Sexy Times with Nnenna Marcia: Stuck in the middle (with you).

The six of us who made up the Nigerian on-site executive team all looked as if we had aged a few years in just three weeks. The seventh person, a man, looked freshly scrubbed and alert. Sarah-Jane had her hair up in a bun at the top of her head and it was starting to look as if there were things living in it. Just last week when she returned from a ‘big’ meeting in Abuja, her hair gleamed and tumbled over her shoulders like liquid fire. I stopped looking in the mirror when the first pimple made itself known in the centre of my forehead, almost right between my eyebrows. It was still there, birthing a smattering of children over my brows. Bending over was a nightmare. It throbbed and a buzzing filled my ears.

“Abby, are you going to take that cap off sometime? We’re inside now,” Sarah-Jane pushed her glasses up her nose.

“Oh, it’s alright, I’ll keep it on thanks,” I pulled the cap lower over my forehead, wincing when it grazed the pimple.

She looked at me and shrugged. “Okay, so…” She trailed off as a drill started under our window. Raising a hand, she slid the glass aside. “Hey. Hey!” The drilling stopped. “We’re having a meeting. Take twenty minutes.” She closed the window, preventing more of the coolness from the newly installed air conditioner from escaping. “Where are we on the meetings with the elders?” She shook her head. I knew what she was thinking.

“Well, we have a date to meet with the Igwe and council elders, next week Tuesday which is Afor market day – I’ve made arrangements for the traditional gifts for the elders.”

Sarah Jane nodded. “I just don’t understand why we have to do the proper routes with the governments, federal and local and then appease elders who should be thanking us for saving their town.” She rubbed her eyes.

“Orji also has a recommendation.” I pulled out a sheet from the folder lying in front of me. “He is asking for permission to hire three more security guards from the youth who hang around outside the gate all day, waiting for whom to escort to the caves.”

Sarah-Jane eyebrow went up. “Does he sense some kind of trouble with the locals?”

“Well, no, but he doesn’t think it would hurt.”

“I don’t think that would be wise at the moment,” said Sarah-Jane. “We need people we can trust. The equipment we leave here are expensive, not to mention all the plans…the workers have signed confidentiality agreements already- they know what a law suit means. They have a lot to lose because they work for established companies. We can’t say the same for local boys.”

“Well, I suppose I see his reasoning. They are unemployed, they could be a nuisance. We want to have them on our side rather than working against us. Margaret was telling me about certain hidden pathways…”

“Orji is from the area that should appease them enough; not to mention foil any such mischievous plans, eh?”

“Yes, I suppose.”

“We simply do not have the time to train those boys now. Ask Orji to bring in more of our men through our own security services. Or we could get some mobile policemen. The Commissioner of Police did say we could count on his support.”

“Yes, he did,” I said, circling the word ‘Quietly’ on my pad. “I’ll tell Orji.”

“Yes. When this project is all done we can see about getting more of the local boys involved. A few of the best and brightest. Right,” Sarah- Jane clapped her hands and consulted her notes. “Mike? You’re up next.”

“Thank, Sarah,” the man standing up bunched and rippled with every movement. “Hi, I’m Mike. Some of you I have already met,” he nodded towards me.

“You don’t have to stand,” Sarah-Jane waved his down again.

“Sorry, force of habit” said Mike, sitting back down. His eyes crinkled at the corners. “As this project is your big chance to branch out from luxury into adventure tourism, you need the someone to design a dangerous – yet entire safe – series of …well, we’re calling them ‘Trials’ which your rich people…sorry guests,” he glanced at Sarah-Jane,” Can take part in. Well, I say someone but you needed the best consultant, which is where I come in.” He took in the room. “I design the package; all the outdoor activities which will be in the brochure. I’m also your test monkey. I don’t break easily. Ex-Marine,” he said by way of explanation.

“Ah,” everyone said in unison. There were nods round the room.

“This is what I do. I take your bored executive – let’s call him Richard – who is getting it from all angles; board of directors, wife, kids, he feels emasculated. He needs to get back his manhood somehow. An affair is out of the question – his wife will literally take his balls in the divorce.” The room erupted in sniggers. “So, he logs on to the internet, maybe to find some porn…”

“…And he finds us? I hope not!” Sarah-Jane took off her glasses.

“…Maybe he types in ‘Holidays for men…” someone chipped in.

“Wouldn’t that take you to Thailand?” asked someone else.

“The bottom-line is, he comes here, climbs some rocks, visits some shrines, maybe takes part in some manhood rituals…I was out with my interpreter yesterday,the boys in the neighbouring village get to wrestle crocodiles for fun. Our guests will not be doing that…” Mike added when he saw Sarah-Jane’s look.

“Thank goodness, think of the insurance!” she said.

“There will be diving, camping…”

“Real camping or ‘glamping’?” I asked.

“One or the other, maybe a little of both. It depends on the guest but there will be facilities for both as you well know.”

“It’s glamour camping,” I explained to the puzzled faces. “You know, when you want the whole ecological experience of sleeping under the stars but not exactly roughing it.”

“…Which would suit some of our guests to the ground. Let’s face it, they are used to a certain lifestyle already and they might like to think they are macho but that often translates to the boardroom. Outdoors are a whole other matter – though we will certainly be catering for those who think they can handle the bush. We don’t want others to get ill. Or worse stay away and tell their friends.”

“What about the women? Where do they feature in all this?”

“I don’t think there’s anything I’ve laid out which a woman can’t do if she was interested in the outdoors,” said Mike. “I understand you and Sarah checked out the caves…” Laughter drowned out the rest of his sentence. “What?” asked Mike when it died down.

