The “vroom”, the “boomz” and the radish

There comes a point in time when you know that you’ve been getting way too much of something. The last thing you want is for it to get in your face everywhere you look or turn to.

Unfortunately, there have been way too much surrounding three events from the past weeks and it irritates me immensely.

Firstly, it’s the “vroom”. The hacks lap it up to no end. Every man and his dog decide to take advantage of this “artificially” created buzz and storm by taking every opportunity to link their advertisements to the “vroom”. On the radio, you hear people talking about it. On the telly, not a minute passes without hearing the (now) highly irritating sound of a souped up engine. You see red engines on almost every page in the papers. The “F” term turns up almost everywhere you look or everything you hear and there were occasions I was tempted to join in the fun by being liberal in my use of another “f” word.

This is notwithstanding the chaos this “vroom” thing creates in the heart of town. Apparently no one thought about how it could spur racer-wannabes to soup up their engines and zip across lanes on the expressways during the peak hour for that “vroom” adrenaline rush. Or making their engines as boomingly loud as possible so that they get the attention from every man and his dog along the expressway, from Pasir Panjang to Pasir Ris. And I wonder how much fuel these machines (including the racer wannabes) guzzle and the amount of carbon monoxide they displace.

Talking about “vroom”, there is a word, no it’s a term, that rhymes and is threatening to go into our Singlish dictionary. It all started when some beauty queen decided to show the world what poor diction is on some internet video. Within days, or even hours, every man and his dog were trying to speak like her in a tired bid to garner some giggles. By the office water cooler, this phenomenon rears its ugly head. Firstly, a choice selection of the beauty queen’s speak would be uttered. Then, you hear some sniggers and giggles. The next thing you know, another choice selection gets uttered and the whole cycle repeats itself. Beyond the water cooler, you get the same tired jokes about “leopard preens” being thrown about in the office e-mail server, the same water cooler conversation gets reprised in the train cabins, and at food places. Before you know it, some self-styled Dinosaur of the Blogging Kingdom would come up with yet another tired joke-of-a-podcast about the “boomz”. Oh wait…

While the dust tries to settle, we have almost the whole island now talking about two seemingly unrelated issues – credit card fraud and beauty queens – in many a single sentence. Can you please send someone to (South) Africa already?

Last but not least, the news-starved local media was collectively reporting on “the Wedding of the Year”. Our dear celebrity couple of this wee island tied the knot recently and you know this place is news-starved when you get reports about their wedding dinner on the front pages of the rags. Going by what was covered, sellers of white radish and curry vegetable rice are rubbing their hands with glee. And I’ll wager that the “sour-sweet-bitter-spicy” routine that “sisters” of the bride subject the bridegroom (and his “brothers”) with on the first day of the wedding would become a novelty in the considerable future.

Now, unlike the “vroom” and the “boomz”, the local celebrity couple is married and all that fuss and dust surrounding this piece of news (which is not really news to me) should die down soon.

However, the “vroomz” has not really departed from our fair shores. It will return around this same time for the next couple of years, bringing back chaos in the heart of town and the “F” word. The “boomz” will take the crown as the latest colloquial buzzword on this wee island as a noun, adverb, adjective, a verb or a combination of all. Our being-worked-to-the-bone educators on this wee island can expect the word to appear in their students’ compositions anytime soon.

You know what? In comparison, Santa Claus and the jingles he brings on the airwaves aren’t that irritating after all.


The past few weeks have been weird. But perhaps these weird events occur as we move closer to the big day when the years of my youth draw further away.

Firstly, the female parental unit has been upping the ante in terms of the persistent reminders-cum-nags about how I should just find a wife and get married. While the learnt-behaviour – developed through the years – would dictate that I would shrug all of these off nonchalantly, there was an added element to this routine recently. I was reminded about how I brought a girl home when I was 16 and the female parental unit, on finding out about it, warned me against doing “naughty things”.

Yes, we might have been alone in the house but we were only watching a compilation of music videos that the girl brought, this being the pre-Internet days. The gyrating dancers – complete with the sexually suggestive moves – in some of the videos did not cause a flush of adolescence hormones for me (not sure about the girl though, but given my less-than-appealing appearance, I don’t think her hormones would stir a centimetre, let alone rage).

