How the Nerd Got the Girl
Filed Under: Short Stories
Date Created:17 Jan 2017
Last Modified:24 Jan 2017
Number of Views: 427
I knew a certain nerd called Harry. Short, untidy with disheveled hair, and two large incisors that always stuck out of his mouth as if there was no longer any room left for them. He was dark; so dark as soon as the sun set, he became invisible.
His choice of clothes was awful. Everything he wore was too big, too small, too large or too tight. He never seemed to get it right. You would think he was auditioning for the role of a clown in the circus; but no, Harry seriously wore the clothes he did believing in his heart of hearts that he was looking cool. What made it worse was that we perpetuated this atrocity with praise and flattery. I mean, if people really told Harry that he looked awful, we would have no one to laugh at. Everyone at university needed someone or something to laugh at, to divert their attention from themselves and how lonely and miserable they really felt deep inside.
We all loved Harry; and for one reason only. He was smart. We flocked to his room to get the answers to the assignments we were given in class. Harry knew all the answers. We don’t know how. He just did. He was our saviour; and so we took advantage of him. We would inflate his ego, tell him how smart, cool and handsome he was, just so that he would keep the answers flowing.
Of course, the biggest culprits in the heinous and shameless crimes committed towards Harry were the girls. They would flock to his room en mass; showering sweet nothings into his ears and even cooking for him, all in an effort to wring sweet, juicy knowledge out of his big brain. And of course, among these feminine culprits, there yet a bigger culprit. Her name was Winfridah.
She was short and beautiful; so beautiful that when she stood next to Harry, he looked like a monster. She had beautiful brown skin that glowed in the sun. I don’t know what she applied but the stuff made her look exquisite and delicious, royal and divine. So radiant was her skin that when she stood next to Harry, he looked like a piece of coal.
We all admired Winfridah and we all wanted her. And by all, that also includes the girls. I once overheard a group of girls from my class gossiping under a mango tree, chewing unripe mangoes smeared with salt, about how they would kill for a chance to lick Winfridah’s big, protuberant behind. I swear I heard them with my own ears. I could not believe it, but looking at how beautiful she was, they were excused.
We all promised each other, swearing, crossing our hearts and hoping to die, that we would marry Winfridah or at least have her as a girlfriend. Thus began the rat race: to win the heart of Winfridah. And of course, I knew I was going to win the race. I was tall and handsome and good at throwing words around like Shakespeare. No—better than Shakespeare.
Yes, all of us wanted her; all except Harry. I mean, he did not even stand a chance. He was not the kind of guy who could get Winfridah; heck, we wondered if he was going to get any girl at all.
Despite this, he somehow stood the biggest chance; not that he would realize it. As I said earlier, Winfridah was the biggest culprit. She literally spent all day at Harry’s room, curled in a ball on his bed, a notebook on her lap, and a pen in her hand, taking notes, as Harry obliviously spat out answers to each question she asked.
I witnessed this abuse myself, on more than one occasion. Harry would be seated at his computer, typing away nonsensical words that would fill up the black computer screen while Winfridah sat on his bed, asking him questions and noting down the answers that rolled effortlessly off his tongue. No one understood what he typed. I asked him once what it was and he looked at me, a disparaging look on his face, and said:
“I am creating an iterative algorithm to isolate substrings preceded by the hash character from a larger string, and then store each of these substrings into an array table.”
I stared back at him blankly. I didn’t understand a single thing he said.
“Why don’t you join a computer class instead of doing business administration?” I asked him.
“Because business related courses are more lucrative on the Zambian market. Computers… that’s just a hobby.”
“I see. Whatever,” I responded.
And on this particular occasion, Winfridah was already in the room, curled up in a ball in the corner, a notebook on her lap. She wore a short, light, flowery dress that exposed her fine, large thighs. I swallowed hard.
“Hi, Winnie,” I greeted, ogling at her.
“Hi,” she said disinterestedly.
“You feeling laka?”
“Laka laka. Harry, sweetie, I did not get the answer.”
I glared at Harry and I thought I saw a besotted smile spread across his lips. He turned to stare at her and spat out the answer.
“Thanks darling,” she said, sliding down to her feet. “I am going now. See you later—in class.”
