As I stand in front of the dimly lit entrance of the college pub, engulfed in the cool darkness of 7pm in Coquitlam, I couldn’t help but sweat profusely underneath my many layers.
I’d probably be getting a lot of offers from Olympic coaches now. I might even have a fan club. Tunde would have gotten an offer too, but he hung around the wrong crowd. At least he got bailed out and has no criminal record.
I’ve worked too hard for this.
The decision I have made has wracked me so much that I can’t even enjoy my glorious victory at the competition. Come to think of it, I had run 10.94 flipping seconds.
I am a flipping legend in college right now. Only one person has run faster than that in the school, and the dude went on to win Olympic silver.
But instead, all I can think about is how I am about to be a terrible friend.
“… That short dude was fast right, I could barely see him move.” I really hope it isn’t me these girls are referring to, because 5’9 is not short for f___’s sake! They stop abruptly as if they had seen a ghost. And it is in that moment I realize my get-up, under this lighting would probably give off some Jeffery Dahmer vibes. Especially the fact that I had been pacing back and forth the porch of the pub nervously.
I take two steps back and mutter quietly, “I’m sorry…” And they immediately scurry inside, making sure to tilt their bodies away from me, letting me know categorically that they do not want any parts of their body to come in contact with me.
Do I look that scary in this outfit?
I take a look at myself, and I realize that I actually do. I am wearing black joggers, running trainers and a large grey hoodie. I would be scared if I saw myself standing in front of the light at the entrance of a pub.
This isn’t what I should be thinking about…
Should I tell her? I don’t think I should… I mean it is not very important right. Her brother just told me to stay away from her that’s all. It’s not like I am a drug dealer or something. Wait, I think girls might actually be into that, so my situation is actually worse.
If I don’t tell her though, she might think that I think that she thinks she might…
What the hell am I saying, Nedu calm your nerves… start again.
I take a deep breath and restart my train of thought; If I tell her, it might make her think that I think that there is something between us when she might think otherwise. I mean, I don’t want to be forward or anything. I don’t want her to think that I think she likes me or anything.
Am I overthinking this? Nahhh…
If I keep it from her and she eventually finds out, she might not be able to trust me again. And that is definitely way worse.
“Nedu, is that you?”
I whip my head sideways so fast that I think my neck might actually go 360 degrees. But thankfully, it stayed put and I am staring at Ilane’s beautiful face.
“Nahh, it is the 100-meter sprint champion…” I pause, smiling smugly, “Is that who you’re looking for?” She cocks her head breaking into a coy smile.
“Not really, I am looking for plain old Nedu. Do you know where I can find him?”
I break into a large smile, and then start looking around, pretending to be searching for someone. “Err… nope, I don’t see him” I say smirking, “You’ll have to do with me then.”
“Ughhh I would not have settled for Champion Nedu, but my ass is freezing and I have no choice.” She replies, making sure she sounded as uninterested as she could be while holding back laughter.
Which then makes me break into uncontrollable cackling. “Don’t worry, plain old Nedu would understand.” I say in between snickering.
“If you’re not as funny as plain old Nedu the date is over.”
It’s a date!
My cackling turns into a quiet smile as I stare at her. “I’m ten times funnier.”
She returns the warm smile, then says: “Alright then.”
“After you.” I say, holding the pub door open.
“… can I get the burger with fries, and ermmm…” she takes a look at me from the corner of her eye, then whispers, “… and a bottle of water.”
I burst out laughing, “What is that supposed to do?” I say laughing uncontrollably, “Are you trying to trick your stomach?”
“Noooo…” she shouts in response, “You won’t understand.” Which makes me erupt in more laughter.
“Nahh nahh, no need, I don’t judge.” I say, raising my hands, trying to look as innocent as possible knowing fully well she will never live this down.
“Like you’re one to talk.” She replies while smiling slyly, “If your coach hears your order, he would probably have a heart attack.”
