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Real Life Stories
By: Tolupe Adeoye
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This is not a relationship advice column. It is about me, ?Lupe?, a single Nigerian girl in London sharing?okay, more like ranting?about the single life, the dating scene, my dreams, aspirations, family, and the societal pressures to be with someone before I hit the big 3-0. - By Tolupe Adeoye

In my teen years and—I must confess—even now that I am a grown woman, I sometimes dream and wish that I would meet a tall, dark, and handsome guy with a husky, deep baritonevoice. He will fall in love with me at first sight—you know, all the stuff that romantic novels are made of. Someone who will sweep me off my feet,go on long walks with, travel and see the world with, walk down the aisle with…

But alas I wake up to my reality with a bang—my phone rings and it’s none other than one of my toasters. I quickly remember that he is very short (5ft 3 inches, I am 5ft 8 inches) and light-skinned (not that I have a problem with his complexion, but I love my black coffee).From the sound of his voice (so far removed from the husky bariton voice of my dreams), and if I hadn’t checked my caller ID,I would have thought it was one of my girlfriends calling.

I always wonder where and when we draw the line between reality and dreams or fantasies? When should one accept that fantasies are actually not always attainable in reality?

“Wake up and smell the coffee” is all I hear these days due to lack of men queuing up to my doorstep.

Girlfriends and family say to me, “you can never have perfection”, “your standards are damn too high and unrealistic”,“grab whatever comes your way and change it into what you want”, “forget the looks; it’s what’s inside that counts.” Are my standards too high? I think not. Surely there is a man out there who can fit some—if not all—on my wish list?

On the flip side a brother doesn’t get told this when he says, “Oh I can’t date a girl who is a size 16” or “Oh my girlfriend has to be light-skinned, with a 23-inch waist,straight, pointed ‘oyinbo’ (Caucasian) nose, lips like Angelina Jolie’s, body of Beyonce Knowles…” Nah, when a brother says this, his mates applaud him and say, “Ride on, brother, you have got great taste.”

Now enough of me being argumentative and philosophical. In less than a year, I will be the dreaded 30. I have heard and been given all manner of advice from friends and family, all of whom seem to be singing the same hymn sheet. Even though they have tried to be sensitive to the topic by not voicing out their sentiments (in the unlikely event that I get depressed),I believe they are all saying to me: Sister, if you don’t get a move on, you will be left on the shelf; just settle for any old fella that comes knocking.

Much as I know that I will never join the ‘Settling For’ brigade, I must tell you the pressure is a LOT! In any case, I have decided to compromise about a year ago and attempt a few dates with guys that would normally not tick every box on my wish list. Obviously, even though I had an open mind about this, my standards were not going to drop to drastic levels.(I am not that desperate yet!)

Strap your seat belts on, folks; I am about to share one of my funny and nightmarish courting experiences with you…

Here goes!

Enter January 2007. I got introduced to this man who lived in Nigeria.From our first conversation on the phone, he told me he was a “born again Christian”. I thought, fantastic, dude is God-fearing, and I mentally ticked box one on my list of requirements.

So we got talking—if you can call it talking, because he got into a habit of calling me every Sunday, and our conversations revolved around the same subject: church. “How was church?”, “What was the message today?”, “Did you speak to the pastor afterwards?”, he would ask me. I always obliged by answering and asking the same back. However, all attempts by yours truly to get the brother to change topic or come out of his shell—in even the tiniest,
weeniest bit—and be himself were thwarted.

Just as I was about to write him off, he said he was coming down to London to visit me. I wasn’t overly excited but, hey, don’t blame me. I didn’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth, and at that time, I thought,“who knows, things might be different when we meet in person.” He finally arrived and I went to see him that day at his friend’s house, where he stayed.

Guess the first thing we did? Yep, you guessed right. To my bemusement, he said he wanted us to pray about the discussion we were about to have, and so we prayed. Straight off thebat, there and then, he asked me to marry him. At this point I couldn’t contain myself anymore and told him I knew absolutely nothing about him, apart from the sermon his pastor gives on Sundays. This made him a bit desperate, and he invited me to ask him anything about himself, like he was a genie in a bottle granting me my three wishes.

At the end of a very long and very painful conversation, I was able to deduce that he was 43 years old, had been married for 8 years, and now divorced. According to him, his exwife was infertile, hence, their union had to end, because he wanted kids. Alarm bells go off IMMEDIATELY, and I was left thinking: what happened to for better or for worse? What happened to staying with your spouse and respecting the wedding vows you made to her?

The day felt like I had sat in one position all day long to watch paint dry—that was how exciting our meeting was. I was extremely exhausted and just wanted to bail, so I told him I had to leave. But he was like a dog with a bone; he wanted an answer to his proposal. Next thing I knew, I saw a face with wide, gaping lips coming closer to mine—faster than the speed of light. Yep, sisters, the good Christian brother wanted to kiss me on the first meeting! It wasn’t even a date, more like a job interview. Okay, I am no prude. Hell it is the 21st century after all, but heeelllllo…what happened to attraction and chemistry?!

Well I can tell you that was the end of that chapter. It wasn’t just the unsuccessful attempt to devour my face; I just knew in my gut that he was living contrary to what he claimed to believe in, and had a lot he was hiding. I believed that he had a Dr Jekyll—Mr Hyde personality. If someone can kick his wife of eight years to the curb because the poor woman could not conceive (not of her own doing), what’s the guarantee he wouldn’t do the same to another wife? Someone help me out here,please…

On a positive note, who says dreams and fantasies don’t come true? Next month, I will bring you up to speed about the tall, dark, and handsome bloke I met. Yes, you heard me right: tall, dark, and handsome… Geez was I was excited! But little did I know, little did I know… ds

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