A Guy Whom His Parents Nudged
I remember reading 12:40 on the clock. It was afternoon. I felt invigorated after a nap. It was a few hours after the church service ended.
That Sunday morning, the mood had been “okay” despite my expectations of grogginess and listlessness, since I stayed up late the night before. I wondered why my lack of sleep didn’t show on my face and I wondered why I still had energy.
It was because during that particular Sunday, there was a spark of inspiration. For Ben went to church that day. Ben, the only son of the seemingly harmless, homely, elderly couple, who used to sit on the fourth row pew every Sunday, always nudging each other, albeit discretely, for whatever reason. I didn’t expect to see him that Sunday. I was told he works on Sundays. It was therefore a surprise to see him there again.
“I just dropped by,” he told me. I wanted to ask with jest, “For what reason?” I had a feeling he wasn’t there for the church service… or the sermon… or for fellowship-with-the-brethren’s sake. No. Besides, he arrived terribly late – so late – he didn’t get to listen to the sermon. He didn’t have friends in church. He didn’t attend Sunday school, too. So what was he there for – to fetch his parents?
Ben’s parents’ faces always lit up whenever I drew near them to shake their hands and to greet them for “brotherly and sisterly greetings’” sake. It was that obvious – their faces brightening up – that there was difficulty containing my giggling and some indescribable ticklish excitement brewing inside of me. In one of those faces-lighting-up instances, the Apele’s managed to mention that they have a son and that they could hardly wait for him to meet me. They fared to tell me, even if I was still technically a perfect stranger, that he is a male nurse at so and so hospital and that he is sorry for not being able to attend church service regularly. They told me that he is a good son and that he has never introduced a girl to them before. They assured me that he is a good boy and such things to tickle my fancy…
“We told our son about you, you know,” Mr. Apele informed me.
I didn’t know what to say then. I mustered a smile – as it is the safest go-to response for non-experts in random conversations with older folks. I wanted to ask, of course, what it was they have been telling their precious son… and why.
It was always smiles and obligatory greetings for the following Sundays. Until one Sunday, that is. I was destined to finally meet the son whom the Apele couple was so proud of.
“We present to you our son, Ben Apele,” Mr. Apele said, rather too formal in manner. What’s with the formality?
I was secretly flattered, really. But it was an uncomfortable flattery. How was I supposed to react? If it weren’t for the fact that Ben Apele is undeniably appealing, I would’ve thought of ways to veer away from the Apele radar.
After that certain Sunday, Ben, began to attend church more frequently. He always looked at me. There was always eye-to-eye contact between him and me during the singing. I feel guilty now as I admit this flirtatious exploit. There was an attraction there – no doubt – but I didn’t know anything about the guy beyond his name and parentage. I wondered what went on in his parents’ heads, too. Why did they even want to shake my hand every after service? Why did they let me know of their son’s whereabouts and his reasons for not attending church sometimes? And why did they even let Ben and I stare at each other for long periods of time? Why did they encourage such? Did they like me for their son? Did they… seriously? In the 21st century?
Things remained like that for a long time. It merely remained like that for too long a time…
When our family had to move, I heard nothing of the Apele’s… I never heard of Ben Apele since then… Ben and his appealing looks, merging with other faces in my memory bank.