“Ahhhhh, don’t go there,” I say, in between giggles.
“You would probably have to run like 5 more laps than the others.” She’s now laughing with a sinister glint in her eyes.
“Alright fine, I won’t mention your perfectly normal cholesterol free order.” I say, absolutely enjoying this back and forth between us.
And she was enjoying herself too. She was smiling, laughing and talking. She looked different. She looked comfortable. And normally this is when ladies start to look unattractive, but this was different. She glowed more. It was like I was seeing a different side of her. And I absolutely loved it.
We spoke about everything. I watched her eat and watched as the pickles inside the burger spilled from the sides. I watched as her mouth expanded because of how big her bites were. I listened closely as she told me she had left Nigeria when she was just 10 years old. And how she had left her older brother back home. She told me how embarrassed she had been, when she had carried a lunch box to middle school.
She had told me how much she liked chocolates, like me. She told me her favorite show was The Originals. But then she said something so blasphemous I questioned her Nigerian heritage; she said she hated jollof rice. Who does that? How could she? Jollof rice was the second greatest export Nigeria had, after Nigerian music. And she hated it. Very questionable right?
Other than that, she was perfect. And I was happy. But I was also worried, how can someone be so perfect, I mean other than the jollof rice blasphemy. But it is impossible, everyone has a problem; for some it may be as obvious as nose picking, while for some others it may be that they fart uncontrollably. But the main thing is that everyone had a problem.
The date, carried on smoothly, and I could feel the anxiety from earlier slowly dissipate. And then she asked: “Do you know my brother?” And everything came back at once.
“Errr… yeah, I think so,” I say, trying my best to sound normal, “He’s on the track team yeah?”
“Yeah, he’s on the track team, he calls himself Derek or some s___.” She says and maybe it is because I feel guilty or something but I can’t help but feel like she is now watching me closely.
“What type of stupid name is that? No offence.” I say, mustering as much shock and disgust I could muster.
“That’s the same thing I said.” She replies laughing.
And all of a sudden, my mind goes blank. I don’t know what to say, and my lie keeps ringing in my ear. I know Derek, in fact I know his name is Damilare and his fastest time is 10.14s and I know that he is an engineering major. I stare at her, as she nonchalantly munches on her fries. Should I continue this lie?
I can’t believe this is happening to me. When a person goes through crisis like this in movies, I always thought it would be easy. Just drop the lie and enjoy your time together. But I couldn’t, I can’t lie to her. It’s just not right. Right?
“Actually, I know him.” I blurt out, making her pause her chewing. I almost laugh as she looks incredibly funny with fries sticking out of her mouth. But I keep calm and continue, “I met him and at first absolutely hated his name. But he turned out to be pretty cool and when he found out I had a huge crush on you he told me to never see you again.”
“You have a crush on me?”
“Did I say that?”
“Yeah, I think you did.”
“That’s not the point though, is it?” I say, immediately trying to change the topic, “Your brother told me to stay away from you.”
“Do not worry about that, he says that to everyone. You’ll be fine.”
“Yeah, don’t worry about it. He always does over protective s___, but he doesn’t really do anything. You’re cool.”
“I have been sweating and bloody nervous since yesterday, and everything is cool?”
“You don’t want it to be cool?” She asks evidently amused.
“I mean, there should’ve been some drama at least. This is very anti-climactic.”
“Are you disappointed?” She says smiling widely.
Oh, she’s using that my joke.
“Frankly, a little to be honest.”
“Should I burst your brain?”
“You mean more than you’ve already done? Sure, why not.” I say laughing a little.
“My brother has been sitting two tables behind you for the past 20 minutes.”
I turn around immediately, only for Dami to wave excitedly at me, while cuddling Sarah.
“What is going on right now?”
“Don’t think about it too much.” She says calmly. “So, what is this about me being your crush?”
“Errrmm… these burgers are too good.” I immediately blurt out, which makes her laugh.
How anti-climactic. But I am happy. Right?