The Girl Whisperer
as published by the Sunday Guardian
of Sunday November 4
A Cinderella Story
I often spend time talking to Funmilola Iyanda, my friend for many years and someone I think very highly of. If you can take your eyes off the striking good looks of this Queen of the Screen, you would be amazed at the ease with which she drops nuggets that can act as guides to positive living. One day, in a relaxed moment with other friends as well as myself, she said: if you want to eat rice every day, you have to learn to garnish it in different ways. This was in direct reference to fidelity and staying with one partner. I’d never heard the matter voiced in such a graphic manner and the imagery her words conjured has never left my mind. By the way, other words for “Garnish” could be decorate, adorn, pretty up, dress up, embellish, prettify and beautify.
A problem many people have is the inability to stay with one partner until the end of their lives, no matter what they proclaim to the contrary. For some men, even if they stay married or remain partners to one person, a major issue that troubles them is the tendency to want to sample the wares on the side, with roving eyes that lock like radar on passing skirts. By the way, there are many women who are guilty of this too, with eyes that size men up and reveal their speculations. However, I digress. Many of us have woken up with palpitations in the middle of the night, thinking, “Am I going to spend the rest of my life with this one person?” You may admit it to me, I am the Girl Whisperer, and few things shock me.
I once had a female declare to me, “Wole, I can’t stay faithful in marriage, I just can’t”. She married a while after and I sometimes wonder if she has been able to overcome that ‘slight’ inability to cope with pressure. Still, the adage goes, “know thyself”. Maybe she knew herself more than a lot of us do of our own ways.
So back to Funmi Iyanda’s Garnish Principle. Is it possible that by making yourself more interesting and attractive to your partner, you may remain together, forever, till death do you part, just like the story of Cinderella and the handsome prince? Is it the refusal of men to eat white rice daily, as we call that crop in these parts, which causes many a breakage in relationships? I have been eating rice all my life, really, and Chinese people would love me for my fervency towards their gift to the world, but then in retrospect, my love for rice might be because many things can accompany it or beautify it. There is always something you can add to rice, make it more interesting with. If you serve your child, white rice, morning and night, a bland and unappealing meal, someday he is going to run away from home. Really. You will find him at your neighbour’s dining table, eating food they have taken the time to plan for. Now, imagine the kind of food a grown man or woman would eat at the neighbour’s if you refused to be imaginative. You might be able to drag your child back to your own home but it might be slightly more difficult to get an adult to return once he or she has tasted real cooking.
Now it does not matter if your partner is a religious leader or the Dalai Lama himself. He or she needs you to reinvent yourself from time to time, make yourself more interesting so that as the days and years go by, there are pleasures you can derive from each other along the way. Now women have a universal trait; they think highly of men who stay in the hot kitchen as they (the women) cook in hellish temperatures, steam everywhere, pots overturned and boiling over, half-peeled potatoes rolling around the kitchen floor, vegetables wilting before one’s very eyes. Make no mistake; no man likes to be in such conditions even if he pretends otherwise, except he is a chef. It might sound chauvinistic, but I’m afraid it does not remove from its truth. So I advice: Finish your garnishing before you call him to see the finished product, do not lose the mystique by forcing him to watch the process. Do it subtly, make it appear easy and then you might add to your value.
Life isn’t always fair, and we do not all end up in the Cinderella story where our partners love us forever through good and bad times and we live happily ever after. However, you could give your relationship a fighting chance by starting today with garnishing that rice.