it seriously can. sometimes, just when you think you’re rocking along nicely and minding your own business, life throws you a complete curveball and leaves you feeling totally and utterly freaked out.
the important thing is to stay calm and not do anything stupid.
there have been three times in my life when i’ve been freaked out by a curveball.and they all happened within the space of eight months.the first was just before the end of Year 10, when chatty chong gave me his phone number. chatty chong never gives his phone number to anyone. Usually, he doesn’t even speak to anyone. that’s why everyone calls him chatty chong. But then, one day, at the end of a maths lesson, he walked over to my desk, dumped his massive Gola bag down on it and said,‘Do you want to pair up with me on this next maths project, yeah?’
and i shrugged my shoulders and said,‘Ok then.’Because chatty chong is brilliant at maths. he’s even better at it than i am and that’s really saying something because i got 96% in my last test. and mrs hamood, my maths teacher, reckons that if i hadn’t wasted valuable lesson time by scribbling over the pages of my maths book when i should have been focusing on improper fractions i might even have got full marks!
chatty chong sort of smiled and said, ‘i’ll give you my number so we can talk about maths on the phone, yeah?’
and i shrugged my shoulders and said,‘Ok then.’
so he unzipped his bag, took out his pencil tin and scribbled down his phone number on a piece of graph paper. and then he pushed the paper towards me, sort of smiled again and said, ‘see you tomorrow, yeah?’ and without another word to anyone he picked up his Gola bag and walked out of the classroom.
But here’s the really weird bit.
When i looked down at that piece of paper, my heart nearly stopped. chatty chong’s phone number was almost exactly the same as my own phone number. apart from one single digit.all the other digits matched mine completely.they were even in the same order! When i saw this, it flipped me out so much that, at first, i thought it must have been some sort of weird joke.and then, because i really couldn’t believe it and needed to check, i took my phone out of my bag and punched in chatty’s number.
after half a ring, i heard chatty say,‘Yeah?’
i said,‘it’s me again. i wanted to tell you that our phone numbers are practically identical. apart from one digit.’
chatty chong went silent on the line for a few seconds and, even though there was loads of background noise from the corridor, i swear to God i could hear his brain ticking over.then he said,‘You’re joking with me, yeah?’
and i said,‘No.i’m deadly serious.’
chatty chong whistled loudly down the phone.
i said,‘OUch,’and ripped the phone away from my ear. then, after a second or two, i put it back and said, ‘aRe YOU DeliBeRatelY tRYiNG tO BURst mY eaRDRUm OR What?’
chatty chong said, ‘sorry.’and,to be fair,he did sound genuinely apologetic.then he said,‘it’s just that the probability of that happening is one in one billion.and i’m not including the zero at the beginning in my calculation because every phone number starts with that. Otherwise, it would have been one in ten billion. But it’s still a big coincidence, yeah?’ and then the line went dead and i realized he’d ended the call. like i said before, chatty chong is brilliant at maths. he’s a bit bad at chatting though.
the second freaky curveball got chucked at me last summer while we were all on holiday in spain. We’d only been there a few days when my sister started getting really intense stomach pains. to begin with, we all just laughed at her for pigging out on paella. my sister does tend to exaggerate rather a lot and she had queued up for third helpings of the main course the night before.But pretty soon i realized she was in proper crippling agony and i told my parents she needed to see a doctor fast.then, after she’d seen a doctor, we realized she needed an emergency operation to have her appendix removed. the entire experience was freaky and horrible because i felt about as much use as a chocolate teapot.i don’t speak a word of spanish so i couldn’t even organize a top-up for her phone. even though she gets on my nerves, my sister is actually my favourite person in the whole world and seeing her look so manky and ill was horrible.and,to make matters worse,neither of us had any phone credit for almost three weeks. i seriously never want to go through an experience like that ever again.
But the most head-spinning moment of my entire life happened just last month on sunday the fifth of February. and although what i’m about to tell you may seem a helluva lot less dramatic than my sister nearly dying in a spanish hospital, it still felt massively dramatic to me. in fact, it felt as if i’d been hit by a major freakquake of a magnitude of 8.35 – and, for your information, that’s as powerful as the blast from a nuclear bomb! so i’m talking about one seriously intense curveball.
Or, to put it more precisely . . .
i’m talking about that very first time i looked over and saw liam mackie’s face.
and although i managed to keep calm and didn’t do anything stupid on that particular occasion,it was really only a matter of time before i would.But i’ll come to all of that later.
Because there’s a lot to tell you about and i need to start at the beginning.
and in the beginning i was in the cafe and the Doors were playing at top volume. i should just explain that i love the Doors.they’re my favourite band.and Jim morrison, their lead singer, is my favourite singer.
i drew this picture of him in my maths book.
sadly, pictures and posters are pretty much all that’s left because he died the exact same year that both my parents were born.this means that he never owned an xbox, never got to plant his feet into a fresh pair of k-swiss trainers and didn’t even find out what a twitter update was. But none of that matters to me.
i still think he’s totally amazing. and, while i’m on the subject, River Phoenix was totally amazing too. River was an american actor and, sadly, he died even younger than Jim did. in my opinion, River and Jim are two of the most talented and beautiful people who ever existed. i’ve got pictures of both of them on my bedroom walls and i sit and look at them a lot.and quite frankly,until i saw liam mackie, i’ve never been remotely interested in looking at anybody else.
But i was telling you about the Doors.my favourite track of all is a song called ‘light my Fire’. it’s totally awesome. When it begins, it sounds just like any other cheery pop record, but pretty quickly it becomes clear that things aren’t always quite what they seem.after a few minutes,you expect the song to be coming to an end – but it doesn’t. it just keeps on going and going.and all the time it’s getting louder and louder and faster and faster and Jim just keeps on singing in this really intense and dark and hypnotic way for almost eight minutes.that would make a seriously long ringtone! and then, finally, it lightens up and turns all cheerful again and then it ends. i get goosebumps every time i hear it. But the reason i’m talking about all this is because it was this exact song that was playing in the cafe when i first looked at liam mackie. if i believed in superstitious spooky stuff, i’d say that Jim morrison was trying to tell me something.
and when i close my eyes i can take myself right back to that very second.the Doors are turned up as loud as they’ll go and liam mackie is sitting on his own at a table by the window. in front of him is an untouched strawberry and banana smoothie.he has one foot resting on the empty chair opposite him and the other is tapping against the floor tiles to the tune of ‘light my Fire’. his head is gently nodding along too. it’s the most effortlessly cool hipster head bop i’ve ever seen. even from the other side of the cafe, i can see that this boy is incredibly good-looking. in fact, he actually even reminds me of River Phoenix whose pictures are next to Jim’s on my bedroom wall and who i will never ever get bored of looking at. Only this time, i’m not a saddo staring at a poster – i’m a saddo in an embarrassing orange apron staring at an actual proper person.
But only for a second.
Because as soon as i realize that i’m staring like a stalker i quickly look down and stare at the floor.
But it’s too late. something has sparked inside me. i think i’ve always known that this kind of thing could happen, but it’s still one helluva curveball to get my head around. it actually feels like there’s a firework trapped in my body. Or as if i’ve been struck by forked lightning or something. and, suddenly, i know that something utterly weird has happened. and it’s the kind of weird thing that i thought only ever happens in drippy books or romantic movies.
in the space of a second, i’ve fallen hopelessly and helplessly and head-over-hi-tops in love with the River Phoenix Boy in the corner.
and then my sister nudges my arm, nods her head in his direction and says,‘see that fit lad there? i totally intend to go out with him.’