Boyfriend comes from a wealthy family. My family? We are rich in integrity. Father always boasts about it.
“We are a people of integrity”, he always says.
That’s why I said no to Bayo when he asked me to be his girlfriend, after his relationship with my boss’ sister went awry. No, I did not say no to him because he is my boss’ sister’ ex. I said no because I had a boyfriend. And I told him about my boyfriend. He was not dissuaded, totally; He chose to settle for friendship. I said it was okay. One can’t have too many friends. Especially someone who is willing to give anything to be in any part of your life.
So Bayo started from a tiny part of my life. Then the discovery of mutual friends broke the line that separated our circle of friendship. And his family, through that merger, got to know about him, me, and my boyfriend.
That became the normal; him, me, my boyfriend, until the day Bayo and I kissed, after boyfriend and I had a big fight, because boyfriend refused to go out and celebrate a job promotion I got, that day, with me and when I mentioned to him that he had somehow fallen into the habit of being unavailable to do anything with me, he said, “isn’t that why people have friends, so they don’t burn who they’re dating out?”
And I took his advice, my friends and I went out to celebrate. By the time we were done celebrating, Bayo and I had kissed, he had said I love you to me, and I had leaned comfortably on his upper arm.
That is how Bayo became boyfriend, and boyfriend became an ex. Everyone else stayed their place. But with that I became the disloyal diphthong, to both his friends and family.
So I was terrified, at first, when Bayo invited me to join his family for their Christmas dinner. Yet you don’t turn down an invite to dinner with the boyfriend’s family because you left someone else to come make their son happy, do you?
No you don’t. I did not. I went and I went as me. The knowledge that it is not just me who needs to “qualify” for a spot in their family, as they also need to “qualify” for my Yes to join my/their family, dispelled the fear. I may not have had control over which family I was born into, but I have control over which I marry into and that just ushered in a new confidence for me.
That Christmas dinner was as much a test of fit for them as it was for me. There was no power imbalance, as far as I was concerned.
- I arrived their home on time.
- I bought everyone a present I could afford.
- I was not rude to anyone; including the staff (chef and servers and I did not offer to help them do their job either)
- I joined the conversation. Shared my thoughts and position in an inoffensive yet firm way.
- I ate and drank as I would if no one was watching.
- I “passed” whenever I was asked an inappropriate and intrusive question.
- I stayed a bit after dinner, and left.
Boyfriend (Bayo) came later, that night to tell me his mom thinks I’m a maverick and an unapologetic “clear glass”. I don’t think I did badly. Did I?
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