Wednesday, February 20, 2008


“Our bodies are always, necessarily down to earth. They and their comportment are not completely under our control. We try to present them with appropriate dignity, but we cannot be human and always be graceful… On such occasions we do best to cultivate an affectionate sense of humour, of the sort signaled in St. Francis’ playful address of his body as “Brother Ass”. I do not know if angels have (or need) the capacity to laugh at themselves, but holy people must…”
An except from Rodney Clapp’s ‘Tortured Wonders: Christian Spirituality for People, Not Angels’
I read this book (with its strange title) a few months ago, and since I'm the type of person that always finds herself in one embarrassing situation or the other, I found it very refreshing. Nowadays I tend to laugh over such experiences with people, esp. when they are having a bad day, so if today's your bad day, relax and read about one of my recurring 'body betrayals': The Public Battle With Sleeeeep.

I came to the conclusion that night-reading and any other night-time activity was not for me a long, long time ago. This did not stop me from trying, though. In the end, I think it was the collective experiences I had that showed me the light. These are a few that I can remember off the cuff, I think they say:

JS2: In the Classroom-
Prefect walks into class all good and angry, warning the naughty JS2 students about the hazards of gossiping, making noise in class, and generally being unserious:

“In fact, wake anybody that is sleeping!”

The terrified students whisper to their sleeping mates loudly, ‘Wake up! Senior Nat. said you should wake up!’ The loud whispers rouse all from slumber, except one. The girl sitting in front of the sleeping girl whispers louder. Nothing. She whispers louder still. Ahaps! You might as well be speaking pidgin to a stone.

Students seated next to her begin to whisper to the sleeping girl too- they don’t want to be punished for one girl’s misbehaviour- the prefect might be thinking that the girl is being rude. This equates to an even angrier prefect, which is equal to general punishment. Soon, the whole class is calling the girl’s name loudly. Nothing still. A-ah! Is there such a thing as the Spirit of Sleep? The girl in front now bangs on the girl’s table hard several times before Sleeping Junior puts up her head and attempts to hide the fact that she has been dozing by adopting the irritated I-was-praying attitude. The general class laughter INCLUDING the Prefect’s tells her that that trick is useless. Oh well, at least she tried.

JS2 still: In the Chapel-

“Whaaat?! Sleeping in the Chapel? You have no respect for God!”
“I was not sleeping!”
“Keep quiet! People saw you!”
Yes, people did. It would have been surprising otherwise, as I had slumped on the pew I was sitting on, resting my head on the back support. Funny thing was I didn’t think I was really asleep. I was hearing one or two things the Revivalist was saying. Didn’t that mean something? Obviously not. Sleeping ranked a little lower than making noise in Chapel, so I missed my classes the following day. I got a large portion of rubber grass to cut instead.

JS3: And the Place Went Silent…
“Pavement” in the girls’ dormitory was the No.1 reading spot. It was free from rats, and the cool Jos breeze kept one awake longer. When that didn’t help, a steady supply of gogo worked wonders. (Gogo = Gossip). It was JSC Examination time, and Intro. Tech was fast approaching, so we all gathered our buckets and pillows and assembled on Pavement, about 6 feet from the ground on one side, 3 feet on the other. I was facing the 6 ft. side, and this alone should have scared me, but I was drunk with sleep. I decided to give myself a 10 minute doze-break right there. Big, stupid mistake… I will forever have the scar on my upper lip.

I landed on the concrete with a big 80kg thud, and the strange thing was that I was still asleep (according to people). The girls were so stunned; some began to laugh… until I stood up.


When they began to jump down so fast I was surprised. What? I was vaguely conscious of the distinct taste and smell of blood… kind of magnetic, numb. Odd.

“Heiii! See her mouth!” one of them wailed.
What’s wrong with my mouth?!
Something, definitely. Some said they could see my teeth through the deep slit; some said the amount of blood was horrifying. Call me morbid, but I wanted to see for myself. They didn’t permit me to look at the mirror; I was sent to bed instead. Needless to say, I would be the topic of the gogo that night.

