Pangolo Junction
Life, arguments, and kunu... with Max, Nat and Zack

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Mystery Madam

Dear Reader,

Before I begin, I'm afraid to say that this will be the last post from me in a very long time. The Junction will be boarded up while I attempt to deal with what will be a very trying time involving a fair amount of personal upheaval over the next few months. But I assure you that it is NOT for lack of ideas - it is at times like this I wish that I could buy time from those who have too much of it. There are still loads of discussions that our Talkative Three are yet to have (like a discussion on Nigeria and climate change which I've been planning forever but which unfortunately hasn't made the cut-off this time).

So I will be back - it'll just take a while longer than usual. In the meantime, feel free to click on the archive links in the 'Previous' section and entertain yourself with previous posts. One thing I try to do is not to make my posts so topical that they become out-of-date - so hopefully, you'll find them just as enjoyable as when I wrote them.

Cheers, and thanks for sticking around,


(Nat and Zack are chatting in the Junction when they are interrupted by Max who walks up to their table, trailed by a man dressed in outlandish garb.)

Nat (enthusiastically):
Charlie! Good to see you again. How is business?

Charlie: Business is blessed, my brother, business is most definitely blessed.

Zack (with ill-concealed contempt): As the Bible says, wherever there is a carcass, the vultures will gather. I'm not surprised you're doing well - there is enough misery in the land for you to make a fat profit many times over.

Charlie (with a sad smile): It is as you say, Zachariah - there is much pain and anguish in the land. And it would have been much worse - were it not for men like me who act as a bulwark against the Evil Forces from the Astral Area of Azartakada. And if only you could let me banish the spirits of bitterness and rancour that dwell within you, you too could unleash your full spiritual potential in the never-ending battle against these evil forces...

Zack (in anger): I would rather be thrown into a septic tank filled with the foulest waste and crawling with the fattest maggots than allow you to lay a finger on me in the name of exorcism. (To Max) What are you doing bringing this charlatan here?

Max (evasively): Oh, just business, you know... Aaaaaanyway, what are you and Nat discussing?

Nat: Actually, I'd welcome the views of Charlie and yourself on this matter. Do you remember that story I was telling you a few weeks back about
this woman who I helped when it looked like she wasn't getting any service?

Max: Oh yes, I remember... this is the woman who rewarded you for your diligence, right?

Nat: Yes, that's right...

Zack (smirking): Except that it seems that she didn't feel that she had 'rewarded' him enough.

Max: What do you mean?

Nat: Well, she showed up at the bank again today asking after me. She said that she was really, really appreciative of what I did that other day, and she was so sorry that she hadn't really thanked me enough, and could we meet up for a meal somewhere this weekend?

Max (surprised): Really? She said that?

Charlie (pensively): Hmm... interesting...

Zack: So - what do you think it means? I've been telling our friend here that the woman is obviously smitten with him and wants to start something, but he doesn't believe me.

Nat: Why must you always assume that people have some hidden agenda? I told you that the woman was dressed like a 'big madam' - what could she possibly want from someone like me? No - I believe that she was just simply impressed by my honesty and my diligence.

Charlie: Hmm... did you say that she was dressed like a 'big madam'?

Zack (contemptuously): Why does it matter to you whether she is a big madam or not? Are you already scheming about how you can sink your fangs into her in order to suck her blood?

Charlie (in the manner of one trying to explain something to a child): Zack, I am trying to divine what her aura is so that I can channel my energies into working out what her motivation is... but perhaps these matters are beyond your understanding.

Max (interjecting before Zack can respond): I don't know... I must say that it's very unusual for a woman to be so forward in our society. You know how our people jump to the conclusion that such a woman has 'loose morals' - whatever that might mean. So I don't know that she would be bold enough to do that for that reason - perhaps she sincerely just wants to treat him to a meal, that's all.

Zack: Come on, Max! You're talking like you aren't aware of the rise of sugar mummies in Nigeria. Perhaps she is one of those women who are so strong-headed that they don't care what society thinks. Maybe she has so scared off all eligible men with her forceful ways that she has been driven to look for toyboys like Nat here.

Nat (irritated): What is the matter with you, Zack? You haven't even seen the woman, yet you have already concluded that she is a fire-breathing dragon! Anyway, I can tell you that she wasn't like that at all!

Zack (with an all knowing look): Ah... that's how they operate... they pretend to be gentle and loving as they draw the fly into their spider's net... then when it's too late... (claps his hands loudly) GBAM!

Max: And why do you paint it as such a bad thing? If she wants to have Nat as a boyfriend and Nat is willing to have her as a sugar mummy, why is that any concern of yours?

