It’s been a while since I posted an excerpt from my book. And I’ve written so much during the last few months! So today I want to share something short that will make you smile.
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On one of my final days in the Yaoundé, I visited the patisserie down the road from the guesthouse, a bakery that sold homemade ice cream, a delicacy I’d found only in Africa’s major cities. Set up like a modern bakery in France, it offered freshly baked bread, sugary cake bites and glazed fruit tarts, all displayed deliciously under clear plastic cases, protecting the treats from the drool of customers. While I mused over the selection of ice cream flavors, similar to those I’d choose from at home, the man behind the counter hit on me like he did every day when I arrived for a scoop.
“Ma cherie,” he purred, using the same pet name, “my dear,” that at least a dozen other African men had tried on me. “You know I want to marry you.”
I did know. He had told me yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that, even though he was at least twice my age. (Let’s pretend I wasn’t getting ice cream every time I went into the store.)
“Bonjour. How are you today?” I responded politely, pretending to give him my attention while I debated whether to go with chocolate or coffee-flavored ice cream.
He ignored my greeting, pressing on with more important issues. “Do you have any friends here?” he asked, leaning over the counter toward me, his beer belly showing through his apron. “I want to marry a white woman.”
Way to make a girl feel special, I thought. Me or my white friends, it doesn’t matter.
I browsed through my mental library of witty replies. Ignoring him – an effective tactic when it came to dealing with men who hissed at me from the side of the road – wouldn’t work, since he stood between me and my ice cream. I’d already tried several of my go-to retorts with this guy during previous visits, including turning polygamy on its head and asking, “Would you like to become my second husband? Because I’ve already married one man.” The day before, as I ordered a cone topped with chocolate chip, I had even described the husband who awaited me in the States, a fictional character I’d talked about so much during the last four months that I half expected the dark-haired hottie to pick me up at the airport when I arrived home.