The Measure of a Man


An apology that never came changed her view of life.

Bode and Chinyere met on WordPress. While working on his master’s thesis, Bode wrote retrospectively about the 2008 Financial Crisis when financial institutions fell like a deck of cards, one after another. The simple way he explained complex economic theories and the poetry he used to assign blame, in stanzas, inspired Chinyere to follow his blog. At the end of each blog post, he posed questions that drew comments from her. In responding to her comments, he stoked a friendship as though he was tending to embers in the fireplace.

When he wrote that post she didn’t agree with, she thought it best to send a private email. What started in public, mushroomed in private. Forty-four emails later, she knew his favourite food, sushi, the movie he never tired of watching, Schindler’s List, and that both his parents were professors. As they tangoed near the perimeters of their deepening friendship, she moved from being his favourite reader to his dear friend. The first time he referred to her as darling, she danced in tandem, placing a one-eyebrow-raised smiley next to the word sweetheart in her reply.

She imagined what darling would sound like if he said it; she envisioned a baritone, like her boss’s, whom she secretly admired. She felt safe in Nigeria, eleven hours away, from her Toronto sweetheart, Bode, whose handsome face smiled at her whenever she read his blog.

One Saturday, their email exchange, interspersed with LOLs and smileys, over the wonders of touch screen and autocorrect spelling, spanned the evening and spilled into the night. Joking about a political scandal that involved an elder statesman and nude photos of his beautiful mistress, he wrote, “I bet you’ve got a body to die for like hers.”

The half-smile, still on her face from their previous exchange, died and her lips closed into a straight line. Scrolling through the email thread, she searched desperately for it—that email or reply from her that gave him the nerve. She searched again. And again. Finally, she slept with a frown on her face, questions etched on her brow.

She did not reply the next day. Or the day after. She immersed herself in work like a zombie, neither feeling nor caring. How could he have written that? What had she done to encourage him? On the fourth day, he emailed. He had pined for her reply; he had grabbed his phone every time it beeped and driven his professor mad with error-strewn work. He guessed the joke had rubbed her the wrong way, but was it now a crime to joke with a dear friend? He was sorry even though he didn’t know what he was sorry for.

She read his email several times. He had written it in the same simple way he explained complex economic theories, using poetry to assign blame, in stanzas. But, it lacked the sincerity upon which people build great friendships. Two days it was before she fashioned a reply. Discarding the word sweetheart, she wrote:

Dear Bode,

Your joke was in bad taste. I have since evaluated the sixty-three emails we exchanged, and can find no reason why you would share a joke like that with me. Btw, I read your recent post and I agree that the bailout of banks by national governments should be a temporary measure only; it should not be the cure-all. I will share more on your blog later today.

His reply was swift. She had wondered if it would come. She had considered that the curtain had fallen on a friendship that spanned four months and she had already started mourning. Clutching her phone, hope fluttered in her heart and unsteadied her hands.

Dear Chinyere,

I am sorry. What I wrote was inappropriate and lacking better judgement. I offended you and I am sorry. If you can forgive me, I would like to continue being a friend.

That was not the reply she received; it is the one she wished she had. After two weeks, she knew his reply would never come. As weeks turned into months, she left fewer and fewer comments on his blog. She liked to think that his not responding to her comments did not influence her decision to stop altogether.

Today when Chinyere measures a man, she does not take into account the school where he acquired his MBA or the features that make him attractive. German or Japanese, his car keys hold no lure. It is his apology; the quality of his apology is the measure of a man.

© Timi Yeseibo 2013

Photo credit: primenerd / / CC BY-NC-SA

Original image URL:

Title: Stranger Nº 5/100 – Robbel

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

75 thoughts on “The Measure of a Man

  1. Waoh!!! I’m sorry Chinyere (Oh i wish it was the reply that came from Bode)…And again, Timi has successfully taken me away from my work issues this morning. I don’t know how much i’ll pay for this but i surely need to get some things (IT/Telecoms) working. Maybe i’m stuck here because i’ve tried fixing it for days now…afterall, it’s more interesting here joor…And yes, it takes a man to honestly and calmly say sorry…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Joshua, thanks for hanging out here for a while. I’ve loved your being here!
      Although Chinyere didn’t get the response she wanted from Bode, I guess she’s learned a few life lessons.


