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The first time I blacked out was after a school dance; a so-called sokkie as it is known in the Afrikaans culture.

I was 16 years old and in Grade 10. It was the year when all provinces started using ‘grade’ instead of ‘standard’. It was summer, Guy Fawkes Night, but unusually cold.

Having been increasingly marginalised by my circle of friends since Standard 6, I was feeling particularly vulnerable two years on. I believe they were edging me out of the group because they believed that I was snitching to their parents about the wild parties we had been having since high school. We later found out that it was actually a boy who liked to gossip…

The bottle of vodka, which was bought at a shibeen a white suburban mother had been running from her living room, was originally intended for consumption at a drummie tour in Durban but it was never drunk or never taken with.

So when the sokkie came up a few weeks later it was the ideal time to get rid of the bottle which I hid in the base of our piano.

It was by no means my first encounter with alcohol. I had been experimenting with various forms of the substance, culinary and industrial, for a couple of years.

The drinking was not a result of peer pressure but more a means of coping with being socially awkward, excruciatingly shy, and hoping to numb the pain.

So, that Thursday night I smuggled the whole bottle of vodka into the dance concealed in my butterfly backpack.

I proceeded to top up my white Styrofoam cup of Fanta every so often in the bathroom; taking great pride each time I sneaked past the teachers.

It was a way in which I could be in control.

My regular circle of friends ditched me there at the dance to go hang out with some boys. I was shattered.

When the dance was over and it was time to go home. I had not come close to finishing what I had set out to do – finish the bottle of vodka.

So, one of my girlfriend’s boyfriends and I walked home with a girl in my grade. The boyfriend and I finished the bottle of vodka along the way.

Down the street and across the sports fields we went. I stopped somewhere to take off my shoes. I remember the girl opening her front gate and looking at me all worried. The friend’s boyfriend then walked me home – across the sports fields again, I guess. Somewhere along the way we kissed and somewhere I sat down on what I though was the pavement, fell back, and bumped my head…

Next, I’m shaking. I’m walking down a street towards my house. My underwear is missing and I’m trying desperately to keep my pants up. A police car passes me by. They ask if I’m okay. I lie: “Yes, I’m fine I’m almost home”.

I arrive at my front door, drunk and three hours late. My parents’ faces are pale with fright.

My shocked mother puts me into the tub. I’m covered in dirt and vomit.

She lectures me on how they thought I was dead and helps me check to see whether I was raped. Luckily, I’m not.

I’m sick as a dog – probably alcohol poisoning from downing half a bottle of vodka.

In my restless sleep I dream/remember how someone pulls my pants down and rips my underwear off. My body is numb from the drink but I can feel the cold night air move against my bare skin.

I’ve always wondered what sex would be like but I know this is not right. They try some humping but can’t get it up for some reason. I think I see a streetlamp in the background; my uninvited companion is silhouetted by its glow.

All goes dark again.

In another dream/memory somebody pats my back while I throw up. This is someone different, I think…

It is Friday but I’m too sick to go to school. I already know the shame that awaits me anyway, “She was drunk she deserved it,” they’ll say.

I’m so ashamed I sever ties with my so-called friends for good. I resent them for putting me in the frame of mind in the first place.

There are no further repercussions except for social exclusion.

Years later I hear there was a story going around about me and some boy at the sports fields. However, I refuse to believe he was my attacker. I believe he stopped whatever was going down. I, unfortunately, will never find out the truth. He died after a foolish varsity dare. I will never be able to confront or thank him.

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I didn’t drink again like that until varsity. One morning I woke up in my residence room without knowing how I got there. The last thing I remember was having some shooters at the bar during a formal dance.

Later that morning I would hear what events transpired the night before. Luckily, they were more of embarrassing nature than a dangerous one. I was reminded of what I so narrowly escaped a few years before.

I try not to think about it too much and mostly it feels it happened to someone else but I do still wonder what happened during those missing hours 14 years ago. Some days I feel like posting the question on Facebook, because, believe me I come from a small town, someone will know.

But becoming increasingly greater than the need to know, is the thanks I owe to God for keeping me safe that night and for the incident occurring in a time when cellphones did not yet have cameras…

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