I’ve never been one to go with the crowd. In my final year of secondary school however, I made an exception — everyone was handing out a slumbook and I followed suit.
I was one of the strictest male prefects in my set — especially to the girls because I reputedly never smiled (I did laugh once when I was on duty in the school dining hall and the whole hall applauded!).
The most common statements that came back were “You’re a Robocop”, “Smile!”, “You’re too quiet” and “You’re a snob.”
The Robocop name was the secret nickname I had among the girls. It had its origins in the way I walked. I disliked the “bouncing steps” the boys were wont to develop and decided on walking erect, lifting my feet straight up and down without swaying or swinging my arms. The result was as rigid as could be and the boys had once called me ‘homo erectus’ — a name that died down when I got into one of my famous tempers with someone who made the mistake of calling me that when I wasn’t in a jovial mood. I’ve always been quiet — still am — and I wasn’t surprised when I saw the references to smiling and being quiet.
More interesting than the entry by a girl a class below mine who had a crush on me telling me she liked me no matter what others said, a table tennis partner telling me to “start talking to human beings”, or the invective-ridden post by a girl who’d gotten in serious trouble with me, were the references by my set girls to being a snob.
Snob? Snob?! Was I a snob?
I examined myself a little biasedly and decided I wasn’t. On doing a more honest study, I decided I might have been one in the past.
When I got into SS1, brimming with desire to be absolutely independent after years of dependence on others, I made a rather rash decision or rather, rash set of decisions. I would talk only when necessary. I would not talk to girls (well, they weren’t important were they? I wouldn’t have talked to boys or teachers if I could but I had to live with them). I would keep everyone at arms length. I would not borrow or take anything from anyone… The list goes on and I still get those moments of shame when I smile embarrassedly to myself and wonder how I could have been that stupid.
I was the guy who walked by people without saying a word. I was the one who made caustic statements when spoken to. (I remember an incident when a girl asked to borrow a textbook. I told her I would be done “soon.” When she asked how soon, I retorted, “That’s my business.” Touché). Boys were mostly okay with me — I could sit in on conversations without talking, although they did try to get me to talk on occasion.
I think I was in my final term of SS1 when I decided to turn a new leaf. I was walking down the corridor once and ran into one of my classmates. When I said a pleasant “Hi” to her, she stood there in shock, mouth open wide with no sound coming out. Of course I was too amused to take offense. I talked football and girls with the guys (I had some experience as a good goalkeeper in primary school for the former, and other experience from unnameable sources for the latter) and the girls in my class (just 5 of them) warmed up to me after I befriended one of them who loved to read and comment on my writing. There was my shyness to deal with, and although I hardly talked, a truce existed.
Unfortunately for me, the legacy had been established and I remained one thing to girls outside my class — snob.
The memory of the snob comments came back to me recently. Like I said before, I don’t talk much and neither does my roommate — sometimes, we communicate for up to three days with only simple gestures until one of us spoils it by asking, “Would you mind if I turn the lights off?”
I walk by a group of people I know but I nod at only the ones whose eyes I catch without saying a word because I know it’ll get me involved in conversation. I nod to my supervisors when I come to work at the library. I lift my eyebrows in a gesture of greeting when I meet fellow Nigerian students. I reply in monotonic, monosyllables when people try to strike up conversations until they simply give up.
…And I wonder… I wonder if somehow, someway, people have not begun to take me to be a snob.
Blogging is all about embarrassing people in the name of saying thanks [satire]. Calabargal and Temmy have subjected me to this time-honored tradition and I thought it would be befitting to do the same to others.
Thanks for the eclairs Biodun.
Thanks for the eclairs Biodun!
I do feel crazy today. Madness setting in perhaps?