  2. I do recognise the fact that what Bode did was wrong, however, I don’t agree with you that the measure of a man is his apology. Chinyere needs to understand that not everything is permanent. We grow out of clothes and we have to give them away. If you take expired milk you will find yourself in the hospital. Not because something was wrong with the milk but the timing. Because if had consumed same milk earlier, it would have been alright. Relationships also expire. It doesn’t mean anything is wrong with any party. But certain things happen that can never leave the relationship the same way again.
    Plus, I have met lesser men that have a wonderful way of saying sorry even though it’s just a game to them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like your expired milk analogy. Relationships can be rocky, online relationships can be likened to navigating a minefield.

      The apology in this context goes beyond saying sorry. It is (among other things), a willingness to assume responsibility for one’s actions and a willingness to ‘fight’ to restore If possible), what was broken. It is a mark of maturity.

      “But certain things happen that can never leave the relationship the same way again.” On this, we agree.

      Thank you so much for sharing your views.


  3. Hmmm. Really lovely tale. It’s been interesting reading the comments.

    Chinyere’s reaction shocked me. I have not lived for many years but one thing I have learnt is that so many factors influence our relationships and attitude to people. So many things. It’s why we must not take life too seriously.

    A reply like Chinyere’s (including the time it took to reply) for me is chilling. It’s enough to make a man decide not to reply because of how much it would hurt. I can understand Bode’s reaction though I don’t support it. It’s immature. Sarcasm and terseness are sometimes effective arrows in the quiver of civility.

    Dear Chinyere,

    I am sorry. It won’t happen again. See you at the blog.

    At the minimum.

    Well, different strokes for …you know how it ends. 🙂


    1. Men are from Mars, women are from Venus, right? 🙂

      This story examines many things, one of which is the pitfalls of online relationships. The responses- comments and shares on social media- show how relevant the story is to the times we live in. As we negotiate budding friendships, we’ll need to cross hurdles. Apologies are like oil that grease the wheels of friendship in my view.

      I like your response. I would expect no less from Chinyere if she wrote something that offended Bode. If I were Chinyere, I would be gracious in responding to that reply.

      Thanks for taking time out to read the post, the comments, and leave a comment!


  4. Wow. That story resonated with me. The beginning and middle, at least.

    I still find it a little weird that women find it offensive to be complimented on their sexual attractiveness. Some of you seem to consider being called “sexy” and “hot” demeaning. I don’t quite get it.

    It’s not nearly the highest compliment I could pay a woman but it’s the most intimate one. I NEVER tell a woman she’s hot or sexy unless we are really close or I’m in love with her. In fact, I only notice women’s sexuality when they are either strangers or romantic partners. I never give strangers the compliment – that’s inappropriate; and I never notice enough to say that to a friend. When I do say it to a friend, it indicates romantic interest in her.

    So I’m very curious: why does it upset you when a man indicates sexual awareness of you?


    1. Interesting question Ty, and we should write another blog post to tackle it 🙂
      But, I think you’ve touched on the basics already- that it’s inappropriate to comment on a woman’s sexuality when she’s a stranger to you. If you are bold like construction workers who make catcalls or like that guy with ‘swagga’, then swallow the response you get or be a man and apologise!

      But, back to this story, which highlights some pitfalls of online relationships. Bode and Chinyere exchanged quite a number of emails to foster a sense of closeness. When Bode took a ‘chance’ and paid Chinyere a ‘sexual compliment’, she didn’t appreciate it, and said so. It is Bode’s response or lack of, that defined the last bit of the story that didn’t resonate with you 😉


      1. Yeah I understand. Here’s another perspective (usually true from the male point of view):

        Bode subtly indicated that his interest had become romantic. Chinyere shot him down. He moved on. To remain a mere platonic friend when your heart is going nuclear can be a real bitch so you’ll understand if he didn’t want to apologize and patch things up.


