I was a tomboy deluxe - the only girl in a band of boys that rode horses, motorbikes, drove like there were bats freaking out in their belfrys, smoked, went swimming at an old limestone quarry called "Chip" and jumped off the huge cliff there. Until ... one of the boys covered me with a towel one day, and said, "geez, you're a real girl ya know". I was so insulted, and wanted to bop him, until he advised me to look down at my wet T-shirt under the towel. Oops, I'd grown little boobies sometime during the night!
I was also very, very, very, very accident prone. At the lovely age of 14, I was swim-training for the All Africa Games, when I decided to take a break. I’d never tried to jump off Top Board, the 18 foot high diving board. I don’t know why I did that day. Bored with training maybe. I climbed all the way to the top. Got to the edge of the board and realized what an idiot I was being. We were leaving for the Games in a matter of weeks! I turned around and facing way from the board, stepped down - and slipping, sliding, skiing like a bloody snow-skiier flew down the steps from the 2nd from the top step. I managed to hold on, and hardly felt the vertical struts of the handrails as I hit each one. I instinctively let go of the left rail as I came towards the bottom, and changed course abruptly. I slipped between the rail and the step, catching my right, inner, lower leg on the corner of the step.
Apart from dislocating all 8 fingers, nearly tearing all the meat off my feet, and ripping open my lower leg and through the artery! (Still a bit of a tomboy with the gory stuff) I lost about 90% of my calf muscle. I had over 100 stitches!
I was booked into Dance school as part of my physical therapy, after skin-grafts and some surgery for gangrene (euuuww) and healing. Tap, Modern Dance, Acrobatics and Ballet, on points, was deemed perfect! YEUCH! As for that flitting around like a fairy, I was more like Dumbo the Elephant crashing through the undergrowth! However, very surprisingly, I took to it rather well, and even danced in some lovely Theater productions. As a female. In a tutu. It inspired a love for all dance, even ballet. I learnt to be graceful, though never got shot of the accident prone bit - I managed to dislocate my hip during the can-can!
We owned horses - and I took to heart, the saying, “You aren’t a real rider until you’ve fallen 7 times” Problem is, I was also lousy at maths, I fell off many, many times. I was dragged, and dislocated and fractured my shoulder and dislocated and mangled my ankle. I was thrown lots of times. I was so tangled up in a jump that I was even jumped once! I was dumped into the water jumps. I “became” the hedges a few times. I even got thrown into an outside cafeteria becoming “one” with tables and chairs. That time was scaaaaary. I lost all feeling below my waist. But it all came back within a week once all the swelling from landing on my coccyz on a cement-filled metal pipe. I’ve still got problems with my back from that injury.
One of my guy friends asked me to take him for a water ski. I’d not done that before, from start to finish. I’d only driven the boat out in open water. The docking area was made up of three jetty’s forming a narrow-open U shape. I was doubtful, but he wanted to ski badly and insisted I’d do fine. He had a fabulous ski, ‘cos getting out of the U was easy – straight! Coming back … The boat hit the 2nd jetty, bounced across it a couple of times, smacked down on the bank, and slid into the water. They had to winch it out with tractors and Landrovers! There was a hole as big as me in the side, the prop had gone missing from the out-board engine. I was not popular.
The guys taught me to drive when I was about 13. Handbrake turns, doughnuts, and my favourite, going round and round the traffic-circle at the hospital, two cars abreast of one another as fast as we could. The driver of the one car, while handing over control to another twit, would climb through their window,., into the front passenger seat of the 2nd car. while the passenger in the back seat did the same! Angels were packed like sardines around the cars every time we did that! Nobody was ever caught or hurt! Insane!
One time I attempted a handbrake turn on the road out to Chip. It wasn't very wide, but just wide enough for two cars passing carefully. The road, on either side, was filled with water of varying depths. This kind of thing was always accompanied by lots of testosterone-driven yells and whoops. Even though I didn't have testosterone, I was "one of the boys" and had loads of adrenaline. So with instructions confusing me and adrenaline pumping, I roared down the road and pulled up the handbrake!!! We fell half-way into the water on one side! Luckily we were still on our wheels and not deep, and the boys had ropes and muscles and more cars! The best handbrake turns and doughnuts were done on the way out of the parking lot at school. The Convent for girls only! Nobody ever split on me!
I only went on the motorbikes a handful of times. They scared me. The last time, was with a friend who was about to turn professional. We hit deep sand at about 20km ph. barely moving. But I held onto him, giggling like crazy and we fell badly. I came out of it with quite a few broken ribs.
There were more accidents as a teenager, I don’t quite know how I survived into adult-hood! Angels have worked hard over me! They still are!