You’re a creep

I had an unsettling experience the other day.

A week ago, I was out and about running errands when I got to talking with a guy. We had a decent conversation, he was kind of cute and somewhat witty, so when he asked if I wanted to grab drinks with him later that evening, I thought, “Why not?”

We met at a neighborhood bar that I suggested—I’ve been there many times before, and it felt safe. The night started off fine: we got a few drinks and had a fun conversation.

The first time he touched my shoulder, I flinched a little, but shrugged it off. Then he touched my arm, and I moved away. Finally, when he touched a scar on my arm and asked how I got it, then patted me on the shoulder when I said I fell from ice-skating, I told him, “Can you please stop touching me?”

He stopped touching me for a while, so I thought everything was fine—until he touched my arm again. I shrank away visibly and reminded him not to touch me. Then it happened again.

Then things started getting weird.

It was getting late and the touching creeped me out, so I said I should head home. Then, he told me that I was beautiful, that he would like to spend more time with me, and asked if he could go with me.

“Go with me… to my home?”

“Yup.”

I said no, he can’t. He asked why. I told him his touching made me uncomfortable.

His response was crazy surprising. He said, “You girls need to lighten up! It was just some light touching. How is a guy supposed to know when it’s appropriate to start touching a girl?”

Like, what the fuck? I told him that the first few times he did it, I gave him the benefit of the doubt; when he persisted after I told him to stop, it was unambiguously inappropriate. “Did you not notice that I moved away quite obviously?”, I asked.

Then he said the weirdest shit ever. He went, “Yes, I noticed. But the guy who touched you is the same guy who asked you out—obviously you liked him, because you said yes. Being physically friendly is natural to me, it’s how I am. You should’ve been more polite and respected that—you shouldn’t have moved away, that’s rude.”

What the fuck?!

I told him that I agreed to grab a friendly drink, not a date drink. There were no expectations for anything to happen post-drinks. I mean seriously, it wasn’t a date! He just asked if I was free that night and if I wanted to get a beer!

I also said that if you’re unsure if the girl is receptive of your touching, just don’t do it! Too many women have been inappropriately touched because too many men don’t understand boundaries. To which he replied, “I’m sorry that women go through that, but why should I be punished for what other men have done?” But he’s one of those men!!!! And he doesn’t get it, because to him, all he did was touch my arm and shoulder.

Then the bar staff came and got us the bill. Weirdo guy asked if we could split. I agreed.

Since I was no longer trying to be tactful, I asked him if he would’ve offered to pay for my half if I had agreed to go home with him. He tried to evade the question by going off tangent, but I asked him again: “Would you have paid if I had agreed to go home with you?”

He said yes, he would’ve.

I asked if he would consider the night a waste of time since we were going to leave separately.

He said yes, he would.

“Wait, so you didn’t enjoy the conversation? Just because I won’t go home with you, this whole night was a waste?”

He said he was looking for something specific, so if he doesn’t get it, then yes, the night was a waste.

Then he went, “Come on! Live a little! Why do you have to be so uptight? Let go a little!”

Now suddenly, I was the uptight one because I can’t lighten up and live a little—which, to him, means accepting his creepy behaviour and sleeping with him.

Wait—that’s not even the worst of it.

He had gotten a Grab car to the bar, whereas I had driven. So I politely told him I would wait with him until he gets a Grab to go home. Don’t ask me why I was still trying to be nice, I have no idea.

He typed on his phone, I briefly saw something like a map on his screen, so I thought: okay, good, he’s heading home.

Fifteen minutes later, his Grab car still hadn’t arrived. I asked him if he had ordered one yet. He said, in the most shockingly matter-of-fact way, “No, I didn’t. I’m going home with you.”

I stared at him in disbelief, then stood up, picked up my bag, and walked towards my car—all without saying another word to him. I drove home that night feeling really unsettled. He texted the next morning to apologize, but I ignored it.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the story of how I unwittingly went on a date with a very entitled guy who has very little respect for women.

I have never actually been on a date with a weirdo before—boring people, yes, but not creeps—so this was a first. But in defense of my creep radar, I didn’t even know this was a date. 🤷

Balm

I’m sorry.

Fire extinguisher to flame.

I’m really sorry.

Ointment to wound.

I could’ve done better.

Lifting the lid off a bubbling pot.

I’m so, so very sorry.

Glue to slow-spreading crack in delicate, delicate glass.

* *

I’m sorry too. I want to be better for you.

Gloriously soothing balm for the thorns in our words.

 

Snowfall

Nighttime after snowfalls always has a magical quality to it.

Very, very late at night –when the rest of the world is indoors and tucked in– the activities of the outdoors die down, and a soothing stillness takes its place. The snow reflects the precious scant moonlight, bathing the world in a purple-orange hue; it’s a scene so peculiar yet so calming.

We stood amidst falling snow and soft howling winds, the football field stretching further in our minds than its 150 yards. We trekked across it, stopping here and there to free-fall into the snow and make us-shaped indentations. It is like the field has pulled a thick, white blanket over its head. The field that, in the daytime is the site of loud, brash athletic brutality, has at night become a noiseless expanse of stillness and serenity.

