I just started dating my ‘bobo’. Yes people, the lonely days are over. He is simply lovely. There are just no words. We are both a bit advanced in years; he is five years older than I am, so naturally, this is serious dating. To this end, family has begun to creep into the matter.
I’ve always wondered what it was like to meet “man’s” parents as a bona fide iyawo (no...creeping out of his room, one shoe in hand while attempting to wear the other, mascara halfway down your face, human hair a sorry sight and his mother catching a glimpse of your tore-up-from-the-floor-upness on her way to prayer meeting at 6am does NOT count as MEETING).
I got to find out first hand. I had romanticized it in my head soooo much...alas....c’est ne pas panadol as the popular advert says.
Let me tell you my head version of meeting the folks: a buxom semi-old lady who has the same loves and taste in lace and Ankara as me, will come rushing out of the bowel of her modest home somewhere in Lagos, arms outstretched and envelope me in a bear hug while in my peripheral vision, I will see a distinguished gentle man with a cane and possibly a pipe (why not a pipe and a newsboy cap as I’m building castles in the air) beaming gently while he shakes my hand (once his buxom wife has let go of me...of course) and giving me a back pat while he says in a booming voice “Welcome to the family, my dear” And I will do the Yoruba girl full kneeling and we would all walk back into the modest house, arm in arm, gisting while I decide I’m never leaving. Then I go on to raid the buxom old lady’s wardrobe (remember she has the same taste in Ankara) as she looks on indulgently while I cart away rolls and rolls of original vlisco Ankara.
Can anyone say “is this one high????”
First off, I’m not that forward. I’m not immediately chatty when I meet people. Very rarely will I initiate conversation in a circle I am not used to. Don’t get it twisted, I have been known to and will talk your ear off when I’m comfortable, just not immediately.
So Cherry, worrapoun?
That’s how my man invited me to his family’s New Year party in a deep surburb of Lagos, let’s not dwell on that sha. I was all “oh ok cool, will love to meet the folks”. As the date drew nearer, the kind fear I begun to feel was unknown to man. I pushed back pick up for hours and hours. Eventually, I knew the jig was up. I made my way to the deep surburbs, heart in mouth. As we all know in a typical African setting, it takes a village, as such, “parents” is indicative of the ENTIRE family. Any one that is older than the bobo is some sort of father/mother figure in his life.
The reception was wonderful and I really should have felt at home. His mum met me at the gate with a massive hug and chided me for delaying pick up as long as I did while my man stood nearby; grilling and grinning.
I will take you through my three biggest fears.
1. What to wear:
this was jamb o. I don’t think he appreciated how long it took me to find dress. All my clothes took on a stripper like quality: too short, too cleavage-y, too tight, too bright, too just not good enough. I eventually decided on the most ‘Mary-Amaka’ of my dresses; a black, flowery, boat neck, sleeveless dress with pleats. I looked like I was about to teach Sunday school. Things we do for man, eh. Mr. Oga’s lack of appreciation for the time and thought that went into picking the dress led him to say “your dress is nice but you should just be yourself”. The sideeye he received was brief (cos of his family) but sufficiently malevolent. Be myself ke? Ogbeni, park well! I was being myself, just in a longer dress than he was used to. The dress is the first impression before you open your mouth. An inappropriate dress will send the mother into a tail spin and if you’ve lost the mum, you’ve lost the war. There’s only so much of ‘omo ti o look responsible, yen’ that a guy can hear before he gets tired of defending your irresponsibly dressing ass for a chit more suitable for mummy. So if you’re intending to meet your man’s folks, I will suggest the following clothing items, Kaftans, Burquas (face veils, optional), lovely non-threatening knee to ankle length unfitted, dresses. Use a belt to define your waist and flatter the dress. Nothing fitted. You’ve been warned.
2. What to say:
This one na die. In a house teeming with uncles and aunties, cousins and sister in law, brother and nephew, what to say will flee fast from your mouth, leaving you looking morose. I smiled a lot and I needed physio for my cheeks afterwards. I literally had nothing to say. Plus man was outside, determined to grill all the chickens in Lagos instead of being my ice-breaker. God is watching him. After a while, he handed me over to a cousin of his and we literally got on like a house on fire. I had been quiet for almost 2 hours periodically speaking to a friend of his, but for the most part quiet. But when I started talking to his cousin, my posture on the chair sef changed and we were just gisting away. His mum had to ask if I had met her before. Lol.
It is difficult to advice on what to say for the first meeting. But listening is a good skill too. Don’t knock it.
3. What if they don’t like me:
I am adorable…if I do say so myself…and I do. This thought didn’t cross my mind until I realized I forgot my peace offering at home almost halfway to my destination. I’m like what kind of knuckle head visits a place for the first time and not take anything. I’m going to come across as completely mannerless to his folks. Then I had a healthy dose of…DAMN! They may actually not like me. That’s a real possibility. The cure for this lies in getting to the venue. They may or may not like you. Good luck on that one.
Anyways, you’ll be glad to know I got through it unscathed. His mum was nice. His dad is the silent, stoic type and I didn’t formally meet him, so no clue on his thoughts. His uncles and aunties are pretty nice. Promises were elicited that we would visit them individually and until such a visit, they ‘did not know me’.