        1. Loved the male perspective and we’ll probably have to thrash this over coffee . . .

          I understand. I understand not wanting to continue the friendship. I understand the pride & hurt that makes a man not want to apologise. I understand the ‘sleep-inertia’ that didn’t want me to go jogging this morning. But, I got up, laced my running shoes, and hit the road.

          A man that does the right thing, wins big in my book, which may not count for much, seeing as I’m not a part of the monarchy of The Netherlands! And my name isn’t Chinyere. But the world is a small place. Why burn bridges, when you can build a gate?


          1. Man, aren’t you a hard taskmaster? You’d probably whip this dude into line if he were your kid brother. 😀

            My point though was that you build a gate if you mean to visit sometimes or something. If you want to never go back you burn bridges. He took a huge risk. He lost that hand. Perhaps he would have won the next but that very thought is what keeps a guy stuck on a girl and never moving on even when she hooks up with somebody else. Men were not built with the gene to share their women. Of course, in this crazy age of genetic engineering, there are a few mutants but it’s still true.


            1. Yeah, all the Bode’s I know hate me 😉

              I was thinking beyond the narrow box of romance. I was thinking that Bode builds a gate because he might meet Chinyere in the marketplace for example. I was thinking that one day Bode could interview for the job of his dreams and Chinyere might be on the panel . . .

              Bode can apologise, forget Chinyere, and embrace Amina. What do I know eh? How much does an apology cost?

              I’m buying coffee, say when 🙂


              1. Ooooo, that must hurt. I wince for you. 😀

                If she is, he’d probably take his chances. Some Bode’s might even dump the interview because of her.

                Have you ever alternated between love and hate for the same person? It’s a little like sticking your finger in a glass of hot water and another glass of cold water at the same time, very, er, tense. Guys don’t do too good with tense.

                It sounds good that he should apologise. I buy it wholeheartedly. But guys don’t forget women they value that much easily. They have to devalue her somehow to let go or else someone else has to come along first and obliterate the first woman’s influence over them.

                I know it’s not nice for women but men don’t forget after they apologize. They stay and they don’t like it.

                Sure. How about Friday? 😀


                1. Did Bode even value Chinyere in the first place?

                  I like the perspective(s) you are bringing in. I like that we’ve managed to broaden the scope of this conversation. I like that we are viewing this ‘issue’ through all kinds of emotional filters. I think that people who read the story and the comment thread, would have a richer experience, with more to chew on.

                  Friday it is then! 😉


                  1. Oh I’m sure he did. We mostly do. But letting go is the toughest thing. You have to believe that they are not worth holding on to or else someone comes along that calls a stronger response from you than they did before you can let go. “Devaluing” is not the negative thing it sounds like, it’s merely rearranging her level of importance to you. If she remains vital to you, you are lost until she gives you her heart too. The break has to be sharp and complete or else you won’t make it.

                    I like it too. I don’t like monotony any more than the next person. I’m glad that I could do anything at all. And you are actually engaging enough to call me out, in a manner of speaking.

                    Yes, Friday. I’ll be looking forward to it 🙂


  5. Wow….the measure of a man is in his apologies. I never thought of putting it that way before though I’ve felt like that many times. I know you’re spot on with that.


  6. Wow. Just wow. I am floored. I love your prose and this blog should be Freshly Pressed. I always feel so silly saying that – – like it needs to be sent out to the dry-cleaners! Can’t wait to explore more!


  7. Timi u have done it again and again, the way it end(ur stories) always a lot, thank you for always teaching me something new with your writing, now i can be a man


  8. as true as this is, it is only a small measure of a man-the humility factor. it is small as it can be corrected or controlled. therefore it is not a complete measure of a man. but it is a good measure of a good relationship/partner.


      1. they are many , in fact countless, but i will list those basic ones that form the innate DNA in a man which is his leadership qualities of which humility is on the top 10 list. it also includes self discipline, personal hygiene, intelligence, vision, focus, people personae, communication , style, empathy, belief system, aura, independence, confidence, humor among so many other qualities. a man with these qualities will always stand out and be among the top of his cadre.


