Rather King of the Nerds than life for the birds

Today I play the motivator.

Today I play the motivator.

I draw from my experiences as a young person - there I go again, and hope I can change a young mind or two into not repeating my own mistakes.

There was this nerd, when we grew up, who was a real dumbo, or so we thought.

Problem is, he was the teacher's pet - and not because he was bright at all, but because he would sit quietly in his chair all day and cause no problems.

He always did his homework without fail (though he scored nought out of ten quite often), but what irritated the rest of us was that he would be the first to rat on us when we got up to mischief, which was often.

When we teased him on his pathetic marks, he would respond slowly, peering through his thick-rimmed glasses: "Bietjie-bietjie maak meer ." - roughly, I will get there some day.

He took life too seriously, and was so odd that one day when we went on a school trip, he suggested that rather than waste pocket money buying from the shops, a few of us should club together and buy a live chicken.

"Then we can have the intestines, the feet, everything else ."

We laughed him off.

When we left school and got our first jobs, many of us bought records, new clothes and spent what was left on booze.

Not my chubby nerd. He bought a cow.

Then, as we went on weekly booze binges and senseless parties at which we danced the nights away, Nerdy slogged away at a steel factory while continuing to study.

All the hard work must have paid off because eventually he was promoted to a senior position and ended up being the boss of several bright sparks who had teased the crap out him at school.

Fast forward to 20 years or so later. Many of us smart alecks are struggling to make ends meet.

The very worst among us are walking next to their shoes and living in rickety ramshackles bequeathed us by our parents. We blame it on apartheid, our neighbourhood, the teachers - and some even say it is witchcraft. Hmm!

I met one of my smart friends at a funeral recently. He looked a hundred years old - toothless and wrinkled - and I could only recognise him when someone called him by name.

His first words to me - explaining himself as if I had asked - were: "Ke ntho tsa batho my broer ...maak my two beers mfana" (Briefly, he meant he was bewitched by people to be that way - and could I buy him two beers?)

Our nerd, also at the funeral, is a high-flying businessman with a range of businesses and properties to his name. I am sure he could donate R1000 to everyone at the funeral and still remain stinking rich . and more importantly, a happy, contented man.

If only God would rewind the tape of life, I would live my life like my dear nerd. I am sure many of us would.

I am not too sure I would buy a cow with my first salary - but I would not mind being labelled King of the Nerds.

l Charles Mogale is editor of Sunday World