There is a popular Nigerian saying, ‘one man’s meat is another man’s poison’. I don’t know if this saying has it origins here but we use it quite a lot. And it has never really held any true meaning for me until recently.
Apparently in this part of the world, nice means different things to different people. When someone tells you a person is nice, take it with a grain of salt and do not assume to know what that entails. If you think there is a blanket meaning for ‘nice’, you would end up being totally disappointed; like I have been on many occasions. Allow me to tell you about two of those occasions.
The first time was when someone told me, “you should get to know him, he is a nice guy.”
This “nice guy” on our very first day conversing, spoke to me like I was some property he bought at the market. He didn’t bother to introduce himself when I picked up the phone. He just plunged into questioning and wondering why my phone was engaged for as long as it was when he tried calling me earlier. I stared at my phone in confusion as I wondered if it was one of my friends playing a prank on me. This must be Muhammad I thought, he is always putting on fake accents and mannerism just to get me. Alas, it wasn’t him.
Naturally, that was to be our second to the last conversation, for which I was attacked.
“You should have given him a chance, he is a really nice guy.”
Nothing about his manner of approach was nice but I felt, I may have missed something. So I asked and explored, what made him nice, in the other person’s opinion and it turned out, nice, disappointingly meant generous with money.
The second time happened quite recently.
Another guy was given my number (unfortunately I have do-gooder friends who seem not to know me at all) and I was told we would really click. Five days into trying to get to know each other, he says to me on the phone, like I am an unintelligent being, “You sound like you may be petite, send me your picture. Don’t send any face shot o! Send me a full bodied picture”.
My very first instinct was to say no. As a matter of fact, I thought to say a huge “No, I will not put myself up for your assessment.” but instead I said, I would check. As I was going through the little pictures I had, a lot of angry thoughts were going through my mind. Squashing them was hard but finding that I didn’t have a picture that showed me from head to toe, provided some relief. So I sent one that showed me from the waist up, at least I behaved ‘normal’ and didn’t give a lecture like I wanted to.
This relief was temporary as I instantly got a reply, ‘This is just a face picture, I want full bodied o!’. This was accompanied by four baffling crying emoticons and my reaction was immediate disgust. My reply was an adamant ‘that is not going to happen’ and I refused to give any explanation. I wasn’t going to waste my time on someone of that character.
This is what I told my friend ‘the connector’ who said I was thinking too hard about it because it wasn’t that bad.
Honestly, I do not have any thing against a person who owns their truth and shows they are only attracted to certain people. Lord knows, I would rather be friends with that person than a hypocrite who claims to be attracted to just about anyone and also sees beauty equally, yet seems to have only one type.
BUT, what I won’t make ‘normal’, is the presenting of myself to another human being to judge and assess whether I am worth their time, resources and energy simply by the way I look or by my body size.
So I decided to break down my thoughts and analysis of the situation to my friend. Then I gave her the messages the guy sent to read the kind of words he used, as he insisted on seeing a picture as though his next breath depend on it. She was more pissed and disgusted than I was which was so funny because moments earlier, she had said, “Eya fa, you are being too hard, he is truly a nice guy”.
This basically means he doesn’t behave like the typical Lagos guy; I won’t even go into what this means.
For me, a nice person is a very thoughtful individual who puts another’s interest, comfort and happiness before their own. The people I consider to be nice, do not assume they know what another person needs based on their own assessment of what they would need in any situation. I also consider nice people to be wise and mature. They do shockingly good not irritating things.
Maybe there is a new nice and a new normal and I missed the memo. Either way, I would rather remain uncivilized than acclimatized.
Tell me, what does nice mean to you?