Tuesday, 14 February 2012 09:00

Confessions Of A Woman Wrapper

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I am married, happily married. I am a woman wrapper, yes, I won't lie, I am a woman wrapper, I do whatever my wonderful, lovely, gorgeous wife wants me to do, who wan die? I have said it; oya, sue me. as I write, she is looking over my shoulders and dictating every word of this wonderful essay. No, it is the truth; I am happily married to my wonderful, lovely, gorgeous wife. Actually every happily married man is a woman wrapper. Any man who says he does not take "nonsense" from his wife is divorced or dead or both.

Priceless marriage tip: If a man ever tells you, "I will not take that from my wife, mba O!" na lie, it is a big lie, the yeye man takes that and more from his wife and thanks his wife for the privilege of taking nonsense from her! Even my father, the dreaded Papalolo, was a woman wrapper. Don't mind him, he is still very alive and he is still a woman wrapper. When I was growing up, we called him "Na Because Of You" behind his back. You see, my mother was a very reasonable person, however, whenever she was pregnant, she loved driving my father insane. In the middle of the night, she would wake up and sweetly request that my father go out and split the firewood for tomorrow's cooking. My father would gnash his teeth like Okonkwo, turn to me and hiss: "Na because of you O, it is because of you that I am going to do this!" And he would go out and split the firewood! At midnight! Whenever my dad resumed splitting firewood in the dead of night, the village knew Mamalolo was pregnant again. I am lying of course, in the sixties, we cooked with gas and we used our microwave to warm our low-fat milk and NO ONE would dare interrupt my father as he watched American Idol on his plasma TV - but you get my gist sha.

Even my lovely daughter Ominira thinks I am a woman wrapper. She is always sending me on errands. If Ominira wants me to take her to the shopping mall to buy school supplies for her advanced algebra class (lipstick, lip gloss, shoes, Gucci handbags, etc) she will call her mall-going friend on the phone (she doesn't like to buy school supplies by herself, Gawd forbid bad ting!), and she will say, "Hey Natalie! My daddy is taking us to the mall!" And Natalie will say on the phone, "Cool, Omi! My daddy will bring us back!" Ominira will pick up the car keys, hand them to me and she will say sweetly, "Come on daddy, let's go, WE will be late for the mall! We are picking up Natalie!" I will be jumping up and down threatening fire and brimstone on her for disturbing my nap and I will be threatening not to go to the mall - all the way to the mall. It is not easy to be a father!

All married men are woman wrappers. I can prove it. My fellow men, this is easily the most important essay I have ever written, so listen to me carefully. Do not ever, ever, ever settle a quarrel between husband and wife by taking the husband's side. That would be stupid. Once you exhibit such an appallingly poor judgment, you are dead and the yeye man you were supporting in the fight will help his wife to bury you. What you do is, even before you hear what the awful man did to his sweet innocent wife, start yelling at the man thusly, "Ah! Ah! You are a stupid useless man! What is wrong with you? Idiot! Olosi! Shebi you are misbehaving because she broke your head with a cutlass? It is only your head! Abeg go and buy another head in the market! Agbaya! Ode buruku! Stupid, useless fool!" Men, women like that kind of sh*t. She will immediately wipe her tears with her wrapper, bring you some more very cold beer, call you her King Solomon and ask you to sit down to judge the case some more. If you are lucky and your wisdom is really flowing (to the detriment of your best friend) she might throw in a good bowl of piping hot fresh fish peppersoup. Again, do not, I repeat, do not ever take the man's side. Literally and figuratively throw him under the bus! If you don't, at night after the woman has calmed him down in bed with her God-given gifts, he is throwing you under that bus - for, get this, for trying to ruin his marriage. I say throw him under the bus, if he survives your perfidy, he will forgive you, men are foolish that way. If you don't take the woman's side, she will never, ever, ever forgive you, trust me, this is the voice of experience talking. Ask my wife, actually, ask my mother, no ask my sisters. They keep a list of losers who interfered in their marriages and all the losers might as well be dead as far as the lovely women in my life are concerned. If God forbid, I ever get in a fight with my lovely gorgeous wife, and I call you for help, I beg you, please don't take my side. When the fight is over, you are dead and I will help my wife bury your sorry behind.

