My parents moved around a lot and I was often taken out of one school to start in the next in the middle of a term. The primary school I was in for the longest time on end, was an all-girls school in the city. I often joke that that explains it all.
There were three different classes full of grade 5 – then still Standard 3 – girls, most from wealthy and some from famous families. My family was neither wealthy nor famous and it soon became clear that everybody knew I was being driven through the magnificent gates and dropped off in front of one of the imposing old buildings in a car that wasn’t worth entering even the road the school was in. I wasn’t popular and I wasn’t happy.
When Sam, the leader of a little group of girls who probably all became beautiful, tanned, often-kissed netball players – I wasn’t in the school long enough to find out – invited me to her birthday party I was ecstatic, but extremely nervous all at the same time. Someone thought I might be fun to have around, but could I deliver? And how was I going to react among ten equally pretty girls, being the only oddball with huge glasses, too much hair and no ball sense whatsoever? What if they played sports the entire weekend? There was no way I would be able to fake having any interest in it.
I managed to convince my parents that although it was my first all-weekend sleepover there was nothing to worry about: Sam’s parents would be there. Adult supervision established with a quick phone call, I went home with Sam and a few of the others in the smartest car I had ever been in, on the Friday after school.
Her parents were friendly enough, but it was clear from the start that they wouldn’t be very involved in the birthday party. There was more than one house on their large farm and us kids had our own one for the weekend, all ready with enough food, video’s and a great music system for dancing. No boys to dance with though, but Sam said, nonchalantly, that we really didn’t want any boys around to irritate us.
I actually didn’t feel like the outsider for very long. The girls clearly had no intentions of doing on the farm what they do at school: act all superior and show off their incredible athletic ability to one another constantly, leaving all onlookers in awe. No, there, on the farm, secluded and separated from school-life and perhaps the demands of what it entails to be the in-crowd, we were all just the same, chatting and giggling and behaving like almost-teenage-girls would. As it got darker and darker and we had eaten everything we felt like and watched a movie or two, Sam suggested we play cards. In the eyes of the other girls I read that playing cards held some exciting fascination I never knew about. Everybody was cheering at the idea except Lana, the tallest, blondest girl who did ballet and never said very much. She looked nervous, strangely.
It turned out that the game in mind was Strip Poker and that Lana felt it was something she shouldn’t be doing. I knew in the back of my mind told that we were being more than just little-girl-naughty and it made me even keener to join in. Lana tried to talk us out of it by saying Sam’s parents could walk in at any moment. Sam’s reply was that they all play it together as a family quite often.
No one really cared much about the supposed rules, the main thing was that someone had to be first to take something off. We sat in a circle with music playing in the background and coldrinks and snacks completely forgotten. It was definitely dark outside by then and dimly lit inside, so when I lost a round first – of course – I tried to convince myself that no one would really be able to see anything. Still, I only took off my long pajama pants and was still wearing shorts. Sam laughed loudly, calling me a coward and made sure she lost the next round. Smilingly she lifted her pajama top right over her head and sat with a proud grin sporting an enviably full A-cup bra. Not a training bra, like I later saw some girls wearing and definitely not having stuffed anything in them to fill them up, like I had been doing for an entire breastless year already. She was so pretty and so proud. I would have been too if I looked like that, I kept thinking in between pangs of absolute fear of when it would be my turn to bear my bra.
The game never progressed that far though, not for me anyway. Lana sat watching the whole thing from the corner she was hiding in and stomped out of the room as soon as Sam took her very last item off, her neatly trimmed fine blond pubic hair shimmering in the candle light. She was suddenly bored and called Maxine, her best friend at school, to join her in the bathroom. I couldn’t contain my curiosity and followed them and saw them embracing, naked young bodies pushing up against each other in yet another dimly lit room. It was the most fantastic thing I had ever seen and it made my heart jump wildly in my chest. Sam noticed me watching them and gave Maxine a mischievous look, then walked towards me, took my face in her hands and kissed me.
She kissed me. Her lips were soft and incredibly gentle and her bare breasts brushed over the thin fabric of my t-shirt, making me wish I had taken it and the stuffed bra off long ago. It was such a quick kiss, but delicious. She tasted of Peppermint Crisp and her breath was warm and quick and sweet.
Lana shrieked right behind us and ran away, out the door. We knew what she was going to do and she did: she went to the main house to call her parents to come and fetch her. The coward in me returned with a vengeance and I felt like a traitor, but begged for a lift home with them and they dropped me off a my house, where I just told my parents I was feeling very left out and lonely and sad.
I was worried that I would be found out the entire weekend and was even more terrified when it didn’t happen and I had to face Lana at school on Monday. She looked at me with big brown eyes and next thing, soon into the first period, the Head Mistress called out our names over the intercom. All ten of us were summoned to her office immediately. My heart was pounding with utter terror as I walked into the huge office, Mrs van Reyneveld waiting impatiently and clearly immensely upset. Lana, who had been called in with us, stood halfway between us and her and I knew it: she ratted us out.
Mrs van Reyneveld was mad with anger. Her face was red and the veins in her neck were bulging and she was shouting that people who did what we had been doing, were called lesbians and that se didn’t accept lesbian behaviour in her prestigous school. Our punishment was the choice either to tell our parents ourselves before she phoned them that same evening, or get expelled. I didn’t realise it wasn’t that simple to expel kids from school and her anger scared me enough to confess the moment I set foot in the door at home that afternoon. Only my mom was home and she didn’t quite know what to do, so she called me dad, who said we would discuss it when he came home from work.
Their reaction couldn’t have been severe, because I can’t remember it. The nine of us guilty girls, Lana not included, got the job of changing the school’s name that Saturday. We had to cover with white paint part of the embossed black arch over the tree-lined way into the school gate that showed the long school name, erasing the part that said it was a Christian school, which, thanks to us, it wasn’t any more.