Thursday, 29 August 2013

The Nerdiest Girl In The School


TIME: 1983

PLACE: Boganville High School, the main quadrangle.


 Picture it.  A time when raging cases of TES were everywhere, (Tragic Eighties Syndrome). Bad perms, bubble skirts and Duran Duran....

  Noise and activity flurried all around me.  Shouts and laughter that didn't include me, pierced their way into my consciousness, as I sat all alone at the edge of the quad. I wasn't part of any of it, but a spectator, silently sitting there, alone, reflecting on my tragic life as a nerd-girl.

A group of girls appeared in front of me, all of them laughing, sharing jokes with the kind of effortless rapport that was alien to me.  I felt them looking my way.  I tried not to notice, tried not to care.  Just then, one of them broke away from the group, approaching me.

Squirming uncomfortably on my seat, I looked towards her hopefully.  "Hi, how are you?" she edged nearer, smiling. I mumbled something incoherent.  Staring at me quite innocently she asked: "I was just you shave your legs?"

It must be noted that, I did not, in fact, shave my legs.  A situation that, at a mere 12 years of age, did not bother me in the slightest. (Come to think of it, doesn't bother me in the slightest at age 42 either.  In fact, I might have to get Mick to run the lawn mower over them presently, as they are so hairy.) But I digress.

However, since it seemed to bother the other girls at school, I figured I'd ask my mum if I could begin.
Me, with all my friends, aged 12

"No," she replied "you're too young.  Once you start doing all that, you never stop.  You've still got plenty of time."  At this point, I imagine any other girl would have decided to completely ignore their mum, sneak into the bathroom, pinch a razor and do the deed anyway.  Not this tragic nerd-girl and Miss Goody Two Shoes.

I trudged back to school, legs still hairy, book in bag.  Books were my major companion at recess and lunch.  Another example of my tragic nerdiness.  I'd chosen books over flesh and blood friends. Here's how it happened.

I used to have something resembling a friendship with another girl in primary school.  I use the term friendship loosely.  It consisted mainly of her bossing and patronising me, like the time she convinced me to go to Jazz Ballet with her just so that she could then condescendingly tell this uncoordinated klutz that if I tried really hard I might be as good as her next year.  In all fairness to her, no amount of trying or practising would have ever made me good at any form of dancing!

I put up with Miss Patronising, or Pat as I shall call her, the type of person who might patronise God himself, because I simply didn't have any other friends - other than imaginary ones, and I figured being patronised and condescended to was preferable to spending every minute of school life achingly lonely and friendless.

Anyway, during 6th grade, she unceremoniously dumped me as a friend, steadfastly ignoring me and leaving me in the dust for a cooler group.  Consequently, when she rang me during the Christmas holidays, shortly before starting high school, I possibly should have been on guard.  Instead I scurried over like a timid mouse after any crumbs.

I suspect we might have had the Barbies out at one stage.  As we were about to start high school, you might expect Barbies dolls to have been a bit lame at this point, but I continued playing with them unperturbed.  Pat, on the other hand, was clearly worried, as she began to give me disdainful looks as her lecture began. 


"You know, you have to act tough in high school," she began, importantly "otherwise you'll have no friends."

 I carried on dressing Barbie, oblivious to the seriousness of her tone. "But don't worry," she added "I'll still hang around with you, as long as you stop reading books."


I gaped. Stop reading books? Wouldn't it be easier to just stop breathing?  Did she mean all books, or just Enid Blyton books? I mean, I kind of knew that I was getting to old for my frequent trips up the magic faraway tree.  A place where I seem to have permanently remained.  Off with the pixies. 

There was NO WAY I could stop reading books.  The thing was impossible.  Consequently the 'friendship' was over.  Gloomily, I trudged home, wondering where all the 'kindred spirits' from my beloved 'Anne' books were.

It wasn't long before Pat was surrounded by friends at High School, while I sat there. Alone. Reading a book.  So I guess she was right. Sigh.  Books will always be my best friend.

To make matters worse, just as I was about to start high school, Karen Carpenter died. Right when I was in the throes of becoming a major fan. I was heartbroken. Of course nobody, least of all the other girls at school, understood my sorrow. Liking the Carpenters went hand in had with reading books and not having a boyfriend. At barely 12 years old. Imagine. Spinsterhood here I come.

