Is your freshers friend a sex offender? It’s nigh on impossible to tell.
Curveball: A person you meet in the early weeks of university who appears to possess the necessary social skills and etiquette for you to reward them with a friendship but, upon closer investigation, you discover they are in fact dangerously abnormal. Tossing you the hand grenade of a companionship with the Charles Manson of Freshers.
Example of usage: That guy you were chatting with last night was a serious curveball. I saw him buying Scotch eggs and firewood at Tesco’s this morning.
The unique opportunity that university affords to reinvent oneself means that some students seize the occasion with both mitts to build a new persona. They do so in the beautiful knowledge that four months in a darkened attic, jacking off to the Sims can be re-imagined as a summer romance with elegant swathes of John Travolta.
Any re-branding campaign can be bolstered with investment in a gap year. Volunteer and join up with the band of perfumed laborers as they tour Africa, digging holes and uploading Facebook photos. These people love nothing more than to sleep under the stars. All five of them.
Gap years are also well-suited if the character you possess is hollow and lifeless, like chrome Terminator balls. You can then simply plaster over any personal inadequacies with tales that have been milked from South American coke dens or table tennis in Bangkok. Yeah, they’ll like that.
Consider the gap year as curveball preseason, the real grafting starts at university. Here the curveball must earn the trust of their peers, often by engaging in extravagant acts of showmanship; dirty pints are often involved. Be wary of the curveball that uses chunder as social currency. Throwing up for the amusement of others ranks slightly above being a back-up dancer for Lil’ John on the scale of self-respect.
Curveballs base their research on popular media, trawling through episodes of Skins for pointers. As a result, expect them to be well-versed in skills such as pint-downing and flat cap maintenance. You might have the pleasure of meeting a curveball that chucks the text book out the window in favour of the big-game play. This high-risk strategy involves undertaking an act of such outright social rebellion that it demands the attention of their year, brushes with the law being a popular option. A night in a jail cell should be penciled into the CV of any prospective BNOC ( see Big Name On Campus, http://www.durhamone.co.uk/features/a-day-in-the-life-of-a-durham-bnoc/).
With all this re-branding under their belt, you might think it difficult to identify a curveball. Not if you know where to look. Facebook is the traditional testing ground. ‘Favorite quotes’ on the profile along the lines of “Is Egypt a continent?” and liking novelty Facebook pages such as ‘Calling your penis Ronaldinho cos it can lob Seamen from 40yds.’ All classic curveball behaviour.
Smoking out a curveball often requires efforts above and beyond the digital sphere. Do they bring their own condiments to the dining hall? Is their iTunes library composed of ‘Now’ compilations? Investigation people! A popular method of examination employed by students is playing the drinking game ‘I never’, but any curveball worth their salt will breeze straight through this.
Like a yeast infection, curveballs can be notoriously difficult to shake off. Outright rejection is the worst thing you can do; no one wants a potential Norman Bates with your photograph on their dartboard. When confronted with a curveball stay calm and simply dial the local pest control . I’ve met the Durham man, his shotgun’s loaded and he has a Fiat Punto parked outside. In other words, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.