“If I ever got around to having a wedding, I want this one.”
That was my immediate thought. From my vantage spot, I could see that the guests present numbered less than one hundred and seemed to only include young people. I was already salivating at the dancing that would ensue at the end of the boring formalities. If I could change anything though, it would have to be the suit. My groomsmen would wear jeans and T-shirts, I was sure.
My introspection was interrupted by Jimoh’s entrance with his bride, which sparked off a reverie. I remembered him coming late to Beer Barn three weeks ago where we gathered to watch the Champions league match between Arsenal and Basel. I was already there, along with Ohis and Manu, and we had our customary beers in front of us. He was grinning from ear to ear. That set me off as I didn’t believe anyone had enough reason to be that happy; so I threw in my first jab.
“This United Man, wetin dey smile you? Your mate dey here? You no go wait for Thursday night football?”
His reply was fast. “You wey dey the Champions league, you go win am?” Ohi joined in.
“No mind Buchi. Na heartbreak man. Arsenal fan. Mr Lost Causes. Even the writing wey dey give am joy, I hear say na musicians dey win their best awards now. In short, just drink your beer.”
I took my L in peace and asked Jimoh, “But dude, why are you so happy?”
“I’m getting married in two weeks man. Isn’t that enough?”
I was flummoxed to say the least. Why would someone be pleased at committing himself into an institution from which the only exit was a jail break?
So I scoffed. “And so? Are you the first? My friend, reflect soberly on the impending loss of your freedom.”
My disloyal friends turned on me again. This time it was Manu who responded. “Oga, calm down. Not everyone is cynical like you. Some of us are hopeful and believe in happiness.”
Before I could respond, Jimoh chimed in.
“His problem is that he’s like his coach. He’s a perfectionist. He wants a crossbreed of Angelina Jolie and Michelle Obama. Have you heard his checklist? Left handed Sexy, Book reading, black, Artistic, geeky, beer drinking doctor. Hopeless man. Shey he is a writer? He should create the character.”
I did not respond even though the jibes cut deep. I just drank my loyal, faithful beer. At least beer wouldn’t turn on me.
Today, watching the couple dance to their seats, I couldn’t help but envy the seamlessness with which they moved. Their happiness was evident. Little details began to come back to me. How Imade would complain of hunger to me and Jimoh’s call would come in to say he was at our office bringing her lunch. I’d dismiss it as coincidence and gripe about him not bringing me any.
I also remembered how we’d all stopped watching Saturday football games at mine and moved on to Jimoh’s because the warmth they both exuded made their place a cocoon too attractive to ignore. I recalled Jimoh asking me if I had noticed anything different about him of late. I had. His strides had become surer, his smiles more genuine and immediate, in fact his confidence was infectious. He explained it to me.
“I’m no longer alone, man. I’ve found a partner, ya namsayin‘? I’m whole. I have it all.” The realisation that I was, for all intents and purposes, alone hit me harder than an onrushing linebacker.
Looking at them both, I wondered how one could be so comfortable placing his whole essence of happiness in the hands of another human without fear, recalling when he said to us at the table.
“Unlike you man, I can’t live in fear. I’m taking the plunge. You should try it too before you become senior bachelor. Boya you are Banky W? Who do you call when you’ve had a terrible or awesome day? And don’t say your E-Reader Tablet. Shey that thing you call your girlfriend will hold you in your low periods? Even George Clooney got married. I hear Jolie is available now. Goan find visa and fulfil your fantasies.”
Sitting at the groomsmen table, I smiled remembering that last comment. The elegantly dressed bridesmaid opposite me returned my smile, erroneously thinking it was directed at her. Sneaking a glance at her hand to confirm the absence of a ring, I ignored my meticulously constructed checklist of an ideal partner, shocked everybody on the table by leaning towards her, grabbing both her hands in mine, and said:
“Hi, my name is Buchi and I’ve been wrong for so long. Now, I want to have it all like Jimoh. I don’t know you, but I’m willing to chance it. Are you?”