Sarah-Jane rubbed her forehead. I could see she was trying not to laugh. “Nothing, nothing happened. It was fine.”

“Fine? Just fine? We might have to find a way to make it more challenging then,” Mike frowned.

“Oh, it’s challenging alright,” I said. The laughter started up again.

“What? Am I missing something?”

Sarah-Jane raised a hand for silence. “Let’s just say we might need to put somewhere in the brochure that the caves have a certain…width requirement.”

“So, not good for claustrophobics,” said Mike still frowning. “That’s to be expected. What would they be doing down there anyway?”

“Not good for Marilyn Munroe either,” said Sarah-Jane.


“What she is trying to tell you is that I got stuck.” I drew tight circles on my pad.

“You got stuck? How?” Mike’s forehead smoothed out. I could see the beginnings of a smile play around his mouth.

I gritted my teeth, ignoring the sniggering. “There are some sections of the caves which are not only narrow but have quite low ceilings as well. You have to wiggle on your tummy like a snake. I didn’t think I had changed that much from just a few years ago.”

“Okay,” Mike was back to looking serious.

I looked around the room at other similarly serious faces. “You all want me to say it don’t you? Fine. My bum got stuck, alright?!” This time Sarah-Jane didn’t even bother disguising the laughter which seemed to burst out of her chest.



“You have to admit Abby, it was pretty funny,” said Greg when I spoke to him later on in the evening.

“That happened weeks ago. And it wasn’t funny when it happened.”

“Only because it happened to you. Close your eyes and picture it happening to someone else.”

“I wouldn’t laugh at …”

“Like Belinda.”

I thought for a moment. “It’s still not funny. Big-bottomed girls have to stick up for each other. It’s like an oath you take once you come into your posterior inheritance.”

“You’re not being honest with yourself. You had to take your trousers off…”

“I only took them off a little way…”

“You slipped them down your thighs, giving the guide a full view of your…were you wearing panties?”


“I’m going to assume not.”

“I was stuck! I can hear you laughing, you know. How is that funny?”

“I am just trying to lay it all out the way you told me it happened. So there you are, with your rather significant bottom, pantless, backed up into this poor boy’s face…”

“At least he didn’t laugh.”

“This poor boy whose Christmas had come two weeks early, wedged in between a rock and a hard place, being pushed on one end and pulled at the other. You know,” I heard the scratchy sound that told me he was rubbing his chin hairs, “I think I must have seen a porn film like that once. Only the girl was being used rather more efficiently than you seemed to be… All her orifices were engaged to put it delicately.”

“Are you coming for Christmas?”

“Are you changing the subject?”

“Yes. So? Are you coming?”

“I wasn’t planning on it. It’s just one day after all. And I am quite busy.”

“Huh. Okay.”

There was a pause. “Belinda is coming back soon,” he said.

“I know. Her mother is going crazy. You’ll think she’s the only one in Nigeria whose daughter has married a white man before.”

“Well, Belinda is her only child. And it’s a traditional wedding; parents are supposed to go crazy. The ceremony belongs to the parents.”

“Which makes me wonder why she wanted me to plan it all. I swear she is up to something.”


“Your making your ‘noncommittal’ noise.”

“I am pretty noncommittal on the subject.”

“So are you coming for the wedding?”

“If she invites me.”

“Of course she will invite you. She needs to show off to you as well, show you how well she is doing.”

“I won’t disappoint. I will be suitably impressed.”

“Of course you will be. You were always so forgiving.”

“She’s not my cousin.”

“You’re lucky. My mother is acting like she is possessed. She intends to attend both the registry and traditional weddings in style. As long as…”

“She doesn’t dress better than Belinda’s mum. Is she still on that?”

“You have no idea. Oh, and she keeps giving these random men my number.”

“Really?” I heard something creak.

“Yes, really. Since she could get the double wedding she always prayed for, she trying to make sure I marry as soon after Belinda as possible. Stop smiling.”



“Hey. Language.”

“Bite me.”

“Just tell me where. And not your ass,” he continued just when I was about to reply. “Some village boy has got his hands all over it already.”


“Idiot’s friend.”

“I’d better go. My mum agreed to stop giving out my number if I went out with this guy.”

“You have a date tonight? Where are you going to go?”

“The town’s changed, my friend. Lots of hotels now.”

“Bars? You’re going to a bar? She’s going to have a fit. They’re still pretty provincial back there.”

“And Abuja is better? Do I need to remind you what happened to me?”


“They’re restaurants in hotels too you know. But it would serve her right if I was up to no good tonight. Maybe while I am there I’ll run my hand up the guy’s thighs and he’ll stop calling forever.”

“I’m not sure what men you go out with but that’s always had the opposite effect with me.”




“Slattern? You’re thinking of someone else. The guy might not want to marry you but he definitely will be back for more hanky-panky.”

“He probably doesn’t want to marry me now. I am an ‘abroad girl’. I have been ruined by ‘westernisation’.”

“There is an easier way.”

“What’s that?”

“Just tell your mother you’re engaged to me and she’ll leave you alone.”

“Hahahahaahah! She’ll never buy that. One look at Eke and she’ll figure it all out.”

Greg was silent for a while. “Figure what out?”

“You know.”

“No, I don’t know.”


“I’m still here.”

“Sorry, I didn’t know it was a secret. I thought it was obvious for a reason.”

What is obvious?”

“Nothing, never mind.”


“I have to go. I’ll tell you how it goes?”

“Wouldn’t expect any less,” said Greg, and he hung up.

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