While driving through traffic, she bobbed her head along to the rhythm of the fuji music playing on the radio. She let her gaze wander aimlessly and spotted the car on her wish list. It was two cars away, painted a sleek silver. “Too basic” she thought, hers would be a customised metallic bright pink chrome.
So bright that any Lastma officer with silly intentions of harassing her with “Oya, stop! park!”, would be blinded by the sun’s reflection on the shiny chrome. The mental image made her giggle.
Like the one who stopped her the other day for applying mascara whilst driving, didn’t he realise that she was a woman? Everyone and their one-eyed neighborhood Bingo-the-dog knows that God gave women the super powers of multi-tasking.
Mimi, her childhood friend, was getting married. She’d paid Fifty Thousand Naira for the aso-ebi, five yards of turquoise guipure lace fabric with a magenta gele and it was well worth it. Such an exquisite design, Mimi had great taste. She had yet to choose a style for her outfit, the wedding was only two weeks away.
A newspaper vendor came to her car window with an array of glossy fashion and tabloid magazines. The newest edition of “Latest Fashionz” magazine caught her eye. The cover page had the photographs of a number of women stylishly clad in lace garments with artfully tied gele head wraps, beautiful jewelry and perfectly applied make-up.
Nigerian women loved to look good! The ladies posed for the pictures, some knowingly, some unknowingly and others pretentiously unknowingly.
She rolled down the glass:
“Fine sister, which one do you want?”
“That one, please”
She had spotted a stunning design and pictured herself in the dress, she preferred a lower neckline though to tastefully display a little hint of her ample bosom. Ah! LAGOS BOYS ARE NOT READY! She smiled naughtily.
The traffic soon eased, a truck had hit a saloon car and both drivers were having an argument which was what caused the blockage. She chuckled and drove past them.
The following day was a Saturday, she drove down to her tailor’s shop with both the magazine and fabric in tow. She found a nice parking space in front of “Lady Bee Couture” shop owned by the delectable Beatrice (“Call me ‘Bee’ for short”).
After exchanging pleasantries, she explained what she wanted and Lady Bee assured her, not unlike Olivia Pope, to “Consider it handled“.
“Please make it extremely fitted, let it wrap my body like a first-aid bandage”. She wanted the dress to accentuate her hourglass figure. But on second thought, Ah! There’d be no “feeding allowance” to accommodate the bulge from the many plates of party jollof rice, with its distinct burnt firewood flavour, that she planned to devour at the wedding reception.
Oh well… she shrugged, no Jollof rice for me this time. But oh! she remembered that Mimi had let on that the renowned Chef Gbogbonishe would be catering the occassion. Hmmm… a spoonful or two would do, she decided.
A week later, during her lunch break at work, she called Lady Bee to check if things were on track, “Yes! Yes! Yes! you’ll love it, I even added my special touch, just for you”. Beatrice had a funny habit of triple yeses and noes.
She grinned and did a little jig for delight in her swivel chair. Ah! The other Aso-ebi ladies won’t know what hit them!
The following Friday, a day before the wedding, she left work early enough and drove to Lady Bee Couture. She got there at about 5:45pm, Beatrice wasn’t in the shop but an apprentice was there to attend to her.
“Please go into the dressing room Ma, I have placed your dress in there”
“Thank you” she said brightly
She was giddy with anticipation as she parted the curtains to the dressing room. She caught her reflection in the full-length mirror, she looked very pretty. T.G.I.F! It was Jennifer’s birthday today, she and a few other friends had planned a night of croaky karaoke singing, delicious cocktails and dancing at the newest hip bar in the city centre.
Her gaze caught the turquoise fabric, she gave a small gasp as a trance-like feeling slowly engulfed her senses. There was a huge pink bow across the top of the dress and several miniature bows scattered around the dress, like a blown-up replica of a toddler’s party dress.
She almost rubbed her eyes as if to erase the visual assault, but didn’t want to risk smudging her eye-liner. “Was that the “special touch?” She asked herself in surprise.
She quickly undressed and tried the dress on. To her amazement the nightmare wasn’t over. There was a small pouch, similar to a female Kangaroo’s, in the area where her flat tummy should have been accentuated had the dress been skin-tight in accordance with her instructions.
And why oh why was she glittering? She wondered. Then she saw it. The lace was lined with the most garish multi-coloured sequined fabric, which peeked through the spaces between the guipure motifs.
It felt like an out-of-body experience when she remembered that the wedding was holding the very next day.
The mental image of herself certainly NOT killing Lagos boys and girls, left, right and centre whilst dressed as a Disney princess slash Mobile disco ball slash Maternal Australian jumping animal tortured her so badly that her mouth opened, as if of its own accord and a piercing shriek erupted.
Till this day, Lagosians tell the story of that mysterious Friday when at about 6:05pm a loud “BEEEAAATTTRRREEEEECE!!!” was heard in every corner of the city.
Some say it caused a stampede, some say they left their cars parked in the middle of the road and took to their heels, some even claim they felt tremors in the ground and some say it was Hurricane Beatrice.
Did you hear it? 😉