“Sure,” Harry granted. He was so used to being called sweet words they meant nothing to him; but they made him more responsive.
“Hey Winnie,” I said quickly, extending my hand towards her, “I was wondering if you would love to go out with me to the mall tonight for supper?”
She rolled her eyes and looked at the ceiling. “How many times am I going to tell you I already have a boyfriend?”
“I don’t care if you have a boyfriend.” I said determinedly. “I am not going to stop asking till you buckle. And besides, who is this mysterious boyfriend you talk about? Are you sure it is not just a ploy?”
She sniggered and made for the door.
“Peace, dude,” she said as she vanished out of the door.
I cleared my throat and turned to Harry, who was as usual, busy typing away on his computer.
I slumped onto his roommate’s bed and sighed. Harry’s roommate was a buff guy, very quiet, and always studying. He spent most of his time at the library because, as he put it, Harry’s friends were very disturbing.
“You didn’t hear that, did you Harry?”
“I did,” he said.
“Winnie’s mysterious boyfriend. I bet he doesn’t exist.”
“He does,” he said.
“You have seen him?”
“No. But if she says he does, then he does.”
“Okay,” I said laughing a quiet small laugh. “But she is going to be mine, one day.”
“Everyone keeps saying that. How can she belong to everyone? She will have to choose one. “
“Yes, she will choose me.”
Harry spun and faced me. There was a grin on his face. It made him look stupid.
“Wipe that stupid grin off your face,” I said in irritation.
He ignored me and said: “Do you know that Winfridah’s butt smells like chocolate?”
I gaped at him, awestruck. “It does what now?”
“Smells like chocolate.”
So I had heard right. “How do you know?”
“When she comes, she sits on my bed. And when she leaves, the spot where she sat—it smells like chocolate.”
“Is that right?” I was amused at his childishness; but inside, I was jealous. How I wished she could sit on my bed too.
“But the rest of you leave smelly fart smells,” he said twisting his lips in disgust.
I almost leapt at him to strangle him, but I held back because I needed him for his knowledge.
“Hey, enough talk,” I said in irritation. “Let’s get busy.”
It was the last day of school, just after writing our final paper. We were all packing and preparing to leave. I was just leaving Harry’s room, to thank him for all the help he had rendered. I wouldn’t have passed the exam without him.
“Are you coming for the party tonight?” I asked him as I made to leave.
“Nay, I am not into parties,” he said.
“Please, just come. Everyone will come.”
I slowly closed the door. I was going to miss Harry. Where was I going to run to when I needed help with something?
The party was a blast. Harry never showed, as expected.
Winfridah was there, of course. And all the boys were hovering around her, trying to convince her to be theirs. It was now or never. I waited patiently for my turn. Sooner or later, she was going to be alone, and I was going to pounce.
My chance came sooner than I imagined. I saw her edge away from the crowd and stand alone in one corner of the hall. She was staring out of the window, a forlorn look on her face. I moved quickly, but before I could come close to her, the master of ceremony, Mordecai, popular with the ladies and very charismatic, whisked her away by the hand. He led her to the podium.
“Hello everyone! Excuse me!” He bellowed into the mike, holding Winfridah’s hand affectionately. So she was his boyfriend. My heart sank. “Gather around. Something interesting is about to go down.”
We all gathered around the podium in anticipation. I slowly dragged my feet forward, glaring at Mordecai.
“Winnie here would love to share something with all of us.” He gave her the mike.
“Hello everyone,” she greeted. Her sweet voice echoed throughout the room.
“Hello Winnie,” we greeted.
I noticed Mordecai back away into the shadows. My spirits lifted once more.
“Hi. I have something important to tell you all.” With the spotlight on her, she looked even more beautiful—breathtakingly beautiful.
“I know you all love me, especially the boys.”
There was laughter, and then loud cheering. I laughed and clapped. Of course she did.
“But, I want to reveal something to you about my whole stay here on campus.
“It has been a challenge. I did not really know how to react to all the attention I was getting. It was overwhelming. I am an introvert by nature, and I come from a Christian family; so all these advances from the boys—and a few uncanny girls—left me totally flustered.”
