Arsenal has not been performing well lately. They’ve dropped to 6th on the table and in order not to get myself depressed, I did a partial detachment from the EPL, and I didn’t watch their last three games. More so, Federer was doing so well on court, I couldn’t even remember if Arsenal existed. Did I mention Roger won Australian Open? Did I mention he did the Sunshine Double too? Did I mention he has beaten Nadal three consecutive times this year? Did I also add that he leads the road to ATP Tour finals? Oh, I forgot to mention his backhand has become lethal and his forehand unleashes hell like no other. You see why I didn’t even know Arsenal was playing last night.
So West Ham match was on. Wifey went for a women’s meeting from work. It was an inaugural meeting she had been looking forward to all week. Her expectations were high, so were mine. And I really was looking forward to her reports when she returned. The children were in bed and I loafed in the living room with a drink in my left hand and the remote control in my right, shuttling between Arsenal/WestHam and Chelsea/ManCity. I badly wanted a win for Arsenal and a draw for Chelsea.
First Half went by with no high moments. The second half started and Ozil gave us a goal in no time. The momentum changed and the stadium lit up. And…
And my wife arrived.
A quick introduction. Of course, I know you know her. But, you don’t know she is not an Arsenal fan. She is not a fan of Chelsea either. ManU? Not a chance! She is not a fan of anything apart from Ijebu Garri and chicken suya. Added to that, she is a Certified Teaser of the Federal Republic! I have heard of wives who were fans of another football club while they were single and how they got married and in solidarity changed to their husband’s. I have also heard of those wives who were never soccer inclined but because of their husband’s love for a club, they got involved. They would buy them jerseys, mementos, watch matches with them, discuss new signings, and engage them in analyzing matches. Not Toluwalogo! When Arsenal plays, my Significant Other stands afar off, stretches her neck to check scores from a distance, like there is some epidemic around the TV and living area.
When Arsenal is losing, oh boy! It’s like a long walk in tight shoes. She goes, ‘won tun ti nna yin..’(they have started beating you people again), ‘sorry o…’ ‘will you be able to eat tonight?’ ‘you better find another club to join…’ ‘na wa o…another sulking night is brooding..’ She then goes to the room and gives me space. Periodically, she comes out to check if our lot has gotten better. And you know how it is with Arsenal. Then I hear, ‘Ermm, are you eating tonight? Should we prepare anything for you?’ Stretches her neck again, ‘It’s even Swansea that’s beating you people! Chai! No shame.’
And when we are winning, she takes a quick once over at me, skirts around the perimeter of the living area and goes, ‘I’m sure they are playing one of those clubs up for relegation…’ ‘Should I get you a drink?’ If we are leading by two or three goals, she goes, ‘’What happened today, e ma n win…’ ‘It clicked for Wenger today…a dupe o!’ If I dare fail to respond or answer her, she would remember a programme on TV she needs to watch and would make attempt at changing the channel just to get my attention.
Other times she sits in the room and reads update from FEGO ’96 Set Whatsapp group page. Since that group was formed, I don’t think my wife has contributed more than a sentence or two. I don’t even know what she is doing there! Most of the conversations in that group center around politics and soccer, and not many of them are Arsenal fans. The page is like a blender, they put Arsenal in it and hit the Whip button! They would abuse Arsenal so roundly you would hear my wife’s laughter from the living room.
Anyway….so, my wife arrived.
And we were leading by a lone goal. Good news.
She pulled off her jacket and started downloading straightaway! Haba! As in, she just started talking and narrating how her meeting went. True, I was looking forward to the gist, and she knew. But….not now now, not at that moment.
I wasn’t sure she checked the TV to know who was playing. I was like, Babe, slow down now…come on..be considerate now! For Goodness’sake, it is a LIVE match! Not a repeat or highlights! Not Burnley vs Middleborough! Or Stoke vs Hull City! It’s Arsenal!! And for once in 3 months, they are leading! Shouldn’t that count for something?! The gist can wait, come on!
You know how your eyes can be glued to the TV while you struggle to listen to a friend’s gist. You don’t want to seem rude but at the same time you wish they can be sympathetic (or just keep quiet) and by themselves, choose to postpone the gist. You are trying so hard to be polite but you are boiling deep down inside screaming, ’can’t you be sensitive?’ ‘Do I have to listen to this right now?!’
So, I was answering but I was not able to maintain eye contact.
Unexpectedly, or maybe expectedly, she noticed.
She checked the TV and saw it was Arsenal match. Then looked again and saw it was LIVE!
And she went quiet.
The sudden silence could only mean she realized it was a bad time for the gist. It meant she was very understanding and considerate, so she was allowing me space till the match ended.
My joy was unparalleled at such extraordinary gesture. And as if the god of soccer wanted me to be happier, Arsenal scored the 2nd goal. I screamed! Punched the air in triumph! By impulse turned to her to celebrate. I received the coldest response ever! She picked her bag, her jacket and was gone like last week’s pay.
What did I do now?!
I sat back and continued the match.
We won 3-0.
I should probably be afraid of going to the room. But, wetin? I summoned courage. From the passage, I called, ‘Mrs. Odutayo!” It was a way of announcing my entrance and preparing her to be ready.
‘Mrs Odutayo!’ I called again.
I opened the door. She was as cold as a hot water bag in the morning. I wore my courage like a crown and stepped in. If she planned to deny me the juicy gist, she had something else coming.
“Don’t just start! Please. It’s now you have my time, ehn? You can call now because you people won, shey? Please, I don’t have your time.”
“It was a LIVE match now!” I pleaded.
“So what? Is Arsenal more important than me?”
“Haba! For where?! Arsenal nibo?! Wey them?! Won o po to!! From where to where?!”
“Don’t patronize me, jor! Go away!”
I moved closer. She could tell what was coming – I would tickle her till she winced in pain.
“Olami, please, don’t! Her two hands were stretched out preventing me from moving closer.
I wasn’t daunted.
“Olami, please…” she recoiled in a corner of the room and begged, “Okay…I will give you the gist. I promise I will.”
“Yes, right now. Please.”
“Oya, spill it.”