January has finally come to an end, thank goodness! If, like me, you felt that the month dragged on for a bit longer than it should, I totally agree with you. All the celebrations of Christmas and the New year took its toll on the pocket and made the pay cheque at the end of the month even more welcome.
As we start the second month of the year in recovery mode with bills and budgets set for the rest of the year, let’s not forget that all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
Many moons ago, I was a very young and fairly sheltered Ibadan girl who grew up in Lagos. My civil servant parents taught me and my siblings the virtues of hard work and being diligent in all endeavours: virtues which have served me well so far and I am very grateful for them. However, they never exposed us to the pleasures of partying in true naija fashion.
Celebrations were usually very low-keyed. You were allowed to invite your friends over on your birthday to enjoy some fried rice and chicken while watching films on the VHS video player. Our first ever party to my recollection was my sister’s wedding. As you can imagine, I was so busy that I can’t now recall most of the event. It wasn’t because I fell and almost passed out while fighting for the bouquet at the reception.
I married an Ijebu man and then started my voyage into discovering the dynamics of parties. While my hubby isn’t keen on parties, everyone around him is and I have come to appreciate the joys of attending parties. They are sometimes loud, sometimes quiet, sometimes lavish, sometimes quite cheap and tacky but always fun.
Why should you attend parties this year?
Firstly, only people who are alive get to party invites. It is a blessing to be alive and so when you get that invite, see it as a blessing that you are able to attend if you so desire. Pessimistically, It might just be in recognition of your financial status, as there might be some heavy financial dues in form of asoebi coming your way.
Secondly, rejoice with people who are rejoicing. While you may not understand it, many people tend to have deep and meaningful reasons for throwing parties. I once attended a 25th wedding anniversary party. It was very large and lavish, but it was also a thanksgiving as the husband had recently survived a serious heart operation. When I heard this, it made me even more joyful to see the man and his wife boogying down on the dance floor. I even managed to spray them out of my carefully concealed very thin wad of one dollar notes.
Thirdly, it provides an opportunity to catch up with friends, socialise and relax. I don’t know about people back home, but here in the UK we look forward to attending parties with great excitement. We work all hours, evenings are given to cooking, cleaning, helping the kids with their homework. We hardly go out on weeknights and our weekends are filled with grocery shopping, taking the kids to their weekend activities, more housework and maybe some boring TV at night. When that party invite arrives by post, text or whasapp message, we clear our schedules, look for child-minders weeks in advance and bring out our lace from under the bed for airing.
The music, the dancing and even the food work wonders. You get to see friends, catch up on happenings both in the UK and in Nigeria and indulge in some juicy gossip. You go home rejuvenated and ready to start the next week and the monotony of hard work and chores.
Fourthly, you can network with people. If you run a business or have ideas to generate money, a party is a very good place to advertise your business. Men tend to do this a lot more than women. Perhaps that is for the best. I once had a woman try to sell me some exotic lingerie at a party. She was so enthusiastic that she cupped her bosom with the lacy undergarment she was trying to sell, to show me the fit. In fairness she got a lot of attention from guests nearby, especially those who can’t wear such undergarments. Eyes were popping in all directions.
Finally, it is an opportunity to buy a new outfit. Men can wear the same outfit five times a year and no one notices. Their outfits are usually so monochrome that you just forget that you saw the same top and trousers last month (except you are jobless and check people’s pictures on Facebook to see that it is the same outfit). However, women need to dress up and look fantastic from time to time, hence the need for a new outfit (Husbands, please take note).
This is not about being ostentatious. A woman’s self- esteem is greatly tied to her ability to make herself look good and be noticed. Parties provide the perfect runway to wear a nice outfit, apply good make-up, wear impossible heels, arrive late at the venue and strut into the party like Beyonce. If you are unattached, it is a good opportunity to let people know the fact. Take as many pouty pictures with people as possible. Later, someone is bound to see the pictures and ask to be introduced.
Ladies, let’s spend the rest of this year having a good time when we can. Responsibilities never go away, chores are certain. We need to look after our mental health by learning to keep stress at bay. Parties, short weekend breaks, events, retreats, girlie weekends or days-out, a trip to the cinema even a meal at a restaurant with friends lifts the spirits in more ways than one.
Make yourself feel good this year. If you don’t, no one will do it for you.
BTW: I still managed to get the bouquet despite the fall. But it was worth it: I was the next person to get married.
Writer – Abi Adeboyejo lives in Birmingham, UK, with her two children and her fabulous man, who by the way, prefers that his wife writes down her thoughts than listening to her musings on everything.