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My First Goddess, (Other Than Sophia Loren)

Story ID:3047
Written by:John Ward (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Biography
Location:Mbabane Swaziland
Year:1969
Person:Miss Wentworth
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From January 1965 until December 1971, I attended Waterford-Kamhlaba, an all-boy boarding school in Mbabane, Swaziland. This was a strict British boarding school located just outside the capital city of Mbabane, on top of a mountain with two higher mountains, behind it. These two mountains at the rear of the school were called Tom and Kelly. Of a Sunday we would be allowed to take a pack lunch and go on a “field trip” up one of the mountains. We would go in a group of three or four and hike to get away from the school grounds. On other occasions, as punishment, a student might be told he had to run up one of these two mountains and sign his name on the beacon and then run down again. The mountains were a mixed blessing.

Since the school had no female students until much later in my tenancy, all the female teachers became the object of our pre-pubescent fantasies. As lovely as they all seemed, there were two stand-outs: Miss Bain and Miss Wentworth. Miss Bain was classically beautiful and kind. She had a positive attitude and laughed heartily. Her mouth was wide, full lipped and generous, her eyes were intelligent and her hands were beautifully formed and very expressive. I thought she was the ideal woman until she started seeing my Housemaster: Mr. Glover. Her beauty never changed, but she was suddenly far less tolerant and kind.

Deon Glover was the Housemaster of Guedes House. He caned me on several occasions and gave me “runs” which are circuits around the sport fields until you dropped from exhaustion or he or a prefect decided you’d had enough. He also gave hard labor punishments and would gate me from going home to visit my family. To me, what was worse than all was the fact that he treated me as something loathsome at all times and let me know, unequivocally, that there was nothing on earth I could do to win his favor. Mr. Glover was also the Geography teacher and employed an interesting means of making his dissatisfaction with homework known. He would stand beside your desk and grab your trapezius muscle, which runs between the base of the neck and the shoulder, between thumb and forefinger and squeeze for all he was worth, shouting: “You call that a map?!?” It was a little like taking Geography from Torquemada.

“Please sir, yes sir it is a map, oh please sir, no it’s not a map, please stop sir.” I would writhe, but, invariably, he’d go on for about thirty seconds, until he started to feel embarrassed at the length of time he was spending beside my desk pinching me. One day I watched a Pakistani boy called Mohammad getting the same treatment. Somehow he managed to keep silent through the torture and only writhed minimally. I also noticed that Mr. Glover would stop after about ten seconds of pinching his trapezius and so I resolved to try that the next time I was the object of Glover’s attention.

As a small child I’d been obliged to get extensive dental work done. This was no easy feat in Africa in the 1950s and 1960s. The drills were the old, slow drills that were run by a series of exposed pulleys and bands. The power was provided by the dentist rocking a single pedal platform back and forth, like the ones used to power the old Singer sewing machines. There was no local anesthetic and your only distraction was a cotton ball attached to one of the driver bands which ran around the drill pulleys. The dentist would say: “Watch the white rabbit run, keep watching.” Through the use of subtle Pavlovian conditioning and a lot of positive reinforcement in the form of praise, my father could get me to bear the pain without screaming like other children. To me it was imperative that he be proud of me so I developed the ability to disassociate myself from my own personal pain. I didn’t understand the psychological mechanics of what I was doing, but I was able to see myself in the chair, from another angle of the room, and feel sorry, objectively, for the kid in the chair. Later, in Geography class, I applied this ability with Mr. Glover and I found, to my amazement, that he would stop the torture in far less time!

When the lovely and refreshingly effervescent Miss Bain started seeing Mr. Glover romantically, she became cold and suspicious so that even a completely innocent remark or comment was taken as something derogatory and she would seek out the worst possible interpretation. Her change was metamorphic.

One day Steven Anderson and I found some rouge on the ground. Not knowing how indelible the powder is, we put it on our faces for fun and were unable to get it off before Miss Bain’s English class. When she walked into the classroom the others in the class started snickering. We couldn’t see our faces, having no reason to carry pocket mirrors and so had no idea of how idiotic we looked. Miss Bain glanced at us and screamed for us to leave the class, promising that we’d be reported to our Housemasters! We were petrified. We left the class and waited for the evening until we were summoned before Mr. Glover.

Interestingly Steven Anderson, who was a member of Henderson House, was called before Glover too. When we arrived at his living quarters we found him with Miss Bain. He was being sophomorically charming to her and started humiliating us to show how clever he was.

He said in his thick “Rock-Spider” South African accent: “So you want to be red Indians hey? Fine, I’ll show you red Indians, take your clothes off!” He made us strip down to our underpants after which they both painted our faces and bodies with Indian symbols, slashes and spots. Then Mr. Glover took strips of sticky packing tape and stuck the quills of some feathers to the tape. He then wrapped our heads and hair with the tape several times around, crudely, so that the feathers stuck up and out of the tape. While they laughed at our humiliation he said: “You must run all the way up Tom,” (the mountain behind the school), “sign your names on the beacon and run back. And don’t let me catch you walking! I’ve got binoculars you know!” With a final guffaw from both of them we were sent on our way, two teen boys, in our underwear, running barefoot through the Swazi high-veldt towards Tom.

