By the time I realised I had a smudge of poo on my $200 Gucci blazer, I had survived two meetings and a conference. I’m not exactly sure how I missed my reflection on glass doors, car windows, possibly my phone…anything that can clearly illuminate an outstanding brown shade on cream but I managed to. Funny enough, I wasn’t the one to notice it even after half of the day had flown by; it was my faithful driver, Murphy. I was just leaving yet another exhaustingly long meeting and my mind was already fixed on the blissful sleep I was going to enjoy on the way to pick my son, Jamal, from his primary school. Murphy was chewing something noisily while leaning casually on the car when I spotted him. The first thing that put me on alert was how his eyes dropped to my chest followed by the scrunching up of his face in some look of disgust. I stopped mid-stride, suddenly too scared to look down and find out what the matter is. After all, I had just left a meeting full of well-read men with more degrees than all the members of my village put together.
“Madam, e be like say you get one brown stain for your jacket.” He pointed out, his hand gestured towards the general area of the stain.
“Murphy,” I started, somehow finding my voice after it really dawned on me why my bust region had been catching a lot of eyes today. And there I was thinking it was the work of my ‘wonder bra’. “Tell me eh…this stain – before I look at it – on the scale of 1-10, how bad is it?”And that was all I needed to confirm the worst.
“Ah!” He exclaimed, letting out a chuckle before crossing his hands across his chest to inspect the stain carefully. “Madam?”
“Yes?” I replied hopefully.
“This one na 11.”
My heart dropped to my stomach. I finally looked down at it, refusing to ignore my problem any longer. A deep brown, offending smudge was spread across a good portion of my jacket lapel, just a little below my bust where I was likely not to notice immediately. I had to picture my children being at earshot to resist the herculean urge to cuss.
Letting out a defeated sigh, I let myself into the car and threw my bag to the side with reckless abandon. My next mission, as far as I was concerned, was to sleep and forget that at least 30 people had seen me in a Gucci suit smeared with what I know for sure is poo. How it got there? The nanny started with her painful menstruation episodes so I was forced to handle my 8-months-old girl, Jamila. Sigh. Motherly love and its many perks.
Several seconds after I had just shut my eyes, the unmistakable sound of my cell ringtone shattered the silence in the car. I groaned in irritation, more than ready to throw the device out the window. My first plan was to ignore it, hoping the caller would take the hint. Well, several seconds later it did stop…only to restart again. I bolted upright with all the annoyance of a sleep-deprived workaholic and grabbed my bag, rummaging recklessly for my phone.
Checking the caller ID, I realised that it was my boss calling. I literally felt my BP rise.
“Mrs Ojo, the next time you represent this company in any gathering, which I doubt will happen again, can you at least endeavour to look the part?”
I was beyond mortified. So, he had heard. And from his tight tone, it was very clear that he wasn’t pleased at all.
“I can expl-”
“Did you think your performance will not be reported back to me? Those men you went to speak to are human for God’s sake, if you had to dress to appeal then at least not anything that will expose your chest to the point of distraction,” Ehn? “Besides, you’re a married woman with kids, you should at least strive to be decent for your family.”
“We will discuss more about this… ‘chest distraction’ of yours when you get back. Good-bye.”
And just like that the line went dead, leaving me in a more confused state than I was before. If I heard correctly, my boss had gotten a feedback on the stain on my suit but had mistaken it for me showing an indecent amount of cleavage. At that point, I wasn’t sure whether to cry or burst out laughing.
Within the next hour, we had arrived at my son’s school and had picked him up but not without yet another dramatic scene. Apparently, he had mistaken his lunchbox for someone else’s which had left the other boy hungry the whole day because he opened his lunch to find food he didn’t like (My hand-made jollof rice; as a matter of fact, I was slightly insulted). The boys’ parents had come to stir up some trouble and I, exhausted and at the epitome of irritation, may have said a few words that were enough to draw 3 people to keep me from trashing the other woman or vice versa. That episode ended messily. I blamed it all on my bad day and convinced myself I would be remorseful enough to make amends the next day. I mean, a lesser woman would have done way worse.
Later that night, after having corrected my boss’s misconception, laminating a big J.O on my son’s lunchbox, sternly warning him not to repeat any word I might have uttered in anger with a promise of severe beating, putting the little angel who made my day to bed and typing an apology letter to every company whose eyes I had ‘offended’, I crashed on my bed, ready for a lengthy sleep. My husband rolled to my side and I snuggled into him, sighing in content. Finally, some undisrupted peace.
Then I felt his body tense up.
“Honey, weren’t you supposed to pick Jaden from his boarding school today?”