I wasn’t always like this. This selfish player without a care for the many hearts he breaks, this serial cheat, this ruthless philanderer. I wasn’t always this coldblooded motherfucker, nope. There was a time when I was actually a sincere, loving and trust worthy albeit naive young man. It was a long time ago, yes – but I was a living, breathing emotional human being once, before Florence ‘turned’ me.
“Hi Frank. Are you particularly busy?”
Of course I was, but I wasn’t going to tell Florence that, not on my life. Florence, my girlfriend of just over a year sits very comfortably on my mumu button by virtue of being the first woman I’ve ever loved and who loved me in return. If she wanted a journey to the moon, all she had to do was tell me to fly straight up.
“No I’m not. What’s cooking, you got anything for me?”
Her tinkling laughter which always gets me breaking out in goose bumps came clearly over the line.
“Nothing much really. I was just hoping we could meet briefly at the Bar Beach for lunch. I’m dying to taste that barbequed croaker fish again. What say you?”
Deliberately shutting my mind to the pile of work on my table, I quickly answered. “No problems then. Where are you? You want me to come pick you up?”
“No dear, I’m in a cab somewhere around Marina. I’ll meet you there in a bit.”
“Ok. See you soon.”
I got up immediately and made preparations to leave the office. It was a bit strange as we had been together the whole of Sunday but then I wasn’t complaining. One couldn’t have too much of a good thing as it were. Love was calling; work definitely would have to wait.
I was something of a late bloomer, having kept away from girls throughout my University days for a cocktail of reasons. Being painfully shy, a nerd and poorer than an overdrawn account were not characteristics that endeared one to the ladies especially in a place like Unilag. Heck, I wore Coca Cola glasses and dressed like a dork, comfortable only around my engineering textbooks and in the library. I was basically too boring even for some of the guys to associate with, well, except those who depended on me to pass their tests and exams.
After school however, things gradually changed. I got a job with one of the big Internet Service Providers in Victoria Island as a Supervising Network Engineer having graduated top of my class. The job came with a reasonably okay salary and slowly I transformed from my dorky ways. I wasn’t actually a bad looker to start with, just needed a bit of fashion sense and social polish to bring out the swanky dude hidden beneath all those layers of awkward. The bogus glasses and bushy hair promptly disappeared and better finances introduced me to the world of fitting clothes and shoes.
I’d just walked past the reception area on my way out of the office one afternoon when a female voice tentatively called my name.
“Frank! Is that you Frank? Tell me it is. Tell me my eyes are not deceiving me!”
(Duh!!! Of course it was me, who else could it have been wearing my skin?). I turned around to see who it was that needed glasses so bad.
“Frank!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It’s you! I was sitting down there debating whether my eyes were seeing properly.” And then she jumped up from her seat, ran to where I stood and smothered me in a bear hug.
Florence had been my crush during my second year, way back in school. Beautiful and from a rich family with killer curves to match, she was the girl many guys like me wanted but whose affection we could only have in dreams. She was simply way beyond my level, at least in my eyes. Her beauty and financial status ensured that she only rolled with the biggest boys on campus.
I ran into her for the first time during an elective class I registered for in her faculty (she was in Social Sciences) and was instantly smitten. We met properly during a group assignment which I co-ordinated and that day she shook my hand, I made sure it was the same hand I used to wank later that night – yes, even nerds have needs you know. Like most campus beauties, she didn’t really have time for her studies and always needed help with tests and assignments. I practically wrote her tests and exams for her that semester. My reward was the chance to hang out once in a while and gist, basking in the euphoria of the occasional attention from one of Akoka’s most sought after. Statistics was a particularly difficult course for average students to pass, especially as the Professor in charge was strict both in marking and collation – thus not giving room for any manipulations. The way her eyes lit up with gratitude when results were pasted on the departmental notice board and the hug she dashed me ehn, I was walking on water for days.
Like most campus beauties, she moved on without a backward glance immediately my usefulness came to an end. I remember meeting her in the University Chapel the next semester after that one and she just looked through me as if I was transparent, not even acknowledging my greetings. It was more than embarrassing to say the least, as it was obvious to the other people around that I was being snubbed. I had been used and summarily dumped and it hurt like hell.
Much later after the greetings, we went to the staff canteen where we caught up on old times over drinks, my outing suspended. She had graduated with a second class lower degree after her extra year, currently taught Social Studies in a Primary school somewhere on the mainland and had come to drop her CV for the recently advertised post of Customer Service Officer. Her parents and her only brother had died in an auto accident not long after the stock market crash wiped out her father’s fortune so she was alone, broke and desperately needed the increase in income.