 I had been dreading starting high school. Boganville High School was considered to be the roughest school for "under privileged" kids in Sydney's western suburbs. For months I had been hearing horror stories about how the older kids grabbed the year seven kids and flushed their heads in the toilet by way of "initiating" them. Naturally, if you happened to be shy, quiet, liked reading and listening to the Carpenters it could make you a prime candidate for such treatment. I crept around the school playground with my head down, terrified that some sinister bunch of hoodlums would attack me at any moment and drag me into the toilets. Nobody even noticed me. After a week had passed I finally relaxed, realising that maybe some of these horror stories had been exaggerated somewhat.

One morning at recess, I proceeded to read my latest book in my usual position, not far from where the canteen was situated, when I happened to hear a conversation taking place only a few yards away.  Pat was leading it, my ex so-called 'best friend' from primary school. They were discussing Karen Carpenters death which was news at the time.  Pat was saying "Yes, its really sad because they were husband and wife (??!!) and they'd only just gotten married (??!!) and they'd just started out in their musical career.

Normally I was the quietest person on earth, but I couldn''t let that pass.

"That's wrong," I said, surprising them. They hadn't even realised I was there. I went on to inform them that Karen and Richard were NOT husband and wife, but brother and sister and not only that, they had been around for some time and had a lot of hits. Of course, I expected them to be interested and grateful that I had volunteered the information but instead Pat just gave me a withering look along with the rest of them and said "Oh really?" just as if she might have said "Big deal".    

Year 10 formal, circa 1986. I was
already stunningly gorgeous and
talented. So ner.

However, it was while at High School that I began the transformation from a mega nerd from Hell to the person I am today:  a mega nerd bogan from Hell a talented writer and gorgeous, smokin' hawt fox. Observe. I became a published author. Sort of. Kind of. Not really. Oh okay, it was only in the school magazine, but that counts, right? This is the blinding piece of sheer brilliance I wrote at only age 15. A fictional story that I wrote. Read it and weep:


Out here in the country, where everything is fresh and beautiful, it's difficult to believe that all the violence and crime you read about in the newspapers everyday really happens. The air is crisp and clean and the trees stand tall and majestic against the backdrop of a clear blue sky. Kookaburras laugh loudly from their perches and the smell of eucalyptus is heavy in the air.

We had chosen the perfect spot for our holiday, a quiet little cottage in the midst of the country. The mysterious guy my sister was heartbroken over was sure to be forgotten here. Mum was already looking cheerful - and me? Well, I was just trying to rid myself of this strange eerie feeling. A premonition of something awful about to happen. What could possibly  happen out here where the people are greener than the grass?

I walked slowly, admiring the scenery. My mind was racing. What was this feeling? I tried to ignore it, but something told me I was living each day, waiting. For what, I didn't know. But I was soon to find out.

Jessica flew past me on horseback. Horse riding was  her passion, but I stuck to bikes. Even though we were sisters and looked alike, our personalities were entirely different. Jessica was adventurous, daring and very naive. She had just been hurt recently by some guy my mother and I had never even met. I watched her slowly gallop into the distance and settled down under a tree to enjoy the sunshine.

Glancing around, I searched for someone, but there was nobody. I had the odd feeling that someone was watching me. It had been happening on and off all day and it was beginning to give me the creeps. There's no one here, I told myself, determined to shake off this feeling of gloom. But it was there.

And it was still there moments later when I looked up and saw Jessica's horse galloping towards me, but no sign of Jessica. Panic gripped me, my mind full of horrifying visions of Jessica lying wounded from where she had fallen off the horse. Not thinking of the stupidity of my actions, I hurried in the direction from where the horse had come.

It was only when I was lost in a maze of trees that I berated myself fiercely. "Jessica! Where are you?" I called loudly. No answer. And no wonder. I stopped short in utter disbelief. For there she lay at my feet. Not wounded, but dead! There were no words to describe my emotions at that moment. My common sense told me that she couldn't have been killed just by falling from a horse.

"Jessica! Oh my God!" Tears were streaming down my face as I dropped to my knees beside my sister's still body. There was the unmistakable sign that a knife had been used to slit her throat. Somebody had killed her and that somebody was still lurking around waiting to kill me too.

I heard  the foot steps at that moment and turned rising to my feet. There he was. I was face to face with my sister's killer. He wasn't menacing at all. Just an ordinary looking guy. But he held a knife in his right hand.

"Hello, Anne." He knew my name. "Yes, I know you, your sister's told me all about you." He answered my unasked question.

"But she's dead now and I'm going to kill you, too." He stated it calmly, as if it were something he did everyday.

