During a food technology class in year 8, a guy called Mark asked me what I thought of Panayiota.
I should probably start with context - so I know what you're going to ask. Yes, food technology. My school didn't do what's commonly referred to as "home economics" (cooking); we took three technologies (resistant materials, textiles and food), up until year 9. For GCSEs we had to choose one of three, or design, as an alternative. I took food technology as a GCSE - but this happened in year 8, so we took all three.
Mark wasn't a friend, but he wasn't a nemesis either. He was a little guy, but kind of tough; he wasn't the sort of person I'd hang around with. But I had no ill will towards him, and I wouldn't think he towards me either. But it was the way that he approached me with a "you can trust me" that, with hindsight, predates David Cameron's similar rhetoric with about as much sincerity that put me on my guard. I was about 13 at this point, and was fixated on one specific girl.
Panayiota was a girl in my class who liked to be called "Yiota", with the T being pronounced as a D /jɒdə/, which inevitably led to her being called "Yoda" at points. The way some teachers handled pronunciation, you'd think that being called "Yoda" would be a better decision on her part. But I digress. I didn't know much about Yiota, beyond the way she looked and her last name (which I won't put here as, you know, anonymity). We had a few Panayiotas, being from a part of North London with a large Greek population, but I knew which one Mark was talking about.
I gave Mark a pithy response. I thought I knew what he was asking - did I fancy her? - but I didn't, and I wondered why he wasn't asking that, so I just fobbed him off by saying that I thought she was a girl, and that wasn't exactly a lie, she was a girl, so I technically didn't say anything wrong. Mark wasn't satisfied by my response.
Two years later, when I was in year 10 and still doing food technology, Mark bustled past me in a science lab and muttered something like, "hey, Yoita loves you," and then disappeared. I went to sit down at my desk, next to Yiota, who greeted me with her usual cheery, enthusiastic salutation. I returned it, blithely, before taking my seat and chatting to her for a bit before our teacher called the register. And, suddenly, it hit me like a ton of really hitty bricks which hit.
I wasn't supposed to fancy Yiota. She fancied me.
That explained everything. Mark's initial question and his follow-up two years later, with occasional leading statements in between. Yiota's friendliness towards me even when we didn't often socialise and weren't really part of the same clique. She was friends with some of my bullies, actually, which made the whole situation odd. But we had good chemistry when we talked, and we made the whole class laugh during year 9 drama, in which we had to play a couple fanatically in love with each other. I did wonder why everyone laughed so much, even though it was a comedic scene and I was giving it my all.
But even if that was the case (and it all fits into place; my mind doesn't always do analysis, but when it does so, it does so well), it doesn't explain a few things. If Yiota was attracted to me - and no, I don't see how either, but never mind that - then why? We had absolutely nothing in common. We were in a few of the same classes, but had different interests. We took different GCSEs; we hung around with different people. We were in the same form for a while, but never sat together or talked together. Physically, I wasn't much to look at (although I didn't sit with my legs apart, which must have helped a bit). I just didn't see where the attraction was.
Thing is, I can't tell if I would have acted any differently if I had worked this out earlier - if, indeed, I am right in my assumptions. I liked Yiota, but as I say, I didn't know much about her. I wouldn't have had much to share with her because I had well-publicised attraction towards a whole host of girls who weren't her, and that would have been be a bastard move of the highest calibre. And as for Mark, well, his story went a different way eventually: a guy who looked like Dewey from Scream started dating a mutual friend of Mark's, Yiota's, and mine; he told me on MSN that he found hanging out with Yiota annoying; by year 13 I was in a relationship anyway, so nobody seemed to pay me any mind any more.
I wonder what happened to her. A quick Google search confirms that she's now rich.
Good for her, I suppose.