“After Eight”  (4) 

By Paul Larkin 


Text me baby one more time


            He started off texting on the bus to school. At that time there was no hint that he would become a champion. Or indeed a fanatic. His mother said later that she hadn’t realised how devoted he was to texting until the school suspended him for having texted in class. Of course she sought help straight away but there were no counselling services available for texting. In the tanning and hairdressers salon one day, a good friend and confidante told her that kids and texting had once been raised as a problem on a family soap. This was in the context of this kid’s texting thumb having grown so large that it was twice the size of the rest of his digits. She ran home (much as she could run in the rain with her new hairdo and a scarf holding it in place) and there it was. Her son couldn’t see the difference but she knew. The top of his right hand thumb had thickened and flattened, whilst the supporting sinews and muscles below the knuckle had taken on the proportions of a large adult male thumb.

            The mother dragged her son to the doctors, who unhelpfully pointed out that it had probably always been predisposed to growth. The texting hadn’t helped he quickly added, on noticing that the mother was glowering at him. Privately he marvelled at what he recognised as a new phenomenon and resolved to write a paper about it. But all this did not, and could not, change the fact of the thumb. The dimensions had shifted. Greater forces were at play. Forces acting upon the male teenager of our species that no parent can withstand. These are girls, the smell of girls, the attainment of girls, the competition for girls and, crucially where thumb and text are concerned, the procurement of the status of cool which attracts girls like penguins to their polar opposites. 

            The object of the young man's passion, and his rule of thumb for all females, was a girl from the year above him at school who was, thus, unobtainable. This is the way it is supposed to be in teenage love. Unrequited adoration. The girl in question had thick dark hair with a reddish sheen to match her lips. That's all he saw when he thought of her. Well. That and her heaving bosom. A dream which was interrupted by the image of her being whisked off every afternoon  by a man with dark sideburns and a souped up motorbike. She clung so tight in her leather jacket as they disappeared in a trail of sophisticated cigarette smoke.

             He had begun texting her and she changed her number because some weirdo was trying to have text with her but that made no difference because by now he was an expert phone hacker who would have gone on to become a dot.com millionaire (too late his mother realised!) but for his fatal flaw. He thrilled at the fact that he could access her 24/7 and she had even begun to respond precisely because he was he was so weird. His big breakthrough came whenever he won his first serious prize for being an SMS scribe. The  story was all in emoticons and emoted the authors love for a faraway princess with red hair. He became an overnight celeb (<: !!, grew his hair into a manqué, bought a scarf and began to smoke French cigarettes.

            On his first date with her, he had to strap his thumb to his hand to stop texting which she found hilarious. But to her chagrin she found that they could only really emote to each other via text and that his declared l♥ for her could only be expressed thru txt so in her telephonic jealousy she began to textually manipulate him by giving orders, like – “♪ now!”, or “tk off ur sox”, which he would then obey in the most unsuitable of places. One day he was on top of a tall building and never for a moment did she think that...↓