Tuesday, May 12, 2009

to friends...


i have very good friends.

with whom i never have to walk on egg shells...

they never take me seriously unless, you know, it looks melodramatically serious. like me weeping for six hours for inexplicable reasons...

they think i am funny. and brave. when i am so not.

they aren't scared of me and tell me to shut up. i talk a lot sometimes. probably too much.

they drink whisky with me.

and keep all my dark secrets in forgotten places at the bottom of their hearts. 

they don't hold me at gunpoint if we haven't communicated in years. it's not my fault she moved to iceland. or to the other side of the mountain. or to somewhere pointless like belgium.(no offence to anyone reading this from Belgium. highly unlikely anyway) or right next door.
they know i love them. and they still aren't scared.

you see. here's the thing. since i was about 1 i began scaring people. i didn't have teeth or hair for the first four years of my life. and i screamed until my face went blue if i encountered strangers or people i obviously distrusted. the choma farmer's wives called me "Dorothy's Mental Daughter"  so i'm told. i think even my mother thought i was mental then.

then apparently i became funny. like hah hah funny, you understand. like standing on a dining chair swigging back champagne when i was 5 saying "i am going to drink champagne for the rest of my life". apparently this was very funny. i thought it clairvoyant. i meant it. 

i was desperate for my older sisters' approval. which lead to some terrible accidents. like racing behind them on my three wheeler and them on their two wheelers, which were called after ponies. in fact they WERE ponies. mine couldn't be a pony because it was a tri cycle. y'know, only three legs. with a little white basket tied to the front. no. it couldn't possibly pass as a pony. still. i followed them everywhere. once they raced away from me, down the hill next to the house in lusaka. at the bottom was a large, very old and solid bougainvillia (sp?) bush. one sister raced left, the other right and i, undecided, continued straight at speed. this was very funny too. i always had to be the bridesmaid when we played weddings and be the one naked in granny's dahlias for liane to practise ethereal photography. i fought back. biting. tantrums. (watch this comment space...) but by god i loved my sisters. still do. 

 we were sent to boarding school in rhodesia when we were very little. i was 5. i was bloody brave. i still had my milk teeth. miss hall gave us cents when they fell out.  and poked our backs with her cold bony finger if she caught us out of bed.  i "got on with it". i remember looking out the dorm window at night watching the choppers coming back from "the border" because of the war. thump thump under the stars. and thinking how far away mum and dad were. as far away as those stars. faaaar away. but more than anything i remember my friends:  armenell sandeman, my bestest in the world. our names rhymed. armenell and janelle. armenell's mum lived in a posh house in a posh salisbury suburb (so how come they sent her to boarding school? huh?), had a posh antique shop and a brother who was The Honorable President Clifford Du Pont of Rhodesia. her dad lived on a farm (not in a "hot" area, ish) with Sally The Bitch, who didn't really like any of us. but she was very pretty. prettier than armenell's ma. well. mrs sanderman was just Posher. but sally was sexier and meaner. armenell's tuck box overflowed with chocolates from south and FIZZ POPS.  because her dad had a plane and they actually went South for Holidays.  she won rosettes in the hols. she had orange hipsters and Rhodesia Is Super t shirts. she was rhodesian and beautiful.  we loved each other. i guess we both felt stuck.

so i wasn't that scary then. i learnt how to make people laugh. i performed. and won eistedfords. singing irish lullabyes about lost sailors, if i rightly recall. 

until i started going to teenage parties. funky town and blondie blaring. and well. i was just such a nerdy wall flower. i must have been. either that or just plain scary. simply no-one ever asked me to dance let alone schnogg. kerry mcilrath kissed everyone. i was tall and skinny. taller than anyone (except for my sisters of course) and won tennis games, camped in the garden and rode horses. and only had silver bangles. not gold ones. i spoke differently, coming from up north. all the seff efrican girls said "police poss the jem". and went to posh midlands schools. and wore gold. i went to the local catholic convent. to the extremely occasional teenage parties,  i wore silver (home painted) high tops, knicker bockers and T shirts tied to the side, like the pony tail, and finished it off with heavy green eye shadow and lip gloss. LOTS of lip gloss. so did helen wilson. my next bestest. we  found all the naughty bits in mrs wilson's cheap novels and concluded that sex was ticklish. we had desperate crushes on gavin and andre (his best friend) and mocked brett simes (who had a desperate crush on me). he once tried to touch my toe on the back of the landcruiser going to mtunzini to water ski. sis man.  the  best boys seemed to prefer little pretty girls. Little as in quaint girlie girls. sometimes i think they still do.  once charles took me out to his vanette parked in the sugar cane to schnogg me, i thought. until he pulled "it" out and asked me to hold "it". i was aghast. i leapt out the car, and ran like lightening under the moon back to the party to helen.  and kerry. and gavin and andre who were competing for penny (who was pretty and Little). and kerry.  charles was just trying to get lucky, man. 