"No!" I fled past him before he could move. Just a moment ago I had found my sister dead. It was all a dream, it had to be a dream, I thought as I ran and ran. I knew he was right behind me.

It's amazing how fast you can run when you're afraid. I raced into the cottage, yelling to my mother, I rushed to slam the door, but he was stronger than me and pushed his way in, grabbing me.

My mother screamed, spotting the knife. He held me in a vice like grip, moving the knife towards my throat. He was bereft of reason, only wanting to kill, destruct.  He didn't seem to realise that my mother was there, quickly phoning the police. But we had to do something fast before I was dead.

Using all my strength, I kicked him hard in the shins and ran from his arms. He dropped the knife in my escape and I grabbed it quickly. He looked around the room as if he didn't know where he was. Then suddenly he fell to his knees, crying.

He was still there crying when the police arrived. A crazy man, familiar with drugs and the guy my sister had been heartbroken over. He was taken away in the back of a police car. We never saw him again. Never wanted to either.

My mother coped well with the funeral, but we both went to pieces afterwards. My sister was only eighteen and she was dead. Dead through the insanity of a very sick man. I realised that I would never forget what happened, but life had to go on and somehow I would face it.


Needless to say, I'm still painfully woeful highly skillful writer, as this boring as batshit bogan blog proves. It's also comforting to know, that thirty years later, I haven't matured beyond the age of twelve. After all, being a grown up is totally over rated. 

Linking up with Rachel at The Very Inappropriate Blog for The Lounge.


                                 What do you remember about your teenage years?



  1. I bet Pat doesn't have a totally hilarious, immensely popular bogan blog. Take that!

  2. All credible pieces of 1980s teenage fiction had two commas in the first sentence and some sort of grotesque killing at the end. You nailed it - I bet Robomum is praying some of her Year 9s could write like that!

    That said, I'm a bit troubled with the seemingly extraneous comma before "but" in the last paragraph of your story. Was recently involved in a heated dispute with a work colleague about this sort of thing. I guess punctuation, like fashion, is not always clear cut.

    1. Yes, you're right, the comma should not be there. The funny thing is, the story was printed in the magazine with errors everywhere, so as bad as my writing is, their editing is worse!

  3. WOW - that is bloody amazing for a 15-year-old - you wrote so grown up back then. Rather morbid but weren't we all as teenagers. I have to say I am a wee bit sad reading that, I hate hearing how others are left out, and that you should have to stop reading books - stupid girls. Teenage years were me being tall, bad hair, braces, average at most but writing - must try and dredge out some of my fiction to share, it won't be nearly as good as yours. Thanks for sharing Ness xx

    1. I'd love to read your fiction. I'm sure it's good.

      Yeah, it wasn't fun being left out but it's ancient history and I have friends now. Thanks for reading. xo

  4. I was never a cool kid, or an uncool kid. More a chameleon type that could fit in wherever, but was never really sought out by anyone. In high school I found my group - we were probably all that same chameleon type - but it is good to have friends to laugh along with.
    I had a similar friend to Pat in late primary school, and I remember the devastating feeling of the friendship coming apart. She ran up to me at lunch time and pulled my tracksuit pants down in front of other kids. I remember thinking That's It. She is not a friend because friend's don't do that. Pretty clear thoughts for someone so young, but the fallout was still pretty devastating because all of a sudden I didn't know who was my group anymore.
    Damn, all this teenage reflection is emotional - reading all these posts - all these ups and downs coming back to the forefront of my mind.
    At least we all survived and turned out all right.

    1. Oh dear, girls can really be bitchy, can't they? It is emotional thinking back but as you say, we've survived. Thanks, love. xo

  5. Oh yes definitely, Ed!!! I sat through a week and a half of farking drivel. Face to Face is like a movie script compared to what I endured.
    There is so much in this post, Ness, I don't even know where to begin. I do reckon that Pat needed to learn her lesson though. Mole.
    It sounds like you were the sweetest little kid X

    1. I was quite sweet. Nauseating probably. Still am. But that's actually okay. Preferable to being a mole.

      Movie script? Yeah, maybe one of those really bad telemovies. Thanks for the kind words, anyway. xo

  6. Look how you stand with such confidence for your Yr 10 formal ??? We must be similar ages...I graduated from Yr 10 in 1986 too!
    I remember when Karen Carpenter died. It was on the front page of all the papers. Not quite understanding anorexia at that age, I could never understand how someone so beautiful and talented could "starve themselves" Oh, my naive mind.

