I recently visited Portharcourt purposely to see a chick I had met in a BB group (see Unfinished Business). Our initial meeting was going to be at a ‘come chop’, but this got postponed and eventually cancelled. So deciding to take matters into my own hands, I invited myself to Portharcourt.
Though I had sent my travel request a week in advance, with less than 24hours to go, the booking still had not been done. I had to call in a few favours – and owe a few more to get the ticket.
The next day I got to the airport and was checked in without delay. Boarding was announced on time at 11:30 for the flight scheduled to depart at 12:00. I even got upgraded to business class. I tried reading a novel I had with me, but my mind kept racing off to Portharcourt and what lay in store for me.
As soon as the aircraft pushed back from the gate, I leaned back and shut my eyes. “Finally” I remember thinking. I was just stretching out properly when my eyes flew open. The Captain’s voice over the public announcement system sounded shrill, “…engine number one!” Then it cut off before he came back to announce that due to a slight technical problem with one of the engines, we had to return to stand to have the engineers look at it. “It shouldn’t take more than 10 to 15 minutes.”
Thirty minutes later we were asked to disembark as we would be changing aircraft. Another thirty minutes and we saw the new aircraft land from a previous flight, so I could understand other passenger’s curiosity as to why we had not been called to board after another hour. “I see what they are doing. They want to merge this with a later flight..” a passenger even suggested.
Boarding was eventually announced, and although both flights were not merged, some passengers from the later flight were accepted onto this so that I found myself bumped back to economy and sat between two chunky men. So instead of arriving PH at 1pm, my flight touched down at the International airport a little before 5pm. And instead of a 30 minute drive to the hotel, it took 2 hours in PH rush hour traffic.
I got to the hotel sweaty and irritable, and was just stepping out of the showers when my phone rang. “Hey dude, I am down in the lobby. Give me your room number and I’ll be up in 2 minutes.” My contact and guide – another member of the group had come to get me. 7 minutes later and we were on our way to the cinema where I was to meet my date. He had to wait 15 minutes with me for her to get there.
Stepping out of the car she took my breath away. She had a yellow jacket over a tube top, over blue ¾ jeans, and yellow sandals a few inches high. I was still checking out her ensemble when dude stepped forward to hug her. I had to settle for the I-do-not-particularly-know-you 180 degree side to side hug. He made his excuses about his wife feeling unwell and the need to partnersit, and left – as far as I was concerned, not soon enough!
“Do not check out my ass,” she said, making sure that my eyes were drawn automatically south as she sashayed ahead of me. Approaching the ticket counter she mumbled “Do not pay for the ticket.” Now I am not a chauvinistic so and so, but I am not in the habit of letting women get my bill. Plus I had done a mental calculation of the time it would take her to rummage in her handbag for her wallet which might be in a purse, and I decided it would be quicker if I paid. Next time, it will help if you had the cash in hand and ready, not a lot of guys feel comfortable standing by and twiddling their thumbs while you come up with the cash.
We got the tickets and popcorn then went in search of the viewing room. As soon as I walked into the room the wind was sucked out of my sails. It was warm! The air-conditioning must have packed up last minute, but that was beside the point. A wrench had been thrown in the works for me. I usually rely on the cool (sometimes cold) temperature in the cinemas to push the girls to lean into me somewhere around halfway through the movies, but who would want a heated body against his in a warm room? Not I, especially since if I was ever to be Knighted, I would be dubbed Sir Sweat-a-lot.
Mercifully the movie was interesting and I was deeply engrossed when I bit down hard on a poprock! The pain was sharp and short. It travelled to my brain and back before I finished biting down on the unpopped corn grain. I heard the crack, and then felt the shift as my molar split in two. I had a bad molar which I had had refilled, but I guess the filling was no match for PH cinema corns.
We were supposed to have dinner and drinks after the movie, but to my surprise all the concessioners were either closed or closing by the time the movie was done. A long day on the road, and suddenly a longer night of hunger loomed ahead of me. Could the night get any worse? Not wanting to find out, I asked to be dropped off at the hotel where I kissed her goodnight, then went straight to bed!
Next morning, I made my way to the airport for Lagos, but fate still had a few tricks up her sleeves. The airport was temporarily closed following the strike action by the Nigeria Labour Congress. The lady at the check in counter could not possibly understand why I started laughing. It started as a low rumble in my throat before turning into a full bodied bellow. I laughed till I had tears in my eyes, and still I laughed. When I finally caught my breath, I went and sat with the many other would be travellers waiting for the airport to be re-opened. This gave me time to reflect on Murphy’s Law where everything that can possibly go wrong does – and at the worst possible moment too!
Despite her sense of humour, Fate obviously did not do her homework well. If she did she would have learnt that I do not back down. For, sitting there waiting for my flight, I was already plotting my next visit to PH. After all I had been through, there had to be a re-match.