My Ill-Fated Nigerian Wedding

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Driving to work last week I caught a clip of a morning talk show. (For the record, I detest those because the idea of talking in the morning is about as appealing as seeing Justin Bieber’s mug shot on CNN. Talking should be illegal before reasonable hours, like 10 a.m. Especially on these shows when they find it acceptable to discuss everything from sexual positions to placentas to plastic surgery at 6:30 in the morning.) So it was unusual for me to be listening to such insanity, but I caught a segment in which they asked people to call in if they had former in-laws that couldn’t let go of them. The relationship was dead and over, both parties had moved on, but there was an in-law who refused to accept the relationship defeat.

This particular prompt made me tempted to call in. Though I never married the guy, I did have a lingering ex’s mother who wished we had–and continued to be clear about it. Ironic, considering I never received wind of such an affinity for me while we were dating.

A few months ago, I was painting my room and an unknown number called my cell. Clearly, I was looking for a break from the ladder and paint roller, as I quickly picked up the mystery call. When I answered, a thick Nigerian accent warmly greeted me on the other end.

 “Chloe, how ARE you?”

It really is too bad that a Nigerian accent doesn’t translate onto the page. It’s a beautiful dialect, a dialect that I can pick out anywhere after dating a Nigerian for two years. Although after too many cocktails, I begin to think anyone’s accent is Nigerian.

“Are you from northern or southern Nigeria?” I’ll slur to an innocent bar stool neighbor.

“Um, I’m from Canada.”

So I chatted a bit with my ex’s mom, as if her phone call was totally normal (she did this about once a year), as if we had just spoken last week, as if her son and I hadn’t stopped speaking after we broke up–over the phone–three years ago.

She mentioned her son was still single. Shocking, I thought. She told me the story–the same story she relayed right after we broke up, and every time we’d spoken since–about a couple she knew that broke up for a few years and now they’re happily married. She also mentioned that her son now lived in the area.

For the record, I’d prefer taking a job as Charlie Sheen’s assistant before getting back together with her son. But I just politely laughed.

Before we said our goodbyes, she said she would be praying for me, and I went back to painting my room.

I starting reflecting on why she had this affection for me considering we hadn’t been particularly close when her son and I dated. Although no one could say I didn’t try.

In the course of our two-year relationship, two of my ex’s brothers got married, which is now giving me material for Nigerian Wedding One and Nigerian Wedding Two.

The first one I made a few horrendous errors which would prepare for the second:

  • I didn’t bring a strapless bra
  • I didn’t realize that Nigerians have no interest in getting a tan
  • I didn’t know that these Nigerians judged drinkers

So, with a 101 degree fever, I tried to make the best of a weekend I quickly realized I’d spend mostly indoors. (It was in Florida. In March. And this homegirl had been hoping for some sun time–fever or not). Making the best of this situation included sneaking warm Heineken and avoiding one of Kaseko’s sisters, who grilled me about my clothes, my job, my make up, my current BAC.

The day of the wedding, it became an issue that I would not be wearing Nigerian garb to the ceremony as was expected. In the haze of my fever, I let his mom and sisters attempt to wrap me in Nigerian material. I kept thinking longingly of the new dress and shoes I bought specifically for the occasion. As several hands folded and tucked beautiful material that would make a strapless Nigerian outfit, and as my boyfriend looked silently on, I mentioned quietly to his mother that I hadn’t packed a strapless bra.

“Oh, this will not work!” she said loudly to all in the room. “Chloe does not have the proper bra!” Immediately the room began buzzing with the disappointment that was Chloe and her lack of proper lingerie. It seemed the wedding was ruined.

This was even more ammunition for my ex’s sister to hate me. No one was happier I didn’t have one, or more upset about it.”Who doesn’t pack a strapless bra?!” she asked the room indignantly and rolled her eyes. You would’ve thought I’d forgotten the alcohol. Oh wait, I wasn’t allowed to drink any.

The ceremony and reception could be described as nothing less than a cultural experience. In lieu of clapping, the women cluck their tongues and shout, “Aiy yie yie yie!” which truly is cool…when you don’t have a raging fever and pounding headache. Also, Nigerians know a lot of other Nigerians, making the non-Nigerian population (and therefore those not in traditional dress) very small. One of my ex’s sisters (not the one who hated me) is married to a 6’5″ white guy with glasses. He rocked the peach tunic, pants, and hat. As did my boyfriend…because each family wears matching outfits.

I wore a black dress. And I’d never felt so out-of-place.

Of course The Sister, aka the Devil, preyed on this insecurity: she was quick to point out how impractical my shoes were (they were adorable black silk stilettos with various colored flowers on them) and she couldn’t hide her smugness when her brother–in the midst of dancing–stepped on my big toe, making me bleed and limp for the remainder of the evening–though I tried to hide the pain to maintain some semblance of dignity…which I’m pretty sure was back home with my strapless bra.

Out of sheer ignorance, I also booked a late returning flight, you know, to maximize my sun time. I’ve never come home from Florida so pale. Or so ready for a cocktail.

However, I was hopeful knowing that another Nigerian wedding would soon be approaching and I’d have my chance at redemption. Little did I realise that would require my mother making me a Nigerian dress in 5 days, me wearing a headdress, and sneaking alcohol like I was 19 again.

But I’ll just have to save Part Two for another lull in my dating life…so like next week.

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