“She had passed by me at one point in the waiting room before we boarded. Another time she engaged one of the officials of the airline and complained about why our flight was being delayed. It was during the period I noticed her. She was standing directly in front of me, I couldn’t but notice. Coral black hair, about 5 inches tall, dark and good-looking.”
Victor came out of the kitchen with a dish full of groundnut.
“See your life, because your wife traveled, all you can offer us is groundnut and malt.” Richard lamented.
“Bros, you for bring food come now.” He drew one of the chairs out and joined us at the dining table. “What have I missed?”
“Nothing. He just started. Juwon, please continue.” Clark motioned.
“Our flight was called. I found my seat number and was just settling in when she turned in my direction and smiled ‘Good evening.’ There she was again! Live and Direct! ‘Hi. So you were the one who took the last window seat the airline official couldn’t give me!’ I joked. ‘Guilty as charged. I hope there is no criminal law against it.’ She grinned.”
“So you were given the middle seat.” Clark clarified.
“Honestly, I didn’t know how my right palm, with the speed of light, sharply rested on the back of my left hand, covering all my four fingers. And it just stayed glued there as we exchanged pleasantries and started chatting. Fortunately or unfortunately, the aisle seat by my left was vacant and it only gave us more room to chat freely.
“Press pause right there!” Victor interjected. “Let me switch off the AC in my room and I’ll be back before you blink.”
He was back truly before I blinked.
“She basically just asked the basics, what I did for a living, if I was based in Abuja or Lagos, what I was doing in Lagos and so on. I reciprocated the gesture too and she told me about herself. All the while waiting for the cabin crew to start their drills. The flight eventually took off and so did our conversation. Cruising from the most efficient airlines to fly to career and business to life in general.”
“So, what’s all this now? Is it us you are packaging gist for. Abeg, we want details! Tell us what she said and what you said. We don’t want summary, we want specifics jor!” Richard rebuked.
“On a more serious note, nothing out of the ordinary, just a very interesting conversation. I had thought I was going to sleep through the flight but I must confess she was quite engaging in the way she shared her views and opinions.”
“So, what now happened?”
“She brought out her card, and was quite confident on how we could do business together. She went into details about the sort of alliance we could have and I was quite impressed. So I extended my right hand to receive the card and I noticed her eyes darted briefly. And I got the message, she saw my wedding band. ‘Are you married?’ She must have been shocked.
“I sincerely didn’t know why I stammered in answering the affirmative. But everything went uphill from there. I was too sure if I hadn’t collected the card, she probably would have reconsidered giving me. But, then the gist came in bits and pieces afterwards. All my attempt to keep the conversation flowing only received monosyllabic answers. I gave up. So, yeah, that was it.”
“So you two stopped talking throughout the flight?’ Victor was asking for more.
“I guess. She dozed off or pretended to doze off after a while.”
“What about when you landed? I mean, no goodbyes or something.” Victor wasn’t done.
“Yes, we chatted briefly as we walked to the Arrival Lounge to wait for our luggage. In fact, yes…it was then she asked for my card.”
“Yes, and I gave her.”
“Since you already have hers, she felt the gesture should be reciprocated.”
“I guess.” Clark agreed.
“So, what seems to be the problem here?” Victor queried.
“He hid his wedding band.” Richard snapped. “Didn’t you hear him?”
“I didn’t!” I countered.
“You covered your wedding ring; that much you said.”
“It was reflex.”
“That’s just grammar! You hid it from her. And eventually when she saw it your conversation died a natural death. So, you figure.”
“So, I don’t get it, does it mean, you can’t chat or have conversation with a single lady because you are married?” Victor’s voice went up a two notes higher
“Don’t make a general statement out of one peculiar situation. I never said that. And it’s pretty obvious why you would ask that seeing you don’t even wear your own band!”
“Guys, don’t start.” Clark pleaded.
“But seriously, does it make a difference? I mean, wedding band or no wedding band, I don’t see why it should affect our conversation.”
“How can you talk like that, Juwon?! Why won’t it affect it? Without a wedding band, you are a potential prospect, with a wedding band, you are trouble in disguise for any young woman. Face it.”
I saw no one had touched the groundnuts on the table. I picked a few and chewed, probably to avoid Richard’s stare.
“And you knew it would affect your conversation which was why you hid it. You may lie to yourself as long as you want and call it ‘reflex,’ but you knew. And you observed rightly too, the mood changed at the discovery. She was shocked, that was why she asked if you were married after seeing it. It was a rhetorical question.
“Richard don start! Mr Analyser!” Victor chided.
“If you don’t like it, you can go home!” He continued.
“Seems you forgot you are in my house.” He corrected.
Richard continued. “I will tell you why she asked. She didn’t understand why you would be that open and friendly with her if you were married. See, let me tell you,” he adjusted his seat, “if she had seen your band before striking conversation with you, she would have been guided. At least she would know her boundaries and limits. And if she wanted to cross them she would be doing so with clear understanding of the likely consequences. But you not ‘declaring your asset’ made her defenseless, exposed and weak. That was unfair. And when she realized, she felt offended. Your fault, bro. Your fault.”
