Katie Friedman Gives Up Texting!
By Tommy Greenwald, J.P. Coovert
Roaring Brook Press Copyright © 2015 Tommy Greenwald
All rights reserved.
A BUSY MORNING
Here's what happenedbefore breakfast on Monday, April 23:
I texted Hannah Spivero: I need to talk to you at lunch.
She texted me back: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]
I texted her back: Stuff
She texted me back: What kind of stuff?
I texted her back: Nareem stuff.
She texted me back. Got it. KK
* * *
I posted a picture of my dog staring at herself in the mirror.
* * *
I got a text from Becca Clausen: Mom says yes to rehearsal wednesday
I texted her back: Yay! Lots to do! Talent show in two weeks! Should we rehearse Saturday, too?
She texted me back: Dunno, might have basketball
I texted her back: Noooooooo
* * *
Then I texted Charlie Joe Jackson: Ugh
He texted me back: What?
I texted him back: Nareem thing
He texted me back: Oooh
* * *
Then I got in the shower.
* * *
Here's what happened during breakfast on Monday, April 23:
I got a text from Nareem Ramdal: Hey
I texted him back: Hey
He texted me back: See you at school
I texted him back: Yup
* * *
Then I got a text from Eliza Collins: Hi Katie!
I texted her back: Hi
She texted me back: Did you do the math?
I texted her back: Yes
She texted me back: Can i take a quick look in homeroom?
I texted her back: Again?
She texted me back: Last time i swear!!!
I texted her back: I guess
She texted me back: You're the best!
* * *
I texted Hannah: Eliza is driving me crazy
Hannah texted me back: Duh
I texted Hannah back: Can't take it anymore.
* * *
Then I texted Becca: Can Sammie bring her drums to rehearsal?
I got a text back: Dunno will ask her
Then I looked up and saw my parents looking at me. They were both shaking their heads.
* * *
Here's what happened on the bus ride to school on Monday, April 23:
I texted Charlie Joe: Eliza is so annoying sometimes
I got a text from Charlie Joe: Sometimes?
* * *
Then I texted my mom: Are you picking me up after school?
She texted me back: Can't, working, take bus okay?
I texted her back: K
She texted me back: K is not a word, and stop texting in school.
I texted her back: I'm on the bus
She texted me back: Got to go, love you honey.
I texted her back: K
She texted me back: Very funny.
* * *
I got another text from Charlie Joe: Good luck with the Nareem thing
I texted him back: THX gonna need it
* * *
Then we got to school, and the day began.
THE NAREEM THING
"The Nareem thing," in case you're wondering, was me thinking I might break up with my boyfriend, Nareem Ramdal.
Nareem and I had been going out for nine months, which is approximately eight months and twenty-one days longer than the average middle school relationship. But that's not why I thought it was maybe time to break up.
I thought it was maybe time to break up because I wasn't sure I liked him anymore. You know—liked him liked him.
Hannah ended up asking me about it at lunch. "What was the Nareem stuff you wanted to talk about?" she whispered.
"I'm thinking of breaking up with him," I whispered back.
"Hey, no secrets you two," said Celia Barbarossa, who was sitting next to Hannah. "Especially if it involves the opposite sex. Anything you need to tell us?"
"Maybe," I said. "It's about Nareem. He's awesome, of course. I just think that maybe, you know, it's time."
"Why would you want to break up with Nareem?" Hannah asked. "He's like the greatest guy on earth."
I was pretty sure that Hannah didn't think that Nareem was the greatest guy on earth. I was pretty sure that Hannah thought Jake Katz was the greatest guy on earth. Hannah and Jake were the current world record-holders for longest middle school couple—they'd been going out for almost two years. Everybody was pretty sure they were going to get married.
"Well, the thing is—" I said, but then I stopped.
Hannah was texting.
I looked around at the rest of the table—Jake, Phil Manning, Celia Barbarossa, Timmy McGibney, and Jessica Greenfield.
Everyone was staring at their phones. They were either texting, Instagraming, playing a game, or loading some app that had just been invented.
Jessica texted something and laughed; then Celia read something and laughed.
So, those two weren't just texting. They were texting each other.
I'm sure I had a very irritated look on my face, but it didn't matter, since no one was looking at me. "Seriously, you guys?"
No response. I said again, "Seriously?"
One or two heads looked up.
"What?" said Jessica.
"What do you mean, 'what'?" I said. "I'm trying to talk about something important."
"We're totally listening," said Phil, who totally wasn't.
"Forget it," I said.
Hannah felt bad, I could tell, but not that bad—a little bad. "No, come on Katie, I really am listening. Tell us about Nareem." I could feel her pushing SEND while she said it.
"Yep, I agree, Katie, Nareem is totally awesome," added Celia, who never took her eyes off her phone.
