In 1993, I was in Grade 11 and a member of the Parktown Boys’ High School Public Speaking team. Our four members were as unlikely to be public speakers as you could find. Two were exceptional athletes in their respective disciplines, and stereotypically assumed to be intellectually dim (they weren’t), one was a class clown.
And then there was me, the autistic anti-athlete. During one physical education lesson at school, the teacher had yelled something about how his grandmother could run faster than me, and I’d shot back, “I’m not your grandmother”.
Our topic for one particular speech, in a competition between several schools, was “The Games People Play”.
It was particularly memorable because both my parents attended (my father died only a few months later).
During our rehearsal, our team had come up with a very similar topic, so our stress levels were low, we were in a good mood, and I believe we came second in the competition.
Just before my summation as the leader of the team, the class clown, André, handed back to me by saying “Randolph is what you’d get if Snow White slept with Dopey.”
Naturally this brought the house down, and I could see my parents laughing too. I remember finishing very lamely, and that was that.
After the event, people had congregated as they tend to do, and I noticed André talking to my parents. I also knew that they’d never met, and it was unlikely they had introduced themselves in the short while they’d been chatting.
I walked over, and the line came to me as I opened my mouth:
“Ah, André, I see you’ve met Snow White and Dopey.”