“Wow. That’s deep.” Clark sighed. “Wearing your ring is ‘declaring your asset?”
I leaned back on the chair and considered Richard’s submission.
“Which is why I would never fail to disapprove of Victor not wearing his band. No matter how innocent and genuine your intentions are, you may not be able to legislate against bad luck or attractions. These rings play their roles.”
“More like you declare your assets right from the word go.”
“And Victor may not like this line of conversation but he cannot shut me up or send me out. That you are married would not stop you from finding other women attractive. That is the truth! Your ring guides you and reminds you of your commitment to your spouse. You stand a greater risk of infidelity without it than with it. Sometimes even if you want to play around, by wearing it, you limit your chances.”
“Whatever!” Victor sneered. “This thing is not that serious. Come on, it was just a conversation and you make it look like he has committed adultery. Haba! Somebody says, Good Evening, should he not answer?”
“You’re apparently not listening to me.
“So have you called her since you got back?” Victor turned towards me.
“No. She called but I didn’t pick.”
“Why?” If they were all curious, Clark was the one who voiced it.
“I don’t know. I just didn’t feel right about it.”
“Did you share this experience with your wife?” Richard further asked.
“Come on! Has it come to that?” Victor’s eyes and mouth shot open. He scrammed from his seat and almost spilled the groundnuts “This thing is not that serious!”
Richard ignored and refused to oblige. He maintained eye contact with me. “Have you?”
Victor would not be silenced. “Juwon don’t answer!” He banged the table and startled us. “What is this?! Is it everything you tell your wife, Richard?!” Victor barked. “Answer my question, do you tell your wife everything, as in everything?”
“Here we go again! It’s a simple question I asked.”
“Mine is simple too. And I really want to know, Richard. Do you tell your wife everything, as in e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g?”
“Victor, are you okay?” Clark looked worried.
Victor snubbed him
“Richard, is it everything you tell Rose?”
“I don’t hide anything from my wife.”
“So if you steal a look at a woman’s backside, which I know you are not immune against, you’ll go, ‘Dear, I just looked at Gbemi’s backside’ Right?”
“Don’t be ridiculous!”
“I will like to know, sir. Just answer me!”
“I do not hide anything from my wife.”
“Hmmn…interesting. I tell my wife everything and I do not hide anything from my wife are two different things, sir.” He pulled the chair again and sat down.
“And knowing who is asking the question is also a different ball game altogether.”
He seemed to calm down a little. “What these women don’t know won’t hurt them! You don’t go troubling the waters telling them the conversation you have with every lady. How do you have a happy home if you go on like that? And I bet you, they don’t want to know either. Ignorance is bliss.”
“One, because your wife prefer it so does not mean all women want it so. Two, Rose is my wife, not ‘these women.’ And three, it’s high time you stopped taking one situation to define all?”
“I just don’t understand why you would be asking if he told his wife or not! It’s not like he’d secretly taken this lady out on a date or slept with her. It was just a conversation during a one-hour flight! JUST A CONVERSATION!! What is in it to tell?”
“My sentiments exactly! What is in it not to tell?!”
“Stop being difficult! Am I supposed to get back home every evening and catalogue to my wife every woman I spoke with or that spoke with me, every woman I gave my card to or that I collected hers, every woman that I hugged or greeted? Come on!”
“Could that be the reason why when everything gets messy you aren’t able to explain how it all started?” Clark’s voice resounded from oblivion.
“Victor, chill. First, if we choose to open up about personal stuff with one another it’s because we are buddies and that we respect one another’s views…”
He didn’t allow him land, “…and if we keep analyzing small matters like this, making a mountain out of a mole hill, then one had better keep those stuff to himself.”
I sat back and watched the drama playing in front of us. It was not unusual and Clark and I knew better than to get involved with these two.
“Secondly, what would you know about these things or ‘reflex’ when you are not even on the same page with us? ‘Reflex’ happens to all of us. I have been guilty of it too. You guys know. And as far as I am concerned, if you don’t address it, give it time, ‘reflex’ can blossom into something bigger and more dangerous if not nipped in the bud.’
‘It’s probably Victor’s bid to avoid ‘reflex’ that makes him to completely stop wearing his band.’ Clark giggled.
“You guys can conclude whatever you want, I won’t be bothered and it won’t change anything.”
“You better be bothered now so you don’t become a bother. Remember we just resolved a major issue not long ago.” It was Clark’s turn.
“Must you guys always bring up my past?” Wearing ring or not wearing them is no guarantee for faithfulness.”
“If you say so. In my own opinion, if one is proud of the woman he married, then he should show.” Clark persuaded.
“When did you marry again?” He simulated a concern look. “Two years ago. I thought so.”
“So did you tell your wife?” Richard was back.
“I wrote about it. And she reads all my writings. We discussed afterwards.”
“As long as you keep it to yourself, you are more likely to nurture and ponder on it.”
“Once it’s brought to the open, it no longer has power over you.” Clark added.
“And that’s what you have done.” Richard supported.
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