I recall the words of my mother as she hammered in certain values into my young mind as I took my baby steps and gradually leaped into manhood. Such buzz words like hard work, loyalty, commitment, respect, integrity and firing squads (or the fear of it), served as a solid platform in my youth.
As I grew into a rebellious adolescent, and subsequently an adult, I was driven by a desire to experiment and do “different stuff” within limit! This naturally led me to the other side of the fence every now and then, and oh how I remember those days when I was young and foolish, where mama’s words always guided me home and the thought of a good lashing seemed to make me a better person… still, I climbed the fence.
[Faint echo as the breeze blows softly, sending my hair flying around my face in slow motion (like a L’Oreal commercial) I hear the words, whatever is worth doing at all, is worth doing well.]
And so I did it well. I became a good bad-guy and started experimenting with controlled substances, in this case, alcohol and cigarettes. No one ever tells you how bitter those things are when you first taste them; rather, you are encouraged to believe that it is an acquired taste you will acquire as you indulge.
I started with larger… for my fellow almost-drunks out there; you would know that back then, beer was either presented in a big green bottle, or a brown big bottle. There were no mini or minor beers in Lagos, just good ‘ol biggies (sometimes with the oddest names).
So, larger became my friend after school and we had such a fun relationship, though not exclusive, as my pals, Tonye, Emeka and co. were always on hand to make the circle complete. I however soon learned that beer was more about quantity than quality; so I made the transition to drinking stout.
I was a Stout man from my second year in school, all through to my national service days in Abuja. It was while I was an Abuja resident that I discovered the true meaning of alcohol-induced stupidity.
Friday night with the boys, Kubwa estate, phase 4; as a young Youth Corper in Abuja, we had nothing else to do than drink, shoot pool and ogle at young girls as they crossed the threshold from girlhood to womanhood, sometimes with our kind assistance *grinning smiley*.
On this fateful day, the chap who managed the pool (snooker) table was unavailable, and the fish were not biting either, so we did the next best thing. We drank, and drank! From 8.00pm to midnight, we drank and sang merrily.
At midnight or thereabout, we began the process of bill-reconciliation to enable us pay for the alcohol we had consumed. 35 minutes, a signed I.O.U and some hard punching on a calculator, we were on our way to our respective lodgings.
I arrive in front of the semi-detached duplex I share with my uncle and I ring the bell and wait for my uncle to open the door and let me in. I wait, but he does not come. So I sit on the bench outside the house while I wait for him…in vain.
I awake on the bench at 7.00am the next morning and everything seems unusually bright and fast-paced, for a moment, I wonder where the ceiling went. Even the floor seemed to be moving under my feet (this has absolutely nothing to do with the nine bottles of small stout I consumed the night before, diligently)! I say to myself… a lot must have changed while I slept.
I try the door handle and to my surprise, the door wasn’t even locked in the first place. I dash upstairs, fumble through taking a bath and getting dressed for work, and then I dash out hoping to catch the staff bus heading to my office in Maitama.
Not surprisingly, I missed the bus! Then a bright idea hit me! I could take an okada or achaba as it is called in the Northern part of Nigeria and meet up with the bus, somewhere (#light-bulb-moment!).
Somehow, I, on the bike, chase the bus all the way from Kubwa to Maitama, going past 4 robots (traffic lights) and 3 major intersections, where I was parked side by side with the bus, but it didn’t occur to me to board it. I knew there was something I should have done each time the bus came to a stop at an intersection, but I just couldn’t figure out that exactly that was.
I endure the risky okada-driving and the sand in my eyes, but for the oddest reason I cannot fathom, it all felt good. Surprisingly, I get to the office a few seconds before the staff bus, at which time my brilliance kicks into overdrive.
I pay the bike man for the ride and struggle to force my way into the bus as everyone else tried to alight from it. I elbow and kick my way through to the back of the bus, and sit, I make myself comfortable as a strong sense of achievement and accomplishment gradually envelopes me. I made it; I finally made it, I say to myself!
Then the alcohol wears off an hour later as I am roused from sleep by an irate bus driver who threatens to beat a sense responsibility into me.
…I realized what I was supposed to do every time the bus stopped. I should have gotten off the bike and boarded the bus! I blush as I realize I had just achieved a new personal best in stupidity.
An hour later, I stopped drinking STOUT!
About the Author
Oluphemmie is passionate about life, love, living and passion. He loves to listen, learn and then express his learning. He feels life is taken way too seriously, so we all tend to miss the moments that matter the most; so he writes to express himself and freeze some of those moments in time. Currently works as part of the brand marketing value chain.