I didn’t get a warning, I don’t think anyone else did really. It was in class six I think when it happened. One morning, the soundtrack to my life, (that background music always playing in your head, you are listening to it right now, don’t lie.) suspiciously changed tune from hard angst-filled rock to rom-com tunes. The world, very very suddenly, seemed different. I couldn’t tell what had changed at first, all of a sudden I started noticing that my desk mate’s face had a certain shape to it that made my breath quicken if I stared too long. I didn’t have a word for it back then, my brain in class six was heavily occupied with food and arguing about whether Rihanna was actually Illuminati. (Seriously, who made those documentaries though?) . It was much later than I learned the word attributed to that feeling.
Back then, I was the weird kid, you know the one you always see in white people films, now paint him black (well chocolate-ish), make him weirder and voila, you have me. When every other boy my age was playing football or bano, I was high on top of a tree, reading a novel I had probably stolen. Novels were quite the commodity back then you see, the lines of people waiting to read one were longer than ques of people waiting for matatus in CBD during the Covid Pandemic. Sue me if you like, but my book thievery is what minted me love for words, my writer (villain?) origin story you could say.
I was quite happy with being reclusive, book thieving, fast reading weirdness, so you can imagine how disoriented I was when my brain’s hormone department decided to go on overdrive and assert dominance, all without giving the company owner a heads up. So here I was, confused, heart working like a range rover engine and for the first time, I realized that I could stare at someone’s eyebrows for hours without getting tired. Then I noticed her, I’d met her before of course, but this was the first time I really noticed her, Mya her name was, I suppose you could call her my first crush. (First love would be a bit of an oversell).
One advantage of my book thievery, (I feel like I have to mention that I returned them after reading them, lest I get lynched) is that my English got so good that I effortlessly scored perfect marks on all my English tests without ever actually having done an English assignment in primary school. When Mya transferred over, I’m not sure if the English teacher wanted to mess with me or cut down my cockiness but the first thing she said to me was, “Alex this one is going to beat you at English.” I was livid! You see I had quite a bit of pride in my streak of perfect English scores, especially since the class teacher caught me reading a novel during an exam session( I kid you not when I say I have a book addiction). The only way I got out of the thrashing of my life was by promising that I’d get 50 out of 50 when the results came out. Of course, she was using my answer sheet as the marking scheme when the results came out, but I can’t imagine she enjoyed having a very small very smug student like me, I really owe Ms Jedidiah an apology.
My fascination with Mya thus began, amidst an admittedly childish competition over English scores. When my hormone awakening(I feel like that’s more apt than adolescence) occurred, I transitioned from caring about whether I had bested her in English to whether she noticed that my shirt was suddenly extra clean. Unfortunately, my story being nothing like a rom-com, she didn’t give a white duck behind about my shirt, she was engrossed with another friend of mine, a skinny fella named Mickey, and thus, once again, I was Livid!
I limped away, jilted and confused and dealt with the situation the only way my 12-year-old brain could fathom, by dumping leftover pilau into her locker. Who was it that said that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned? Clearly, they had never met a scorned harry potter geek, with all the antics I pulled, even the devil would be scared, keeling over with laughter, but still scared. I eventually got over Mya but not before climbing to the top of the flag pole trying to impress her, I did end up impressing another girl though, just not her.
Towards the end of primary school, I began to notice, really notice another girl, Ella her name was. If Mya was Aphrodite emerging from the sea in unimaginable beauty, Ella was Artemis. She was wild had short hair and radiated energy at such magnitude it was virtually impossible not to notice her. Every once in a while, we’d play a little game to mess with our classmates’ heads. We would walk out of class at night arm in arm, giggling and shed rush to the girls restrooms, ruffling her hair and clothes. I would rush to the little boy’s room, unbutton my shirt then button it back up wrongly, and then we’d walk back into class, arm in arm, you can imagine the reactions.
Weird antics were of course performed, same as whenever hormones flooded my brain. Sneaking into the girls dormitories at night just for kicks, sneaking over to the girls rooms during a class trip to catch a sneak of them twerking in pajamas, lightning speed kissing when blackouts happened right before the generators came on. In the end, primary school ended and distance did that thing it tends to do and soon I was off to high school, convinced I was going to be a good boy, bury my head in books, and that adolescent hormone infused crushes were over, off course you can tell how that turned out, but that’s a story for another day.