11.47am was not exactly the usual time for work to lighten up on a weekday, but it was the kind of day that Frank’s diary had treated him to, and moreover it was a Friday. Not like Fridays were usually light in terms of work at this busy law firm, but this particular one had been kind to him and the rest of the full time staff at E. A. Udofia & Associates, one of the thriving law firms located somewhere in the heart of the nation’s most commercial state. It was a good way to see out the week, as another civil suit had been determined in his (and his firm’s) favour, and for this sleepy-eyed six footer in his late twenties, the day’s triumph did well in enhancing his status as a fast-rising legal practitioner. One month shy of being five and a half years at the Bar, he had enjoyed a steady climb in earning his stars, and he could really say “Son Of God, yea I know you’ve got my back, I bu Alobam”, if he could borrow the lyrics of that song from Phyno, which happened to be the last track he had listened to before turning off the engine of his 2013 Model BMW.
Enjoying a relatively free desk on the hour, Frank chose to briefly reflect on how his day had begun, and if his imagination let him, stretch a bit further into the past. He had woken up alone on his large bed (he was used to that by now), and proceeded to the bathroom without whispers of “good morning loveyy, did you dream of me?” from a female’s stale breath. Sure, it was cool to wake up next to some loving hair, lips and bosom, but at least rising up alone meant that he could set out to work without having to fulfil some early “physically enervating demands”. The pots were empty, as there was no time for large-scale cooking on weekdays. That meant that he had to settle for beverages that morning. Having a significant other would have lightened his alimentary burdens, but then for him, beverages were just fine for breakfast. Eating what “she” cooked would result to a clumsy sleepy day in court anyways. Dressing up for the day was followed by silence. Yea, no compliment from a soft voice, not even some assistance in getting the shirt buttoned, but then again, he wasn’t handicapped, neither did he need to hear “you look really good” from an excessively sugary voice; the likes which his photos earned on Instagram took care of the “how do I look?” question.
Still in reflection mode, he took a look around his office, particularly the plaques which had come with achievements past and present, and which his father had insisted that he hang at visible corners of the wall. Not for the first time, he grinned when he pondered on the fact that he had achieved all that while he was alone, and not having to deal with the demands that came with emotional commitment. Like an eagle, he went faster and farther when he was “sans femme”. He then took a long hard look at the frame which housed an enlarged picture from his Call to Bar ceremony. The photo reminded him that he had graduated from the Nigerian Law School with a Second Class Upper Division. A good result by any standards, but one which he felt that he could have bettered if he hadn’t been in that farce of a relationship between April and August of that year. “Could have been worse anyways, I just might have failed the exam”, he sighed. Half a decade had passed since then, but he still resented Vivian for trying to be a clog in his wheel of progress at the time. How could he be sure that she wasn’t even “sent” to be a distraction?
“Hey Sir, happy Friday.”
That was his secretary Anne, cutting into his thought process. Anne had arrived at the firm on the same week as he did eighteen months earlier, and since then they had created a strong working relationship. She was efficient at work, and just as good away from the files and desks; her palms were soft on the shoulder and her lips felt like sugar, as he could testify from the make-out sessions they had twice each week, sessions which had caused the sofa in his office to become considerably weaker. Her meals were top notch as well, but he had to cut down the rate at which he invited her over to his apartment after noticing how she enjoyed “forgetting” one of her belongings or the other after each visit: the last thing he needed in his life was a workplace affair.
Thoughts of Anne brought smiles to his face, smiles which quickly faded as he spotted Clara the librarian. Her spoken English constantly raising questions about the degree she obtained in Linguistics, she continually revelled in the fact that she had been engaged for six years, and had coined the phrase “Career Bachelor” to refer to Frank, in an attempt to pass him off as “an irresponsible player who will never settle down”, as she loved to stress in her gossip sessions with Ngozi and Ufuoma, middle-aged women who earned their bread as sanitation engineers at the firm. Frank knew Clara’s fiancé; a manager of a microfinance bank who spent nearly half his earnings on pool centres and brothels, and only gave her a fraction when she asked, neutralising her with sweet-nothings and love bites. Frank could understand why he didn’t want to take the next step: Clara’s halithosis was something he would deal with not just on the wedding day, but for life, or at least until divorce became an issue for contemplation (dissolution of marriage was nothing new to Frank’s firm; Anne had created files for five divorce proceedings within the previous ten weeks). A six-year engagement which showed no signs of a stroll down the aisle. She was taken alright, yea, taken for granted!
After one more hour of swimming in thought and two accurate drafts of lease agreements, Frank returned to his apartment by 3.00pm, entertaining a loud “welcome back cutie” from a busty lady as he drove in. The well-endowed lass was Gina, his next door neighbour for the past three years. She was fond of him, watched movies at his place, and even though her “Igba Nkwu” to a Customs Officer was only five weeks away, she still enjoyed gulping Frank’s emissions down her throat from time to time. That was the thing with relationships nowadays; one couldn’t tell what his partner was doing in his absence, and he was in no mood to handle such uncertainties for the time being. He only hoped she didn’t continue the habit after changing her last name. That would be really complicated for him, or anyone else for that matter.
There was no one at home to take his suitcase, drown him in multiple warm hugs and ask how his day went, but looking at the bright side, he would enjoy a noise-free siesta, free from all that “imagine that Cordelia wore today, i wonder where she got the money” kind of gist. That was, after Dayo was through with his sugar-coated appeal for money. Dayo was a struggling cab driver who had become friends with Frank due to the latter’s earlier mobility and transport needs when he first arrived that city, and now it was his turn to help. Dayo’s story was that he needed money for certain spare part investments, but the truth (which Frank knew) was that he had spent all his money on his long-nosed demanding girlfriend on Valentine’s Day, and was now penniless for it. “Who still goes broke for a girl these days?” Frank pondered, as he counted naira bills amounting to thirty thousand and handed them to Cupid’s casualty, who received the notes thankfully. Not even in the days when he was a fool for love had he gone that far. Ok, once. That was in his third year at the university, when he spent more than half his monthly allowance to buy his girl an expensive make-up kit. She had responded by buying him a small jar of Royallux face cleanser.
