Guest Without A Passport
Posted by Talka NG
The moral of this story is so very important that I have to mention it before any other thing starts. Never go to a family event with a family you just met and also where you do not know the other families. Essentially, Do not go to a family event without you own family, it’s the one of most uncomfortable and awkward positions you can put yourself in. I learned the hard way.
A very new friend of mine invited me to the birthday dinner of a cousin of he’s at a restaurant within working distance of my house. I had misgivings, which were somewhat mollified when he told me that there would be a variety of food and wine, and so I considered. I met my new friend, Dave (I will call him Dave for the sake of anonymity, because no one invites you to a family function so you can go blog how bad it was for you) at a bus stop recently in Victoria Island where we were both stranded. Due to the artificially induced fuel scarcity in the country, finding a bus had become such a chore. We immediately bonded over our mutual disdain of the current political and economic predicament of Nigeria; suffice to say the friendship was an instant hit. Now when I think about it, I wonder how many friendships have germinated from a shared dislike over some political or economic situation, I am guessing a lot, because living in a country like Nigeria, one thing you can count on is for the leaders to always give you something to make your life miserable and thus give its citizens the opportunity to engage in heated debates about them. Eventually Dave and I finally found our way home that evening.
Dave comes from one of those nascent bi-ethnic families in Nigeria. His mum is Yoruba while his dad is Igbo. So unlike me, he had the privileged opportunity to learn two languages. I have always wondered how my life would be like if my parents were from two different tribes, there would be a lot of harmonizing to do but otherwise I think it would have been overly awesome.
The Dinner was to start at 7pm. But as the time drew closer I began to ponder the implications of accepting the invite, given that the only person I knew was dave, in what was going to be the combination of two different families with over twenty people. At 6:30 pm I contemplated calling in sick or just flat out bolting, but I did neither. At 7:10pm I got a text from Dave asking me if I was there already, it was my chance to finally give an excuse and bolt, but I did not and instead I replied “I am on my way”. I reluctantly peeled myself off the living room sofa and headed for the bathroom. At this time I was already 30 minutes late Nigerian style (there is a self-imposed stereotype that Nigerians are always late for events and so you would often hear the phrase “No Nigerian Time”).
At 7:45 I arrived at the venue, thinking I was going to be the last one to come in, but to my surprise I was the first there. Dave and a few of his relatives arrived about 5 minutes after me; we took a couple of pictures before heading in. Upon entering the restaurant I realized with it was a buffet. How wonderful, I would not be subjected to the miserly hands of discontented servers. We moved around seeking for the biggest table to sit everyone else, eventually we found one. (I don’t know why I keep using the word “we”, there was no “We”, there was just “Me” and “them”. They made all the decisions and I just went along like an obedient German Sheppard dog). A few minutes later everyone was present. Dave introduced me to aunties, uncles, cousins, sisters, brothers, nephew, nieces etc whose names I honestly can’t remember.
They began by catching up with each other, with questions like; “where are you working now?” “how is that is that angry boss of yours?” “Looks like the weight-loss program is beginning to yield results right?” “Dave, where is Ifeoma (his girlfriend)?” etc. I on the other was just hanging on the sideline, smiling courteously at anyone who made out a few seconds during their own catch-up conversation to make eye contact with me. This “family catch-up” went on for the next grueling 20 minutes. One question led to another and longer responses, I tried to make conversation a couple of times, but their lifespan was shortened by reluctant shot answers. One older lady actually made an attempt to get to know me, she was asking me about my hometown, and the conversation lasted for about 20 seconds until it was cut abruptly by a strong cough from her. It was as if the cough had killed her interest in me. I went back to my former state of awkward solitude.
I felt like a foreigner in a different country without a passport. I became an embodiment of awkward conversations, laughing at unfunny jokes out of courtesy. At some point I began to despise Dave for bringing me to such an event and abandoning me. Because the minute we got in the restaurant, he was engaged by different family members for most of the time. After what felt like a hundred hours I finally decided I could not stand it anymore. I stood up and pull a lie out of my ass, I told them I had a dental procedure done earlier and that I needed to go home and rest. Dave asked one of his cousins to escort me out, which I thought was weird, but then again I had only just met Dave twice before the Dinner.
Remembering this event just brings up pent-up hate in me, so I am going to end this post here. NEVER GO FOR A STRANGER’S FAMILY EVENT WITHOUT YOUR OWN FAMILY OR FRIENDS.
Thank you for reading.
About Talka NGMy brain is all over the place, help me put the pieces back together.
Posted on October 26, 2012, in Daily Promt, Family, Tell us about something you’ve done that you would advise a friend never to do. and tagged awkward, dinner, family, foreigner, Fuel Scarcity, INSPIRATION, Lagos, Mike Obiora, NABLOPOMO, Nigeria, POST IDEAS, social, social interaction, Tell us about something you’ve done that you would advise a friend never to do., WRITING PROMPT. Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.