It was 4:30am and I opened my eyes. I was on my bed, fully clothed in the grey skirt and lazy black t-shirt I wore out of the house the day before. My wig was on the floor just beside my laptop bag and my hand bag was nowhere in sight. Something was wrong. How did I get here?
“Wait. You can’t remember anything?” Chidi said from the other end of the line.
I had called him first as soon as it was okay for you to call a person on a Saturday morning after an apparently busy night.
“I…can’t. Last thing I recall was being at Marrocaine with the guys.” I said.
“You don’t remember how you got home?”
“You don’t remember raising your skirt up and dancing on the strip pole?”
Just then, my housemate walked into my room and told me how angry she was at me. Something about her being worried and calling me for hours in panic, only for me to get home and walk out on her.
“Sis, I don’t even remember shit.”
I called the every other guy in the Happy Men group who I went out with that night and each person gave me a breakdown of the story, revealing one new piece of information the other might have skipped. The Happy Men are the gang of male friends I hang out with. These days, not so much.
But when this happened sometime in 2017, the extended gang had about 15 members with me being the only girl. Our mission was to preach the gospel of fun and freedom across the Lagos islands, whilst making disciples or picking up temporary “visitors.” It’s a gang of some of the smartest guys in the city. It is also the gang of some of the best Casanovas in the game.
From Monday nights at Sailors Lounge in Lekki, to Wednesdays at Food shack or Bottles, and Weekend nights at whatever beach we found most interesting, we moved around in the pack. However, the craziest nights are Friday nights. On Friday Nights, we move from work first to the lounge one of the Happy Men managed. It is there that we have the first set of drinks and call all the members to show up.
Then we move to the next set of locations which is usually a busier lounge like N-Tyce Lounge or Sip Lounge or… okay a lot of lounges or bars, before heading to a club which was Club 57 on most Friday nights. This particular Friday night was the same – only that I didn’t make it to the club.
I had been feeling a little out of place the entire week. I remember, because from the first day of the working week, I had been craving alcohol. For most people, it could have been a habitual response to withdrawal from the damned vice. But for me, that feeling was what you will call a cry for help because I had made a habit of medicating my sadness, or heartbreak, or anxiety, or just stress with booze – a habit I learnt after an old heartbreak I had.
Beyond that, I could stay weeks without drinking, save for social gatherings. It was either to cloud the emotion in a little bit of self-induced haziness or to come to terms with the full wrath of my raging emotions, many of which I still haven’t learnt to control, and booze was always a softer sink. A less vicious fall.
When 5pm stuck that Friday, I shut the pages of my laptop on whatever financial model or presentation or article I was working on and packed all my stuff up. I got into the car with my colleague and fellow Happy Man, John, and we headed to the meet up lounge. We stopped by Grand Square in Victoria Island to purchase our starter drink and some chasers.
We typically have a phase for whatever brand of Vodka we’re feeling at the moment. That day, it was Czar Vodka which we all pronounced as ZAR. Soon, we were at the lounge and the guys started filing in. Another member of the gang had also gotten a few bottles of beer so we were set to burn our worries away into hours of unbridled partying.
Rumour has it that John and I finished the entire bottle of Vodka. For context, this is a tall bottle of 40% spirit chased only with a few gulps of Sprite. I don’t want to think so. But that’s what they said. We sat in and spoke about random stuff, and laughed, and celebrated every new friend that opened the door of the single room we were in by chanting the person’s nickname before proceeding to hug or give them a high five.
When it was about past 11 pm, everybody got into their rides in a convoy and rode out. This was always one of my favourite parts of hanging out with the gang. A string of four or five cars on a blue Lagos night. The beauty of it.
Some of the guys had invited a few girls over and we filed into Maroccaine and sat in. At this point, thanks to the influence of the alcohol, I had eased into a world where people always smiled and worries did not exist. I sat next to one of the guys and he got me a glass of Long Island.
I have to add here that these guys love me and had never seen me lose my shit – ever. I’m just that girl that can hold her liquor. Nobody worries about me. If for anything, I’m the one who stays fine the longest. So on this night, when I finished the glass of Long Island cocktail and picked up a can of Star beer I found lying on the table, nobody bothered to stop me.
When I also took a sip of somebody’s cup of Guinness beer, I also didn’t bother to stop myself or think logically because I can say for a fact that at this point, I had already stepped out of consciousness into a part of my subconscious that resumed the job of keeping me safe. I don’t remember tasting the last set of evils. Information regarding the rest of what happened that night was from the guys.
Maroccaine is one of the many bars in VI that are vibrant at weekend nights. The music is loud and the street that houses it is packed with so many cars that you might need to drive meters away from the front and walk back to get inside.
The only difference between Marroccaine and a regular night club is that it isn’t just a night club. It pulls in a great deal of crowd and depending on how much people drank or how good the music was, people either danced or sat down in groups. However, one thing that makes Marroccaine stand out is that it has a strip pole.
As the myth of this night goes, I asked a one of the guys to dance with me. After he had gotten tired of moving around, he left me and went back to sit down. It was then that raised my skirt up slightly to give my legs more freedom, and walked around the strip pole like I was ready to own it.
In that moment, I threw my head back and danced slowly to a song that was anything but slow. I watched how the room shifted their attention to me. But it probably wasn’t because I was the best standing pole dancer that ever was. It was because my wig had fallen off and I had no care to pick it back up. That was when the guys figured out that something was wrong.
The myth was that I threw up. That I was offered tea by the owner of the club, but also that the tea spilled. But the strangest of the myth was that in the middle of the biggest alcohol-induced crisis I had ever had, I had the mental clarity to pick up my phone to call Chidi.
Chidi was a new friend of the gang who I noticed had some kind of interest in me. I hadn’t cared so much about having anything other than friendship with him, but he was also the only one who knew my house in Yaba; every other person stayed on the Island.
According to him, I said “Hey, I’m drunk. I’m at Maroccaine with the guys. Please show up.” When he eventually showed up, I said again, “I’m drunk. Please make sure I make it home tonight. Make sure I don’t lose my laptop.”
I couldn’t even remember seeing him there at all. He later told me that he didn’t believe it was anything because I still sounded like myself. Thank God.
The story goes that some of the guys fought with the ladies they had come with because of how much attention they all shifted to making sure I was fine. Maybe it’s true; maybe it isn’t. Maybe the stories are real; maybe they’re not.
Maybe a completely different thing happened. But I was on my bed that night. And aside the damning headache which was duly expected, I was whole. My bag was in somebody’s car, but I was whole.
By the way, this is part-fiction. Based on a true life story or whatever.