the kind that could have its own show and go on tours and excite millions of happy children. He found himself quickly washing his hands when he realised she was done with her food. He followed her outside, cursing softly when he didn’t catch sight of her pink dress right outside the door. He went over to the side of the building, where the DVD vendor was positioned, and did a quick check for her there. Nothing. He practically ran the other way, scared she may have crossed the road or jumped into a cab by now. Luckily, he saw her engaged in conversation with the lady selling throw pillows just by the road. Composing himself (he ran a hand quickly across his mouth, in case there was a devilish string of ewedu hanging in his beard), he walked up to her wondering what angle to use.
“Hi, I’m sorry… I followed you, I mean, I saw you eating… May I know your name?”, he finished with what he hoped would come across as a warm, charming smile and kicked himself mentally for his lack of game.
“Melissa”, Melissa decided to talk to him for two reasons; his warm smile, and the fact that he’d said “may” instead of “can”. It was the little things.
Frank managed to lure her back to the parking lot of the canteen, running around to the passenger side of his Nissan Maxima to open the door for her.
Melissa felt special, hiding her blushing face as she tried to sit down elegantly while he waited, and then closed the door after her.
As he walked over to his door, he made a mental addition to his growing todo list. He really ought to get that passenger door fixed.
Suffice it to say, children, that it was a whirlwind romance, what ensued between young Frank and Melissa. It was two weeks and five dates after their first encounter when he asked her to be his girlfriend, and she couldn’t, for the life of her, think of a reason to say no, so they began dating exclusively and officially.
Oh, the many good times they had, our young lovers. They were to be found together almost all of the time, caught in some sickeningly sweet posture of love or other, saying THE most cliché things to each other… But they were happy, and I suppose that is what really counts, when you boil the water of life down to its essence; the presence or absence of a hard knob of happiness.
Three months later, Frank had the occasion to stop by KFC for some takeaway wings (ironically he was buying them for Melissa), when he looked up whilst waiting for his change, and saw her. This vision of beauty, this epitome of all that is woman in this world, this… this goddess, really, and it was startlingly clear to him that he was meant to spend the rest of his life with this stranger. He wondered why it felt like deja vu as he hastily grabbed his order, barked at the girl behind the counter to keep the N500 change, and raced after the vision, hoping she hadn’t come with her boyfriend. That would only complicate things.
This time, after the charming smile had lured her (she had a name, it was Sarah) under his net, he gently lowered said net over her head by opening the passenger door of his car for her, even though he had fixed it weeks ago.
It was a week after this experience that our unfried human chicken (Frank, in case you missed that), came to the sudden realisation that Melissa was a weed in the garden of his future happiness, and had to be yanked out before she was given the time to sprout weed babies who would further complicate life for him.
And so it was that at the very venue of their first meeting, Ola Mummy canteen of life, Frank sheepishly informed the oblivious, happy bunny that their love had wandered down an abandoned alleyway, and could no longer proceed.
Her large eyes were the perfect picture of confusion as she blurted, “What… But… Why, Frankie?”
“Well, because… You see, I can’t stand the way you chew, Melissa…”