Hair salons in Cameroon are fascinating places. The conversations you hear there between women, you're not likely to hear them anywhere else. I've already talked about Caro's in Buea Town but I also remember Fancy Fingers, the best braiding salon in Molyko, just around Malingo Junction. I was getting my hair braided there one afternoon and had mostly just sat there listening to the conversations of the women around me. The women were mostly talking about the Nigerian movie playing on the small TV screen. It was a love story, fraught of course with betrayals and misunderstandings. Loud sound effects, fake western accents and enough drama to give Shonda Rhimes a run for her money. I think Desmond Elliot and Kate Henshaw were the main characters.
Any way at the end of the movie, Desmond drops to his knees and proposes to Kate. Romantic violin music swirled in the background and all the woman in the salon sighed in bliss. Then one of the girls spoke.
"I no know why this Cameroonian boy them no fit make like Nigerian boy them. Cameroonian boy no go ever propose, like Desmond just propose so. Wuna go just di follow, di follow, di follow then one day e go look you with corner eye ask you sey ; Ase-eh, we di go see mami them which time noh?"
We all laughed our assess off even as we agreed that when it came to chatting, romance and proposals, Cameroonian dudes left a lot to be desired.
So this morning, when my sister from another mother, shared a rant about the continued cluelessness of Cameroonian boys, I immediately remembered that afternoon in Molyko. Here's her rant. Tell me what you think!
This Thing I Call "Understanding and Response"
Most of us know instinctively what this is, but if not let me explain what this concept means. Simply put "Understanding and Response" is the manner guys have of implying something (usually romantic feelings) and the girl to whom they imply understands them enough to respond in kind or in "understanding". This is a common practice I've observed among Cameroonian men, in particular. I believe the root of it is simple. Their egos are fragile. So rather than come out and state their feelings, because they fear rejection, they would rather imply and if the girl seems willing to "go along" or "understand" great! If not, they'll act like it was all just a joke.
Let me give you all an example:
A guy and girl are introduced through a mutual friend. They chat online occasionally and increasingly after meeting. He has asked her if she's in a relationship to which she answered "no". They have both discussed views on Cameroon, on religion, on music. Through their chat messages they have literally covered basic topics one might have discussed on the first date or a meet and greet during rentre scolaire week on a new campus. They have joked over TV shows and over their mutual friends. He has made comments like "e dey like sey ya time don reach for carry bele." She has made comments like "you need for find woman you di over follow girl dem".
One would say they are friends and yet they are not because there are undercurrents and those undercurrents speak of understanding and response. You see the guy assumes that because he sends you a message and you both have three hour long conversations, that you would know he's interested. He assumes that because he has called you "sweety" or "sexy" you understand his particular kind of interest.
It is with this assumption that I have a problem.
I know some would say its the way things are today, that we have progressed but the fact is, in my opinion its regression. What happened to asking? Where does CONSENT come in with this understanding and response deal? When you are implying so much that you would take a kiss (if offered of course) do you consider that, what a kiss may mean to you may mean something else to another?
Call me traditional (and proudly so) but I don't think you are dating someone until you've asked and both of you are CRYSTAL CLEAR on what that relationship entails. I don't think you are INTERESTED in someone till you EXPRESS YOUR INTEREST clearly. I'm not saying you should propose marriage within a month. But say it! If you want take it back to school and right on a piece of paper:
I want you to be my girlfriend. Do you want me back ?
Here is what pisses me off the most, if you didn't notice I was pissed, this practice puts girls at a disadvantage. A girl may want a relationship with you, but doesn't know what kind of relationship you are offering because you haven't asked anything you just keeping implying. But in demanding that you state your intentions clearly she is seen as putting pressure on you or being immature for not understanding.
Badluck! As if maturity makes one foolish!
And on the other hand. If the girl goes along and accepts these implications whatever they are, she is to blame for all the wahala down the road when something happens, like he cheats. She will be asked: Did you guys ever agree on an exclusive relationship? What was the agreement from the get go? Did he even make any promises? So why are you saying "He broke my heart" when words weren't even uttered except a "Sweety" here or a "Damn you have a fine ass" there?
See eh, as you begin so shall you continue.
And then of course the faux pas: This guy who has probably visited you after work and left your house at almost midnight, or the one who has been calling you pumpkin and making noises about traveling to Cameroon to hook up with you first thing. This mbut gets OFFENDED when you tell him in the course of all his implying that you aren't interested in a relationship. He says "Who even asked you out?" He claims you made assumptions about his interest. (Of course you did, no be so e di start?) You assumed and then made an effort to stop or clarify things early because understanding and response is how everyone does things.
You see, this is the ultimate aim of Understanding and Response. Guys are afraid of hearing no, so they escaped from asking. Now, if they imply and you pick up the bait, fine. When you don't, it's not a rejection so their egos are intact. But if you understand the implied and respond by giving the fatal and dreaded blow to the ego: rejection, it becomes an assumption and its your fault.
Tsuiiipppp! They nova born wuna.
We're on to you, fellows. We understand and we will respond as we see fit.