In high school I loved a boy, Luca. I even birthed him three virtual kids: Chaba, Chebe and Kiki and even then, he still looked past me on to a perfect girl. And my teenage heart hemorrhaged for days while my self-esteem kissed floors.
Let me take you back a tad. I first met Luca in my third year of high school during a day out for prefects. Prior to the day, we had planned that each boy sits with a girl that serves in the same department as them. ‘That way, nobody would lack a dude to vibe with,’ were my Betty, my school captain’s words. I liked Betty as the school captain because she not only thought of herself but for everyone else as well, even us the minorities who boys almost never seemed to ask out. Us who never had ‘game.’
The boys arrived at our school at 8 am on a Sunday. So, while the rest of the school gathered for the Sunday service, we prefects were riding into the sunset with a few fine dudes. One by one, they introduced themselves, proudly stating their respective departments and they all looked mildly interesting until Luca came along. The fluid movement of his arms and lips as he spoke, the invisible halo round his head, the sheer perfectness of his build made me think, ‘Those SDA hotties from previous rallies be damned because I was now standing in the presence of true beauty and finesse.’
Luca’s boyish looks and slender build were every teenage girl’s dream to say the least. Seeing a fine boy like Luca in high school carrying around a jaw better Adam’s was a spiritual re-kindling for me. I needed no other freaking argument because I had convinced myself that was what men had looked like before Eve held a conversation with a snake. Or maybe I should just speak for myself on this issue since for some girls like Emma, 50 cent the rapper was the epitome of looks and build in men. I still find it shocking how some girls knew from early what they want in men. In my very first week in high school, Emma had narrated to me and 4 other classmates about her secret fantasies of 50 cent. Wah, the blistering candor of her words had left the villager in me wrapped in everlasting embarrassment. I even think I repented on behalf of everyone once I left that ’meeting.’
Watching Luca speak that day, everything around me forgotten, I just couldn’t fathom what I had done so right for God to hand such a fine man to me. Either way, I wasn’t going to say no because Child, when God gives, you take. But more importantly Luca needed to choose me first. He needed to walk over and sit in the empty seat next to me after he finished introducing myself and be my date since he was serving in a similar department as mine. And I just wanted the pleasure of watching drool dripping down the chins of the other girls in the bus as Luca walked into my arms! Me of all people!
But the devil is always 37 steps ahead of me, he just didn’t leave footprints in the sand. Because if not so, how else can I explain the fact that after his introduction, Luca walked past me without as much as a look and on to a girl that I can never match up against even on my best day? My hand that had been waving at him stayed paralyzed mid-air even seconds after he had walked past. I didn’t know how or what to do with it. But before I could even figure any of it out, the bus had broken into whistles and cheers of ‘Go, Karen! Go Karen!’, applauding her for bagging my Luca. And pinching the side of my hip was all I could do to keep me from crawling back into the safety of my mother’s womb in that instant.
May I level with you? I did feel humiliated when Luca bypassed me for Karen. In fact, I bit several insides of my lips to keep my face from crumpling the moment Karen stood to hug Luca, did it gain when I had to listen to the laughters they shared throughout the day -my laughters. But what I recall best was the hopeless defeat that settled on my chest when I thought of the girl into whose arms Luca had waltzed: the impeccable Karen. Karen was a girl to whom I would lose times over on any day, the me I knew 8 years ago would have. And that hurt because even at that age, I still had never learnt how to lose.
Karen on the other hand had both God’s and man’s favor, all at once and grace. Beautiful, smart, charismatic, deeply religious and a mellifluous voice were just but only the mundane stuff about Karen. But what I envied her about was that she had hair that could be coiffed even after cutting it like twice in the course of high school. I on the other hand looked like…my high school self. And my hair which I had not cut in 3 years was still struggling to fit into a pony tail and even then, that ponytail of mine ended up looking like goat’s tail. It was even funny to me. So tell me Jessica, can we really reproach Luca for choosing Karen over me? Can we?
I came to learn later that Karen and Luca had met in a Christian Union rally during the previous school recess. Talk about me trying to separate what God had already put together. But because you’re a sly being as myself, let me tell you how I decided that in no universe would Luca ever choose me. Think with me here: Assuming I waited it out like a good girl; waited patiently till Karen dies a million years later after marrying Luca, would I have stood a chance with him even then? No way. Not even on the broken back of a camel in Kalahari Desert. Because a year after he broke up with Karen, Luca dated an elevated version of her. And Karen wherever you are, I think this would be a good time for me to say sorry for wishing you dead. I was just too angry back then but, in all sincerity, I want you live to a ripe old age.
On to the other woman that Luca chose after Karen. Her name was Tess and I want to call her a friend, but she was more of a client to me than the latter. I was her shrink back in high school, the person she’d tell about her boy trouble amongst many other things. Shrink was a post I held in most people’s lives now that I did not have a love life of my own. It truly was not a well-paying post, but the juicy stories were well worth my while.
Unlike Karen, Tess was tall probably 5’8, with a body that curved so meticulously and cleverly that not even the baggy high school skirts could conceal it. Seriously, her curves defied all odds. I guess when God said let there be curves, He meant it. Tess also had longer hair than most women can ever achieve in one lifetime. So you see two things already; Luca had a type and that I had lost again hands down.
Isn’t it just ridiculous how many stones some people get in their sling? See, on top of that long resume I just read out to you about her, Tess was also a member of 2 dance groups and as well as some ‘elite’ clubs at school. She was considered a threat even by girls in senior classes. As one A. Akello said to me 3 years post highs school, ‘Melo, love isn’t all about looks but if you saw Tess talking to your high school boyfriend, you didn’t even bother to fight for him. How now when there was nothing left to fight for?’
Akello did not lie. My teenage self believed that women who looked like Tess were the peak of the highest mountain. Once a man won their heart, that man’s next greatest event was meeting their maker and getting carried in chariot like Prophet Elijah. And yes, I now know better than to equate love with looks.
Back to Tess. In the eyes of someone with a boring life as mine, her boy trouble seemed a lot. But it was always so juicy and made me yearn for the day I would have some tangible boy trouble of my own to talk about. The evening after the torturous prefects’ day out, Tess rushed to my room, sat on my slim bed with this eager look on her face, wanting to know all the juice but most of all, who Luca had spent the day with. At the time, I didn’t know she was into him and so I blabbered on and on about how magical Luca and Karen had looked together. How we had all wished we were them. Of course, I didn’t mention the part where Luca had walked past me and left me feeling worse than a grasshopper. Eeerck…I was the shrink here. Shrinks shouldn’t have feelings.
Long story short, Luca and Tess dated after high school. They always seemed to meet at those Union camps my parents wouldn’t let me attend and even as I type this, I think the two are still together. I see their pictures on social media and boy do they look great together. I don’t even feel bad. That’s me lying right there, can you feel it? Let’s try this again, Luca and Tess look so perfect together that I still shrivel a little when their pics pop up on my timeline. I still feel an element of smallness when I see the way he looks at her, I don’t care if the photo-shoots are staged. And I very much want to say that may God bless them but if I can’t have Luca, then nobody else should. At least nobody that I know personally. Pettiness 601.
Back then as Luca and Karen rode in a chariot towards sunset while I sat still frying in shame, I thought that maybe boys like Luca just don’t choose girls like me. At least not when women like Tess are still on the menu. But over the years, I have had time to brush up on those unrefined and self-pitying thoughts. And all I can say now is that in matters of the heart, some people like their coffee white and others, black. And these things almost never change over the seasons. Which means you can never wait it out for someone’s taste in lovers to evolve for your turn to arrive.