  9. What can i say T, first time I read this post, a few weeks back, I loved it! I loved it so much I took my phone and called a friend. I suddenly felt like i owed someone an apology! (LOL).
    I just had to come back and read it again, and I love it even more. On-line conversations can be very exasperating sometimes, especially with the opposite sex and more especially with a significant other. I always wonder, ” Is he crazy? That’s not what I meant!” (LOL).
    By the way, have I told you that I love this piece? I do!


    1. @online conversations, so true and it seems as if that’s what I’m mostly doing these days. With older friends, we’ve got the weight of years of friendship to cushion our fall. With newer friends and acquaintances, the GPS isn’t always on point!

      If this post makes us re-examine our friendships and the way we communicate, I’m humbled and I’m glad. There’s no greater fulfillment, except maybe to hear you say “By the way, have I told you that I love this piece? I do!” 🙂 Thanks, Christy.


  10. The first mistake Chinyere made was to call Bode ‘sweetheart’ although others would argue that it was taking their talk to mails. I am not blaming her though. It is something I can do. He took that as a sort of ‘go-ahead’/ encouragement. Good she didn’t let that comment slide and I agree with you that she didn’t bite the bait he dangled and went to look for other fish that would probably melt at his feet and giggle uncontrollably.


    1. Thank you Teleola for your comment. Terms of endearment can foster a sense of closeness and Bode may have been encouraged by this, true. Lol@ other fish that would probably melt at his feet and giggle uncontrollably 🙂


  11. WOOOOOW. This is awesome. Chinyere is a virtuous woman. Most ladies nowadays would just overlook that. And to be very honest, some time in the past, I might have just shrugged it off, but now I’ve learnt that once you encourage such smutty jokes, they’ll lose respect for you.
    I know guys like this, they don’t apologise and they just stop chatting with you. I care too much and sometimes it hurts when they ignore me. But eventually it’s worth it.


    1. Kudos to you Dunni for insisting on respect. Some boys will remain boys. Some boys will grow up to be men. If you don’t stand for something, you’re likely to fall for anything.

      @it hurts when they ignore me, I feel you- I’ve been there, done that, got the t-shirt, and now moving on! 🙂 Thanks for the retweet.


  12. *still laughing* I read this and kept saying: “Oh no … something bad is going to happen,” and it did.

    Timi, I am hailing you for the effortless way in which you weave true life experiences into blog posts. I truly enjoyed this one, and that last line should be bolded: ” the quality of his apology is the measure of a man.”

    You should write fiction. Oh, wait. You just did 🙂


  13. For the lack of a better word, this is INCREDIBLE. ‘Friendships’ can be quite tricky sometimes. We tend to underestimate the power of “I’m sorry”. Btw, Hell hath no discomfort like an unreplied email: I know this. Great story!


    1. Thank you Tomi. Oh yes, to have a friend is to likely, someday hurt a friend. What do we do thereafter?

      Lol@ “Hell hath no discomfort like an unreplied email” 🙂 Hmmm, the new rules of social interaction… thou shalt not ignore an email, a Facebook comment, a Twitter mention ….


  14. I totally do agree, the measurement of his apology truly says a lot about a man in my opinion. bode not replying to say i am sorry was wrong but in the first place chinyere was wrong for allowing bode and herself to be in the terms of calling each other name that isn’t their first name. And after chinyere sent the email to bode, it should be courtesy and respect to send her a reply saying he’s sorry and then could have been the end. but at the same time, you should never expect more from anybody. Thanks for the post, i like the story


    1. Olaide, thanks for your comment. Boundaries in friendship… how far is too far? Should we call each other darling or sweetheart? Who defines the boundaries? Who enforces them?

      I’m glad you liked the story. It’s also given me food for thought 🙂


  15. So many things ring true! I remember a saying I heard a few years ago ‘Do not accept the unacceptable’, regardless of who it comes from.

    With my hatred for ‘confrontation’, I’ve had to have a few of those discussions, both f2f and virtually. Distasteful I have to say but I guess at some time in our lives we’re primal.