I was taken to the school nurse, she gave me injections. My mouth was so swollen I resembled a lasar rat. I got funny stares everytime. “Stop looking at my mouth!” I was always joking. I stopped eating in the dining hall. I was always asked what happened by staff and student alike. It was two weeks of drooling while sleeping and eating with the tiniest of spoons. (But all of the events that happened to the Queen of Embarrassing, are they not written in the Book of Replessness?)

SS3: You Would Have Thought…
I had just smiled at my longtime Crush. He smiled back, and I was so satisfied. I proceeded to wave to my other classmates as we parted ways that satisfying Wednesday evening. Life was good.
We had gathered for the weekly prayer meeting, and the speaker was one of my favorites, a tough, extremely talented Technical Drawing teacher. He was sure his students had water in their brains, but he was still a decent matter-of-fact man. He always went straight to the point – “I wonder whether we think the Gospel is too simple for us, that we have to add our own rules…” I still remember him saying.

As my Crush and I went in opposite directions, he to the boys’ side and I to the girls’ as the Chapel seating arrangement dictated, I felt that the prayer meeting was going to be inspiring. I noted that a good number of junior boys were seated on the last two rows of our side. (This was only tolerated because there was no space on the boys’ side). I and three of my fellow prefect girls decided to join them. They created space for us with so much reverence. I like that, Dictator Me thought. Time elapsed. TD teacher was still expounding. I got “sleepier and sleepier”. I put my head on my lap and snoozed. A sterling example of prefectship indeed. I must have gone into REM sleep, cuz the next thing I knew was I was sliding off the pew in terribly slow motion- I couldn’t help it. My head connected to the floor, kwos. Imagine a Muslim prayer stance- head on the ground, rear-end up.

Not again.

My fellow prefect girls gasped. Humiliation filled me fast. The junior boys giggled, then broke into full-blown laughter. Girls in front wondered what was wrong. They turned. Story was broadcast terribly fast. Boys - on the other side of the aisle – turned. My fellow prefect boys came over to see what the commotion was all about. Commotion in God’s House. They too, heard. My Crush. He too heard. He came over.

The humiliation was complete.

“What happened?” a pref. boy asked, concerned.
“I don’t know…” I managed. The little dignity I had left forbade me to run out of the Chapel. I turned to the boys and told them not to laugh mock-seriously. I then shrugged in what I hoped was a nonchalant manner.
During the closing worship song, one of my mates sitting many rows ahead came to me and whispered in my ear, “shey you know you have burnt your rep?” Yes, I know. Reputation was everything, and I mine was burnt to a crisp.

The next day, one of my teachers called me aside and asked me, “Were you so tired?” “How did you know?” I asked, horrified.
“I always know,” he replied, eyes twinkling. He walked away, leaving me glued to the spot. A repless prefect. Who would have thought?

University: 200 Level- NOT Eye Candy

“Wake up, let’s go and read now,” my friend and room mate pleaded. We had planned to read in the Lecture Hall that evening, as there was no light in our room. I decided to get some sound sleep before then (I was tired of the jolt of fear that coursed through me whenever I felt my head had bobbed off dolo-style in the Hall).

I groggily put on my clothes and we were off. We walked to the hall in silence. She was looking around for any available space when she noticed that the guys sitting by the door- about five of them- had stopped talking and had started staring at me… strangely. And more people were turning to stare. I was unaware, being somewhat irritable still. I was just standing at the door, waiting.

Well she turned to look too, and it was at this point that she understood. She gracefully walked back to me and whispered in my ear with the trace of laughter in her voice, “I want to tell you something. Outside.”
I humbly followed her out without a word.
“Oh I’m so sorry,” she began, erupting in kind laughter now.
“What?” I asked.
“You wore your shirt inside out”
“Oh,” I said. Is that all? It wasn’t a big deal.
Only that I was comic-relief to people in the hall that evening, standing morosely, with a shirt that had shoulder pads sticking out oddly, and hair that needed some combing. It just wansn’t... gangsta. Yes. I did it again.

So here I am, undisputed winner in the Most Embarrassing award category.
Signing out for now.