He walked into the shop, checked a few items up, and told me, “I will come back to get them. I hope you’ll give me a discount when I come back?” He was a man in his late fifties. He looked like someone who takes really good care of himself; short, dark, no potbelly, shinny teeth, and a beautiful smile to match. I answered, “If you come and my boss is around, he might be able to give you a discount.” He said, “Give me your number. I will call before coming. I will like to know when your boss is here before I come.”
Three days later he called. He asked how I am and asked what time I close from work. I told him, “Latest by 7:30pm.” He came to the shop around 7pm, and paid for the things he wanted without asking for a discount. He said, I’m outside there in the black SUV, I will like to take you home when you close.” I took a critical look at him again. He was wearing a ring that looked like he had worn it for ages. It fitted his finger without leaving spaces. If a man’s commitment to his marriage is measured by how tight his ring fit, I would have said this man’s commitment to his marriage was larger than life itself. I told him I would be ok so he shouldn’t worry. He told me he wants to do me this favor so I should allow him.
I closed the shop and hopped into his car. Everything about the car looked expensive. The interior smelled like something new. When you buy a new thing in a box and you open it, you see that scent that greets you? That’s exactly how the interior of the car smelled. From the shop to my house was just about forty minutes drive. This man got to the front gate and asked for more time to talk. We sat in his car for over an hour. He proposed to me and I said no. He said he had good intentions. I told him good intentions aren’t enough to win my heart. A man with good intentions shouldn’t wear a tight wedding ring while proposing to me. The more I said no to him, the more he went on talking about all the things he was ready to do for me. I told him, “OK, I will think about it. I will give you a response when I’m ready.”
He called the next day asking for a response. He called the day after the next day to ask if I’d reached conclusion. He came to the shop one evening and took me home again. At the gate, he asked me, “So what do you think? Have you given it some thought?” I answered, “I’m still thinking about it. It will take some time because of our situation. Please be patient with me.” He asked, “What situation are you talking about?” I answered, “It would have been easy if you didn’t wear this tight ring. It means I’m going to date someone’s husband and that’s not an easy decision to make.” He sighed. He said, “If rings can tell the whole story of our marriage life, some of you won’t call us married but it’s ok. I will give you time.”
I will be in the shop and received a call from a delivery guy I hadn’t sent; “Mr. Adams said I should deliver something to you.” He sent lunch. He sent dresses. He sent shoes. He sent perfumes. He stopped sending the delivery guys. He took me to those shops and asked me to pick what I wanted. No matter what I picked, he paid for them. Sometimes I picked expensive things just to get him angry and leave me alone. He was never angry. He paid my rent with a smile on his face and even gave me money for decorations. I had already said yes to him so he was spoiling me to prove that I didn’t make a mistake in choosing him. I had a boyfriend but at that moment, it didn’t matter to me.
There’s nothing about this man that I liked except his money. I knew he had a wife. I had a boyfriend too. Men with wives won’t leave their wives and come for you. When you say yes to them, you become their plaything. You become the woman they run to when they want to have fun. After the fun, they go home for serious business. You’re not anything serious to them. You don’t have a future with them and you don’t feature in their plans because your name is a Side Chick. A chick on the side of things. You’re not the main dish. You’re something they keep on the side for emotional emergencies. I accepted my role but decided to have monetary value for the time I was wasting with him. The whole relationship was transactional. Sleep with me to release your stress but be ready to buy whatever I need to also release some stress.
We dated for over a year but this man never stopped being the man I said yes to. I realized he was in love with me but I couldn’t bring myself to love him the way he did. One night, he slept at my end. It was the first time he was sleeping at my place. I asked him, “So what did you tell your wife?” He answered, “I didn’t have to tell her anything. I’m living my life so she should also live hers.” I always stayed off the lane of his marital issues. Anytime he mentioned his wife, I felt guilty so I tried every skill to change conversations whenever his wife’s name came up but that night everything was different. He was determined to talk about her so I listened.
He said, “Now, we’ve both agreed to a divorce. We’ll start the process soon so we can go our separate ways in peace. I watched his fingers and that tight ring was gone. I said, “Tell me you’re joking. I hope I’m not the reason for this divorce. Did she catch you? What happened?” He said, “We’ve been on this path long before you came into the picture. We both didn’t know what we wanted. We decided to be together for the kids. Our kids are no longer kids now so the reason for our being together no longer exists.”
They’ve been married for over thirty years and are going through a divorce. I became his marriage counselor, advising him to keep the marriage. He told me, “Immediately the divorce ends, we are getting married so get ready.”
God knows I don’t like this man. Nothing about him excites me. I’ve been dating him because of his money. There was nowhere in our arrangement that we said we were going to end up married. Currently, when I look around, everything I own came from this man. We’ve dated for three years. I stopped working in that shop he met me because he opened a bigger one for me. He’s the reason I can afford a certain lifestyle. He’s the reason I’m able to send money home to my parents. I thought it was temporal. I was dating him to get what I want so I can go ahead and marry the man I love. My boyfriend thinks we are getting married next year. This man thinks he’s getting a divorce next year so he can marry me.
I can smell violence in the air. The two don’t know the existence of each other. They think they have me to themselves. That’s not even the problem. The problem now is how to leave this old man without my boyfriend getting a hint of it. Without losing everything he got for me. My biggest fear now is losing the shop. It has become my everything. I can’t afford to lose it. My boyfriend is also not in the position to get me any of the things this man did for me. He’s a young man who’s about to begin life. All he has now is his job and the small car he took a loan from work to buy.
What do I do now? Is there a way I can eat my cake and still have it? I don’t know how long it will take for this story to be published but I have less than a year to figure my way out of this conundrum. Please help.