    Life is too short though. And there are SO many explanations for a given act. Exhausting sometimes to chose the one with the best outcome for everyone, try as hard as one might want!

    Sigh. Please get him to apologise if he feels bad :-). But you know women, it has to be TOTALLY genuine. We can see it, hear it….feel that sincerity across miles 🙂


    1. True talk @ ‘Do not accept the unacceptable’ and your comment in its entirety.

      Chinyere has standards that determine how she relates with guys. We can debate whether the standards are too high or low or mixed or self-righteous, but they are her standards. When a new friend whose company she enjoyed violated her standards, she could have overlooked, and maybe replied lol to his joke. But she chose to confront and ask him to respect her standards. Confrontation is risky, you cannot predict or control the responses of others, and her actions put paid a budding friendship.

      Bode picked up ‘signals’ from Chinyere. He tested the waters; it backfired. Or maybe he is just a poet expressing himself 🙂 or he is a romantic klutz, it still backfired. He has a choice. He can salvage the situation- on his terms, on her terms, or not at all.

      Kitchen Butterfly, they are both adults, they can sort themselves out o! Thanks for sharing your insight.


  16. I guess Chinyere wanted more than Bode’s apology.

    I think she wanted Bode to ask her ask formally.

    I might be wrong 😦


  17. I’m sorry to drag you all back. Advance apologies to any feminist here, I harbour no ill-will. I have tried over and over again to see the ‘wrong’ in what Bode said that elicited SUCH a feeling of disgust in Chinyere. Oh, is it the comparison with a mistress? Is Chinyere ‘laterally-enlarged’? Was the photo of the mistress so bad? Please help me.
    The comment may have been made as harmlessly as possible though it sounded a little inconvenient. A poet uses comparisons to express his feelings and I bet Bode may have been looking for a way to say something complimentary about his expectations of what she looks like.
    69 emails back and forth should have made it easy for Chinyere to have an idea of Bode’s possible kind of person. She should have expressed her feelings IMMEDIATELY as softly as possible.
    In my own view, Chinyere was inappropriately angry but what can you say? Whatever makes you angry, makes you angry, right?
    I wish the story ended with Bode’s apology and “happily ever after” though. LOL.


    1. @ ‘laterally-enlarged’ Lol, I don’t know what that means Holamiju, but I’m laughing my heart out. It was a nude photo of the mistress!

      We all put our foot in our mouths at one point or the other; something we say, which we think is harmless, rubs the other person the wrong way. I think what is acceptable varies from person to person depending on values, etc. To his credit, Bode apologized, but the apology wasn’t good or convincing in my opinion.

      @ 69 emails lol, what can I say? That it takes more than emails to know someone?

      Like you, I wish we had a happily ever after. Chinyere defined what was important to her, Bode didn’t think it was important enough. Life happens… better they part ways now than further down the road.

      Thank you so much for being here. I like your forthrightness and your “advance apologies” 🙂


  18. I’ve always thought of online relationships as a minefield, one moment its all smileys and lols, the next, twitter is treated to commotion. And sometimes there is nothing valuable at the end of the minefield – just two people who like the way they write.

    In my opinion they both valued their ego above what they had or could have together. Sorry becomes easier when you can’t afford to lose the other person.

    Great post as always.


    1. Lol @”just two people who like the way they write” @great post, thank you Ifemmanel.

      I agree that relationships have many minefields and the minefields in online relationships can be harder to negotiate; emoticons can only go so far I guess…

      They both valued their ego… hmmm.


  19. My o my! Such an abysmal ending. In a way, I won’t kick Bode in the rear. Some guys think that because they can say certain things to Lady A and she will find it interestingly funny or sweet, means it can also work for Lady B. Truly that’s not the case. A similar thing happened to me sometime in the past. A female colleague playfully dipped her hand into my trouser pocket in search of my wallet just because I told her I didn’t have it on me and as a result could not meet her request. In my response to her action, I told her politely that if she had been doing so with other men, such an action was wrong. Perchance, she may do so to a man who would instantly take offense and smack her.