It was good to see her again, still looking as good if not better than she did while in school. We exchanged contacts, while I promised to help her talk to the HR people in charge of recruitments.
The job thing didn’t work out but we remained in touch and during that time I discovered that old flames reignited pretty easily.
Before long, we were dating.
The cool breeze wafting off the Atlantic blew some smoke from the barbeque fire in our direction causing Florence some discomfort. We’d been sitting at the same spot for a couple of hours just chatting away after we finished our meal. Although my plan had been to spend just an hour with her and dash back to the office, Florence wasn’t having any of it. My protests were feeble at best. Love was here, work could wait.
As the Sun gradually set and the evening progressed, we left the smoky barbeque area and strolled hand in hand, down to the water’s edge. There we stood, with an occasional wave or two coming far enough to lap at our shoeless feet.
Florence stared pensively across the waters and drew a deep breath. “Ahhh! I love this place. One can just gaze out across the ocean and imagine the future.” I glanced at her face at that moment and saw a small tear slowly making its way down her cheek.
“What’s wrong baby?”
“Nothing. I’m just overcome by my feelings for you and the tranquility of this moment.”
I moved closer and gave her a hug.
“That future you see, I hope I am in it.”
“Of course you are lamb chops. Who else would I want to be with if not my handsome dandy Frank?”
“Really? Are you for real my dear?”
“Yes baby, a hundred and ten percent. Standing here on the shores of this mighty ocean, there’s nothing else that I want more than you and I standing together at this same spot fifty years from now – still giddy with love. Just promise me that whatever happens, you’ll never ever forget that I love and will always cherish you.” Then she kissed me long and deep.
My heart almost blew out of my rib cage with emotions.
I’m sure Tina thinks I’m a supersized bastard or worse, that’s if she can get a more potent word to describe my character. Not like I cared any ways, not at all. These days I am beyond getting bothered about what any of these girls think of me. So what if I slept with her best friend, and still made a pass at her sister. Yeah, so what? Did loyalty prevent Uzo from agreeing to screw me even when she knew I was going steady with her bestie? Did it? And as for Tina’s sister Kene, if the floozy had been intelligent enough to keep her phone securely locked, I’m sure we would have been rolling in the hay without any compunction in a matter of days. Not to worry though, there were many where they came from. Every girl loves Frank and all of them want a taste of his dongle. Frank belongs to every woman but ultimately Frank belongs to none.
Five years ago almost to the day, I got that telephone call that has altered the course of my life.
“Hi babes, what’s good?”
“Hi Frank, I’m fine thank you.”
“What’s wrong hon? You sound somehow.”
“I’m fine Frank, just listen to what I have to say.”
“You are scaring me baby but okay, shoot.”
“In a minute or two, you’ll get a mail from me. An e-mail is the only means by which I can coherently deliver this message. Please read it and understand that my hands are tied in this matter. Be strong for me my love and be strong for you too.” Then the call disconnected.
I immediately redialed her number three or four times without success. While doing so, I got an e-mail alert.
My Dearest Frank,
I’m sorry if what I’m about to do hurts but I just have to. Last week, my former boyfriend returned from America and came calling at my place. You see, we lost contact just before he travelled abroad and I moved on after waiting for 6 months without any word from him. Now he’s back and says he’s still in love with me and although I love you too, I never really got over him. He’s a big boy now with a huge house in Texas and he wants me to go back with him to the United States. I know we have great plans for our life together but looking at the circumstances around me, I feel it would be much better if I went back with him – so I agreed. I’d planned to tell you yesterday, but I was just too overwhelmed by emotions. I’m sure you’ll hurt for a while, but I know you will move on with your life and find a better woman to take my place. What I said yesterday about wanting us to be together in fifty years, I meant every word of it and though our ways may part, you will always be in my heart. Don’t bother going to look for me at my place, I’m at the Airport now and the flight is scheduled to leave in less than two hours. Never forget me Frank, I’ll always remember you.
My comically desperate attempt to rush to the airport was terminated in Third Mainland Bridge traffic; the plane must have been halfway to Houston before I got to Iyana Oworo. Even if I had made it, what would I have done to stop her?
Since then I’ve run through countless women, a cold heartless irresistible romeo, breaking hearts with impunity and no regrets – searching for the one person I’m never going to find.
As i drove along Ahmadu Bello Way this morning, the irony hit me. The Lagos Bar Beach – the great sandy landmark that witnessed Florence’s profound declaration of eternal love, has itself become history.