When I first came to America, I lived with an older cousin of mine for a time. Nice guy, very nice guy. His wife was even nicer (I am not just saying this because she reads my great column on Next). He loved to play tennis with me because I was the only one in all of America he could beat (if you are reading this at Mile 2, first of all please pay for the damn newspaper and then please add "lawn" to tennis). Anyway, my friend liked to play tennis with me, I hated playing tennis with him but the wife's pounded yam and okro stew was worth the humiliation of allowing this yeye man to beat me in tennis. Each time, as we would get ready to step out the door to play tennis, the madam would say, "Abeg, dear, buy me okro when una dey come back, you know how Ikhide loves pounded yam and okro stew!" Ai, this simple reasonable request would immediately cause major upheaval in my friend's nervous system. He would start raking right there and then, making unnecessary noise. "Ah! You dis woman! Why O why is it that whenever I am going to do something important you always send me on errands? I am really, really tired of this nonsense O! I don't care if St. Peter comes down from the Pearly gates; I am not buying that okro today! If I buy that okro may Amadioha cut off my head" And I would be thinking, Amadioha! Wetin concern Amadioha with Ishan man? The wife would shrug her shoulders sweetly, say nothing, and simply wave us goodbye. My cousin would proceed to ruin our tennis game by complaining about this latest travesty by his wife and he would swear to me that, as Allah is his witness, he is not going to buy the okro today, let her go and buy the okro herself! He would turn to me and say, "Ikhide, this is a matter of principle. I am teaching you how to be a real man in firm control of your household! If I allow her to get away with this, one day President Jimmy Carter will invite me to the White House, guess what, she will ask me to buy okro on the way home!" You know, it never fails, after such a miserable game of tennis, after all the raking, after all the drama, on the way home, he would suddenly end up at the grocery store to buy - you guessed it - okro! And he would say, "Ikhide, na because of you O! If not because of you, that woman for see pepper today!" My cousin taught me in his own way, that it doesn't help your blood pressure to disobey your wife!

Well, why am I rambling like this? We just celebrated Mother's Day in America and all the men in America did some serious eye-service (sucking up) to all the women in our lives. I am talking flowers, chocolate, cards and really, really bad poetry! As happens every year, the phone lines were jammed, every man calling home to mama, mama pikin, etc, saying I LOVE YOU! Who wan die? Contrast this shameless show of eye-service with what does not happen on Father's Day. Yeah, on Father's Day us long-suffering men usually sit around the house dropping big fat hints to the women in our lives plus other loved ones regarding the awesome importance of said Father's Day thusly. "My pikin, abeg spell F-A-T-H-E-R'-S D-A-Y!" "DO YOU LOVE YOUR FATHER????" that kind of thing. Unlike on Mother's Day, the phone lines are not jammed, you can call your father and the call will go through. All of you people out there, try this trick, on Father's Day, pick up the phone, and call your father. The call will go through and your father will be happy.

It is not easy being a father especially when you don't get credit for it. You do get FULL CREDIT for your fatherhood in divorce court, trust me. In my next life, after I am born, if I look down below and I see that eh I am a man, I shall run back into my mother's stomach. One lifetime of being a disenfranchised, disenchanted papa is enough (sounds like the Nigerian electorate, heh! heh! heh! heh!) On second thought, maybe not. I may come back to this earth as a woman and find that this time around, men are actually in charge. That would be wrong! Talk about double jeopardy! Besides, I do think the life of a woman is tough! They get to sleep with all sorts of ugly men! Even as handsome as I am, sometimes especially first thing in the morning, I look at myself in the mirror and I shudder at the thought of sleeping with me. My greatest nightmare is waking up in the morning as a beautiful woman, looking sideways in bed to see Chief General Dr. Olusegun Obasanjo, Father of the Nation, breathing acidic fumes in my face and uttering the romantic words "Hi honey! Abeg now, give me some!" Shudder! There is not enough money in this lifetime to suffer that trauma!

But on Mother's Day, I do get jealous of the womenfolk. I don't get it; I mean why are the women folk all so much more popular than us great dads? I remember when the late great musician Nico Mbarga put together that immortal song 'Sweet Mother'. At the time, there were only 30 million Nigerians on earth. That song sold 300 million copies. There is no house today that houses a Nigerian man married to a Nigerian woman that does not have Sweet Mother. When you are in the dog house, what do you do? You put that song on and the love of your life (your wife of course) starts rocking and invites you out of jail! Well, what is generally not known is that based on the rocking success of Sweet Mother, Nico Mbarga was persuaded by Nigerian men to record Sweet Father. Only 300 copies were sold. Today, no one can prove definitely that any such song ever existed. We get no respect!

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Ikhide Ikheloa

Ikhide Roland Ikheloa is the Chief of Staff to the Board of Montgomery County Public Schools in Rockville, Maryland, (MCPS) USA, where he has been working since 1987, beginning as Business Manager at Gaithersburg High School and as a Budget and Management Specialist for MCPS. He is a bachelor's degree holder in Biochemistry from the University of Benin and MBA degree from the University of Mississippi in Oxford Mississippi.