The skinny dress was a mid-calf lycra sheath with completely
useless spaghetti straps, black with blue stretch gauze over it. On the hanger it looked like it wouldn't fit a ten year old. I bought it at
the plaza one lunchtime before IT class. My IT teacher, Michael was the stereotypical nineties
geek: introverted, shy, certainly not equipped to deal with a sixteen year old
girl drunk on the joy of her own attractiveness. I did more or less whatever I
wanted in that class. There was one boy who had gone to preschool with me, and
was now into amateur wrestling. A couple of his socially inept wrestling friends had hopeless crushes on
me and did whatever I told them – usually my homework. The only other girls
were two serious, ambitious Sri Lankans. One wanted to be an actuary and the
other an economist. Poor Michael. He could handle those girls, but not me.
I had been either fighting or flirting with the gorgeous Dmitri since the beginning of the year. He wasn’t my usual type – he was confident, arrogant and
had an old-fashioned sexism that irritated me even then – but I think he, too,
was drunk with excitement at his own attractiveness. We spent hours sitting at
opposite ends of the computer lab fiercely proclaiming our usually opposing views on every topic we could think of. I never did my assignments. I planned them
out, mapping tables and links and relationships on the whiteboard, and made the
guys do the actual work. I called it ‘project management’ and got great marks.
On this particular day, Michael refused to let me leave the
computer lab to try on the dress I had just bought. God knows why I developed a
sudden need to try it on, I probably just wanted to show my arse off to
Dmitri. I pouted, sulked, then announced my intention of getting changed
behind a desk if I wasn’t allowed to leave the lab. The boys began
shifting furniture enthusiastically.
He let me leave the classroom.
The desks stayed where they were for weeks.
On a different day, Dmitri and I were wearing identical
shirts: slimline black Bonds tshirts with a v-neck and white trim. We decided
to switch shirts. I said that I could change right there without letting
anyone see anything, if he gave me his shirt. It was, I declared, a special
skill learned by girls in PE.
Dimi stripped his shirt off and handed it to me. I put his shirt on over my own, did the wriggle-and-squirm
thing and produced my own tshirt. The boys, disappointed, cheered nevertheless.
Dimi put my tshirt on. We spent the rest of the lesson flexing our biceps and
loudly commenting on our own cleverness.
That tshirt was never quite the same.