Party in Oakland/A Second-Hand Cuban Cigar.

Once I was seven years old, my

momma told me, go

make yourself some friends or you’ll be lonely


We are in an Uber, on the Bay bridge back to San Francisco.

Lukas Graham’s “Seven Years” is playing on the speakers.

We are on our way back from a party in Oakland.

A Danish classmate somehow got us invites. I think he has some DJ friends there.

We are all ecstatic. The Danish guy is in the passenger’s seat. Jamming. We are all jamming.

I’m in the seat right behind him.

Oakland was fun. Oakland was very fun.


This is like, very bad rap!! Like, it is really bad hahaha!!

I am shouting to my American roommate, trying to be heard over the very loud music. Subconsciously I realize that I am beginning to perceive myself as having heard enough rap music in my life, to confidently call something being played aloud in a club “bad rap”.

My roommate is dancing. We are all dancing. There’s this face he makes when he dances that makes me think of his mother. I think it’s very cute.

I met her once. When we were all moving into the dorms at the beginning of the first semester. They’ve been inviting me over to their home in Southern California for the holidays. I’ve just not been comfortable enough in terms of either time or finances to accept their recurrent invites.

They even once offered to pay the flight tickets. I was touched. I just felt like I would be entirely dependent on them while I was there, and I didn’t really like the thought of that.

A Brazilian classmate was in our Oakland party group. I think he left recently. He seemed anxious about something, I don’t know what.

A classmate from eastern Europe says she’s going out for a cigarette.

I think she’s very pretty. I had a huge crush on her at the beginning of the first semester. But at some point she started dating some guy. Some Danish guy. Another classmate. She seems to really like him.

I have mixed feelings about him- the Danish guy. He’s smart. He’s very smart- remarkably smart. His performance in classes are like magic to me. I don’t understand it at all.

He’s also very rude. And insensitive. That is annoying, that is persistently annoying. But he’s fun. He’s very fun.

The Danish guys are very fun. They are this cool Danish duo who are always going out and doing cool stuff.

The pretty European once mentioned something to me about cigarettes, and how they can be a considerably reliable facilitator for conversation.

Would you like to head out for a cigarette?” is a pretty effective way to draw a person out of a crowd and go have a more private conversation.

I recently tried cigarettes for the first time. I never even thought about it in Nigeria. My parents thought very negatively of it, and I had a number of very interesting hobbies so my life was lacking neither excitement nor novelty.

In the past few months they’ve been very accessible though. A considerable number of people around me here smoke cigarettes. And so that continuous accessibility has outweighed my inattention.

I was unimpressed by the cigarette. I don’t understand why people like them. They smell and taste annoying. I am completely confused by how popular they are.

I recently tried this fat Cuban cigarette thing though. Ahhhh. That one was different. That one was very different.

It was at this interesting building on a street off Powell- I think it’s the street with the Walgreens. Or the one after that.

It’s the street with this jewelry shop where I collected the number of the sales attendant. After spending about twenty minutes asking pretty detailed questions about diamonds whose prices involved very bewildering numbers.

I acquired a considerable amount of knowledge about diamonds that day. Learnt about the head. Learnt about how the colour and the presence of impurities could influence the price of the jewel. Some impurities actually make the diamond more valuable- depending on the specifics.

Mm. Interesting.

Learnt about the prestige. I think it was prestige. Prestige, premier- something like that.

“You want my number?”

She looked up at me, looking somewhat bashful. She briefly glanced around- almost like she was looking for some sort of approval from the second attendant.

“Hm, well I don’t have a boyfriend, so okay.”

Paper. Number. Pocket.

She was very friendly. And sexy. She was very sexy.

I never called her. I’m a first year college student living in a dorm room with my American roommate. I don’t think going out on dates with a woman who sells diamonds for a living is what I should be doing right now. I have classes and assignments and my general life to figure out.


Aha, the Cuban cigar.

We had just finished this Student Support Network meeting with the college psychologist. Cool guy, the psychologist. I was nominated by a member of the college staff who seems to really like me, for some reason.

I was on my way out of the interesting room in which we had the meeting. Impressive wooden floors, ornate wooden bookshelves and general furniture- just fascinating. The room felt like something out of a period piece about a renowned monarch.

I was on my way out of the room. And then I saw this other room by the right. There was a large table at the centre. There were chairs around it. It looked like a group of affluent and accomplished men in dazzling suits had recently gathered there to discuss men-stuff and politics and opportunities for the realization of even more accomplishments and affluence.

I walked into the room and took my time to soak in the very esteemed ambience.

And then I saw the Cuban cigar on the table. I think it was a Cuban cigar. It was brown and fat, like the type in movies. It had to be a Cuban cigar- that’s what they call the brown and fat ones isn’t it.

Before I knew it, I was on the balcony- looking over the tops of the buildings outside, and generally just enjoying that San Francisco skyline in between puffs of the brown fat cigar.

I don’t know what the general opinion is on smoking second-hand cigars, but that was just one faint tiny bell ringing at the back of my mind.

I took my time to draw some very slowly-savoured breaths through the cigar- getting a thorough taste of the resplendent affluence and accomplishment and life-establishment that the men in that room had very perceptibly diffused into the space.

It had neither a disturbing smell nor taste. And it felt very round and firm between my fingers. Brown and stolid and fat.

A few minutes later, I returned the cigar to the table- I had taken just a few puffs- and headed out.

On my way back up Powell, I became aware of this strange feeling in my head. My head felt clear. It was strange. The marked mental clarity I felt after smoking the cigar, made me wonder if there was some sort of fog in my head before.


The pretty European classmate is taking a sip from a transparent bottle. The liquid inside is bright blue.

There is a very jovial African-American guy seriously hyping the contents of the bottle. He says it’s Ecstasy.

He is talking very excitedly. He is either normally a very excitable guy, or he’s just excited about talking with the pretty European. I don’t know. Or maybe I’m just jealous.

I just took a sip from the bottle. In my mind I’m thinking about how much Ecstasy tastes like Gatorade.

I keep watching the African-American Ecstasy hype man. Chattering on about his very dubious-tasting drug.

At some point the Danish guy who got the club invites says we should better get going.

“So we don’t get mugged!”

He sounds like he’s talking from recent experience. Maybe they got mugged in Hawaii.

The two Danish guys recently flew to Hawaii. A considerable number of classmates were dumbfounded, myself included.

A number of months ago, I arrived the USA from Nigeria. My first time travelling outside the country. I am still here, trying to understand and make sense of this new degree of freedom- this new axis of movement. And these guys are flying to Hawaii on a moment’s notice.

Wow. Like wow.


Soon we’ll be thirty years old, our

songs have been sold, we’ve

travelled around the world and we’re still roaming


We are in an Uber, on the Bay bridge back to San Francisco.

Lukas Graham’s “Seven Years” is playing on the speakers.


Image: Cool nextdoor neighbours at the dorms.

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