I have been in different, far from ideal positions with friends. I spent a large part of my pubescent years learning how to not friend zone my friends. And now that I think I have a pretty decent hold of it, I want to unlearn it. Smh. But that’s a story for another day. Today I am going to tell you about the time my friends and I got punished for watching ‘porn’. (You’ll understand why porn is in quotation marks by the end of this story.)
The year was… Well, I don’t remember the year, but we were in class three (primary school). One of my close friends, Kev, had brought pictures to class of his cousins who had come home (to Ghana) for vacation. Our class teacher was out and he’d been talking about his cousins for a hot minute, so he figured we needed to see them [as proof]. He was excited. He loved them and wanted us to see how great they were. ‘We’ were a group of five (Kev included). We were close knit and had each other’s back. #BadBoysForLife So, yeah. There were pictures. Pictures on the beach, at home, out somewhere… basically fun, vacation pictures. Nothing to see there.
There was a picture of his [female] cousin in the bathroom, taking a shower, with soap all over her face and the brightest of smiles. It was a funny picture. A close up picture. We could only see her face with foam and bathroom looking background. We teased him about it anyway, saying he had no right to be taking pictures of girls in the bathroom. He didn’t take the picture though, but we did not care. We were on a roll.
All the laughing and teasing caught the attention of our classmates. Now, everyone wanted to see the pictures. Kev who now felt a bit shy decided to show everyone the pictures except the bathroom one. It was ‘inappropriate’. We supported him. They didn’t have to see his cute cousin with foam on her face.
Like every elite friend group, we always had people who wanted in. There was one boy who just… let’s just say he was more interested than others. Let’s call him, Eric. Naturally, he too, wanted to see this ‘scandalous’ picture we kept teasing Kev about. Who could fault a boy for being curious and hoping that was the day he made the cut? We didn’t. He still did not make the cut.
Next day, we’re in class minding our business, and the teacher (lovely woman by the way), talks about how she is disappointed in a group of students who were looking at pictures in class. We knew we were in trouble. Big trouble. She sent for a cane and then called Kev to grill him about what happened and asked him to call his friends who had seen all the pictures. Four boys, one girl, in front of the class, completely dreading our fate. She asked where the pictures were, and we told her that he was supposed to bring more that day but he forgot. Bottom line, no pictures. We were screwed. We got six lashes each. Anytime we wanted to do stuff like that again, we were advised to remember how it hurt and stop ourselves from repeating it.
The entire time, I thought the problem was the fact that we had brought pictures to school. That those were somehow contraband or something. That afternoon, however, when my mother came to pick me up, my teacher asked me, “Have you told your mother what happened today?” I hadn’t. She proceeded to tell my mother, “They were watching porn in class yesterday.”
Now, I had not quite grasped the concept of porn and what it meant so her words did not register till years later. I was washing the dishes or something when it hit me. PORN?! SHE LASHED US BECAUSE SHE THOUGHT IT WAS PORN?! How annoying! Why did she think that, you may ask? Remember Eric?
So Eric took our rejection a bit harder than most. After school that day, he’d told his mother that we were watching porn in class when the teacher was absent. Porn! This child assumed that whatever we were hiding from him was porn! Why would that be the first thing that crossed his mind?! Like dude! Have some respect! So, Eric’s mother made a complaint to the teacher and she, in turn, promised to deal with us the next day. Which she did!
Sometimes, when I am alone, I think about that day. I wonder if things would’ve gone differently if we really knew where she was coming from. Perhaps we would’ve argued our case and made her understand what happened, instead of trying to ‘take it like men’.
Dr Nyameba 💜