“But the truth is, I do have a boyfriend. I left him at home. But it was hard. The temptations were many. So many times I was tempted to curve, and give in. And so I withdrew from everyone, into myself. I created a bubble around myself. It became lonely and depressing. I even reached a point where I wanted to kill myself. But none of you noticed. You were too busy admiring me and desiring me to notice.”
The hall was now totally silent. You could have heard a pin drop. Guilt overwhelmed me and I felt tears pushing behind my eyeballs, threatening to come out in torrents.
“But in all this, there was one person who was always there for me. He noticed when I was low. He noticed when I was miserable. He paid attention to the little details that none of you did.”
My heart began to bang. I was suddenly afraid of where this was going.
“He made me laugh with his jokes. He made me laugh tears of joy.
“I remember the first time he told me something that really made me smile. He said my butt smelt like chocolate; and I asked him how he had smelt it and he said:
“‘When you come and when you leave, the spot where you sat on my bed smells like chocolate.’
“I laughed so hard I cried tears. Yes, I did. And he went on to say:
“‘I see you are sad. I see your eyes shining with tears. But don’t be sad. I will be your friend.’
“That was like, seriously, the most beautiful thing anyone had ever told me. I poured out my heart to him and told him everything; and he understood.
“From that day, we became friends. He became the person I confided in about my biggest, darkest secret.
“And today, I want to reveal to you: Harry stole my heart. He may not be here, but he is the very reason I am standing here. He is the reason why I am leaving my boyfriend. He is my man now.
“And so, I am leaving this lame party to be with my man! And yes, he is the one who is going to tap this arse, because he knows this arse.”
She hurled the mike to the floor and ran out of the room, amidst loud cheers and a few boos.
I was dumbstruck. I stared after her with a look of horror on my face, and the memories poured in. I remembered what Harry had told me, one at a time, and the pieces fitted in. And I wondered why I had never seen it.
‘Her butt smells like chocolate.’
‘How can she belong to everyone? She will have to choose one.’
‘If she says she does, then she does.’
‘That’s why she is the only one allowed to sit on my bed. The rest of you leave smelly fart smells.’
“Hello. Trevor? You ok?” the words sounded far away, as if coming from another world.
I slowly turned around and found Catherine, the girl who had a big crush on me, ogling at me.
I despised her. All I wanted was to be with Winfridah.
“Can I help you?” I said in a horse voice. There was a lump in my throat.
She hesitated, almost turned to walk away, but then mastered up courage and barely looking at me in the eye, she said:
“Winfridah… she has inspired me to do what I fear the most.”
“And what’s that?”
She leaned forward and grabbed the back of my head, pulling me forward and planting her lips on mine.
Tears poured down my face as I unwillingly dug my tongue into her mouth.
Catherine was not as ravishing as Winfridah; but she was beautiful, in her own simple way. And if you really paid attention, she was more beautiful than Winfridah. And today, on her wedding day, for the first time, I am really paying attention.
She says that’s my biggest weakness—not paying attention. She vowed to be better than me. She even vowed to be a better girlfriend than Winfridah had been to my best friend, Harry. Winfridah, turns out, left Harry shortly afterwards, despite the fact that he had been there for her at her lowest. She said he was too dull and boring. Turns out very beautiful girls have a loyalty disorder.
But you have to give Harry some credit. He has a knack for paying attention; and I had made the classic mistake of introducing Catherine to him; and so, as you can imagine, she never stopped talking about how attentive and gentle he was.
It is a radiant day, and the hall is bright with smiles, laughter and music. I grab the mike and stare at the radiant couple seated in front of me. One of them is glowing, like a princess fallen out of heaven. The other looks as black as a piece of coal.
And as the tears pour down my cheeks, I remember what Harry once told me, on a dark lonely night, about Winfridah’s darkest secret.
“She tells me, plainly, because I listen to her. She has a deadly STI that is gnawing away the insides of her stomach, turning them into rot; and despite being the most beautiful girl around, she will never live to marry the man she loves: a tall, dark and handsome fellow whom she keeps pushing away; a fellow good at words—better than Shakespeare even; but only to spare him pain.”
© All rights Reserved to Michael Sinkolongo 2017
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