This is such a crazy tale, with a bit of oniony irony. I originally wanted to keep it to myself until I realized that “This is the day” I must publish it – naughty minds will set it sacrilegiously to the Sunday school tune. It’s based on a piece on Yahoo! News I read plus subsequent research into the phenomenon, the scary things that schools shove down your throats for debates and essays. Before that, I need a quick digression for a postgraduate friend and fellow mathematician – a postgrad young man – who will keep spiralling down a blackhole of obscurity unless I turn it into a wormhole to prominence.
Yesterday my pure mathematics friend confessed that his theoretical knowledge is too removed from real life to be of any use, and it doesn’t pay as well as for applied mathematicians to learn his kind of algebra and geometry. He told me he actually wanted, not to be a dancer, but to identify with fellow humans in their struggles, especially a motivational speaker.
Yet Dr Hannah Fry also studied theoretical physics and certainly knew about homology theory, Lie groups, sheaves and bundles, but she is now threashing her wheat, milling her flour and baking her bread out of studying social behaviour. She is analyzing us and suggesting ways to improve how we interact with each other. On top of this, she has also just published a book based on her TEDx talk called The Mathematics of Love.
I don’t think she envisioned a people-centered job when she decided to study maths and physics just like my friend. That’s all for Dr Hannah Fry and some inspiration+encouragement for S. Chung to tug heartstrings with string theory.
Anyway, apologies for keeping the curtain down. Presenting my little Valentine’s Day short story.
“Valentine’s Day Escape Plan”
Your are going on a blind date for Valentine’s Day. In case the date is a dud, you have your best friend on standby. Your friend is to call you at 9:30 on the dot. If the date is going well, you answer and use the phrase “I already took care of that.” If it’s not, you answer and claim your friend has an emergency. The date is going well and your friend calls at 9:30 as planned—only problem is, the friend calls with a real emergency. What is it and what do you do?
Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.
“I’m bleeding,” Jamie sobbed and I can hear thuds. She must be hopping on the floor rather heavily. “My, cramps!”
I got to think fast. Roy, the young man whom I’m blind-dating, goggleeyed me.
“No offense, but please don’t look at me like that – it’s uncomfortable,” I said. It appears that anytime soon I could give away the urgency of the matter and I feel my cheeks heating up as she screamed, “It’s coming out! The the the the the…”
“Calm down, It’s the iPhone 8, right?”
“Yes, yes, I phoned you late,” hurried Jamie. “Down here it’s like I’m sizzling on a hotplate! AGH!!!”
I peered Roy sideways and he breathed a sigh of relief. “I know it’s crazy, like Al Pacino’s Willy Bank getting that coveted golden phone in Ocean’s Thirteen. You don’t get this sort of thing all the time. Does your mother know? You’re only nineteen.”
“No, she doesn’t – I’m in the shower now. Echo’s pretty loud here. Agh–” She forced herself. “Agh, agh, agh, what a hairy ball.”
“Hairy ball.” I repeated.
Roy seemed to mutter something – something like “what a coincidence” – about the Hairy Ball theorem of mathematics, himself being a straight-A maths student, as he had mentioned, and now an investment banker. Just before Jamie called me, he told me that because of the Hairy Ball theorem, market trends must level off somewhere, so even if I wrote a breakout novel, eventually the whole world would stop adoring me, except for a handful of loyal readers.
“It’s very crowded there, isn’t it?” I asked.
“Yes, agh–!” Jamie exclaimed. “My head, my head… it’s really red now…”
“Push, push, push,” I said. “Just focus. Push.”
Jamie kept eking out her groans. 10:30pm.
“Aren’t you two leaving yet?” the manager said. “You two, better go.”
Roy said, “I’m so excited. I thought you’re urging your friend to push the queue because Apple is so crowded!”
Hiding my passive aggression to unleash if ever he pops the question – I know an old man who did just that on his first date at Roy’s age, and I’m not ready for it! – I added, “Look, we’ve kept the restaurant up for too long and there’s the bill. You know what to do.”
It was about midnight, my ears fatigued-glued to my phone, when I heard faint crying.
“Oh my. Oh my.”
“How’s your new baby?”
“I suppose it’s not too late to say–” she cleared her throat– “ ‘I already took care of that’, right?”
“Bye Venus. Ooo, Mummy’s right here. Oh no, my mum–” I heard the shower turn on, a loud toss, followed by “beep, beep, beep”. I tuck my phone in, wondering how on earth Jamie got into this mess.
It’s no ordinary mess. It’s one for life. She’s only in her penultimate year of university, and it’s midterm season.
I think she once told me that some “lucrative part-time job” – a family business perhaps – pays her school fees, and . She just secured an internship and a year’s worth of summer exchange that only those with at least A- could get… how mad had I been to be secretly jealous about my best friend when…
“I just checked it out! It’s coming here tomorrow! Your phone-crazy friend is lucky.”
I said nothing, but Roy kept yakking about himself collecting iPhones as an investment to my annoyance. “…So you’re just another geek like me, so I think we’re a match made in heaven!”
“We’ve only just met,” I said.
“My valentine is Venus…” Roy grinned. “You are lovelier than that beautiful sculpture. We had a fabulous date and your friend got that iPhone 8. How charming. How rhyming. All’s well that ends well.”
Or so you thought.
The 21st century person’s habitual procrastination dictated that he take out his phone. Goggleeyed. Stiffened. Frozen, like a block of ice.
“Hello? Hello?” I said, keeping my distance.
Not even a tinkle.
No sooner had I peered over his screen than I screamed and fled, refusing to look back.
For that block of ice was on WhatsApp, reading a message from none other than… the fi-fi-fi-fi-fi whistle please…
1 Unread Message
jamie (compensated date)
its a boy