It was December 2012, that time of the year when all the IJGBs (I just Got Back) start coming back from The Abroad to come and snatch the girlfriends and boyfriends and bury you inside all their innit bruv.
I was just on my own jeje, maintaining my lane, when this girl I know decided to hit 18 years old. I still don’t know who sent her message, but she now decided she wanted us to have a birthday dinner. Birthday dinner? Does that mean there’ll be food?
Fam, I laid out my fresh shirt. Ironed my fine pants. Boy oh boy, I was feeling like Jidenna.
I was going with my cousin and one other guy and it took us about an hour to get to the restaurant. It was De Marquee, a fine restaurant sitting on the fourth floor of Mega Plaza in Victoria Island, Lagos. Baby boy sturvs.
Anywhere you see Buddha at the entrance of any place, you get the sense its going to be lit inside. Nirvana-inner peace and all that.
De Marquee’s makes you feel like the baby boy and baby girl you deserve to be. Snap your fingers, and one chef is already standing beside you as if it’s your daddy that owns the place. Did I mention there were about 10 other creamy girls on the table?
My God, they looked like they don’t use the toilet. Angel in Heaven and all that.
But as a good boy with home training, I just focused on my phone while the waiter took our orders. If I tell you I could pronounce half the things on that menu, I swear I’m lying. I jumped on the familiar things, like a Nigerian who likes to respect himself; Fried Rice and Lamb. They brought the food, and one girl was like, ‘oh, that is a lot!’ Me I was just looking at her like,
Baby girl didn’t know about my track record and street cred, I just told her to watch and see. When I took the first spoon of that rice, my people, my accent changed. My State of Origin changed. My country changed.
I went from this,
I transformed to somebody that came back from The Abroad. I saw myself playing ball at a park in Manchester even though my passport has only been used to open bank account. I had to call myself to order like,
The sad part was when my food was about to finish, I was like baby please don’t do this to me. Don’t die baby, multiply.
I cleared the thing when all the girls were still speaking English all over the place. Next thing they brought Buffalo Wings. For the sake of my compatriots, they need to start putting it like this on the menu;
Buffalo Wings: Normal sturv. Just deep-fried chicken wings coated in a peppery sauce and served with blue cheese dressing.
I cleared that one two. I was just clearing everything like,
Everybody finished eating and we were all gisting and catching cruise when next thing, waiter arrived with fat bill. That is when my eye cleared.
Next thing, everybody just started opening their bags and bringing out money. I was just there like,
You see British people are not like Nigerians. When Nigerians tell you to come and eat, they will pay for you. Call it stress allowance, or “thank you for coming” if you like.
But you see, British people don’t have conscience like that. They like to keep things professional. They gave me my bill. Fam, I had only half of the money in front of me in my pocket. In my mind I was like,
But on the outside I just looked like,
But when I looked at those girls again, I just started feeling sweat under my shirt, inside Air Conditioning.
I just started looking at my cousin and giving him eye.
I stood up and went to the toilet, and because he’s not a bastard, he stood up a few minutes later and followed me. That was how my guy just balanced me cash and saved our children’s children that day. But he first laughed at me and me I was just looking like,
When I walked out of that bathroom, all the Jidenna self-esteem I arrived with had transformed to Mr Ibu. Maybe the girls guessed what happened, maybe they didn’t. But I learned one lesson that day; when you’re dealing with Brits, or Nigerian-Brits, or whatever, always carry your own wallet.
It's a cold world out there.