I pulled my car into the parking lot at Sweets and Chocolates café. I was nervous as hell, I sat back in the driver seat contemplating whether I should get out of my car and carry on as planned or just drive away, I could call him and make up some excuse. I shook my head at the thought of it. I couldn’t do that… it wouldn’t be fair to him, because I was the one who had suggested we meet in the first place.
“What is wrong with you, Ivie?” I asked myself and sighed heavily. I was never this nervous with anything or anyone and it wasn’t as if I had never been on a date before. I guess I must have really liked him to have been so nervous.
“There is nothing wrong with you,” I said to myself again.
I picked up my purse and dug through it until I found my small black mirror, the one I always kept in my bag for times like this. I could have used the rear-view mirror but it didn’t come with a compact powder.
My makeup was perfect; I had opted for a nude look. So, apart from my highlight nothing else on my face glowed. I didn’t want it to look as if I was trying too hard to impress him. Even though we had been talking and chatting frequently on the phone for the past six months, we hadn’t actually met.
I sighed again, and finally got out of my car, it was now or never. If he found a problem with me, there was nothing I could do about it. Even with that thought, I was still nervous. What if we couldn’t connect in real life and our connection was just over the phone. I shook my head again, I was already out of my car, and there was no turning back.
I straightened my flare cream coloured mini-gown with my hands, normally a pair of heels would have gone with the gown and, I would have actually preferred heels because I wasn’t tall. But, I was not allowed to wear anything besides flats, so I locked my car and walked to the cafe in my chocolate ballerina shoes.
The morning breeze worked wonders on my hair. I thought the Alice-band would be strong enough to secure my wild, natural hair; how wrong I was. My hair had been like that since I was a child. My mother said I cried every time she took me to the salon to relax it. So she had given up and let it be. As I grew, the thought never for once crossed my mind to relax my hair, I loved the way my hair looked, last year I had the tips dyed into a dull wine colour. I wouldn’t trade my hair for anything in the world. My hair and bronze-brown skin were my prized possessions.
As I walked towards the café, I added choosing Saturday as a day for us to meet to my list of regrets for the day. Sweets and Chocolates was the largest café in the city and Saturday mornings were their busiest. And at that moment, it was as if everybody in Lagos was there, including people who had only come to take pictures for Instagram. By the way, Jamal and I met on the gram.
“What were you thinking?” I asked myself again although, this time in my head. It was already bad enough that people were staring at me, wondering why I was limping. It wouldn’t do for them to think I was crazy as well. When I stood, no one noticed anything, but when I walked the discrepancy between my legs showed. My limping was even more pronounced when I tried to hide it, so I had learned earlier in life to just ignore the stares and focus on my destination instead. It was a condition I was born with and when I was a child, I walked with the aid of a shoe raise, but when I grew older the doctors decided I didn’t need it anymore.
I spotted him almost immediately I entered the café, and I sent a little prayer of thanks to heaven that he had not chosen one of the tables outside the café. Inside wasn’t as crowded as it was outside. Still, I could have chosen a quieter place.
I could tell that he had seen me too because he smiled and stood up as our eyes met. I smiled nervously back at him. I was irritated with myself, why was I so nervous?
I looked good, I owned and managed my own salon, I drove a very expensive car, I had a life many girls would die to have, yet I was nervous because I was meeting a man. But, Jamal wasn’t just any man; he was a man I really liked. And, as I walked over to his table, I concluded that if he was the man I thought he was; my limping would not matter.
“You look amazing.” He said when I got to the table, and his deep rich voice, the voice I had fallen in love with over the phone made my nervousness disappear. A combination of his voice and his smile could make a woman do anything.
We hugged and I sat at across him at the table. A young dark-skinned waiter came to our table and took our orders. I was glad that our connection wasn’t just over the phone, it was real and I enjoyed every bit of our breakfast date. He made me laugh and I enjoyed staring into his dark brown eyes. I never in my life thought that I would fall in love with a light-skinned man; I considered them too fine and too dangerous.
Jamal could pass for a model with his high cheekbones which perfectly complemented his face but he also had a depth to him. It was what drew me to him, it was something that made me kind of curious and awed about him; he wasn’t like other guys I had dated in the past. I also liked that he was not a part of the beard gang trend; I liked his clean-shaven face.
I enjoyed our date, but it bothered me that he never for once mentioned my limping and I was very sure he had noticed because he had taken a quick glance at my legs when I walked towards him.
Don’t get me wrong, I liked that he hadn’t really started at them. Although there was really nothing to stare at, they looked perfect until I walked. I also liked that he had not let it affect our date. But, I had hoped that he would at least ask me about it as he walked me to my car because I badly wanted to get that part off my chest. He still did not say anything when we got to my car; he only kissed me lightly on the cheek and waved at me as I drove out of the café.
Before the date, I had been worried that all he would see were my legs. After the date, I was worried that he had pretended not to notice my limping and hadn’t said a word about it. Even though I knew I was just working myself up for nothing, that didn’t stop me from worrying. I concluded that if he didn’t bring it up on our second date; I would.
Yes, we had made plans to meet again, and I am super excited about it.
Aminat Sanni-Kamal is an author, a lover of African literature and cats.
Image via Pixabay