Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Phone Etiquette

You know how 8DAYS magazine runs a ‘Whatever Happened To…’ column at the front? Invariably, my initial reaction to the people they profile is either, “My God, I thought she was dead!”, or “My God, he hasn’t aged well!”
            Just the other day, Amanda suddenly looked up from her iPad and said, “Hey, whatever happened to that cranky old ang moh?”
            From the comfy depths of the sofa, Saffy struggled up onto her elbows. “Can you be specific? There are lots of them around these days.”
            Amanda waved her hand. “You know, that guy who was harassing that poor kid in the MRT for wearing that tee-shirt.”
            Saffy immediately lost interest and collapsed back into a horizontal position on the sofa. “Oh him. Who cares? He reminds me of this guy who keeps harassing me on Tinder.”
            Amanda’s eyes met mine immediately. As one, our eyeballs rotated around to Saffy.
            You’re on Tinder?” Amanda said finally. Very slowly, careful not to make any sudden moves that would attract attention, I tapped my iPad, poised to start taking notes. You’d be surprised how much good material is out there if you’re prepared.
            From the sofa, Saffy’s bosom inflated like the emergency life-raft on a plane. “You say that with such judgment!” she complained to the ceiling. “What are you saying?”
            Amanda looked at me and then back at Saffy. “Uhm, that you’re dating Bradley?”
            Saffy sighed. “Honestly, that’s just like saying to someone, ‘But you’re already reading a book right now. You can’t go into Kinokuniya!’ Hello, I’m allowed to browse!”
            You could tell that Amanda, who took philosophy at Harvard and got an A for it, knew there was something very wrong with Saffy’s reasoning, but she was also unable to quite put her finger on it.
            “How does she do that?” she later complained to me.
            “It’s definitely a life skill,” I told her. “But wouldn’t it be funny if the guy stalking her is the same MRT ah-pek bully?”
            Amanda frowned. “It’s so strange that he was never tracked down. I swear, these days, you can’t even sneeze without someone filming you and putting it up on YouTube!”
            Sharyn says that she has had to beg her husband, renowned up and down Bishan Street 11 for his fiery temper, to not lose it in public.
            “Wah, the udder day, hor, I ask him go to Tiong Bahru and buy rojak and the uncle don’t give him enough tau pok, like dat also can scold people!” Sharyn’s eyes, already unnaturally enlarged behind her thick spectacle, widened to alarming proportions. “I tell him he lucky no one film him, ah. Sar-denly on Facebook, chiam ah!”
            “It’s why I am always dressed nicely in public these days,” Saffy said, even as she looked down at her impressive bosom, presently encased in a tight tee-shirt that read ‘I am an accountant and these are my best assets’.
            “You just never know who’s out there stalking me,” she added happily.
            Sharyn rolled her eyes. “You wear tings like that, confirm you are followed by chee-ko-peck, one!”
            Saffy puffed up. “Excuse me, but we’re in the 21st-century. I should be allowed to wear what I want without being objectified as a sex object, Sharyn!” 
            “Oh, issit?” Sharyn replied calmly.
            My friend Barney Chen says he’ll just die if he ever gets uploaded onto YouTube. “You have to be on your best behavior all the time!” he complained, his deep voice rumbling like boulders being rubbed together. “Especially anywhere that’s crowded. Like at the airport. And don’t get me started about toilets!”
            Amanda squealed. “What do you mean!”
            Barney’s impeccably groomed eyebrows knitted together. “Oh girl…don’t you know? You can’t even pee in peace these days. Especially if you’re a guy. I was once standing there just minding my own business when I suddenly noticed this guy a few urinals down pointing his phone in my direction!”
            Amanda breathed out in horror. “Shut. Up. People do that?”
            “When you look like we do, of course!” Barney said, somehow managing to look both affronted and pleased at the same time.
            Leave it to Sharyn to have the last word on the topic. “Hai-ya, you wear tight tight clothes like that Barney, of course people take pick-cher, lah! I oh-so take pick-cher, ah, I tell you. He so gorgeous. Like George Crooney! You see me, I look like auntie, what chee-ko-peck will film me in the toilet, I ask you?”
             Saffy patted her arm. “Don’t worry, Shazz. You’re a niche market. Somewhere out there is a weirdo with a phone who thinks you’re really hot.”

            “Aiyoh!” Sharyn said.

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