Zack: So you don't think that there will be trouble when our friend becomes a puppet to a sugar mummy? First, she'll make him give up his job, because she wants him to spend more time with her. Then she'll cut him off from his friends. And finally she'll make him a virtual slave because he will now be completely dependent on her. And that is a good thing?

Max: Zack, you're painting the picture of this relationship in unnecessarily dark colours. Sure, she'll make him give up his job - but only because she can help him set up a multi-million naira business. Of course she'll cut him off from those of his friends who are a drag on his progress - but in their place, she'll connect him with the mighty and influential, so that eventually he will take his place as a man of timbre and calibre in society, a man that she will be proud to call her husband. And that is a bad thing?

Nat (very annoyed): What is the matter with both of you? Discussing my business as though I can't make my own mind up. When did I say anything about looking for a sugar mummy?

(While the other three have been speaking, Charlie has had his head bowed, his eyes shut and his hands clasped, as though communing with some other entity. Suddenly, he lifts his head, opens his eyes and smiles.)

Nat, I have worked it all out. I have unlocked the Karmic Lock, queried the Akashic Record, and I can finally reveal this woman's innermost intentions to you.

Nat (expectantly): Perhaps you can tell me something reasonable, unlike these two (gestures dismissively at Max and Zack). So... what is she thinking?

Charlie (suddenly changing to a stern tone of voice): That woman is a top level agent from the deepest, darkest pits of Hell! She has been sent by Beelzebub himself to corrode your integrity, corrupt your morals and capture your life essence. My friend, as we speak, you are in mortal danger!

Nat (incredulously): Really?

Charlie (full of urgency): Of course! But there is no time to be lost. You will contact her and agree to a meeting with her. But when you meet, bring her here - tell her that you need to drop in and see a friend first, before going to your final destination. Do not look left or right - just come here straightaway, so that I can exorcise her of the demons that give her the strength to carry out her diabolical deeds. (Rises) I must go now - I have several powerful incantations to practice in readiness for her appearance. (Turns to Nat) Remember! This is of the utmost importance. I shall be expecting her to show up within the next twenty-four hours. Any delay could result in catastrophic consequences - the Holy Stronghold of Muazzadin could end up being breached! (And with these words, Charlie strides out of the bar. Max, Nat and Zack hold straight faces for a few seconds after he has left before falling about with laughter.)

Zack (still laughing): "Exorcise her of the demons..." The only de-mon he is going to exorcise is de-money!

Max: But you've got to admire his boldfaced confidence. Come on Nat, I'm sure that if you hadn't seen myself and Zack struggling to stop ourselves laughing, you would have robotically obeyed him and delivered your madam safely into his waiting arms.

Nat: No way! I find Charlie intriguing and even somewhat amusing... but I don't take him too seriously when he starts getting all dramatic. Still though, it does look like you need prophetic powers to try and divine the motives of people sometimes. If this woman really likes me and wants to start something, why can't she come out openly and say so? I mean, wouldn't it make the whole game of romance much less complicated if people could just declare their intentions?

Max (shaking his head): Are you mad? Leaving aside what I said earlier about society frowning on 'forward' women, the whole fun in the game of romance is the tension and suspense that comes from not knowing. Remove that, and the whole point of the game is destroyed. Instead of being a series of beautiful, intricate steps, it would become as mundane as applying for a job.

Nat: So what's wrong with that? If we can treat something like applying for a job with so much seriousness, shouldn't we treat something that is even more life changing - looking for a girlfriend - with even more seriousness? Both parties should put their cards on the table so that there is no time wasting. If you like what I have and I like what you have, then we can sign a marriage contract there and then and have done with it! Abi?

Max (with a wry smile): I admire the cold logic and reason of your solution... but really, it wouldn't work. Why should I tell you the truth about what I have if it will 'spoil show' for me? And why should I tell you the truth about what I want if it will make you think worse of me? Think about it - let's say that a man is looking for a curvy sexy lady, but he believes that what women want is a stable, responsible man. Is he likely to tell a potentially interested woman "I'm looking for a really hot babe!" or "I'm looking for someone who will provide a good home to raise a family in"?

Zack: Nonsense. You're talking like women can't see past these games. I'm sure they must suspect that men know what they might want, so they'll be on the lookout for answers that are too well-designed and tailored.

Nat: I'm confused - won't the men know that the women suspect that the men might know what the women want? And won't that mean that they will customise their answers even further?

Zack (scratching his head): Huh? Now I am confused. You make it sound like an arms race of deceit!

Max (smiling): See, Nat? No matter how hard you try, these games will work their way into your perfect solution!

Nat: So what are you saying? That the only way to find out if someone really is interested in you is to approach them and ask?

Zack: Well, of course! In fact, even if the woman isn't initially interested, she will be impressed enough by your boldness to reconsider.

