Working out has been an exercise in futility, Deji thinks to himself. Ha! Another pun, he chuckles out loudly. He has a bizarre knack of seeking out puns in day to day dialogue with himself and others. He knows he should be more upset but he just can’t. If anything, the whole thing seems laughable. He thinks back to the laughter in Amaka’s voice as she spoke to God-knows-who on her cellphone. He had taken her out earlier in the day to a new cafe that had just opened up in Ikoyi. Prior to their outing, she had complained for what now seems like forever about missing the ambience of cafes and the smell of coffee and pastries. She’s one of those girls that travelled out of Nigeria one time on vacation and returned acting like they had lived abroad their entire lives.
Deji and Amaka had become friends in junior secondary school when she came to his defence against their entire class. As usual, Boye had started a terrible joke about his skinny legs. Boye had just told the entire class that he heard dogs barking when they spotted Deji because they thought he had mounted on their dinner. This joke had been such a thigh slapper to everyone except Deji and Amaka, who had fast become bored of the daily bullying. Amaka had sighed heavily and said loudly ‘Boye, please shut up. You are so fat that if a whale tried to swallow you, it’ll probably choke’. Everyone burst out laughing and it was in that moment Deji fell in love.
Deji’s mother was well known on their street for her huge hips and backside. It puzzled all around how she was able to support all those curves on pin-like legs. As the only son of his parents and only brother to 5 sisters, it was a bad joke from Mother Nature that he inherited his mother’s curves and legs instead of his sisters. The teasing had started with his sisters, who were clearly envious of his rear end. He remembers his excitement at beginning senior secondary school because he could transition from the school uniform of shorts to trousers. At least, trousers would hide his entire legs. Unfortunately, in the year before senior class, his hips spread a bit more and required that the waist line of his pants increased too. The consequence was having the legs of his pants too big to match the width of his waist. He began to dread windy days and any form of physical activity that would cause the legs of his trousers to flap and showcase the outline of his legs.
In university, he decided to join some friends in the gym. His goal was simple: grow legs massively. It was all he could dream about. All he could think about. For so many years, he had become obsessed with legs. He unconsciously gawked at legs as they passed by and began to consider attractiveness from the legs up.
So he lifted and squatted, 5 times a week. Never missing a gym session. It was like a marriage. In sickness or in health, he was in the gym. But his legs only got some definition but never bulked. His butt got firmer but much rounder to his dismay. In comparison, his upper body grew. His abs, biceps, chest and shoulders became the envy of his friends. Though he looked like an improper fraction, his confidence surged. Finally, he was getting some attention outside of his legs.
With this newfound confidence, he decided to express his true feelings to Amaka. She had just ended her relationship a couple months ago and seemed eager to start dating. At the cafe, he had spared no cost in indulging her with all of the pies, doughnuts and hot drinks she wanted. He had excused himself to the washroom to settle his racing heart and compose himself for what he was about to tell her. As he walked out of the washroom toward their table, he had admired her beautiful back and began to daydream of having that back pinned on his bed when he overheard her say ‘please, how can I date a guy with more hips than me? He’s a nice guy but we can only be friends. You know I like my men chubby with thick, full legs’.
He really should be upset but instead Deji thinks of a pun he just heard. It went something like ‘I made a pun about the wind but it blows’ and laughs so hard that the tears of his hurt feelings pour out in seeming joy.