Photo credit: Action Creation Studios
I’m really touched by the comments received on the first post of the Unexpected series, the story of how I met the man in my life, Sayo. If you’ve left a comment, I thank you; reading them warmed my heart! If you want catch up, please do so by reading how it all started.
After Sayo and I met that Saturday morning, we spoke later in the day. He wanted to know how I felt about the way that we were introduced to each other. He was direct and no-nonsense, just like my first impression of him. I probably enjoy more nonsense than the average person, but since reaching my 30s, single males to me are either a potential spouse or nothing; I had no desire for new single male friends because as much as I was a sucker for romantic movies, that whole “best-friends-turned-lovers” thing had never ever worked for me. Knowing that I had to decide to either see Sayo as a potential husband or stop talking to him. I told him that I wanted to get to know him better which meant that I was going to do my very best to find reasons to disqualify him, not because he was a bad guy but because that’s what I do. I asked him why he agreed to get matched—he saw it as another way to meet someone and he had been praying to find love so he was ready to be in this situation.
Getting to know each other
My great-aunt, matchmaker extraordinaire, didn’t tell us much about each other, only the things that she thought might be an instant dealbreaker. For example, one of the things she told me was that Sayo’s finances were a work in progress; one of the things she told him was that I’m fat (insert cry-laughing emoji). I have a love-hate relationship with my great-aunt’s frankness: I’m insecure about my weight so I’d rather a guy I’m meeting (online or otherwise) know before we meet. That being said, remember this incident? As long as she didn’t sound kind of apologetic it’s ok that she mentioned it, but I never asked Sayo how she “broke the news” to him.
Sayo and I spent a lot of time talking during the first two days of knowing each other. He had recently gotten a passport so my natural response was to ask what the date of birth on his passport was. From past experience, I knew how fluid age could be among Nigerians, with some (not all) people shaving years off their age in order to qualify for various programs or jobs. The broken system in Nigeria, ruined no doubt by corruption, leaves many people feeling like they have no choice but to lie about their age and I get that. At the same time, my healthy fear of the law means that incorrect official documentation makes me nervous; also, I had in my head the thought that if someone can lie about their age, what other things might they lie about? As I mentioned I was trying to find reasons why things wouldn’t work between us. He had the correct age though, which I was able to verify.
While I was busy playing the elimination game, Sayo was focused on figuring out if I was wife material. He wanted to know what kind of man I was looking for. I emphasized that I wanted a man who wouldn’t hesitate to change diapers or cook. He didn’t respond! Turns out he ran out of phone credit and it was too late at night for him to buy more so the next morning, he told me what he was looking for in a wife, and he also shared his vision for his dream relationship. His response, especially the part about his dream relationship was kind of romantic but I was more focused on the fact that he hadn’t responded to what I had said about diapers and cooking! When we spoke on the phone I made sure to get his thoughts on that because if he was one of those guys who believed that only the woman can cook and change diapers, I wasn’t interested; thankfully that wasn’t the case.
I had brought my laptop to Nigeria because I thought I was going to have tons of time to blog and work on my business but I’m also a cheapskate: I went to inquire about getting an internet plan and a modem and the cost was more than I expected. I mentioned it to Sayo and he offered his modem to me to use; all I’d need to do is buy a data plan. I had decided not to put my limited funds into a data plan so I told him not to worry: I’d write my blog posts offline and publish them later.
We arranged to meet a couple of days after the initial meeting and I asked Sayo to meet me halfway between my great-aunt’s house and my grandmother’s house (where I was staying) because I wanted to avoid having other family members meet him and get involved and invested too soon as had happened in the past. This way, when things ended, I wouldn’t have to explain it to too many people; I was all about self-protection. When we met up, Sayo had his modem with him and he had bought me a whole bunch of data! My internet-loving heart was happy and that was the first thoughtful thing that caught my attention. He really didn’t have extra money lying around and he had just met me so I was particularly touched by the gesture.
At the restaurant, when our food and drinks came, he rinsed out our clean glasses before filling them with the beverage. I’m a germaphobe and I hadn’t thought of rinsing out the glasses so I found that endearing; I’m a sucker for attention to cleanliness! The date was off to a good start.
After our meal, our conversation got personal and he shared his story. The way he spoke about his dad (who had passed away just over a year ago at that point) made me teary-eyed; I’m an emotional person but this is a guy I had met just two days prior! I felt bad that he was the one who had lost his dad yet I was the one who was teary, but this was just one of several times that he’d see me teary-eyed. In retrospect, maybe that should have tipped me off that this was different, but then again, I can be emotional.
I learned a lot about him from his life story. I learned that he was a determined and hardworking person, I saw hints of leadership, and he definitely came across as mature, despite being the youngest boy and the fourth of five kids in his family (so, of course, I started calling him omo mummy—a mama’s boy). Oh! I learned that he could cook; a man who can cook has been a longstanding desire of mine.
The little things (sense of humour, observant, well-mannered)
Sayo also showed his light-hearted side which was important because I wanted a guy with a sense of humour. When getting to know anyone, I lead with my jokey side so if he was super serious and wasn’t responding to what I was putting out there, I’d have become disinterested.
He asked me what my favourite colour was—that’s not an exciting question but what I liked was that he answered his own question based on the colour he saw me wearing the most in my Facebook pictures—I liked that he was observant. During our chats he’d sometimes have to leave to attend to someone (often his mom!) and he made a point to excuse himself each time; he’s polite to a fault, which I liked—to this day I tend to vanish on him mid-conversation; I’m working on it though! He also asked me what gets me angry or annoyed; usually, I ask most of the questions at the beginning of a relationship so it was refreshing to have him take the lead.
But can someone tell me why (some) Nigerian guys, when saying good night to you, tell you to close your eyes before you sleep? Sayo’s not the first to say this to me—I find it corny (and I always ask why they say it); I don’t even know how it became a thing! But clearly it wasn’t grounds for me to stop talking to him; his kind gestures had me looking forward to our next meeting.
Read Part 3 here.