stay with me, patient reader. i am trying to remember when i got scary. and can't for the life of me recall....what a diversion.

well. the point is my friends are exceptional and boy am i lucky. and not scary at all.

they are perfect.

chin chin to friends, i say.


so toodely toot than, You. bisous X.X.X. large scary ones....



37 comments:

my eye and betty martin said...

Haha - have hysterical visions of you from your description! You are very different from your sisters so I know you are telling the truth! :)

nmj said...

loving this! x

P. said...

The best women are brave and funny and scary. I aspire to be such a woman. xoxoxo.

mighty jo said...

i love listening to your memories of you. very entertaining. & you are right on about friends. those are good friends you have. treasures. my treasured friends are spread all over the u.s. because i have trouble staying put, but they don't. some of my best friends are people everyone else warned me to stay away from. & i am someone that other friends were warned to stay away from (i am scary, too, my mom always told me so--& more than one tentative friend has admitted they were afraid of me before becoming my friend--funny--im terrified of people & they are scared of me?!?) good post. so much fun to read!

Jeannie said...

I remember those parties - for me it was snowashed denim and white shirts, and yes, the boys all asked the little pretty girls to dance. If you were over five foot seven it was pretty difficult to dance with the pre-growth spurt boys anyway. Sigh. I was also accused of being scary pretty often, in fact I have spent ages trying not to be scary. Occasionally I slip, and then I look up from a funny/serious discourse on something to find everyone looking at me with those slightly widened eyes which say Whoa... *real* alert. She's broken the unspoken rule of keeping it shallow and polite here...

It's very tiring sometimes. I loved this post - thank you!

Mud in the City said...

That is one of your best posts - loved the trains of thought. I too am accused of being scary. One friend tried to package it up as 'forthright' but I know he meant scary. And tall. Bad combination. Makes boys run away.

But not friends. Real friends - so here's to them all!

Miranda said...

haha - Janelle you really are very scary!

family affairs said...

I'm often accused of being scary too....not by friends and BB finds me the least scary person ever - which I love (but not all the time when I really WANT to be scary and he's laughing at me again). Don't you just love friends. Fab post xxx

Dumdad said...

You must be scary because I'm now quaking in my boots and I'm not even wearing boots! I'm going to run screaming back to my own blog where I can hide until the scary lady has gone.

But seriously though, folks: how can parents send away their kids to boarding schools at FIVE years old. It happens in the UK but I always swore that if I had kids I'd NEVER send them away to school. What's the point of having them? I love having my kids at home and, anyway, I wouldn't get to play with hamsters and read Harry Potter if they weren't around...

Janelle said...

scarey cats the lot of us...eh? yes DD how could they? send us to boarding school so little. admittedly there weren;t really many schools in zambia at the time...still. anyway. no harm done, really. i just couldn;t do it...i was littler than my youngest...XXX j

Elizabeth said...

Wow! So beautifully written.
When your book is published ( the one you must write - or have already written) I will buy it.

Yes, being big and bold isn't any good when wanting to be 'shnogged'
I wonder what it would be like to be little and pretty?
I will never know.
You are cruel about Belgium which is a nice quaint little country with BRUGES in it and yummy frites.
My friend Diana went to boarding school in Kenya when she 5 (Mau Mau) school surrounded by barbed wire.
My Dad went to boarding school at the same age (WW1).
A letter exists:
Dear Mother and Father,
I am very unhape. (SIC)

Janelle said...

hey elizabeth...sorry about belgium. i have never been there. it's just never caught my imagination - apart from the chocolates of course! ah sadly sweet little note about being unhape...ag shame man... X X X j

Angela said...

I trust Miranda`s judgement, so you must be very scary! Probably just not English enough? In Germany we are all NOT reserved and quiet and petite (not ALL tall blonde valkyries either), so you`d perhaps fit in easily here? Or in Belgium?
At six I was sent to a sanatorium with TBC for two years, so I know what it feels like to be sad at night.
But don`t ever cry for six hours! When will you send me your music? I`ll pay in advance!

