When the boys come out to play

2013-12-10 00:00

THE sun rose and the birds sang; nothing seemed out of the ordinary. It was a typical school day — Future Life for breakfast and a bag full of books. My arrival at school was prompt. I was prepared for another day “in the office”, full of numbers and words. Prepared — yes — prepared?

School started: registration took place and the lessons commenced. The regular wave of school boys filled the corridors moments after each bell, flooding the tributaries that led to the classrooms.

After a day that seemed to last an awfully long time, I trudged along the well-beaten path to my English classroom. It was the fifth lesson, that awkward period just before lunch break. I entered the class and the familiar chatter of my peers filled my ears, yet their excitement seemed unjustified. Only when I heard that unmistakable “yes!” did I understand. Our teacher was absent, and the boys were about to come out to play.

Our work, written on the board, was ignored and quite possibly erased. Somewhere to my right a plot seemed to be thickening. Ideas were being thrown around. There were nods of approval and shakes of disagreement. One idea stood its ground; it seemed crazy, risky and caused major excitement. To be honest, many of us were sold on “crazy”.

In life there are always trends to follow, crazes that people are drawn to, like bees to honey. The Harlem Shake was no exception.

“Harlem Shake”, two words that grasped our imaginations and filled the holes that were once boredom. Suddenly, our class was alive. The day seemed so much brighter, the prospect of partaking in a global craze spurred us on.

We discussed ways in which we could express ourselves, do “something cool” or out of the ordinary. It was at this stage that our multicoloured book bags fell victim to our devious plan. The bags were placed over our heads, after a face had been drawn on them. These bags signified our barrier to criticism and the protection of our identities. We felt alive. It was awesome.

An umbrella, a sun hat and a clock were soon thrown into the equation. At this point in time we felt invincible, no one could change our way of thinking. Our plan was on its way to being executed.

After a short briefing and some final preparations, we were ready.

We sat down, pretending to be reading or doing work, the obviousness of our supposed ethic standing out like a tree in a desert. A lone figure strode between the desks. His movements were not noticed by those “busy”. This strange, yet completely normal beginning to our Harlem Shake set the tone for us. Throughout the duration of our attempt, we remained silent, for the thrill and fear of being caught made sure that our lips did not part.

In minutes, a once-still classroom erupted into a hive of activity. People were gyrating and desks were thrown. I decided to sit still, be “that guy” until someone with a clock strapped to his face jumped on top of me. In an instant, I took care of my attacker and resumed my position.

I can only imagine how strange it must have looked — all of us jumping about, dancing and fighting, yet only silence remained unbroken. Once we could do no more, we stopped. Our class looked like it had been through a war. Quickly we tidied up. Our hearts were racing, the adrenaline still pumping through our veins.

We thought we had accomplished our “impossible” task. Our premature congratulations were short-lived. The classroom door opened: “What are you all up to?” was all I heard. We stood frozen and guilty. I couldn’t believe it, to get caught when the end was in sight, really killed our vibe. During this entire process, one brave individual opted to video our daring escapade. The teacher, now certain that we were up to no good, advanced into our classroom. The phone that he had spotted was a priority. Luckily, quick thinking and some well-chosen words saved the phone and us. A united sigh of relief and a few high fives followed. Success tasted sweet.

Life is full of moments, whether we experience them or not is a different story. Opportunities are presented — sometimes we grasp them and sometimes we let them slip through our fingers. So, to justify my actions in having participated in a foolish craze known as the Harlem Shake, I would like to say this: life is for the living, and sometimes it is in those moments of craziness that our fondest memories are made.

• The True Stories winners have been announced and we will now be running the remainder of the semi-finalists’

SHALIN Govender (17) is currently in Grade 11 at Maritzburg College. “I enjoy playing various sports and at school I play cricket and hockey. My hobbies are varied, my favourite being photography, followed by reading, hiking, fishing, gaming, watching movies and just enjoying the outdoors.”

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