Ok. ‘Soggy Dollar’ is a ‘liming spot’ on the island where all sorts of folks, from government ministers to tourists gather. I have never been but I was told this by the this guy I met.
It all started one day, as I was sitting on the wall by the bus stop waiting for a bus home. It was hot and my menopausal hot flushes are not on a timer…they come whenever they please. Unfortunately the Planning and Urban department on this divided island, did not think it nifty, in a dual climate of wet and dry season, to put a shelter up on the various bus stops to offer either shade from the searing sun or being soaked from tropical downpours. I suspect that one of the staff or perhaps a cadre of them, have to be sent off on a government contract, to somewhere with a temperate climate, like the US or Europe, to develop this ‘awareness’ of dual seasonal challenges, in order for them to build shelters on public bus stops, so that ordinary travellers, many of whom service the ‘tourism’ needs of the island, can have a little respite in their otherwise arduous days.
As I am sitting there, contemplating my long trek to the gated community where I visit from time to time, I see this very enthusiastic driver beeping his horn at me. Because I am seated, I have straight on eye contact with him, as he slows his vehicle down to give me a ride. The car looked a little unsure of itself, due to its shabby and broken down look. It did kind of say ‘loser’ but I really don’t like to judge people. Besides one could say the same of me…loser for not ever learning to drive! That’s another story. Some other time. Anyway, I smiled back. By the way, it is customary on this island for people to hitch rides and for drivers to offer rides. I often accept rides out of the gated community by drivers I don’t know, it is not New York or Lagos. It is still a ‘quaint’ thing that people do here. But you still have to practice caution as you never know.
My driver kept smiling at me even when I politely shook my head indicating no. Now I said no only because I felt he seemed too smiley and too keen. And the thought of having to sit with him for the few minutes drive, was too big a task for me to imagine. I was tired and I did not want to make polite conversation. If I took a public bus the only words I would have to utter would be ‘thank you’ and ‘stop please’. So I waved off Mr Smiley.
Two days later, who should I see in the supermarket, between the avocado and tomato aisle but Mr Smiley. I could not hide. Neither the tomatoes nor the avocado provided enough camouflage. Up he came. His name is C, he is a happy guy, he likes me, he only eats healthy and he held up the two avocados in each of his hands to prove his point. He does not drink alcohol, does not smoke either. None of his ‘credentials’ interested me nor did I interrupt his monologue to provide any answers to his many questions, or should I say his assumptions about me. I was more preoccupied with finding a nearly ripe avocado that wasn’t bruised.
He invited me to come dance (remember he does not drink) at a place he frequents called ‘Soggy Dollar’. A place I have been told is for the young and inebriated. Well that rules me out for sure and looking at him, up close, I thought certainly in his case, why would someone who is not-so-young and a teetotal go to ‘Soggy Dollar’? Ahhhh….perhaps it is the ambiance?
To cut a long story short, I am always bumping into him. I have not veered off my path of ‘not my type’ to go anywhere with him. He asked me to cinema, the beach, walks on the boardwalk all of which I declined. Why? The only way I can explain is this. As a child, I remember the way that some of my brothers boyhood friends would collect marbles, the ones with different colours etc. How they would be enthused to come across a colour combination they hadn’t seen or didn’t have in their ‘marble collection’. And having a good collection of marbles was a sign of coolness.
‘Mr Soggy Dollar’ reminded me of that. That I was a marble he had not seen before or needed in his collection and on that thought, I just could not get over being sought after for my colour combination so to speak, or what other ‘marble’ value he might have thought, that I might bring to him. My thing was this: what if, he eventually decided that I was not the ‘marble’ with the eye-catching colouring he originally thought I was?! Exactly! He can take his ‘marble eyes’ and go pitch somewhere else.