Janelle said...

oh she lies she lies geli! heh heh like your comment...ouf. the music music...you know i must check and see if i even have a CD left. have it on my iTunes..could send you bit by bit on email?? xxx j

alex said...

loved this post. a subject close to my own heart. being perceived as scary, quite understandably (?) when I am in fact much more scared of everyone else. Real friends are the ones who get that.

Anonymous said...

Hello Janelle, this is the fist time that I have seen your blogski, very good stuff and looks like you have been at it for some time, i remember you mentioned you had one, but by jove there's a shit load to read here!!!!

Gillian said...

wonderful read!
your friends are lucky to have you too.
friends that you don't have to walk on eggshells for are worth their weight in gold if you ask me.
xoxo

Angela said...

Of course, Janelli, yes yes, e-mails would be fine! But why not press it on CDs and shovel money with them? Put pictures of you on the spotty horse (not the crazy race horse) on the cover, and write a book along with it. You`ll be FAMOUS even in far-away places, like Belgium. Jacques Brel was a Belgian, by the way. And Monsieur Hercule Poireau!

tam said...

dear Janella. You are scary when you are grumpy from giving up smoking. This is a fantastic post. Friends made at boarding school are like nothing else, eh? I like 'police poss the jem'. Haha!

Janelle said...

oh but alexi you ARE scary...but i ain't ever been scared of you. love adore and MISS you darlin' XXX j
huge!? is that YOU?? by jove i can tell... XXX j
thanks for swinging by gillian. indeed...completely agree with you! XXX j
geli will make a plan. promise. oh. i love THOSE belgians. of course. xxx j
hey tam tam tamara...yeah those boarding school friends are never forgotten...love ya. xxx j

SafariB said...

Scary scary all of us!! That was SO my problem!! And more scared of everyone else than of myself!

Ha ha - Hughmungous just has to say a couple of sentences and he gives himself away ;)

Seriously love this post J.. Shit you are talented girl!!!!! Hugs and more. xx

Janelle said...

thanks B! good to hear from you. yeah. huw and by jones...like cheese and tomato...XXX j

Lover of Life said...

I keep telling one of my daughters - it's okay to be who you are - but no more breaking a guy's nose who disrespect you - there are other ways!

Luckily, she too, has friends that see her heart, and the loyalty she feels and shares.

P.S. - And she was also always different. Yay!

Mama Shujaa said...

Janelli,

Yaani, what a wonderful read. I missed out on boarding school...albeit at a later age than you...but still...I can relate to my best friends escapades, as reflected here.

Just a wonderful post darl!!! Here's to you and your good friends!!!! Those are hard to come by, trust me.

karen said...

what a lot to catch up on! So, so sorry to hear about your guitar friend, Janelle...
Being different is wonderful & your stories resonate hugely with me, sounds like a very similar upbringing. Yes, always different - boarding school kids from The Bush! x

ben wilhelmi said...

I'll forgive you easily for your comment on Belgium since I fled from it myself, heehee.
But remember Magritte, Mercator, Tintin, Hercules PoirOT,best chocolate, best beer (cold, not bloody warm)...I punch the first one who mentions Vandamme!
your only Belgian reader apparently, ben

Janelle said...

ah BEN! thanks! god. no no NO offence ever...convinced. will come and visit belgium one day. oh and arnold callens came from there too...and tintin. and tintin. god. what a careless thing i wrote...x janelle

Sofie said...

So I guess it is more probable than you thought that someone in Belgium actually read it :-))

I do feel my time here is spent pointlessly so in that respect you are on to something

Anyway.. big hug
Sofie

Janelle said...

OH SOFIE!!!! you excluded....you are way beyond pointless...XXX j

Janet said...

such a "lekker" post as we unposh seffrican girls say!

Cheers to friends!!!!

:-)

Sofie said...

I didnt take it personally (I am a bit thick so we'll just leave it at that :-))
And my stay in Belgium is really past pointless, it is ridiculous.. waiting for godot

Angela said...

Cher Ben Wilhelmi, oh oh, excusez-moi! Naturellement c`est Hercule PoirOT!!!! Très désolée!

ben wilhelmi said...

no worries, i'm just enjoying the debates on belgium till it maybe stops existing, till the Split. Then there will be 2 more tribes in Europe instead of reducing the numbers.
anyway, I loved the flipflop story!
ps: finally Poirot doesn't really count: created by a Brit...initially tempted to grab anything for our little glory (except Vandamme of course!)

Sofie said...

hey Janelle, who is ben wilhelmi, you have two belgian readers? wow

Janelle said...

i know! i know! amazing! glad you liked the flip flop story ben! x j

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