Miss Bain was lost to us as a sweet, prepubescent fantasy, but we didn’t mourn for long, because soon thereafter a lovely woman, a demi-goddess, who managed to retain her kindness and positive attitude, arrived at the school. Her name was Lindsey Wentworth. She was tall and slim, but with curves in all the places Hollywood taught us they should be. She wore her hair past her shoulders and it had a gentle wave in it. The late 1960s was the era of the miniskirt and most of the younger female staff wore them. One year I remember the conservative and religiously repressed Dutch Reform Church in South Africa blaming a long drought on the fact that God was angry about miniskirts. Miss Wentworth either didn’t believe God cared about the length of her skirt, or she decided the risk was worth the cool and comfort this garment afforded. God probably received more prayers of gratitude from us, for her attitude than from all the members of the Dutch Reform Church condemning the miniskirt.

Morning assembly became a glorious experience. Miss Wentworth would play the piano as we sung Anglican hymns to the glory of God. Most of us just sat there in our little uniforms mouthing the words and watching as Miss Wentworth played the piano. She was a Goddess, a beacon of beauty in an all-male, pimply-faced world. When she hit a loud chord her breasts would rise as her pectoral muscles came into play and our little eyes followed in a synchronized, choreographic, mass marble bounce.

Being a wonderful piano player, Miss Wentworth took on the role of piano teacher. Most of us were convinced that only nerds and geeks took piano lessons, because no one was teaching the sort of Gregg Rolie, Jon Lord, Stevie Winwood keyboard playing we wanted to learn. Boy were we wrong! Godofredo Guedes, the son of the architect that built our school, had been taking piano lessons before Miss Wentworth’s arrival and, naturally, continued his lessons with her. We had always teased him and made fun of his goofy love of classical music, because, I mean really, no real man would be interested in something like that.

One day he came back to the dormitory looking quite shaken. We asked what the matter was and he took us to his cubicle to tell us.

“When I got to my lesson, Miss Wentworth was already there. She was wearing a micro miniskirt. I sat down on the bench and she sat next to me” he began.

“Next to you!” said Martin Golding, a Botswana boy who had no idea that sitting next to the student was normal for piano teachers.

“Yes, Martin, shut up.” The rest of us said.

“OK, so she tells me to play a piece she put on the music stand to see how much I know about sight reading.”

“So?” one of us asked.

“So I started playing and unconsciously started keeping time with my foot.”

“Yawn… and the point of all this is…?” someone asked sarcastically.

“So to stop me she said: “stop that.””

“Well that’s amazing Freddo! She said “Stop that” to stop you? I wonder what planet she’s from?” intoned Mario Suakay.

“Wait, there’s more!” Godofredo shouted. “So I stopped, but soon I was beating time again with my foot and this time she touched my thigh and said: “Try to remember not to do that.””

The interest in his story was building. “OK, so she put her hand on your thigh?”

“She put her hand on your thigh?” echoed Martin edging closer to a paroxysm.

“Yes Martin, that’s what he said. Shut up.”

“So even with her hand there I couldn’t help it, at a later point in the piece I started tapping again. I apologized and said I didn’t mean to. This time she put… her leg… over – my - leg!”

“Aaaarrrrgh!” we shouted, “Aaaargh, in a miniskirt!? Aaaaarrrrgh! You lucky bastard!”

Martin was rocking back and forth chanting: “She put her leg over his leg, she put her leg over his leg….”

“So you’re saying she put her leg over your leg to stop you beating time?!” I asked redundantly, trying to grasp the magic and beauty of the image.

“Yes, she just threw her left leg over my right leg and said, “This should stop you tapping.””

“Oh Lord in heaven, Martin shut up a minute, I have to think about this.” I said trying to understand the mechanics of this miraculous occurrence. “Now wait. You said she put one leg over your leg?”

“Yes!”

“Not both, just one!”

“Yes!!”

That means she left one on the floor and put one over your leg! And she was wearing a mini skirt?!”

“Yes!!! A micro-mini!” cried Godofredo again.

“Aaaaaarrrrghgh!!!!’ we shouted.

In an all-boys boarding school any news involving a female teacher spreads like wildfire. The religious experience Godofredo had enjoyed and Miss Wentworth’s posture during the lesson was elaborated, extrapolated and exaggerated to the extent that the next day there was a line around the music building with eager, heretofore unmusical, music-lovers dying to sign up. It was a pitiful sight. All these little pimply pre-pubescent piano players, lined up, our legs twitching to some unheard musical beat, waiting to sign up to be a nerd and take piano lessons. Oh Miss Wentworth, if only you knew how we adored you.