I could feel my ears start to burn with frustration.
"THAT'S NOT EVEN WHAT I SAID!" I said, loudly.
That got everybody's attention.
"You guys are so annoying," I added, not as loudly.
"What do you mean, we're annoying?" asked Timmy. "Everybody uses their phone at lunch. That's what we do. You use yours just as much as anyone else."
"This stuff is important," Phil pointed out. "My followers count on me." He showed Timmy a picture, and they both cracked up.
"Whatever," I said. "I don't usually just sit there like a robot and text people sitting right next to me!"
"Yes, you do," Jake said, unhelpfully.
I thought about arguing some more, but I didn't. He was right. I usually texted all during lunch, too. Everybody texted at lunch, because it was the only time you were allowed to use your phone at school. But this was different. I had something important to discuss, and I wanted to actually talk about it.
"Okay fine, maybe I text at lunch sometimes, but now that I see you guys doing it, it looks really stupid."
"You're right, it's stupid," said Hannah, actually putting away her phone. That made everybody else put away their phones, too. Hannah was kind of a leader that way. "We're sorry."
"Let's talk about Nareem," added Timmy.
"I don't want to talk about it anymore," I said. Yes, I admit it—I was being childish.
Someone came up behind me—I turned around to see my friend Becca Clausen, who always seemed to be there when I needed her most.
I looked up at her—which was a long way up, by the way, because she was like seven feet tall.
"What's wrong?" she said.
"How could you tell something was wrong?"
"I know you," she said. "That, and the fact that your face is twitching."
Apparently my face twitches when I get upset.
I got up and walked toward the drink machines. Becca followed.
"I think I might break up with Nareem," I told her. "But I feel really badly about it."
"Why what? Why am I breaking up with him? Or why do I feel badly about it?"
"Both, I guess."
I thought for a second. "I'm breaking up with him because I don't really like him that way anymore. And I feel bad because I still like him another way."
"As a friend."
Becca nodded. "That makes complete sense."
See? Some friends just get you.
Ms. Ferrell, my guidance counselor, came over to get a drink. "I'm counting on you guys for the talent show," she told us. "It's a week from Saturday!"
Becca and I started a band last year, called CHICKMATE. Being in a band was kind of the most awesome thing that had ever happened to me.
"Yup," Becca said. "We're rehearsing Wednesday."
Ms. Ferrell smiled. "Terrific! I'm really looking forward to seeing you play. First stop, the talent show. Next stop, world tour!"
"Ha-ha," I said.
"Ha-ha yourself," said Ms. Ferrell, winking as she walked away.
Becca and I looked at each other.
"What was that about?" I asked.
Becca shook her head. "I have no idea. Maybe she heard we were good or something."
Becca's phone buzzed, and she took it out. She read a text and started giggling.
"What?" I asked.
"Nothing," said Becca. "Just Jackie." Jackie was our keyboard player. Becca asked her to join the band because they played basketball together. Jackie wasn't the greatest musician in the world, but she was really funny—and besides, in middle school you take what you can get.
I watched Becca text for a minute, then got bored. "I'm going back to the table."
"Okay," Becca said, giggling at another text from Jackie or somebody.
I went back over and sat down. Everybody put away their phones as soon as they saw me coming.
"Do you still want to talk about the Nareem thing?" asked Hannah. "My phone is totally in my pocket, in case you do."
"So is mine," said Phil. "Way down in my pocket. I'm completely available to talk about some deep, heavy stuff."
He laughed, as did Timmy and Jake. Boys are so annoying, when they're not awesome.
"No, I'm fine," I said. "Thanks, though."
Which was right when Nareem walked up.
"Hey," he said.
"Hey," I said back.
"What are you guys talking about?"
I nodded. Then I took out my phone and started texting, just like everybody else.
CHANGE OF PLANS
After spending all math period thinking about what to do, I decided to definitely, absolutely, positively break up with Nareem.
In a text.
Not exactly brave, I know. But I wanted to get it over with, so the next period, when we were both in study hall, I texted him—which was completely illegal, by the way.
Me: There's something i need to tell you.
Him: Okay, i have something to tell you, too.
Wow. All of a sudden I felt a little nauseous. Was he going to break up with me first?
I put away my phone and walked quickly over to his table. When he saw me coming, he smiled, and I immediately knew he wasn't breaking up with me at all.
"I have amazing news," he said.
He sat up straight, to demonstrate the importance of what he was about to say. "Do you want to go see Plain Jane with me tomorrow night?"
Wait a second.
Did he just say Plain Jane??
I'm not proud to admit it, but that changed everything.
You have to understand: Plain Jane is my favorite band. They're just like CHICKMATE. They're all girls; they seem like they're all good friends; and they have a great time.
