I’m unusually fond of my cousins. It’s more than just the blood bond. It has a lot more to do with ego. See, when I’m sitting with a group of my cousins, I can say anything that comes to mind, and they will always burst out laughing. I don’t think I’m particularly funny [even though one of my exes swore I was a clown], but it really helps my self esteem to make people laugh.
In high school literature classes, we would read set books and poems, then we’d have open sessions where we’d be asked to say what we thought of the work. I soon noticed that every time a classmate spoke, they were greeted with hmms and aahs of approval. Sometimes it would be raucous applause, suggesting that *everyone* agreed with what they said. However, whenever I spoke, I would be greeted with pin drop silence.
The teacher would tilt his head and observe me for a while, then clear his throat so that someone else could raise their hands. I always wondered about that, and decades later, I even asked some classmates about it. They responded with the same pin drop silence.
At the time, I was a teenager with shaky self worth, so I drew one of three conclusions. Either I was so smart that they were awed by my brilliance, or they were shocked that anyone could be so dumb. The third option was that I was speaking in tongues.
I won’t say just which option I picked, but the teacher always gave me top grades for my papers, and he always let me speak when I raised my hand. I think it amused him. Or entertained him. Or something. Maybe he was just itching to know what insane answer I would give next.
In fairness, I have a pretty horizontal leaning, and I can see sex in pretty much everything. I was the Bomb One giving seniors tips on the purpose of flavoured condoms. It’s not like I had used them or anything, but it seemed pretty obvious to me that we don’t have taste buds down there …
Consequently, I could find diagonal leanings in every poem I read. It was pretty plain to me that a verse about a forked road implied sexual choices, especially if the poet spoke of guilt, moral decisions, and meat. You can’t seriously tell me he was sweating over actual forks in an actual roads. I saw it in all poems, whether the subject matter was clocks or concrete, and I suppose that would cause silence to some naive kids in a convent school.
The teacher called me into his office once, to ask about some poems I’d written. They were love poems, centred on death by love and suicide. He said they seemed so real, and that they seemed to come from experience. He felt I was too young to feel love quite so intensely. I didn’t know what I was supposed to say, so I stayed quiet and he sent me away.
I caused a stir later saying Kongowea Mswahili was a fairy tale, and that RATS [River and the Source] was reversely chauvinist, because all the good men married God or died. Quite telling. I was also prone to saying things like:
9 months is an awfully long time. i could pregnant and have a baby in that time.
You really shouldn’t call us chicks. We might as well call you cocks.
Of course all this was mumbled with a straight face, and was always in response to some lame thing I’d eavesdropped. Half the time, I didn’t know anyone had heard me until they went quiet. I’m surprised I didn’t get lynched more often, but usually, the silence gave me a chance to review my words and walk away.
So, I value my cousins for not going quiet each time I say something crazy.
I’m sure there was a point to this, but I lost it halfway through. Something about the teenagers and silence. Until I can find my train of thought, I’m going to blaming it on kittens and full moons.
♫ Love the way you lie ♫ Eminem featuring Rihanna ♫