Snooker-ball bums and reunions

2008-07-08 00:00

SO there it was in my inbox, flagged as high priority. A rude reminder that a quarter of a century has slipped past since I was a pimply-faced, pom-pom twirling schoolgirl — notification of my 25th high school reunion.

Actually, I never did get to twirl pom-poms — that privilege was strictly reserved for non-pimply, long-legged blondes with bums like two snooker balls and melon-sized cleavage. Unfortunately, by some cruel twist of fate I was created in the reverse and my snooker ball bust and melon-shaped bum wasn’t deemed suitable for shimmying in support of any sports team. That I was usually competing in the team for whom the pom-poms were being twirled, was scant conciliation.

As far as high school reunions go, there’s no better place to reflect on what might have been. The funny thing though is that you get the invitation and panic takes hold when the

realisation dawns that you only have a couple of months to make something of yourself. Not that there’s a lot one can do in a few short weeks when these type of occasions are typically all about who’s notched up the most marriages, had the most children or made the most money.

On the mention of my im-pending old gals get-together, my mother took great delight in unearthing my high school report cards and brandishing them under my nose in much the same fashion as she did 25 years ago. The notable difference being she did it with a chuckle as opposed to a half- hour invective on the importance of getting a good education.

While I realise that not everyone can be endowed with beauty and brains, apparently it’s quite possible to be deprived of both, and my lack of cheerleader attributes was not even compensated with a dazzling intellect.

A handful of tatty-looking papers, bloodied with red ink and rude remarks, constituted the sum total of what 12 years of schooling had produced. Or in my case, failed to produce.

My only respectable grade (aside from an A for sport, which doesn’t really count) was for English essay writing. This was no doubt the result of a vivid imagination due to devising ways in which a report card peppered with Fs (the symbol and fortunately not the four-letter word) could be altered, concealed or at the very worse, explained.

But even in this I was inconsistent and the teacher’s comments went from “shows huge talent” one term, to a fractious “needs to try harder” the next. It seems that my one redeeming quality must have deserted me sometimes during the school holidays.

Unlike some in my class who have scaled the ladder of success, I wasn’t destined to rise to great heights — in fact, getting my soufflé to rise in the home economics class was trouble enough.

This is not to say I didn’t harbour some ambitions though. I had a yearning to travel and quite fancied being a tourist, which my vocational guidance teacher viewed in rather a dim light. As I recall, she advised me to marry a rich man.

Although I’m unlikely to be the subject of saucy debate among my old classmates — having had no children and only two husbands — I haven’t fared too badly in life and look forward to catching up with “old” friends and comparing battle scars.

Anyway, the urge to see how the cheerleading fraternity has weathered the passage of time is incentive enough to attend. It’s always heartening to realise that while you haven’t managed to broker world peace, clinch the Nobel Prize or marry a rich man for that matter, at least you haven’t resorted to bearing your snooker balls and shimmying your melons in an executive men’s club.

• Heidi Steyn is a freelance writer who lives in Pietermaritzburg.

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