And get this: their lead singer, Jane Plantero, grew up in Eastport, and even went to our middle school!
So basically, the only way we're different is that they're rock stars and we're not.
"Plain Jane?" I said, probably too loudly for study hall. "You got tickets to Plain Jane? On a school night?"
Nareem looked down shyly, the way he always did when he felt proud about something. "Yes. Also, if you would like, we have been invited to go backstage and meet the band after the concert."
OMG, I thought, I can't believe I was ever considering breaking up with you.
I hugged him. "Are you kidding?!"
"Quiet, you two," said Mrs. Argentino, the study hall monitor.
"Backstage passes?" I whispered. "Seriously, truly, and honestly?"
"Yes," Nareem whispered back, his eyes wide. He didn't want to get Mrs. Argentino mad. He didn't want to get anyone mad.
"Because of your dad?"
Nareem's father is a lawyer who works in the music business. That's all I knew, until that second. If I knew he could get us backstage passes to Plain Jane concerts, I would have asked him a lot more questions about his career, and probably washed his car and taken out his garbage a few times.
I put my hand on Nareem's arm. "I would love to go," I said. "You are so incredibly sweet to invite me. Thank you so much."
"You're welcome," Nareem said, blushing slightly. "And now, we should probably get to work before Mrs. Argentino becomes angry."
As I watched Nareem open his backpack and take out his homework, I thought about the concert, and I got more and more excited. I felt so happy. I felt so grateful that Nareem would do this for me. I felt so lucky to be going out with him.
It's interesting, the tricks your mind can play on you when it wants to.
A CONVERSATION, KIND OF
I bumped into Charlie Joe in the hallway on the way to my next class.
"How was study hall?" he asked.
"Was Nareem there?"
"What did you guys talk about?"
We stared at each other awkwardly.
It would have been easier to just text Charlie Joe, so we could have a real conversation. If we'd been texting, he could have said ARE YOU EVER GOING TO BREAK UP WITH NAREEM OR NOT? And I could have answered, I WILL WHEN THE TIME IS RIGHT! STOP ASKING ME! YOU'RE BEING ANNOYING!
But we weren't texting each other, so we couldn't say any of those things.
Charlie Joe started to walk away. "So, uh, I'll talk to you later," he said.
"He invited me to a concert," I blurted out.
Charlie Joe stopped. "What concert?"
"Wow, you totally love them."
"I know, I do."
We looked at each other. I think he could read my mind. That I wouldn't be breaking up with Nareem after all. And not necessarily for the right reasons.
But all he said was, "Text me later."
And all I said was, "Okay."
DON'T CONTROL, CONNECT!
The first thing you notice at a concert is the noise. It's like an airplane taking off, over and over again. You hear it before you even walk into the arena.
The second thing you notice is the arena itself. Huge. Filled with thousands of people. Mostly girls like me, between the ages of ten and twenty I think. Which is the age when our lungs are working at maximum capacity.
I guess what I'm saying is, the place was loud.
Before we went inside, Mr. Ramdal pulled me, Nareem, and Nareem's little sister Ru aside.
"WE STICK TOGETHER!" he yelled over the crowd. "NO ONE LEAVES MY SIGHT!" At least that's what I think he said. He might have said, "NO ONE LEAVES MY SIDE !" Same difference.
"OKAY!" we all yelled back.
Then Mr. Ramdal gave us these bracelets to put on, which immediately turned us into incredibly important people. It got us through about eight security checks and down about three levels of stairs until we ended up seven rows from the stage.
I turned around and saw about 14,000 people with worse seats than me. It's easy to feel pretty superior when that happens.
We got to our seats just before eight, which was five minutes before the show was supposed to start. Then we waited for an hour.
"THIS HAPPENS SOMETIMES," Nareem's father shouted, as warm- up music blasted away. "MUSIC PEOPLE ARE LATE QUITE OFTEN. FOR MEETINGS AS WELL AS FOR CONCERTS."
We nodded, staring at everything, including our bracelets.
At exactly nine o'clock, the lights went out.
Then it sounded like a thousand planes taking off at the same time.
Planes with huge engines, and filled with thousands of screaming teenage girls.
I heard someone plunk some notes on a guitar, then someone bang a drum a few times. My heart started to race.
Then, all of a sudden ... BAM!
The music exploded.
The first chords of "Life Is for the Living" began, one of my favorite Plain Jane songs. Lights flashed everywhere, then suddenly, the band was right in front of us—no more than thirty feet away! My eyes zeroed in on Jane Plantero, guitarist and lead singer. She sang right to me. I swear. (Continues...)
Excerpted from Katie Friedman Gives Up Texting! by Tommy Greenwald, J.P. Coovert. Copyright © 2015 Tommy Greenwald. Excerpted by permission of Roaring Brook Press.
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