MR PERFECT SHOES
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September 11, 2019 at 10:10 am #1338872
- "Posts & Comments"17565
No one answered.
“Medium Caramel Latte for ‘Ah-
donkey?’ ” the barista called out
This time, a tall, slim woman with
golden brown skin who sat by the
window raised her hand. Then, as if
she remembered that this was not
classroom attendance, she quickly
put it down. A few quick, bold
strides later, and she was at the
counter, face-to-face with the sour-
Adunni was used to people
butchering her name, but this
particular barista was the official
pourer of sand in people’s garri at
this café. No matter how many times
Adunni enunciated her name,
painstakingly drawing out each
syllable to show just how easy it was
to pronounce, she never got it right.
When she shortened her name to
“Dunni,” the same barista called her
“Doom Day.” So, Adunni decided to
keep all three syllables intact.
She must think this is a game.
The other day, the barista had
announced that the small flat white
for “A Dummy” was ready. The week
before, it had been “A Dolly.”
How? Why? Where did they jam each
That evening, Adunni decided it was
time to return the favor.
If civility will not work, we will play
this game together.
In her strongest Yoruba accent, she
“Oh thank you, Ashy.”
Ashy scowled and blinked twice.
Then, she ran pale fingers through
her blonde hair, as if the answers to
life’s questions were buried in her
“It’s Ashley. Ash-lee,” said the barista.
“Oh right,” said Adunni. “Ban-shee.”
They may have stood there for
another five minutes playing this
game, if not for another customer
behind Adunni, who complained that
his dark roast tasted more like burnt
“Ashy will fix it,” Adunni chuckled to
herself and went back to her seat.
No one would spoil her mood today.
She gently lowered herself onto the
hard wood chair she had been
perched on for close to 15 minutes.
That was 15 minutes fumbling with
her laptop while she stole glances at
the well-dressed guy across the
He seemed nervous and kept swiping
on his phone. Anytime he did,
Adunni asked herself what he was
doing there. He just looked like he
did not belong in this café. Well, not
the Red Rooster Café, at least.
Most of the regulars took what
Adunni termed “extra casual” too
far. Some people actually came to
hang out at the café, wearing
pajamas. On a good day, maybe a
tracksuit (the kind with white stripes
on the sides), would make an
appearance. And there were always
people in jeans. Lots of jeans.
But this guy was different. He gave
off this “not the café type” vibe, like
he would have been more at home in
Adunni noted that the Red Rooster
sounded more like the name of a bar
than a mid-town café.
This guy had short brown hair that
fell across his forehead in neat,
careful layers, warm brown eyes, and
a distinct sense of style. He wore a
navy blue suit with a blue and pink
polka dot tie and a matching pocket
square. Adunni felt his pocket square
alone was nicer than her own
blouse. He looked to be in his late
But the absolute best part was his
He wore cognac Oxford dress shoes,
which were so well-polished that in
her friend Tade’s words, “they shone
brighter than some people’s future.”
Adunni wanted to ask which tools or
technique he used to get his shoes to
shine like that. But, she didn’t.
Instead, she marveled at the guy’s
beard. It was short, neat and well-
groomed. He didn’t have that
homeless guy look, which seemed to
plague many bearded men.
Adunni almost forgot that the paper
she came to finish writing at the café
was due in less than 24 hours.
“Don’t finish your paper, you hear?”
Tade’s voice echoed in her head.
“Continue watching man like TV.
Shebi it’s man that will write your
finals for you.”
Adunni chuckled. Tade’s voice always
helped her re-focus, even if the said
Tade was at that moment, visiting
her older sister in New York.
While typing page 6 of 20, with
multiple, wavy red lines scattered
across, Adunni looked up from her
laptop screen, and in that moment
locked eyes with Mr. Perfect Shoes
across the room.
She expected one of three things to
One, he would tear his eyes away
from her and resume staring at his
phone screen. Yes, too many people
were locked in an enduring romance
with their phones.
Or two, he could tear his eyes away
and focus on something else, like the
coffee roaster behind her or the shelf
of bagged coffee to her left.
