BY WOLE OGUNTOKUN
IF you have a hard time comprehending why there are two names as my column title, you missed out on an experience that was a major part of the childhood of many people all over the world.
It was the comic simply known as ‘Archie’ featuring a young man of the same name and his friends. They were all students of the same school, Riverdale High, lived in the same small town and wore bright, colourful, smart clothes, styles which I tried to copy several times when I was in my early teens but never quite succeeded in.
As an adult now, it strikes me that the clothes ‘designer’ for those comics was adult and the style pre-meditated, not anything easily accessible from the junk I possessed then.
There was a love triangle in the comic book series with Archie having a permanent crush on the dark-haired, rich beauty, Veronica Lodge and not realizing how much Betty, her friend, cared for him.
Betty was a blond-haired girl of about the same age, no less good looking than Veronica and my personal favourite. (For all those who take issue with her hair colour, feel free to substitute blond with Ghana-Weave).
At that time, all I wanted to do was meet a caring girl like Betty and live life happily ever after. As I write now, it strikes me that was probably the desire of the creator of the comic book series as well.
They had a company of friends too, Jughead who loved food, was rake-thin but could eat hamburgers like others eat very light biscuits. Moose, hulking in strength and who would do anything to protect his lovely girl, Midge, from the attention that other men might give.
There was Big Ethel, who had a crush on jug-head, she was probably the least good-looking in the Riverdale community (it was a community where everyone was stunning) and Dixon (?) I think, the egghead who was a whiz in the sciences. I almost forgot Reggie, Archie’s archrival (excuse the pun) for the affections of Veronica. I was never able to comprehend why Archie just never gave up on Veronica, leaving her to Reggie and starting a sunny life with Betty Cooper.
I suppose that is the way life really is. We never really appreciate affection when it comes too easily, preferring the one we have to cut swathes in jungles for or climb rocky, precarious hills to reach.
Veronica was not a simpleton, neither was Reggie malevolent in his smugness but I always thought they suited each other and that Archie was better off with Betty.
Many of us have over-looked the most amazing people because they gave themselves too readily to us. It’s an amazing thing about life and sad to say, speaks volumes of the level of development of a man, for instance, who thinks less of a girl because she was the first to express her affection.
By the way, ‘Girl’ for The Whisperer covers any female from ages thirteen to ninety. There are many women, who are... well, advanced in age but are still involved in, or seek loving relationships. This is legitimate. Your life does not come to a screeching halt because you have children or they go on to have their own children. There are 36-year-old grandmothers for those who care to know.
SO on to the Betty Coopers that abound in so many lives and whom we do not care to give a second look because they expressed the way they felt about us before we spoke.
I do not think less of any female who expresses the way she feels about a man before he indicates his intentions.
Some men border on being obtuse and like wheel-barrows need to be pushed to a point where they will come to the realization that the lovely person whose company they had always found so enjoyable might have a thing for them. This has happened to The Whisperer many times before.
Now, no one is compelled to start a relationship with another merely because the other party expressed an interest in a relationship or in keeping the relationship ‘exclusive’.
You might not like the person “that way” but if you do, it should not be to the girl’s advantage that she raised the matter first.
The Whisperer’s submission is that you do not lose respect for the person who dared tell you she “liked” you.
It is a fact of life, people caring for each other, and the man who feels uneasy about being told this should submit himself to therapy. People like people.
And sometimes we have an uncontrollable urge to tell them so before we lose the moment. Carpe Diem.
I think I spent my entire life looking for Betty Cooper and I must have found her several times in different people when I was in my teens.
People are so beautiful at that age, untainted by life’s vagaries and bitter experiences.
For many reasons, Veronica Lodge is never short of the attention of men. She comes from a wealthy background, is self-assured and used to having her wishes met at every turn.
She is also not as openly affectionate as one might desire. Unrequited love does it for many people. Not so for The Whisperer.
You had better love me at the same time. Life is short and I no longer have time for people who give love as if it is a currency that you cannot spend.
THE self-effacing Betty Cooper will always run into trouble. Sometimes you should stand up for what you want, for what you believe in.
Ask for the moon and get it, is what I have heard. When we do not speak up, things tend to pass us by.
The Whisperer loves women; it is the only reason this column has gone on for three years. It is not an untoward interest in the opposite gender (well, not always) but a wholesome love for the form of the opposite gender.
For the way their minds work, for their beauty, their intelligence and their capabilities.
The world would be a more beautiful place if all communities were like Riverdale, but that is an impossible task.
I will try my best to make my immediate surroundings a place of calmness, a place of beauty, and hope that others try to do the same with their spaces too.
It really is a wonderful world, when we allow it to be.