Boys and Girls Come Out to Play

Relationships are always important to me. Never more so than now, having been through such a dark time, where I’ve so needed the support of my friends and family. And I have never leaned so heavily on my husband as I do now. He is a rock and such strength. What on earth did I do to deserve one such as him?

I’ve been reflecting on my history of relationships, and the journey that brought me to my husband. We have been married for nearly 27 years, and we’ve always enjoyed interesting, challenging and hugely fun times together. We laugh and we cry together, and we love each other’s company. 

Our giddy newly-wed years soon morphed into reality, as they always do. Suddenly there was bad breath, the five o’clock shadow, mussy hair, grumpy moods and dramatic sulks and door-slamming. And that’s only me. But we came through all of that and began, as M Scott Peck describes it in The Road Less Travelled, “the real work of love”.

When I was about 10, at home in Zambia on holiday from boarding school in Zimbabwe, we went to a friend’s birthday party. I can still imitate my friend’s mother’s laugh – ask me, and I’ll show you! We played games and we swam and it was loads of fun. However, a boy kept following me around and commenting on everything I did. 

I dived into the swimming pool and he said, “Wow, what style!” I hope his chat-up lines have improved since then. (At least he didn’t ask me if my dad was a thief. Why? “Because he must have stolen the stars and put them in your eyes.”) 

Anyway, he just didn’t leave me alone. He hung on my every word – which wouldn’t have been many in those days – and he watched me and commented on everything I did. I’d never had such attention from anyone before.  I quite liked it and I quite hated it. I was 10.

I don’t remember giving him my phone number, but he called me a few days later and asked if I could meet him in “town”. Dusty Mufulira didn’t have a hectically vibey CBD, so I wasn’t quite sure what he had in mind. And I was painfully shy. I said no.

He called back and asked if he and his friend could come and visit me at my house. I said yes and went into panic mode. Half an hour later, the two boys arrived at our gate, on their bicycles. I did what any 10-year old girl would do: I ran and hid under my bed.

My sister welcomed them at the gate and did what any older sister would do in such a situation: she told them I was hiding under my bed.

Not only did she tell them that, but she brought them into the bedroom, pretending not to notice me cowering under my bed. They spoke as if I wasn’t there, and my suitor told my sister – in a stage whisper – that it was a pity I wasn’t there, as he had some biltong* for me. They then left the room.

I loved biltong. And I was 10. So I ran out from my hiding place and went to find them in the lounge. I was so. disappointed to discover I had fallen for his decoy: he had no biltong.

Tempted as I was, I didn’t retreat to the safety of the floor under my bed, but stayed with them and began, kind of, to enjoy the overwhelming attention of a boy. And we did what youngsters of that age always did: we drew pictures and played Monopoly.

I think I saw him a few times more those holidays, and we maintained a short relationship-by-correspondence for a while when we went back to our respective boarding schools. After while there were months of silence, and I discovered he had moved his attentions elsewhere. I was unphased. His friend, however, continued to write to me and send me drawings for some time thereafter.

I was at an all-girls boarding school. When it came the time for our leavers’ dance at the end of my junior school career, the boys from our brother school (an all-boys boarding school nearby) were bussed in to keep us company. I can remember standing against the wall, all knock-kneed and awkward in my first long dress, waiting for – yet dreading –  some boy to come and ask me to dance. Ballroom Blitz, Tie a Yellow Ribbon, You’re So Vain, Cum on Feel the Noize, Crocodile Rock and Shambala all blasted from the DJ’s turntable. I danced with a pimply-faced adolescent boy in Oxford bags, but I’ve no doubt our teachers watched and laughed at the gangly and self-conscious antics in the school hall that night.

And then I began my high school years. I have memories of cameo moments with boys: my first kiss (YUCK!); many school dances with boys I was glad to be there with, other boys I wasn’t so glad to be with but they had cool friends; leaving a school dance with a boy whose VW beetle wouldn’t start and I had to push start it in my long dress and everything; a partner at another school dance opening a bottle of champagne in my general direction and soaking the front of my dress.

I had boyfriends who hooted for me at my front gate, boys who drove past my house at midnight and hooted (prompting my Dad to ban them from our house) and boys who would call me from the security fence phone at their boarding school and speak to me for hours.

All of those brief, embarrassing and heart-breaking relationships have prepared me, I guess, for the best. I am married to the kindest, most wonderful man in the world and I’m blessed out of my socks.

Sunshine signing off for today.

