When it comes to cleaning, the most a man is likely to do when it comes to spillage is throw a paper towel over a mess and hope for the best. Yes, yes, I know I sound like a man-hater but the truth is that this whole cleaning lady phenomenon boomed because single men hired these professionals to clean their bachelor pads. And married men hire cleaners because their wives nagged requested it because everyone else on the block had a cleaning lady.
I don’t think I will be one of those that will be getting a cleaning lady no matter how much I nag ask because last weekend, while Turtle and I watched the Dexter Season Three marathon over the weekend, he did something quite remarkable. Half way through episode eight, he spilled his glass of red wine on his cream colored carpet. Next thing I know, bobo was up and out of the couch in a flash. He went into the bathroom, grabbed some cleaning stuff and raced back into the room. Then he was on his hands and knees splashing this and dabbing that, then using a rag to scrub vigorously. Before my very eyes, his carpet was back to how it was before. This RED WINE we are talking about people! The killer of fabrics! The ruiner of carpets! The maker of drycleaing fortunes!
At first I was like ‘WTF.’ This dude is making me look bad. Then I was like ‘wow’ since I could recall numerous battles with carpet stains that I had lost. I had new-found respect for him. I was said, “whoa. How did you do that?”
He stood up, flicked his eighties hair back and said, “It’s all about speed, baby.”
I am in awe.
P.S. Just figured I can’t call him Mr. Clean since he has a full head of eighties hair.
We tend to break up our social groups in two. There is the American group and there is the Diaspora group. With our American friends, going out is quite simple. If you want to dine out with your spouse or significant other or friend, you two will probably call another American couple make it a four-some and go to Apple Bees or Chili’s or Olive Garden. You eat, drink and chat and afterwards you split the bill and go home – all within two hours. Simple enough abi? Now let’s switch to the Diaspora group. For the sake of examplification (Zebrudaya I thank you for your ejumacation) I will make the group Nigerians.
Say you want to have a nice dinner out with a friend – you call that friend (let’s say his name is John) and make plans. So imagine your surprise when your nice dinner for two becomes a party of nine. You are likely to be slightly irritated because John called Nneka who called Bolaji who called Tayo who called Bose who called Emeka who called Chinedu, and because Jennifer and Salau were already at his house, they came along too.
The size of your dining party is only the minor irritation. The major headache is that when you go to pick up John, he tells you that you have to go pick up Nneka. When you go pick up Nneka, she will inform you that Bolaji too needs a ride. When you get to Bolaji’s house, Bose and Emeka are waiting. So, all six of you squeeze into your small 1998 Toyota Corolla. Luckily for you, Chinedu Jennifer and Salau arrived in another car. After your cab duty, you suck up your annoyance and eat and drink and merry with your companions who in real life are really just acquaintances. You only probably met three of them at the club last weekend. But that is okay, you are all Nigerians in America and hence brethren. Until the bill arrives, then you notice it has been placed squarely in front of you. If you are a man, you will likely want to impress the women and instead of snapping your fingers and saying, “oya make una contribute money now now!” You whip out our credit card, cross your fingers and hope you are not over your limit. You silently swear at your friend John for his big mouth and small wallet and vow that next time, you will only go out with your boring American friends.
Sometimes in the morning before heading to work, I take a good look at myself in the mirror and I laugh at myself. I laugh because I am about to hit the switch that will change me into this Americanized version of myself. Everything about me makes me laugh. My hair, make-up, clothes, even the sandwich in my brown bag makes me laugh. The fact that last night’s dinner of egusi and pounded yam still seats comfortably in my tummy makes me laugh. When I move, it jiggles…that makes me laugh. I laugh because I dare not, I repeat – dare not – take egusi to work for lunch. Career suicide does not begin to describe the aftermath. In fact, the last time I tried it (back in 1998 when I worked as a cashier in a store) they fumigated the entire break room. It took a week to remove the smell of okpoloko. Don’t blame me. I was a JJC.
So why am I so tickled? Because we have become experts at being what I call ‘culturally schizophrenic.’ We are one thing and we are another and neither one is fully authentic. Everything about us is dual in nature. Most of our duality, we accumulated over time. Call it self-preservation, call it Americanization. Either way, it is God’s way of playing games with us. Let me illustrate some differences between my two selves with this magic switch.
||Switch on: Work
||Switch off: Home
|Lounging during free time
||I sit in reception areas making small talk (that is quite useless in itself but means life or death in your career) with co-workers
||Singlet and ogodo, watching Nigerian movies. Onwele ebe m n’eje?
||“William, I think the the Cardinals have a chance at the superbowl this year.”
||I order a salad (goat food) and try to eat with a knife and fork while I talk to co-workers. Don’t these people you don’t eat and talk at the same time?
||Ofe onugbu and akpu. Silence until the very last ‘gboom’ sound of akpu hits my stomach.
||I say ‘oh really?’ and ‘awesome dude,’ where appropriate.
||‘Oga, ikwusi kwene! Na you biko. After you, nobody.’
||I listen to chamber music and stand around with other co-workers drinking virgin (no alcohol) punch. No use getting into trouble because I am over-served.
||Daquiri, Long Island iced tea, vodka redbull or the King of Beers (Heineken). Jamming to soukous music in Tropical Hut in Detroit (before all the gang bangers took over).
|Drinking tea or coffee
||I go to appropriate tea room downtown, order green tea with some random pastry. Take tiny sips and nibble at pastry. I carefully dab my lips with napkin when I am done.
||Get a jug, pour hot water, make big jug (not pot) of lipton tea or ovaltine with lots of Nido milk and eight cubes of sugar. Pour myself a big ugly plastic cup. Take a big slice of naija bread slather lots of margarine and dip a chunk into the tea. Yum. Wipe my mouth with the back of my hand.
So you see why I laugh….yes, only crazy people laugh by themselves but then take a good look at yourself as a Nigerian in America and you will laugh too.
PS: Blogville, should I make this a two part series? ‘Cus there is a lot to talk about on this issue.