‘What ever happened to romance?’ she lamented, starting at her phone.
‘What’s the problem? Another dick pic from a Tinder hook up?’
‘Even worse, he is asking for my nudes.’
Esther was beyond frustrated with what passed for 21st century courtship. It was bad enough that meeting now happened more online than anywhere else. She often found herself fantasizing about living in times when as she would put it, men were men, and women were ladies.
‘Well, the guy wants to see some skin.’ Jude on the other hand was the worst type of cynic.
‘You sef, you are part of the problem. Romance is dead. I hate living in this time’
‘Well I’m sure someone somewhere is working on a time machine. Once they figure out how to reconstitute matter after destroying it on a quantum level, you can volunteer as a test subject.’
Esther was used to Jude and his cold views on just about everything, but it didn’t stop her from obsessing over why he saw the world as a cup half empty.
‘You don’t even count. You are just a pessimist.’ she said.
‘I prefer realist, but pessimism is still better than optimism. It’s normal for humans to imagine any time is better than our time. We envy the future because we think we would be missing out of some cool stuff, and we wish we lived in the past because we have this idea that is was a better time, at least a more simple one.’
‘And you think it wasn’t?’
‘Romance is dead…that statement reminds me a lot of Nietzsche’s saying that God is dead because it implies that romance was alive before.’
‘Ermm, yes, before guys used to actually take girls out on dates. There was no texting so they had to call. These days you could be in a relationship and not even know your partner’s voice. I hate it.’
‘Right, listen, firstly, you live in Nigeria, okay. Before we were colonized, the idea of romance or chivalry wasn’t even in our culture. What am I saying? We were largely polygamic. And let’s not act like women were even allowed to vote or own property in the West when chivalry was at its peak. I would say it was just patronizing if anything.’
‘I don’t think polygamic is a word.’
‘But you get what I am saying right? Now if you would let me finish.’
‘As you were Prof.’
‘Thank you, after colonization we got exposed to Western romance culture and then maybe there was a hint of romance. But make no mistake about it. Most of our parents didn’t even have cars, and when did cinemas come to Nigeria that getting taken on a movie date became a thing? When did landlines become popular and cheap enough to afford us long romantic talks about absolutely nothing? Jeez, how many of our parents say I love you to each other?’
Esther found herself reminiscing of those sneaky calls from boys in secondary school and how her father used to police the telephone and tell her he would take out any bill she racked up from her pocket money. Maybe Jude had a point.
‘It’s like this with everything. Artists today think the golden era was in the times of the renaissance or with the post impressionist era. Even in hip-hop, we won’t let the 90ies go when variety is undoubtedly much better today. Romance has always been practiced by a select few men, but because women find it so adorable, every movie capitalizes on it to create the impression that this is how people actually lived. As far as I’m concerned, our love lives are no more boring today than they were before. In fact, I would say technology has even spiced things up. If you so desperately want to live in the past, ask your next boyfriend to send you letters instead of texts and see how far that gets you.’
Ironically, Esther hated talking to Jude for exactly the same reason she enjoyed it. He hardly said anything she wanted to hear, but he did have a knack for presenting interesting perspectives, even if she always didn’t agree.
‘So you are saying the problem isn’t that men aren’t romantic anymore, I just haven’t met a romantic man?’
‘Almost, I’m saying men were never really all romantic, not even a majority. We just imagine a idealized version of history and refuse to embrace the reality.’
‘Well thank you, I will now find the nearest pack of paracetamol. I am in desperate need of a fatal overdose.’
He chuckled at her suicide threat.
‘You’ll be alright. A romantic man will find you one of these days and you can live out the fantasy life painted in those awful books you read.’
‘They're romantic, and there is nothing awful about them just because they don’t leave you depressed at the end. It might be rare, but there are happy endings.’
‘The only happy endings I know is the one I get after a massage.’
‘You disgust me.’