As a kid growing up in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, I had this Italian friend called Gabriel.
He had a hook nose that resembled an Eagle’s beak and suited his temper, which was always prone to flying off the handle.
His shock of coal-black hair was often slicked back as it rested above a mouth shaped to give Godfather deals.
Some ladies said he reminded them of Brad Pitt, with a 5 O’clock shadow that scared them into his arms for protection!
In a word, he was a chick magnet. Still, to me, his behaviour was like matooke and groundnut sauce….something I didn’t like. Not because he was a bad guy. No.
It was because he used to come home to see me and my brothers every day. And while he was home, he would commandeer the kitchen and cook what he called “Egga-na-Bacona-Beans” in his sing-songy Italian drawl.
Oftentimes, he would force me to eat breakfast after I had already eaten breakfast. So he would say, “Philipo, do you wanna some egga-na-beans or egg-na-sausage?”
And I would firmly say: “Neither! I just ate breakfast!” Then Gabriel would reply: “Philipo! I am not joking! okaaay!”
His eyes burning with the smoldering fires from some Godforsaken underworld, I would flinch. Then, I would wrap on my napkin and get ready for brunch.
I mean, the guy scared me. He looked like he missed the part of John Rambo only because of his age.
Again, I didn’t like him much because all the girls liked him. Truly, they fell at his feet like he was a pair of discount designer shoes.
Okay, this wouldn’t have been a bad thing. I mean, I wasn’t looking for a sorority of adoring chicks.
I only liked one girl. And it was for her that I used to stuff my swimming trunks with socks. That way, I would impress her with the size of my “grownup” masculinity.
She was an Ethiopian girl with thick-black hair, deep almond-colored eyes and breasts like tennis balls that played havoc with my six and half senses. (The half was for my fashion sense.) Her name was Lisa.
I always looked for a way to approach Lisa. But I was shy and she was constantly surrounded by a gaggle of girls. So I just couldn’t get her alone.
I told Gabriel about my feelings and begged him to teach me how to ‘bust a move’ on her. Of course that meant that I had to endure his cooking and tantrums when he called me a “son of a bitch.”
But at the same time, he taught me some moves that took me from Georgie Porgy-repulsive to Giorgio Armani-cool.
So when I bumped into the Ethiopian girl, with her coterie of fawning friends, I said more than two words to her.
To my utter shock, she vivaciously engaged me in conversation to the exclusion of her friends. And they soon left us alone. We got along famously.
As we talked, I felt lightheaded with winged feelings.
Then, something went wrong. Gabriel suddenly showed up to make three a crowd. I was immediately pushed aside to the margins of the conversation as the angel Gabriel took the girl to heaven with his presence.
Of course, I wasn’t going to take this sitting down. So I stood up, pulled Gabriel up by the scruff of his collar and pushed him, oblivious to his size.
I then threw a blind punch, which landed on the sucker-punch area of his jaw. Within an instant, he was sprawled on the floor.
I had done what an army failed to do: I had beaten Rambo!
But before I could do my victory dance, Lisa sprung up like she was on a trampoline.
Her sweetness soured.
She limbered up, stretched her neck and squeezed her knuckles until they cracked. I wasn’t sure what was going on, so I just looked at her.
A measure of calm returned between us. But that proved to be only the calm before the storm.
Suddenly, eyes aflame, she struck out with a roundhouse kick that had the mother’s instincts of a spanking.
She threw a left, a right, an uppercut…she sent blows out like an armada of sailing kicks and fists.
The girl had all the fiery theatrics of a low budget Kung Fu movie.
Before I knew it, I was in a headlock and a cheering crowd had gathered around us. They were egging her on to fry me up like an omelet.
So she started to showboat, doing the banana splits with me still in a headlock! My efforts to shake off Jean Claude Van Madame were unavailing, she was killing me.
I thus suspended my ‘I don’t hit girls’ rule, and lunged at her. But my three blows were like a trilogy of Star Wars: they were up in space and never hit her face!
Soon, my body was lying next to Gabriel’s. Yes, he was still down and out. Together, we formed a cemetery of her former pets.
After that day, I would quickly become a feminist whenever I would see an angry woman.