I can’t tell you how grateful I am for my iPad and how relieved I am that I no longer have to pretend to be reading a newspaper.
Have you noticed how people are always judging you by which page you’re on? If you’re poring over the front page – always about some horrible natural disaster or dismal week on the stock exchange – you’re perceived as the serious type. Read the back sports page, and you’re jock. Chuckle over the comics, and you’re a kid. Work on the crossword puzzle, and you’re either an intellectual or 62 years old or both. Read the obituaries, and people assume that someone you know has died, or that you’re sickly morbid – either way, you get pity.
Me, I’m always reading anything to do with Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber. Those kids are total train wrecks and my day just isn’t complete without an update on the crazy stuff they’ve been up to lately. But reading about them openly on the train opens you up to all kinds of sneering judgment. They won’t come right out and say it, but you can tell disdain is oozing out of every pore, even if they might be closet Wrecking Ball fans.
Saffy says I must have been a very lonely child. “Seriously? You think people on the train really care about what you’re reading? Did you have any friends in school?” she’ll ask.
I don’t care. I know people judge. Because I do and if I do, then other people do as well. The logic is flawless.
Anyway, the thing about tablets is that, now, we’re all free to read whatever the hell we want and no one is going to really know.
A few days ago, Amanda came home brandishing the latest copy of 8DAYS with a topless Allan Wu on the cover.
“I was on the train and this kid…” she began breathlessly.
Saffy held up her hand. “Wait a minute. Hold on. You. You were on the train?”
Amanda paused. “Well, I couldn’t find a taxi. I waited half an hour in the sun and nearly died. I honestly don’t think there are any taxis in Singapore. So, I took the train.”
“I must go buy 4D,” Saffy said.
“Anyway, this kid on the train was reading 8DAYS and, I mean, look at this man!” Amanda trailed her long lacquered nails over the ridges of Allan Wu’s abs. “This is what a divorced man looks like! I got off at the station and spent another half hour looking for a copy. It’s completely sold out!”
“So how did you get this?” Saffy asked as she grabbed the magazine out of Amanda’s hands and scrutinized the cover.
“I saw another kid reading one and paid him ten bucks for it,” Amanda announced triumphantly. “What? Why are you looking at me like that? It was a win-win situation!”
Saffy flipped through the pages. “Why is there only one topless picture of him?” she asked with severe displeasure. “And why are there no nude shots? For ten bucks, you’d expect at least some bun action!”
“That’s not the best part,” Amanda said as she sat down on the couch next to Saffy. “Lemme show you. Here. It says here in the interview that he lives in Toa Payoh!”
Silence descended over the room.
Eventually, Saffy sighed. “He lives in our neighbourhood? Really?”
“‘In a small black-and-white colonial apartment in the northeast region of Singapore…’” Amanda read.
“But…but that could be anywhere,” Saffy began.
“No, but later…later, he says…” Amanda flipped a page, “‘The kids go to an international school and I live about 10 minutes’ walk away in Toa Payoh.’”
“There are black and white apartments in Toa Payoh?” Saffy asked.
“But don’t you see what that means? We just need to find schools within 10 minutes walk from here and work backwards to find him! We have his coordinates!”
Of course, Barney Chen, lifetime President of the Allan Wu Fan Club (membership: 1) and committed stalker, has already pinpointed the exact location of Allan Wu’s new home.
“Where?!” Saffy screamed at him.
“Like I’m going to tell you losers? He’s back and he’s mine!” Barney growled and, out of sheer habit, flexed his muscles.
“Oh for the love of God, for the last time, he’s not gay!” Amanda sighed.
“Yeah,” Saffy chimed. “Because if he was…that would mean…that would mean…help me out here, Amanda.”
“That would mean Li-Lin is a man!”
As I later said to my best friend Karl, if that little bit of revelation didn’t make the front-page news which everyone would read, I don’t know what would.