Thursday, 10 February 2011

B IS FOR: Boyfriends

 Beauty, Bliss, Basilisk, Bazaar, Bachelor, Bête Noir,
 having got to Bachelor and the black beast,


might be a suitable theme.

For all of her young life, Eva admired boys; they fascinated her, attracted and repulsed her at the same time; she loved their company, the rough games they played, their boastful voices and scabby knees. She followed them like a faithful puppy, always on the margins, never quite allowed to step over the threshold into their disgusting and smelly world. When it suited them, the boys generously invited her to fetch things for them, watch their coats, hold their drinks. There were times when she was called upon to be the referee in a noisy dispute between several boys; usually instigated by a boy who could count on her partiality towards him. She was very happy then.

Eva found little girls boring. Standing around in small groups, gossiping, or playing girls' games didn't appeal to her. Girls were, of course,  quite as spiteful and nasty as boys, but she usually failed to grasp the meaning of barbs aimed at her. Where the boys openly ridiculed and bullied her, the girls sneered and whispered amongst themselves. Dimly she sensed the girls' disapproval and envy, because she clearly preferred the boys' company and sheer persistence and dogged determination had gained her a kind of official camp follower status.

In spite of that, she belonged in neither camp, and camps they most certainly were. The great gender divide is not a discovery of recent times. Eva was a bit of a lost soul, an outsider, an independent spirit, in her way a fighter for equality before the term and concept were invented.

Boys have always liked to throw things. In earliest times, all around the world, 'throwing sticks' or 'throwing clubs' were used to kill animals and maim or kill the enemy. Straight sticks like the stave and javelin and spear, or curved like a boomerang are known to have been used by early humans in all cultures. Plain sticks were followed by slings and catapults, bows and arrows, which were, in essence, the same principle, they just extended the maiming and killing range.

Luckily, boys also like to throw a ball, and other less immediately deadly weapons; like a frisbee, for instance.  Eva's disillusionment with boys started because of a frisbee-like missile.

The boy she liked best and who occasionally felt flattered enough to accept her homage, i.e., bullied her more than the others did, had invented a throwing game which involved ripping tar paper off a school hut roof and tear it into small pieces. These pieces, a very early frisbee, flew a fair distance. Whoever managed to throw the missile the furthest won the game.

Gunther, that was the boy's name, spied Eva loitering, as usual, on the fringes on the end of the boys' part of the playground, looking in his direction.  Foolishly, he threw the fragment of tar paper at her. Perhaps he wanted to frighten her, or show off to the others; it was most probably a totally thoughtless, instinctive action.

The tar paper landed smack in the middle of Eva's forehead and stayed there.

Eva howled, blood started to flow copiously. Teachers fluttered around helplessly.
Nowadays, the fear of litigation would be foremost in a teacher's mind. It wasn't then. One of them took Eva to the first aid box, removed the tar paper, slapped a huge plaster on the large cut,  and sent her home. Alone, without even washing the blood off her face.

Eva paid for her early devotion to boys in several ways: because of the teacher's inefficiency, she carried the scar across her forehead for the rest of her life. The Family Doctor could do nothing, the wound should have been cleaned and stitched instantly, he said.

But Eva's hurt went far deeper than a mere gash across her forehead; Gunther was so ashamed of himself and, no doubt, frightened by what he had done, that he never again allowed Eva access to any of the boys' games, not even standing on the periphery. The other boys followed his lead.

For a short while Eva felt very lonely.


  1. Poor Eva, to have to bear a scar like that forever. This is a very vivid and memorable piece of writing. It rings true to my own experience of growing up in a household of boys, and I imagine it will feel that way to your other readers as well, whether or not they were surrounded by boys.

  2. This rings so true. Some children are 'natural'victims, it seems, and sometimes their pain can be allayed by a move to new surroundings. Poor Eva - I hope her later life was happier.

  3. Eva has my sympathy .
    At my first school , many years ago , boys and girls had separate playgrounds .
    I have always been the most uncoordinated person in any group .... and , since every game girls played then involved skipping , singing , clapping and ball-throwing , preferably all at once , I got very bored in the girl's section and used to gaze longingly through the railings at the boys , careering about throwing things and looking untidy .
    When eventually I was finally allowed to join in British Bulldog I discovered that I wasn't really built for boys games either .
    I took up reading . I expect Eva did too .