    1. Yes, we're the same age but I look ancient compared to you!

      I too didn't understand anorexia. That the was the first time I'd heard the term and didn't even know what it meant. It's a horrible disease. Sigh.

      Thanks for reading. xo

  7. What do I remember about my teenage years? I remember loving Pink Floyd "The Wall" (an all consuming love). I remember reading Brave New World for the first time and thinking that it was the greatest novel I had ever read. I remember being very, very studious, not caring about much of anything else. I remember staying up late to watch Rod Serling's "Twilight Zone" series in reruns and thinking it was the best TV series I'd ever seen. I remember not being part of the in crowd. I remember not having much but having what I needed. I remember having sex for the first time when I was 19; it's still something I regret, because there wasn't any love in it.

    Though I was the studious nerd type, I was mostly respected and had a few friends that I usually interacted with at school. It was a time that meant preparation for college and the future. I was tough and focused about it, so nothing ever really bothered me about my teenage life. I was a bit of a bad ass then, but not mean.

    As for you Ness, you made the right choice in choosing books over people who wouldn't really be your friends. I made a similar choice to study rather than screw off like most kids did during my high school years. I have no regrets at all. Those people are gone, but I still have the knowledge I acquired from that time.

    "Face to Face" is a good story for someone who was only 15. I like the dramatic feel of it toward the end. Don't kid youself. You are a good writer, and I'd like to see you publish a book some day.

    Sorry to go long here, but you have a way of stimulating reciprocation when I read your posts.


    1. It sounds like you were a pretty cool teenager to me. Mick loves Pink Floyd, too. I wasn't really a studious type, I just enjoyed reading to escape. Still do.

      I really appreciate your comments regarding my writing. Thanks so much, Ben. xo

  8. Oh Ness, I want to go back in time and give that nasty little bitch a good slap. But you know what? Life has a way of delivering it's own slaps to people who are that nasty. You've got a beautiful family now and friends online who think you're awesome :)

    For what it's worth I think your writing was exceptional for Year 10. And I would have reacted the same if someone had told me to stop reading books at hat age - they were as necessary as oxygen at that time in my life.

    1. Yes, it was definitely the right choice. No loss there. Thanks for the kind words, dude. xo

  9. It might be tragic teen style, but it's still far better written than half the shite in book stores now. You ought to keep writing.

    Pat sounds like a word beginning with c and rhyming with bunt. So many c's in the world, so little time.

    Books have always been and are still the love of my life. I'd definitely have picked books :)

    1. Thanks, Ace. Yes, she certainly was that word. Totally agree about books. xo

  10. Oh my god. I love everything about this post. Everything. I will respond in dot point format;

    - That Pat sounds like a mole and an utter bitch and I would totes bash her for you if I ever met her
    - Books are my life force. Well they were, until the internet, but I digress
    - You do look awesome and smoking hawt in your 80s poofy frock and hair arrangement
    - Your high school composition is UTTERLY BRILLIANT

    The end

    1. Continuing the dot point theme:

      - Pat was totes a mole and I would love to see that.
      - Books and the internet are now BOTH my life force (other than chocolate and cake, cause trying to cut back)
      - Duh!
      - I KNEW I was a genius! Thanks, dude. xo

  11. Hi Ness, brilliant, accomplished and published writer! I love this post. It is so honest, tragic and funny. As for Pat, do we know what happened to her?? What a nasty piece of work she was. I echo what theviblog said - you have an awesome family and heaps of people who love you and embrace the nerd inside. KEEP WRITING!
    What do I remember about the teenage years - bitch fights, being freezing cold for 12 years, and wishing I was blonde because all my "friends" were. Totally over that, now...! Cheers from Katie over at Mumabytes xo

  12. Oh, wow, what a lovely comment. THANKYOU!

    I believe Pat is doing okay for herself these days and is just as patronising as ever. I'm happy with where I am now, so I don't care.

    No idea why you would compare yourself to your blonde friends, your photo with your gorgeous dark hair is stunning.

    Thanks so much for reading and the kind words. xo

  13. The Pats of the world. It's funny how at school it's so big -yet if you meet them now they kind of seem like losers (because they haven't evolved at ALL).
    And that is the sweet revenge that unfortunately can never be explained to our own teens - we have to watch them struggle with the same stupid shit we did...

  14. Yes, I was hoping that it was more of a 'girl' thing and my boys wouldn't have to struggle with the bitchiness, but I'm not so sure. Sigh. Thanks, Lydia. xo