His nap ended by 5.00pm as his phone beeped. He had a pending text message. It was from Chiamaka, inviting him for her wedding the following month. Another friend encumbered. He had always had a tiny crush on her since their days at the university, but it didn’t matter now, she was off the radar! He loved attending weddings, where he showed off his dapper outfits and moved around with that mildly arrogant air of “ladies, see, I’m way cooler than the man you’re with”. He also loved to watch how single ladies loved to step out and subtly pose in wait for potential eligible bachelors who could ultimately end their long wait. The thinly veiled desperation on their part amused him, and at the same time evoked a sense of pride and unwillingness to share his surname with just any female. Sadly though, he would have to pass this one up. It was to take place in Owerri, one town he had sworn never to revisit. Heartbreak at the hands of Ugomma during his national service year had made that place a “no-fly zone” for him.
The phrase “TGIF” held a slightly different meaning for him. His choked up diary meant that even Saturdays could be busy, so when he had relatively free weekends like this one, he preferred sitting indoors (alone of course), having a couple of drinks and listening to alternative soft rock music. For him, clubbing was for those with excess time and energy to burn. But that Friday evening, he chose to break the norm. He called up Dave, an engineer whom he had known from his days as a corps member, and together they headed to Blue Tusk, one of the city’s more exquisite bars. A lot came up for arguments and laughs as they hung out, from Dave’s notion that Phyno was Nigeria’s best rapper, to Arsenal’s faded EPL title hopes, to the geriatrics who collected bonuses for dozing at the on-going National Conference, to the concept of seed-sowing in today’s churches. As the minutes rolled by, the contents of several green bottles found their way down the throats of the two.
“You know, we should do this more often, I’m really having fun”, a tipsy Dave began to squeal, “only difference being that next time, it should be a couples’ thing. Me and my boo, you and…..”.
“Don’t even start”, Frank cut in. “You be happy with your Ijeoma. For me, that is not in the works presently, not even my father was able to convince me. Besides, I just can’t find my type of lady around. Speaking of which, you want to know my specs? Go and read “Unaddressed Notes”, that piece by famous blogger Jerry Chiemeke. The dude just read my mind there.”
“Oh, Jerry Chi? I read that,” Dave said, “I always go through his works, they thrill me, i love his sense of imagination….but he was too demanding in that piece abeg. No wonder he’s still single. Which girl wants to measure up to all that? Maybe he’s even gay, i began to suspect after he wrote ‘David and Jonathan’.”
“Jerry, gay? You must be kidding. Was he not the one who wrote ‘Something About Benny’, ‘Heartfelt Notes’ and ‘The Maze’? I particularly hated his style in ‘The Maze’, thank God he has dropped that mushy line of thought”, Frank countered.
And that was how the conversation switched to the works of Jerry Chiemeke which they had read, from whether “The Knowing” was more graphic than “The Educating”, to whether “The Paper Doll Musings” was actually a thinly-veiled dig at an ex-lover. The conversation ended abruptly when Dave’s phone rang. It was Ijeoma.
“Ok, go home to your bondage”, Frank teased, “it was nice having you around. Cheers to the weekend.”
He managed to make it through the intoxication and arrive home. Home where there was no caring lover to stay up all night waiting for him to return, but at the same time where he wouldn’t have to deal with questions as to where he had been, why his breath reeked of Heineken, or why he was slowly developing one round pack. He enjoyed the freedom, and was unwilling to relinquish it just yet for something called Love. In his younger years as a hopeless romantic, he would stay up to compose a text or call the lady he loved (and who probably didn’t feel the same way), mouthing all sorts of mushy reassurances of undying love, while she was probably moaning to another man’s thrusts…..but those days were now a distant memory. He dozed off soon after securing the locks, but not before treating his ears to John Mayer’s “Perfectly Lonely” and Good Charlotte’s “I Don’t Wanna Be In Love.”
The next morning, which came with a light hangover, had him briefly musing on the moniker which Clara had given him. For him, “Career Bachelor” described a young man who oozed of class, was focused on his career, had ambition, refused to be subjected to the ordinary man’s everyday worries, refused to be distracted by emotional demands, and set his priorities straight. He actually liked the name tag, but had a problem with Clara’s warped and myopic interpretation of things.
Saturday was going to be largely routine: do his laundry, cook what he could, watch the weekend’s matches, and if he was in the mood, call up a girl he used to know so he could fake love for an hour or so. No one to give extra thought to. Thankfully, no one presenting him with a shopping list full of inflated prices, or demanding to know when he would formally introduce himself to her family, or boring him with proposed names for future kids. Not that he faulted the directive of the Most High that “it’s no good for man to be alone”. Of course, God had a valid point, but from all the girls he knew, he couldn’t point out a suitable helpmate at the moment, and he was in no mental shape to go hunting for one. He loved the way his life and his career were going at the moment, and he wouldn’t change a thing for all the tea in China. Yea, he could do without all the drama that came with being emotionally attached. No Women, No Worries.
‘Mood Songs’ For This Piece:
“Perfectly Lonely” by John Mayer
“Half Of My Heart” by John Mayer
“Again” by Needtobreathe
(P.S: Happy Belated Anniversary “Pens of Chi”)