Usually when I attend mass I sit upstairs. It's less crowded and very lowkey. Yesterday however I don't know what breeze blew me to the front rows of the church, downstairs. It didn't take me long to realize that I was in an interesting time. First, this man who's about 6.5 bounded up to the pew unceremoniously dumped his body right beside me and started chatting cheerily to the lady on my right, just like we were in his living room.
It was the first time I thought to look at the person by my right. I'd thought I looked quite nice to church yesterday. I wore a knee length black sequined dress that loosely hugged my curves, black pumps and some silver jewelry. I was feeling fly until the seats around me started to fill up. The lady on my right is an older version of Toke Makinwa although naturally light skinned and curvier. Her makeup was befitting of a bride on her traditional marriage; inch long lashes, sharply contoured face, lace fabric looking like it was bought with blood money, expertly tied gele, perfectly manicured talons donned in gold and diamond jewelry and some fuck-me stilettos. Sitting beside her, I felt like somebody's forlorn grandma.
So the tall man who's a popular face in church started chatting to her and it went like this:
"Oga didn't come today?"
"No o! He went to England to see the kids"
"Ah, why you no follow am nau?"
"Hmmm, uncle I'm broke jare. You know I just came back from New York last week, I couldn't travel with him considering I'd have to fly first class, and besides I will still have to go see them in December so I will just wait".
Uncle nodded understandably; better not to fly at all than to fly economy.
All around me air-kisses were being blown and banter was thrown around.
"Oh Sade you're back? I thought Laura said she ran into you in Paris on Wednesday?"
"Yes he's in town, we played golf together yesterday"
"No I moved the children to a school in Switzerland, they're not in London anymore"
"It's your turn to host us to breakfast after mass, I hope your chef is creative"
On and on it went.
What ate me up was that I felt like an intruder. These people all belonged to the same world. Their kids went to the same schools, they were members of the same clubs and their monies all smelt alike. And here I was, a face they all looked at a little bit longer because I was sitting with them but they couldn't tell who I was. I'd grown tired of the curious glances thrown my way, as if we were in someone's living room and not in a public place. It made me feel like I had no right to be there.
The ladies were dressed in high fashion, some of their hats were so theatrical that I couldn't help but stare. The men, debonair and mostly athletic all had an air of confidence about them.
When mass started and they couldn't speak freely anymore, the lady to my right started talking to me. She was the very dramatic talkative type and since I'd taken the spot of one of her girls I would have to do. First she asked if I could help her tie the hanging ropes of her wrapper into a bow. I felt slightly insulted that she felt the need to gesticulate with her hands to show me what a bow is. She shifted her perfect bum towards me and 3 seconds later she looked down at her bum, saw the nice bow and looked up at me like I was a new revelation. She said "Just lovely! You won't believe I spent 1 hour trying to teach my yeye house girl how to do that!"
I smiled politely.
Then we got to talking about her makeup. I asked if she always had a professional makeup artist come make her up every Sunday before church, I couldn't help myself. She said she did and looked at me like what kind of dense question is that anyways? And then she said it wasn't a problem, all she had to do was wipe it off right after church. "I use Clarins eye remover for my eyes, really really good" she confided. Then looking at me more closely she said "But Marykay remover is also good too"
Choi! I have suffered in this life. So I look like somebody that cannot afford Clarins! 😭
I think she soon grew bored with me and halfway into mass she went to join the other intriguing ladies sitting two rows ahead of us, they made space for her and even more chatter followed.
I soon tried to focus on mass and ignore the theatrics around me, for these people church was clearly an extension of their social clubs; a place to show off their latest Bentley or Birkin, to catch up, to chitchat and to know who made an extra billion last week. I was just starting to mind my own business when this petit trophy wife looking mixed race lady, whom I actually thought was one of the nice ones, turned to me and said "please uncross your legs and put them down, that's not ladylike, dear." in a condescending manner that also suggested that I was trying to seduce the men. My first thought was that if I'd come with a husband and even spread my legs wide open she wouldn't have a thing to say about it. I was torn between saying fuck you and politely uncrossing my legs.
I simply picked up my purse and went to sit outside the church until mass ended.
We all want to sit in the seat of wealth, but I think I will wait for my own time to come.
Does your church have the bourgeoise click too?