Anyone who’s spent any decent amount of time in Singapore will know that the government is nothing if not extremely concerned about our well-being. It wants us to be polite (hence the ‘Courtesy is for free’ campaign), considerate (‘Stand on the left’ rule on escalators), drug-free (death sentences, anyone?), and tidy (littering fines, but judging from the garbage on the streets after a recent night out on Mohamed Sultan Road, I’d say bring caning back).
On the whole, everything is remarkably effective. There’s nothing quite like the prospect of an inconvenient appointment with an executioner to make people in general, and drug dealers in particular, sit up and pay attention. But after my flatmate Saffy’s recent severe bout of flu, she is of the firm opinion that the government should seriously consider add sneezing in public to their list of crimes punishable by a mandatory death sentence.
So there she was in the crowded 7.05 p.m. northern line train from City Hall to Toa Payoh, minding her own business, as she puts it. Well, as much as a woman – who is barely five foot five in heels and, so, is usually in the position of having her face jammed into someone’s armpits – can be said to be minding her own business in a crowded train.
“Really, I wish people would use deodorant!” she complained from the depths of her sick bed. “Oh dear God, I feel like death warmed up! If I ever meet that little turd again, I’m gonna give it to him good. And not in a good way either!” she added grimly.
Saffy reports that, on this particular evening, it was hot and claustrophobic on the train. Because she’s been one of the last to board the train, she was jammed near the entrance, though there was, apparently, plenty of room in the middle of the cabin.
“Seriously, why don’t people move into the train instead of hanging around the entrance?” she complained.
“So when your station come, you easy get out, mah!” her best friend Sharyn, who’d come to visit, said. She was rewarded with a dark look. “Wah, like that also cannot say, ah!”
“You know what the problem was?” Saffy went on. “The problem was that I was too deep in my thoughts. I was thinking about how long it’s been since I’ve had sex, which then reminded me of my third date with Brad and that brought up the question of what exactly sex includes. Otherwise, I would have noticed the sniveling snot next to me!”
Saffy says that just as she was arriving at the unhappy conclusion that what she did with Brad in the front seat of his Mercedes SLX in the Shaw Centre car park did not, in fact, constitute sex, Sniveling Snot suddenly sneezed.
“It was like a typhoon!” Saffy reported. “It was like someone had turned on the overhead sprinkler. And at first that’s what I thought it was because I started panicking thinking there was a fire on the train but then I looked up and realized that there are no fire sprinklers on the train, so then I started thinking why aren’t there fire sprinklers on the train, when it rained again! I actually got droplets in my eyes!” Saffy said, her voice rising excitedly and a little croakily.
“So disgusting!” Sharyn said primly, shaking her head with disapproval.
Once Saffy realized the source of the sudden precipitation, she apparently reached out and squeezed Sniveling Snot’s crown jewels. And she squeezed hard. “It was instinctive!” Saffy sniffled with deep satisfaction.
At that moment, someone on the other side of Saffy turned around to see why Sniveling Snot was alternately groaning and gasping, looked down at the position of Saffy’s hand and said, “Ay, you, ah! Get a room, lah!”
“As if!” Saffy later said when she was in the midst of a full blown flu. “He was a pimply, reedy twit with cheap glasses and a bad haircut! It wasn’t as if Brad Pitt had sneezed on me. I can’t believe he gave me the flu, the low down scum sucking pig!”
“You’re lucky you’re not charged for assault!” Amanda said. “Don’t give me that look. You know I’m right! You can’t go around squeezing other men’s balls!” She paused and considered what she’d just said.
Saffy puffed up. “I’d like to see what would happen if he sneezed all over the Prime Minister!”
“Ooh, I’d love for the Prime Minister to sneeze all over me!” Amanda said with loyal adoration in her voice.
Saffy blew her nose hard. “Oh, get a room, Amanda!”