  4. I've always enjoyed your tales of Eva. So nice to get reacquainted with her again.

    Until I was about nine, I roamed the surrounding countryside with a mixed group of other kids. We boys didn't make any distinction between us and the girls. At some point, between nine and ten, girls ceased to be part of the 'scene'. It was all football and bicycles. Five years later, the girls were back, big time!

  5. Poor little Eva! I love your Eva tales, Friko!

  6. The boys games always seemed much more fun than bead swapping or skipping - my heart goes out to little Eva!

  7. Ah! You've touched a chord. I was quite like Eva in my childhood, prefering the company of boys, even if I had to stay on the fringes, to hanging about with girls. Although I am of the female gender, as the first-born, my father raised me as he would have a son. I grew up learning about and doing "boys'" work, a practical education which held me in good stead as an adult.

  8. I preferred to hang out with the boys too. didn't like the girls, wasn't a boy. spent a lot of time alone.

  9. The scars of a lonely child do indeed go far deeper than a gash on their skin. Well told, Friko.

  10. Well told! I was much like Eva. I learned to kick a football and to pick up (non-poisonous) snakes in order to impress the boys. And I love the photo!

  11. aww....i feel sorry for poor eva...i know a couple girls just like her...minus the scar but...smiles. nice story...

  12. Poor Eva. Poor left-out Eva...

    So, what happened after the short time of being lonely?

  13. Those boys - I know the deep wanting to be playing their games, and to be excluded. For me, it was a baseball in the back of the head and a concussion - and then the expulsion from boy-play.

  14. I was afraid of the boys, too. But I learned to use them, since in many ways the girls were harder for me than the boys. I could bat my eyes at them and pretend to be something I'm not. Good story about Eva.

  15. I wish I could give Eva a hug right now. You are so right, pain runs much deeper than an outside wound on the body. Reading this makes me very thankful that I grew up in a time and place that being a tom boy was more accepted...I relate a lot to Eva in that I was more interested in playing and chasing and getting dirty then standing around gossiping with other girls whom were standing around looking pretty. While I did take some flack for joining in with the boys, I really didn't care. The boys accepted me into their play so all was good. Maybe growing up on the farm around boys was part of the reason why but even as the years went on I would still rather hang with the guys then hang around girls that talked behind my back. Great story!

  16. A girl who likes hanging around the boys will certainly find her way eventually.

  17. Poor Eva. Please tell us more!

  18. The "for a short while" is what intrigues me. Short?
    I too played with boys as there were no other girls where I lived. I was tall and the boys were short and I got to be boss. They were my fort and my gang.

  19. I'm sure Eva isn't the only one who has memories centred in the school playground. Such a place of rites of passage.

  20. I admire the clarity of these personal essays, in particular your sensitivity to emotion without sentimentality. You say just enough to allow the reader to feel, and I feel both Eva and Gunther very strongly. I'll bet he was very lonely for a time too. I would love to see the Eva tales compiled into a book.

  21. It stuck into her forehead! Oh my. And she wore bangs every after? Very nice write.

  22. Poor Eva, not the first to be excluded from the boy's games, but carrying a scar is surely not worth the excitement.

  23. die traurigen und schweren Erfahrungen eines Kindes sehr gut beschrieben...
    Dir einen sehr schönen sonnigen Tag!


  24. Gunther sounds like "Top Job" in James Bond's "Goldfinger" with his head-lopping top hat.

  25. I'm sure that Eva didn't stay lonely for long..a spirit such as hers was meant to live and learn! Coincidence: I've posted a little memoire about an adventure with a boy..imagine!

  26. Friko ~ I can hardly get past the photo! It's marvelous. I love her.

    I'm going to look for links to other Eva stories?

    and my heart ached in the telling of this. childhood is certainly not all balloons and candies to many of us.

  27. I see the link to the archived Eva stories.
    I can't wait to read them.

  28. Bravo Friko for another wonderful posting.

    I would second all that Mark K commented.

    We all gather up so many remnants outside and inside as we grow up. Ah, I keep asking the question, just when do we actually grow up?



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