Or three, he could keep looking, hold
her gaze and smile, until either one
of them looked away.
Mr. Perfect Shoes did none of those
Instead, without taking his eyes off
her, he got up and strode, crossing
the room in a few steps, until he was
standing right in front of her.
Adunni was sure her mouth was
hanging open, but she didn’t care.
Was he lost or about to borrow
“Hey! You’ve got the most beautiful
smile. I just had to tell you,” he said
breezily, as if it was completely
normal to tell a complete stranger
you liked her smile.
The wattage of Adunni’s smile went
from double figures to triple figures.
She couldn’t seem to stop herself.
“Chai, you don fall my hand. See as
oyinbo boy turn you to mumu,” said
“Shut up, Tade!” Adunni blurted out.
“What was that?” Mr. Perfect Shoes
asked in surprise.
“Oh nothing,” said Adunni quickly. “I
mean … umm … thank you.”
“Yeah. No problem. My name’s
Phillip, by the way.”
“Adunni. Ah-doo-nee,” she said,
falling into the pattern she did when
pronouncing her decidedly Nigerian
name to an outsider.
“Oh, that’s different. Where are you
from?” Phillip asked, sitting down at
the only chair at the table.
Something is off …
Even as he sat down, Adunni couldn’t
shake that feeling that something
was not right. Phillip seemed like a
nice guy, but …
“So, what brings you to the Red
Rooster on a Thursday night?” she
“A date. She stood me up though,”
he added, sadly.
Adunni winced. “That sucks.”
“It does. Hey, I think she’s from
Africa too. Her name’s Adwoa. She’s
“Really?” said Adunni. “What are the
odds? Yes, Adwoa is a Ghanaian
name. I’m a Nursing student too.
“You’re kidding!” said Phillip.
“Nope. I kid you not,” said Adunni.
And then, for some inexplicable
reason, he smiled. It was that smile
that creeped her out, gave her the
“So, what do you do? Are you
coming from work?” Adunni asked.
“Oh, you mean the suit,” he
chuckled. “Well, I do a bit of this and
that, you know, do what I gotta do to
pay the bills and such …”
And for the next few minutes, no
matter how hard she tried, Adunni
could not get a straight answer from
Phillip on what he did for a living.
Once again, she heard Tade’s voice in
“If a man cannot tell you in one
sentence what he does for a living,
be careful. So ra e.”
But Adunni didn’t need to take Voice
of Tade’s advice. Phillip’s phone rang
at that moment. He glanced at the
phone and let it ring, while he
“Can I get your number … or e-mail,
or IG handle or Twitter handle … or
something,” Phillip began.
“How about I just see you around,”
said Adunni, rummaging through her
brain for a follow-up excuse in case
this one fell through. But there was
Phillip’s phone rang a second time.
“I gotta take this. Excuse me,” he
said before stepping outside.
He never came back inside.
When an hour later Adunni was
leaving the café, she saw him
chatting with Ashley. They each held
burning cigarettes and he waved at
Adunni as she walked to her car.
That was the last time she saw Phillip.
As Adunni passed by, she took one
last longing look at his perfect shoes.
“I’d still love to know how his shoes
shine like so … Even if I own just two
leather shoes,” she said to herself.
* * * * *
Two weeks later, while real life Tade
was watching an episode of “The
Bachelor,” Adunni was scrolling
through her Facebook timeline.
“How can people expect a person to
find love on a TV show?” Tade
“And yet you own all seasons of the
Bachelor. See your life!” said Adunni.
“I love all the drama jare. It’s
delicious,” said Tade.
And then, Adunni screamed.
“What? So she didn’t get a rose?
That’s kind of the point of–” Tade
“No!” Adunni shouted. “Come and
Tade ran to her side. Adunni pointed
to a news clip of a man arrested for
strangling his girlfriend. She was a
“It’s Mr. Perfect Shoes!” said Adunni.
“Na God save you,” said Real Life
And for once Adunni did not try to
shut her up because she was right.
###0September 11, 2019 at 8:28 pm #1338941
- "Posts & Comments"3317
na God save you true true0
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