In the sea of teenage girls that was my school, there were only three ways to stand out; being rich, being pretty and being smart. If you were none of those things, you were bound to drown, to be sunk by insignificance.
Don’t get me wrong; being insignificant had its perks. Okay, it had only one perk; no one could make up useless rumors about you because if they did, everyone would have to go through the trouble of identifying your face, your dormitory, class and family history. Between class, boyfriends and delinquency, no one had the time.
Other than that, to be insignificant at my school could be likened to serving a six-year jail sentence, with no parole.
Already, you had the struggles of adolescence weighing on your shoulders. Your bosom was insistently flat as your classroom walls. Your hips were taking long in hibernation. Hives big as fists occasionally liked to reside on your face.
In an effort to fight off the hives, you would buy a cream which would bleach your face and leave you with an uneven skin tone. If this happened, it was huge enough to make you popular. You’d even be baptized with the nickname “Whose face?”
There were some girls who tried to crawl out of the hole that was insignificance. They would, for instance, start singing in church.
Yeah. They would stand there and say, “My testimony is in form of a song. Don’t listen to the voice, listen to the words.” And then everyone would suffer through the squeakiness of their voices. They knew that we couldn’t boo them off stage. We had to play nice in ‘God’s presence.’ As if God only dwelled in chapel pews.
Being insignificant was especially inconvenient if you wanted to make a phone call. You see, it was illegal to have a cell phone at school. In fact, being caught with said phone was such a grave crime that it ranked up there with escaping from school, falling in love with a teacher and quite possibly murder.
The popular girls, especially the pretty ones, could walk up to teachers and ask to use their phones. Then they would stand at a distance laughing and giggling, talking to their boyfriends, experiencing feelings that the insignificant girls would never know.
If the insignificant girls felt the need to make a call, they would have to use public phone booths. The booths were located outside the chemistry laboratory and adjacent to the staffroom. They were only activated in the evenings and as soon as they were, girls would swarm the place.
Because of that, there was no sense of privacy. You’d make a call with someone standing right behind you exhaling hot air directly onto your neck.
You could try to speak in low tones but then the person on the other end of the line would ask you to repeat your sentence. You didn’t have time for repetitions because your coin could only afford you one minute.
Once that minute was up, you had to redial. Attempting to redial could lead to a fight. Fighting was a grave enough crime to get girls touching their chests and gasping while exclaiming, “She fought??!” You’d get popular for this but it didn’t matter because by this time, the school administration would have given you an indefinite suspension which was just a polite term for expulsion.