Yes, both she and I might have plonked ourselves on my bed but it was purely out of tiredness. And in my head, I could still picture the scene as she lay at one end of the bed, while I was on another and we talked, gossiped and had a chat. She might have looked tantalising in the CJC shorts (which was actually mine, but she wanted to change out of her CHIJ pinafore), but nothing happened. Perhaps my hormones went to sleep. (I didn’t even know then that having sex with a minor – the girl was a year younger – was a serious matter.)

Suffice to say, that was the only time in my life when I brought a girl to my home. In the female parental unit’s mind, this 18-year drought was far too long a period for a mature male to remain single and, horror of horrors, unattached.

So, as the reminder-cum-nag dissipated, thoughts about this girl — how I brought her home and how it remained simply a curiously innocent incident in my life — surfaced.

A day later, I was tucking into my food at some restaurant when a curious but unsettling question was posed.

“So, what kind of a girl are you looking for as a partner?”

It’s no rocket science where this would lead to. Gamely, I shared my criteria (which gets simpler and shorter by the year).

To cut a long story short, two blind dates – one involving someone in the office – are in the pipeline. Together with a call from a dating agency (which obviously didn’t do their homework well, or at least find out the ballooning circumference of my girth), these are interesting times.

But I suspect the next time I bring a female to my home, it could well be a she-cat that I’ve always wanted to have as a pet.


Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.
And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy;
And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields.
And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief.

– Kahlil Gibran

September’s thoughts

It’s just the silence that overwhelms him
Taunting him to dark thoughts
Carrying images of grey
Emotions that drain
All of life spirals

Attempts to find all that meaning
Thoughts of walking away
Back into that shell
Where familiar thoughts
Embrace, only him

He’d imagine another world or time
When Love was a summer
Of dandelions and gerberas
Tulips and daisies
Dancing to the warm June breeze

A winter too long, too dreary
Of words too fleeting, faces too blur
Like a wick almost burnt to its end
Love fades, flickers, spurts
And then it’s darkness
That shall descend

These aren’t “it”

It was supposed to be a chance for him to pop the question. He had been planning it for days. Possibilities, thoughts, scenarios and permutations occupied his mind. It would mean either a fluttering butterfly dancing in the warmest of sunshine, or the gooey slug plodding in the mud amidst the thunderstorm.

She was smiling as she recounted her frustrations at work — anecdotes, funny incidents and databases. He would listen attentively, not wanting to miss a word. Her immaculately trimmed eyebrows would rise whenever she was about to reveal the climax of the story. Her eyes would sparkle for that miniscule of a second before delivering the punchline to her joke. He would chuckle politely in response.

Yet, there was a sense of “this isn’t it” filling all of his senses as the lunch date wore on. There was something different about this one, a voice reminded him in his head. It made sense because this was a far cry from that little sake adventure they had a few weeks ago.

There was something about her today that not only held him back from asking that one question, but also got him to shaft it to the deepest recesses of his mind.

It didn’t take long before “this isn’t it” morphed into “she isn’t the one”.


He was walking towards the train station and listening to Kay Tse, when the headphones went silent. Still getting used to his new phone, he thought the headphones decided to die on him. As his hand reached into his pocket, he could feel the phone vibrating. Pleased about how he would never miss a call now, he checked the number on the screen. It wasn’t something familiar.

He took the call. A pleasant female voice was on the other line. For that few seconds while she spoke, he was brought back to a time long ago and his head was, for that few fleeting seconds, flooded with sweet memories of young adulthood.

“… and we would like to offer you a complimentary profiling session,” the girl on the other line chirped.

“Complimentary profiling session? What’s that about?” he asked.

“To help you find your perfect date,” was the answer.

In his heart, there were now cynical giggles. If it wasn’t for political correctness and what-nots, he would have quipped about how, on receipt of his physical profile (including the paunch protruding from his shirt), this dating agency that the girl represented would never call him again.

“Why don’t you drop me an e-mail? I’ll see how I can answer some of the questions for the profile.”

“Okay sure. What’s your e-mail address?”

Curiosity got the better of him after he gave the girl his e-mail address.

“Say, how did you guys get my number?”

“Oh, a friend of yours recommended you to us.”

As he ended a call, a smile flashed on his face. His heart was erupting in rapturous laughter of the cynical kind.

Obviously “that friend” has never seen me in person.