Best Friends

“Can I help put on that shoe?” The curvy shop attendant asks Marvin.

“Nyenyai nyenyu nyu nyo nya nyu? Nkt!” I reply in my thoughts. “Silly woman, he has his own hands. Can’t you see?” I mutter inaudibly.

“No thanks ma’am, I am fine. Thanks for the kind offer though” Marvin replies with a smile before grinning at me.

“I think that she also likes me. You know, when you are a man of substance…… and vision……. and class like I am, the ladies come in plenty” He goes on to gloat dramatically after the shop attendant had left.

“Whatever!” I reply nonchalantly.

“Ellen, your nasty attitude is the reason why you have been single since ending things with that fool Jared. Smile a little more. Plus, my friend John really likes you and……”

“Don’t mention that idiot John again OK? He is not my type. I don’t date losers.” I interrupt him.

“But Jared was a loser.” Marvin replies cheekily amid small laughs.

“Idiot!!” I retort hitting his ducking head with my tiny purse as he giggles naughtily. “I came here to offer you my highly sought-after expert fashion advise and you are acting all matchmaker and Dr Phill on me?”

“Come on Ellen! Give John a chance. The brother man is fine, cool, and really has the hots for you. He will fix all the wounds that the foolish Jared left.” He nudges me while smiling sheepishly.

“Normalize referring to my exes with some respect OK? I don’t have any wounds to be fixed.” I say trying to look serious.

Marvin and I had been inseparable since childhood. We grew up in the lecturers’ quarters where my mother and his father taught in the nearby college. Marvin was my best friend and I was his. Sometimes I suspected that my overprotective dad secretly hated my admiration for him. But how would I fail to admire Marvin? He defended me from bullies in school, helped me with my Math assignments, talked to teachers on my behalf because he was the teachers’ pet. Marvin even exempted me from the noisemakers list when he was the class prefect. We always went home together and hang out a lot. Ours was a lifetime of friendship filled with tons of inside jokes and one that weathered all the storms of life, not even the awkwardness of adolescence could separate us.

On this day he asked me to escort him to the shop to buy a new pair of shoes. Apparently, he had a date with the proud Suzzy and he wanted to make an impression on her. We had just shopped for a new outfit that he would wear to this supposed date a few days ago and I couldn’t stop rolling my eyes at how much effort he was making to please her. I never liked Suzzy, I found her a little too conceited and overbearing. She walked around as if she breathed in flavored oxygen while the rest of us commoners used the lowest quality of oxygen available. Suzzy was a tad too loud, vain and self-absorbed for my liking. In all honesty, she had all the traits of a crazy girlfriend but my best friend here was in madly love with that! It made me sick to my core, but I dragged myself to the store after all, what were best friends for anyway?

After getting the perfect pair of shoes Marvin and I walk out of the store and he could not stop talking about Suzzy. Oh Suzzy this, Suzzy that arrrghh! But then again, we were best friends right? Marvin then suggests that we get ice cream at our favorite spot for our usual mint chocolate chip flavor. I follow him hoping that the Suzzy talk would not be extended to our ice cream date.

“Ellen I am serious about you and John dating. Why are you so hard-headed? Huh?” He asks while perching himself on one of the high stools.

“That is for me to be serious about. What if I am happy alone?” I reply with a question.

A petite waitress bringing our long-awaited ice cream interrupts us. “Enjoy your ice cream.” She says with a smile before sashaying away.

“It’s been a while since we had this ice cream together,” I say before tasting the dripping goodness of my ice cream.

“Don’t try and change the topic missy!” Marvin quickly responds. “I saw how your break up with Jared scarred you. And I know John. He is a good guy.” He pleads

“Why can’t he speak for himself?” I retort.

“So if he spoke for himself you would consider?” He smiles.

“Marvin thanks for your concern but I am not dating right now or anytime soon. I am happy being single. Self-love tings Marvin! And you should end your match-making career already it doesn’t look good on you!” I say amid giggles.

“That self-love bullshit you are on doesn’t look good on you either. Get a man Ellen!” He retorts laughing louder.

***************************

The following day I meet up with my friend Weks after church. Weks and I had been friends since high school and were lucky enough to get admitted to the same university where she studied Project Management while I studied Business Commerce. Weks was bubbly and very expressive unlike the reserved me. We were so different but that only spiced up our friendship. On this day we had agreed to meet up at her parents’ house now that we were on semester break. She wanted me to help her with her project and catch up on some gossip. I knock on her door and she opens it smiling ear to ear.

“Elleeeeeeeen!!”Wassup baby girl!” She hugs me excitedly.

For a few seconds and I soak into the hug and feel the love. Weks was always dramatic. Ever excited to see me. Honestly, if I ever married a man who would be half as happy as Weks was to see me every day, then that marriage would last several lifetimes.

“Weks! Love. I am good and you?” I reply while detaching myself from the hug.

“Just so happy to see you, dear.” She hugs me again.

“I am happy too,” I reply with a smile.

We hurriedly get into the house because the gossip she has can’t wait. The plan was to start with the project but this is Weks, and gossip is one of the pillars of our friendship.

“You won’t believe who I spotted out on a date yesterday!” Weks says after locking us in her bedroom.

“Who?” I reply pregnant with the expectation of juicy gossip.

“Jared! He was out on a date with Milli.”

“Which Milli?”

“Milli the campus chairman’s girlfriend. Ellen I told you that guy was not the one for you. But do you ever listen?”

“Look Weks I don’t want to talk about Jared right now. We already broke up. OK? Let’s just get into the project already. This Jared talk is making me sick.”

“Calm down Ellen. I am sorry. But you need to tell me why you bailed out on our plans yesterday.”

“I told you. Marvin needed some help shopping for new shoes.”

“Kwani he doesn’t have eyes?”

“Weks, he is my best friend.”

“And so am I.”

“Are you jealous of my friendship with Marvin?” I chuckle.

“No. I just worry that you have been in love with him all along and one day you two will get together, and now he will be your boyfriend and best friend. Then he will take all your time because he will be both your best friend and boyfriend and I won’t have someone to gossip with.” Weks frowns.

“Hahaha! Do you even hear yourself? Marvin is just my best friend. The last thing I want to do is ruin a friendship that has lasted for years with some useless feelings. Plus he dating that Suzzy chic now.” I replied rolling my eyes.

“And does it bother you?”

“What?”

“That Marvin likes Suzzy?”

“Of course not!” I quip

“Well, it better not. Do you know why the Fugees broke up?”

“There you go again with your celebrity stories!”

“The Fugees broke up because of the romantic relationship between Lauryn Hill and Wyclef Jean. That is what romance between friends causes…….chaos and hate.”

“So how is that information related to me?”

“I am just warning you. I don’t know why you have hated every woman Marvin has dated. Should you have feelings for Marvin, suppress them as much as you can, because if you dare have a relationship shit will hit the fan real quick. And you will lose your best friend.”

I crack a sarcastic laugh but deep down, I know she is right. Having a relationship with Marvin would be a huge mistake. Never mind that I had loved him since the first day he beat up Bosco the bully who had terrorized my little brother and I for years. Furthermore, what would I gain expressing my feelings for a man who was head over heels for the conceited Suzzy. The last time I told Marvin that I loved him, he hugged me and said. “I love you too my amazing best friend.”

Don’t go build no life without me ’cause you’re mine still

Yung Bleu