Now I realise that there are some people out there who will frown at what they’re about to read next, but I don’t care. I pay my taxes every year. I’m a decent citizen. I don’t jay walk and, most importantly, I have nothing but the highest undiluted praise for the government (my proposal for the PAP’s next general election campaign is “Yay, Mr Lee!” Catchy, no?).
So, my point is that I think I’ve earned the right to declare, loudly and proudly, that I like to sleep in public. Not – for those of you with bad eyesight or mild dyslexia – sleep around in public, but just sleep. Whichever mode of transportation I may be taking – planes, trains, automobiles or, indeed, anything in which a rhythmic rocking motion is involved (a camel is my absolute favourite mode of transportation) – you will find me napping. It doesn’t matter that I might be leaning against the train door, sitting upright on the bus, or slouched down on my plane seat, within two minutes of settling down, I’m sound asleep.
It’s a talent, I know. Some people can sing in tune. Some people can play a Bach concerto. Some people can programme a new TV while others can bend over and touch their toes. I can nap anywhere.
Meanwhile, my friend Warren thinks that people who sleep in public are a disgrace and should be locked up.
“Isn’t that a bit severe?” I once asked him.
“Certainly not! You don’t poo in public, do you?”
Leave it to Saffy to pipe up at that moment to admit at she had once been forced to pee in the Botanic Gardens on account of the fact that she had had too much coffee to drink over lunch and as she pointed out, “When you gotta go, you gotta go!” And so she did. Right behind some bushes in the Orchid Garden.
“Yes, but that was an emergency,” said Warren who has always had a crush on Saffy and would rather have his finger-nails pulled out than to contradict anything she says. “Sleeping in public is not an emergency. You can sleep at home. You don’t need to sleep in public. But peeing in public in an emergency is acceptable!” he said firmly, while beaming at her.
“But what about on the plane?” I asked, cleverly finding a loophole in his argument.
“You’re crossing time zones. Sleeping in those circumstances is a natural and equally acceptable activity.”
“Huh,” said Saffy. Later in private, she told me that it was a great pity that Warren was already married to the obnoxious Mary Wong because there was nothing more sexy about a man than a piercing intelligence.
“I still think he’s being ridiculous about this whole sleeping in public thing,” I said stubbornly. “There’s no rule that says you can’t! And let me tell you, if there was, Singapore would have had it years ago!”
“Well, I think it’s an amazing skill,” Saffy said loyally. “I wish I could sleep like you. I am still suffering from the worst insomnia!”
Amanda says she’s with Warren on this one. “There’s nothing more unattractive than watching people sleep on the train. Their heads are lolling all over the place, sometimes they dribble, and then they lean their heads on your shoulder and start snoring! It’s disgusting!” she said with a delicious shiver.
“Wait a minute, wait a minute!” Saffy interrupted. “When was the last time you were on a bus?”
“Oh, never!” Amanda replied without the least trace of social embarrassment. “A friend of mine sent me this YouTube clip of this person who fell asleep on the train. It’s actually quite interesting how spacious the MRT is!”
Saffy later said that it constantly astonished her that there were people in this world like Amanda. “You know, if I didn’t actually live with her, I wouldn’t believe she existed. How do you live your life without once getting on a train? I’m horribly jealous! I want to never have been on a train! Dammit, why did my parents have to be school teachers and not property developers?”
I said that I was sure the Prime Minister had never been on a train either.
“That’s different, he’s the Prime Minister!” Saffy said, a soft misty look clouding her eyes whenever the subject of the PM came up. “If he was wasting time on the MRT, no one would be running this country.”
Which, in turn, led me to wonder if the Prime Minister ever sleeps. That, and what other public bushes Saffy has peed behind. Amanda says you could go blind thinking about things like that.