    On the other hand, “sorry” is the hardest word to say. But it certainly mends broken relationships.


    1. Oh my!@ “playfully dipped her hand into my trouser pocket” What was she thinking?
      Relationships can be tricky and sometimes the boundaries aren’t clear or, even when they are, we overstep. To err is human…

      Uzoma, you’ve summarized the crux of the matter nicely: sorry is hard to say, but it mends broken relationships.


  20. We men are silly creatures. Sometimes I think it might help if women gave us 5 stupid-dollars to spend any way we choose. A crass comment like the one in the story would use up $3.85 (leaving a dollar left over as payment for a stupidly chosen gift, and still 15 cents for the time we say, “You look tired today.”) A detailed receipt explaining the charges would be most helpful as a learning tool. 😉

    I say something dumb nearly every day, so I hope it’s OK that I feel some sympathy for Bode.


    1. Lol! Men are silly creatures. Women are silly creatures too. Chinyere isn’t hung up on what Bode said, she’ll let that slide. It’s his apology or lack of. I told her that Bode dangled a bait, she didn’t bite and he’s gone looking for other fish!

      I think some people (Women For True Apology), might crucify you for sympathizing with Bode. Hmmm, @say something dumb nearly everyday… the excellent content on your blog should exonerate you; maybe?

      Btw, here, take 5 stupid-dollars for tomorrow’s gaffe 🙂 Thank you Eric for being here.


      1. Oh, poor Bode. I want to give him the benefit of the doubt. On one hand, maybe he really did demean their friendship and reduce it to something shallow. On the other hand, maybe he is romantically clumsy and was trying to offer a compliment, albeit a poor one. When he didn’t get the response he was hoping for, he was too embarrassed to continue on. Sometimes people get crushes on other people, even if the recipients aren’t interested.

        As for being crucified by the WFTA, I’ve been kicked around plenty. I’ll take what’s coming to me. 🙂


        1. True Eric, a POV I hadn’t considered- aren’t we quick to castigate? When you make a case like this, even the WFTA has to withdraw their petition! In the light of your revelation, Chinyere has written an email to Bode:

          Dear Bode,
          it’s been 3 months, 2 weeks & 1 day, and I haven’t heard from you. If you are embarrassed, I understand. Please do any of the following to regain credibility:
          a) reply & say sorry- don’t try to be cute
          b) reply & say sorry- do try to mean it
          c) reply & say sorry- it can be brief
          d) reply & say sorry- is it so hard?

          🙂 Eric, what can I say? Chinyere is a tough nut to crack!


  21. This has a bitter-sweet twist to its end… just as life does. The measure of a man can depend on individuals’ standards.
    As for me, I readily drop my apologies to my boo [as ‘arrogant’ as she thinks me to be] but to get her to accept it as sincere is another issue.
    I guess our communications online should be cautious and perimeters set, especially in the absence of tone and facial expressions which could drive home the point… nevertheless, i think Bode’s joke was in bad taste really.
    On a final note, the measure of a man to me seems to be from the utterances of his mouth.


    1. True talk Charles. And when your mouth leaks, you should apply plaster abi? We can misread signals in face-to-face communication, not to mention online communication. To be fair to Bode, perhaps he “saw” something in their exchange that wasn’t there. Perhaps he felt the need to “up” (rush 🙂 ) things a notch. Whatever, it backfired. His actions afterward may imply that friendship was never on his mind in the first place!

      @your boo lol! As always, Charles, thanks for your insight.


  22. It’s so sad that today, we have to search for virtuous people. Some guys can no longer have the common decency to have a normal conversation with the opposite sex without things getting awkward. Even in the face of the awkward situation, they don’t even have the common sense to apologise… Beautiful Piece btw…


    1. The world is what it is… we cannot change people, but we (you & I) can define the standards we live by and stand by them. Some people feel a “real” apology is a sign of weakness…

      Thank you Ochuko for the compliment.


  23. Hetty, true, and online relationships can be difficult to navigate.

    @hopeless romantic, I feel you. I was rooting for Bode & Chinyere too. I would have loved to change the ending with a stroke of my pen!


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