*Biltong is dried, spiced meat. Kind of like beef jerky, but South African. And better 🙂


44 thoughts on “Boys and Girls Come Out to Play

    1. I did all of my schooling in Zimbabwe, apart from the first four years in Zambia. I was at boarding school for three years in Harare, and then a day scholar at high school in Bulawayo.

  1. I remember late teens, bugging dad for a car of my own. He did not understand that you needed a car to “date” In father’s eyes the reason you had a car was to go back and forth to WORK(apparently the only human activity for which he had any respect). “How can I take girls out without a car?” He explained that mother and he often walked or took the bus or subway to events. That was reasonable but in Miami, Florida, USA there are no subways or trains. This county(nearly the size of Russia, it seems) has 14 buses for 5 million people and to walk anywhere would mean a Marco Polo like trek with caravan and provisions for a year. “You don’t need a car if she likes you and you can still find entertaining things to do.” was his mantra. “But how can I get her to like me or even know me if we can’t go anywhere together? ” I never got the car. And did not get married until I was almost 30.

  2. I love the hiding under the bed part and your sister bringing them in to see you under the bed. Oh the awkward years of boy meets girl and girl meets boy…I don’t need to go back there again, ever.

  3. “Suddenly there was bad breath, the five o’clock shadow, mussy hair, grumpy moods and dramatic sulks and door-slamming. And that’s only me.” Best. Line. Ever!

    I’m sure Mr. Sunshine is just as happy to have you, five o’clock shadow and all!


  4. Ah, what a lovely post. You are blessed and so is your husband–to be with a woman who recognizes her blessings and shares them with the world! Such am important reminder of what matters–the relationship above all–not only special, but indeed sacred!
    Hugs from Haiti,

  5. What a great post. I felt like I was at your house when you were hiding under the bed. You told this so well. I have to say you should thank your sister for bringing them into your room because she started you off on having to learn how to communicate with boys!

    Love the part about pushing the car in your long dress. Once my date got his car stuck on a flooded road and we had to climb out the windows when the whole car starting filling up with water. And my first thought was about the nice dress pants I had worn for the date! (not about his car)

    You and your husband are truly blessed.

    1. Thank you – glad you enjoyed the post! My sister is a darling … I guess she did move me on from communicating just with my big brothers! True.
      Oh, if we had been blogging on those date nights – the stories we could tell! Sorry about your dress pants, know how you feel xx

  6. You wont believe it- but whiel reading the story i thought that you were going to say that teh friend you remined in contact with, ended up being your husband. Haha. What a drama queen i am?
    It is awesome that you have found everything you ever needed! And i am sure it hasnt been ALL easy. I hope he reads your post and realises how truly special he is. We often take each other for granted!
    Have an awesome day sunshine.

    1. You, a drama queen? Nah. Never! 🙂
      Yes, you’re right – anything worthwhile is never easy, and that certainly includes a great marriage. Have you read A Road Less Travelled?
      Awesome day to you, bokkie xx

  7. Sweet memories! They’re like special presents you can pull out as a gift to yourself every now and then.
    And so sorry to hear about your job Sunshine. I’ll be sending you good vibes from Brooklyn that you’ll find a new (and even better one) soon!

  8. Wow – what a wonderful nostalgic peek into your earlier days. I almost felt I was hiding under the bed with you — I could feel the clammy hands (well, mine would have been). Ten years old was a rough time. (shudders) As to husbands – I’ve been with mine almost 28 years now and the only complaint I have is it has gone by so fast I feel I’m spinning…I want to go back and resavor some of the more special moments again. You’ve set me to remembering – thanks for that. D’you know I have two huge tins filled to the brim with every card and every note or love letter he’s sent me? I’m such a romantic (and so is he…sigh) Yes, m’dear you and I are very blessed to have such adoring devoted spouses. xo

    1. Yes, my hands were pretty clammy too – and it’s not so comfortable under the bed! hahahaha.
      So glad this got you thinking about special memories – glad you are blessed too. And with your tin filled “to the broom” (check out my previous post – “It’s Only Words”), I can see that you are both hopeless romantics. Love it. xx

    1. True, oma, and thank goodness! I don’t think I’d fall for the biltong line today … and besides I’d choose a better hiding place. Like behind the curtain. Oh dear, now I’ll have to think of another one.

  9. I love it, Sunshine. What a remarkable post. Looking like Lady Di has it’s advantages.

    I kind of want to high five your 10 year old friend for the biltong thing, because that’s excellent.

    Here’s to many more happy years for you and Mr. Sunshine.

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