Max: Don't be so sure. Just as there are smells that no amount of perfume can cover, so also there are physical appearances that no amount of attitude and personality can compensate for. And for people with such appearances, it would be a sheer waste of time to use Zack's scattergun approach. Instead, it would be better for them to approach people who are more likely to give them a favourable reception.

Nat: I take it that you have an alternative suggestion, then?

Max: Naturally. The thing is, if you want to find out what people are thinking, it's more important to pay more attention to what they say with their bodies rather than what they say with their mouths. People are often aware that you're listening to what they're saying - so they take great care to say the 'right thing' - but they're not often aware that you're paying attention to their body language, so that's more likely to tell you what they're really saying. So you need to look for the signs, Brother Nathaniel.

Zack (sceptically): Hm. I agree that people's body language can tell you some things about what's on their mind... if I saw
Lizzy slouched down with her head in her hands, I would know that something was wrong. But I can't believe that there are special signs that tell you that a woman is interested in you.

Max: Well, there are. First of all, if you look and her and smile and she smiles back at you, then that's a sign that she's interested.

Zack: That doesn't mean anything. What if she's smiling because she's seen you alight from your Mercedes-Benz car wearing a gold Rolex watch?

Nat: Or worse still, if she has noticed that your flies are undone and there are holes in your underpants, and she finds that hilarious?

Max: Come on guys, at least she's interested! But you'll still want to gauge the level of interest, so once you've established contact, you'll look away and observe her continued reaction out of the corner of your eye. If she still steals glances at you, then you know it's not just passing interest, and after a respectable interval, you can casually wander over to where she is and introduce yourself.

Zack: But Mister Casanova, what if she then introduces you to her six-foot-six two-hundred-and-sixty-pound muscular boyfriend who you unfortunately failed to spot because you were too busy looking at her "out of the corner of your eyes"?

Max (in mock annoyance) Gah! I don't know how I put up with you and your pessimism. Just trust me that the woman wouldn't be making eyes at you if her boyfriend was in the vicinity, and let us assume that you're finally deep in conversation here. So how do you know whether her interest in you is fading or whether it's burning brighter than ever? This is where you need to study that body language again. Is she maintaining regular eye contact with you, or is she fidgeting and looking around? Is she mirroring your movements - when you nod your head, does she nod hers too? Is she leaning forward to get a bit closer to you, or is she leaning back like "Whoa, this guy is freaking me out!"?

Zack: All that still doesn't mean anything. My friend, you are greatly underestimating the cunning of women. What if she already knows that you expect all these body reactions from her and is faking all those gestures?

Nat: More importantly, it still doesn't tell you why she's interested in you. Is it your face? your body? your money? your personality?

Zack: Ah, well according to Professor Body-Language, if it's your money she's interested in, when you bring out your wallet, her eyes will widen, her tongue will hang out and she will begin to salivate uncontrollably.

Max: Well, you can mock if you like, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Every time I have used these techniques, I have been successful.

Zack (derisively): Of course you've been successful. In fact, as we speak, we are in danger of being crushed to death here, because the space in the Junction (gestures round the half-empty bar) simply can not accommodate your ever-expanding harem of beautiful ladies!

Nat: Well, it's great that your advice works for you, Max... but I don't think I'll be needing it. See, I decided that she really had thanked me enough, and there was no need for any further gesture, so I won't be meeting her. I guess I'll never really know what her true motives were.

Max: Really? And how did she take it?

Nat: Well, I told her that I was otherwise engaged, but I thanked her for the offer. She seemed to take it all right.

Zack: Ah - you should have told her in unequivocal terms that you were completely uninterested in her. Mark my words, she'll be back to pester you with another possible date. Well, at least when Jennifer sees you with her, maybe it'll make her take you more seriously!

Max: Spoken with the usual Zack Kwashi level of diplomacy and tact. Actually, the person who I really feel a bit sorry for in all this is Charlie - why didn't you let him know that there would be no meeting?

Zack (grinning): Well, what has happened has happened. But Nat, you shouldn't really deprive Charlie of the opportunity to meet your mystery madam, now.

Nat (surprised): Do you really mean that? That's very big-hearted of you, Zack. I thought you couldn't stand Charlie.

Zack: Well, maybe I'm feeling magnanimous today. I suggest you call Charlie and tell him that your madam will meet him at Chop-Rite on Saturday.

Nat: But how will I contact the woman to let her know of the meeting?

Zack (grinning even wider): Oh, you don't have to worry about that. I'm sure that Charlie will use his psychic karma or something else to summon her to the venue so that he doesn't waste his time going all the way across town through very busy traffic to Chop-Rite...


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