Saturday, October 02, 2004

So One Time At Boarding School....

by The Sassy One

Did I ever you tell you about that time? I guess it comes to mind now because my sons are at that age. You know "the age" - taller than me, facial hair that requires razors, secret porn stash....

Anyway, this one time at boarding school....oh wait, I haven't explained boarding school to you guys yet. Well, see...I went to boarding school. But I was a "day student", i.e. one who didn't sleep over. And.....(drum roll, please) I was the only girl.

Ok, let's not get violent. Settle down, ladies. Yes, I was the only female at an all boys' boarding school. In Barbados. (I know: Surrounded by tanned, teenaged boys on a tropical island? What more could you want?) My dad was a teacher there and I was allowed to attend from the age of 9 through 13 until, in the words of the powers that be, I became "a distraction."

So, there I was. Me, and a bunch of boarding school boys, and the headmaster, Big G. I don't even remember his real name now, but I remember he carried a riding crop. He believed in corporal punishment. Hey - he was British and it was the 70's. I suppose the pith helmet was stowed away somewhere. And possibly he didn't get word of the independence movement on the former British colony. (Barbados gained independence in 1966).

I know what you are thinking: there's no way she left that school a virgin. Well, you're wrong! Those boys treated me like their little sister and, when our private school bus pulled into the bus terminal downtown, they stood up for me in the face of all those rowdy "public school" bullies.

But there was this one time....

It was one of the most defining moments of my life. It was Field Day - an intramural sports competition between various factions at the school (we called them "Houses"). I was in Blue House, which had a great record against the other Houses during the annual track and field meets. And I was 12. My male classmates were 14 plus (yes, I was an overachiever and a couple of years ahead of my time). Everyone had to participate in some event and, thanks to my Dad's renown as a track star, I was selected to run the 100 meters.

"But, I don't know if I am fast enough," I whined to Dad.

"You'll be fine. Just remember to warm up, get out of the blocks fast, and don't peak too early," the former Olympian replied.

"Yeah. Ok. Whatever." Who was I kidding? I was a short, buck-toothed little girl...I didn't even have a hint of a chest yet! There was no way I stood a chance against my older, testosterone-enhanced classmates.

I sulked and sulked in the days leading up to the "Great Race" but no one seemed to care. I thought about inducing some projectile vomiting but that seemed a little extreme, especially considering I was only being asked to run 100 meters. It wasn't like I was being asked to wash dishes or clean my room.

And so the day came.

I wore a customized t-shirt (it was election time on the island and my grandparents were big democrats so I used a Sharpie to announce that I was running for the "Dipper" - Errol Barrow, the incumbent Prime Minister) and declined my Dad's offer of spiked running shoes. I ran in bare feet.

Can you picture me? Pig-tails, braces, white t-shirt with clumsy black lettering on it, and no shoes, standing at the starting line of a dirt track. Surrounded by boys who were at least 2 years older, all of whom had something to prove: "Man! You can't let that little girl beat you!"

I don't remember the start of the race. I don't remember the middle. I only remember the end. Not the finish line. The end. I was suddenly being hoisted above the shoulders of older boys in Blue House, who were chanting, "Springer! Springer! Springer!" Somehow, my little feet (and that's the last time they were 'little') had carried me to victory. Or was it my fear? Or my pride? Who knows. Who cares.

So, one time at boarding school....I won a race.

It changed my life. After that day, I no longer needed to prove anything vis-a-vis men. Ya know what I mean, ladies? It's a great lesson to learn at 12. And I'll leave this at that.

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