February, in Retrospect

language

February some say is the month of love. Work that should have been finished in January dragged into February and filled February with editing and late-night reviews. It meant that I put new projects on hold, but who was keeping tabs when love was in the air?

“How old are you?” I asked the man who seemed smitten by me.

“Thirty-six.”

“And you’re not married?”

He started to explain the difficulties of finding the girl of his dreams, and I realized he had read my question wrong.

“I just wanted to know if you’re married,” I said softly when he paused for air.

“Oh?” he said, and then smiled, reminding me of the way he looked a few days earlier, when he had accosted me at the supermarket with, “Let me help you, you look tired.”

I had been dragging my feet behind my shopping cart as though the sum of the hardships of living in Lagos, sat in it. He charmed me into small talk and out of my phone number.

Later when he called, his many compliments and my thanksgiving done away with, there did not seem to be anything left to say. I was surprised that a man, who had used a shopping cart effectively, could not find his voice. He must have interpreted my silence as a semi-colon because he said, “Your driver seems nice,” referring to that night when my driver retrieved my shopping cart from him and loaded its content into my car.

My driver is not nice; my driver thinks he should be my boss, but I did not tell him that. I asked him about his line of work instead of putting a full stop at the end of his sentence.

I persevered to get to know him because I am curious about people, not because my friend had said, “You never know, why not give him a chance?”

But I knew. A woman knows. I knew that I did not always want to be the one to steer conversation to a place of interest for both of us. I knew that I could not continue receiving SMS messages like this:

Gud mrn pretty. hw waz ur nyt. u r sum1 worth reely lykng. deres just sumtin abt u. hapi Sunday.

I would not, and none of my friends, would abbreviate their text messages like that. It would take too much brainpower.

“I think he lied to me,” I said to my friend, “about being thirty-six.” 

I replayed several incidents for her to decide. They revolved around language, or rather the lack of it.

“Or maybe he is thirty-six, but his brain is nineteen.”

We laughed; it seemed altogether plausible.

When our laughter subsided, I accused her of being cruel. She quoted Chavez, “Our language is the reflection of ourselves. A language is an exact reflection of the character and growth of its speakers.”

I was troubled by her inference. Wasn’t the shorthand way he fashioned text messages a positive measure of his ability to adapt to a mobile culture? Weren’t his text messages a genre of contemporary poetry; language is fluid, after all? Or, was it not more likely that the eight years between us equal a generation gap because as some have said, a different language is a different vision of life?

“Let’s keep it simple,” she replied. “It is either he’s nineteen or you are a grammar snob.”

In March, all my delusions will fall off.

 

© Timi Yeseibo 2017

 

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56 thoughts on “February, in Retrospect

  1. Ah Timi, no one writes like you do. XD

    I laughed so hard at @ “Gud mrn pretty. hw waz ur nyt. u r sum1 worth reely lykng. deres just sumtin abt u. hapi Sunday.” I didn’t see it coming at all.

    Too much brain power, Exactly! It’s a turn off for me, more so when supposed adults write emails in what I consider to be the “Millennials’ Amputated Lingo”

    No, I don’t think it’s a “positive measure of his ability to adapt to a mobile culture”, it’s simply laziness. Laziness to craft full-grown words in sentences. Or Illiteracy. The inability to spell words properly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha ha, laziness or illiteracy!

      I thought it was mainly my ‘generation’ irritated by the “Millennials’ Amputated Lingo”. I’m glad that people like you are turned off, though I’m not sure we can reverse the trend. I’ve seen some sequenced short stories on Twitter, with abbreviations that garner plenty likes and retweets. Makes me wonder if the story is more important than the grammar style … but we were talking about SMS to someone you admire … I digressed 🙂

      Thanks ‘Nedu for your compliment.

      Like

  2. ‘Or maybe he’s thirty-six, but his brain is nineteen’.

    *Sigh* Recurring horror story, I tell you. It’s ridiculous. And no, you’re not a grammar snob please.

    Btw I rrly rrly lrrv d wy u writ. So brtiful, kewl n klirn).
    (That’s text speak in Nigerian ‘fone’)

    P.S: A girl always knows. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The line that told the whole story for me was this one: “I knew that I did not always want to be the one to steer conversation to a place of interest for both of us.” When conversation is difficult between two people, the relationship is all effort, no fun.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. “I knew that I could not continue receiving SMS messages like this:

    Gud mrn pretty. hw waz ur nyt. u r sum1 worth reely lykng. deres just sumtin abt u. hapi Sunday.”
    Timi, you made me laugh! I would have felt the same way! Communicating takes time and effort. Sounds like he could put more effort into communicating.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. “Or maybe he is thirty-six, but his brain is nineteen.” You’re lucky, Timi. When I was playing the dating game, most of the men I encountered had the brain of a twelve-year old…and that was on a good night. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  6. You are not a grammar snob but I would never interpret your silence as a semicolon. Language is pretty important and it is, as you say, a refection of who we are. I must say I find the abbreviations some people use in text messages to be very annoying. I don’t do it unless I am making a point or trying to be funny. No, I like language and the use of words and admire those who use it well. That would be a big red flag for me and a turn off.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw, thanks for redeeming my reputation …

      This quote by Naom Chomsky got me thinking, though like you I prefer shorthand that’s closer to the English language.

      Language is a process of free creation; its laws and principles are fixed, but the manner in which the principles of generation are used is free and infinitely varied. Even the interpretation and use of words involves a process of free creation.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Hi ife,

          I’m looking forward to his own side of the story, the abbreviated version.

          Text-speak might conveniently leave out the salient bits, like her obvious lack of interest. Still, Emoticons would save the day! 😀

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Lol @ emoticons. I wish those tings could do as much as we want them to already, but nah, biko, it’s hard enough trying to read text-speak, adding emoticons is just looking for wahala. I should be able to do an abbreviated version once I’m done sorting out all my Lagos hustle for the week.

            Liked by 1 person

  7. “Gud mrn pretty. hw waz ur nyt. u r sum1 worth reely lykng. deres just sumtin abt u. hapi Sunday.”

    Bhet Aunti dis tin is nor bad nah. Hapi Sunday too. I reely lyke reading ur post 2. It makes my sundays komplet.

    Liked by 2 people

          1. 😂😂😂
            I have been hoarding a blog post on the evolution of the English Language in my head for some weeks now. You just gave me permission to release it.

            Assin ah cannor kip ett nymore. Who hoarding epp?

            Liked by 2 people

  8. You have a driver? 😀

    And another “Junior” pursuing you? 😀 😀

    Loved this description ~> “I had been dragging my feet behind my shopping cart as though the sum of the hardships of living in Lagos, sat in it.”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. @ driver, yes I do. It’s the norm here. If you lived here, you would too. 🙂

      Have I written about Junior pursuing me before? That series, To Catch A Fly, was fiction. 🙂 🙂

      @ description, thanks. On that day, it felt like it.

      Like

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