Back in mid-October, my best friend and I were in Lagos, drinking copious amounts of liquor in the middle of week (it was a Wednesday, I think). We were approached by three Italian guys (we’ll call them Ben, Al and Joe) who were dead-set on talking to us, even though only one of them spoke a decent amount of English, and neither Mali nor I speaks Italian.
We chatted with Ben, the fluent English speaker, while Al stared longingly (creepily) at us, trying to join in on the conversation despite our lack of a common language. But he was polite enough to us, so we were willing to oblige, at least for as long as our large drinks would last.
That was until Joe decided to join the fray.
“Hello!” he said, uninvited. He had hitherto been attempting to and failing at talking up a number of girls around us. Naturally, he wanted in on his friends’ game.
“Where you from?” he asked, even though we had clearly already covered this with Ben.
We decided to be patient. “New York.”
“New York, eh? NEW ORLEANS IS BEST CITY IN AMERICA.” He literally yelled this, then whooped afterwards.
I gave Mali a look. “Really? How many cities have you been to in the States?”
“Two,” he said, puffing out his chest as if he were the world’s foremost expert on the U.S.
“Oh? Which ones?”
“Portland and New Orleans.”
“Those are nice cities.”
“Yes. PORTLAND AND NEW ORLEANS ARE BEST CITIES IN AMERICA.”
“Okay,” I said, and turned back to Mali.
But Joe wasn’t about to give up. “Where have you been?” he asked, with his nose turned just slightly upward.
I frowned. “Well, I was born in Los Angeles, I’ve lived in San Francisco and Chicago, and now I’m in New York.”
“Oh, New York? New York is eh. PORTLAND AND NEW ORLEANS ARE THE BEST CITIES IN AMERICA.”
I knew I probably shouldn’t engage, but I was annoyed. “How can you say that when you haven’t even been anywhere else?”
“Oh, I know,” he said, winking at me. “Portland is amazing, but New Orleans — wow!”
I rolled my eyes. “Really. Of all the cities in the U.S., you peg Portland and New Orleans as America’s greatest?” (I’m not saying Portland and New Orleans are bad, but come on.)
He took a deep breath. “NEW ORLEANS IS BEST CITY IN AMERICA!”
His friends glared ruefully at him as Mali and I promptly walked away.