We walked past skinny trees wholly crystallized from frost, and found, in the middle of a clearing, a twin swing set. Why was there a swing set? We didn’t know, but it was perfect for the two of us.

So we swung, and we sang — under our breaths, for upon exploring the frosted trees, we found we had trespassed into someone’s open backyard.

This was wrong, we would say, before launching into another Coldplay song. We discussed the possibilities of a Freddy Kreuger coming out from behind us, and where we could run, and the near impossibility of escaping when our tracks in the snow are clear as day. We pondered the likelihood of finding an axe in the shed. We wondered if anyone would hear us scream.

Then you told me a story of how a man found his long-time pet snake lying next to him on the bed one night, prepping itself to make a meal out of him, and we both shuddered. Enough, enough, we said.

And as the snow fell heavier still, and the wind howled stronger than before, we began to tell stories. Stories about ourselves, about our hopes for tomorrow, in hushed tones that say, I’ll tell you this, but don’t tell anyone else, okay?

Didn’t I say, nighttime snowfalls always have a magical quality to them?

Aceh

Flying off to Bandar Aceh tomorrow.

In a flurry of messages on a Whatsapp group chat, my boss reminded us to pack long-sleeved, loose-fitting tops, long pants or skirts, sleeping bags, headscarves, along with an assortment of other directions, like “no nail polish”.

And buried somewhere in the middle, in a nonchalant, casual-sounding text that you would miss if you weren’t paying attention — “bring insect repellant and be mindful of earthquakes etc”

Be mindful of earthquakes, etc.

My boss is such a hardcore lady.

The four of us will be roughing it out in Aceh, and I’m excited. Adventure time!

Curl

Curling into you.

When the alarm goes off in the morning, and the only sounds I can make are groans of great reluctance to get up, I just want to curl into you.

Because you are warm, and because you are soft.

Because I can scent the you-ness from your shirt, and it is intoxicating.

Because your hand on my back gives me comfort, and your fingers running through my hair make me… make me… make me go like this :3

But mostly just because –and I guess I should tell this to your face– just because you are so, so damn nice to curl into.

Meander

Even though my internship in Ghana is a time and place very, very far removed from my current realities of air-conditioned apartments, eat-all-you-can dining hall meals, sociology class readings, and white people discourses, I still think about that little town in the north of Ghana very often.

Written 1 year and 2 months ago, and saved as a draft post.

Dug up 1 year and 2 months later, because here I am in my air-conditioned office room, trying to map out my 5-year plan (a new year’s wish I made at Christmas), as the faint nostalgia of a floaty, drifty, meandering time of the past starts to set in.

Wait, wait. Hold on a sec. Was it only last year when I was still irresponsible and reckless? Wholly surrendering to my naiveté, letting it take lead as I made decisions based almost solely on how I felt at that instant?

A floaty, drifty, meandering time when I made decisions for a Long Term that only went as far ahead as one, two, three months later.

Now my Long Term extends to one, two, three years from now.

Graduate school, career, personal savings.

What, unsure, not enough.

Not exactly a bad thing, though. I think it’s when you’re so set on a certain path, when you don’t allow space for meandering, that you forget there are other ways to get to where you want to go.

Also, that word leaves a bad taste. “Career”. Reminds me of Snake and Ladders.

The Card

“It’s not love, and it’s not not-love.”

I sometimes feel like we’re in a limbo here, doing a dance in which one is confident and sure-footed, the other uncertain and stumbling.

We go through life expecting to be dealt with a few tough hands. But occasionally, life deals you with cards you completely did not expect, cards you have no idea what to do with.

Like this one card. This card that came in the form of a person.

A person who had long black hair and an undercut, who swore like a sailor. A person whom I thought would be right at home at Sungai Wang, hanging with the Cheena homebois. A person armed with a repertoire of Cantonese insults, to be used on any unsuspecting soul who dares step on her toes.

I had no interest in this person. It was a card that I’d leave in my hand, to be ignored and left aside for as long as I had other cards to play.

But then the game I thought I knew so well changed its course. We got stuck in traffic. And I found it harder and harder to ignore that one card, that card that all this while didn’t seem to fit anywhere in my game.

If I ever was mistaken about someone, this is it.

This card, my Cheena gangster, is in fact a sentimental soul who listens to songs written with emotions and pens poems about Love and other Feelings.

A person who still has a repertoire of Cantonese insults, but a rusty one that hardly sees the light of day. A person who makes people feel at ease, who jokes candidly with strangers, who makes an effort to remember names and faces.

Someone driven, with a destination.

Someone so full of love, with so much yearning for all things beautiful — art, people, experiences.

This is a person who chose to open herself to me, for me to discover her, and to discover life with her.

And in my game of life, I took the leap of faith and played this card.

This card that came in the form of a person with an undercut and who swore like a sailor.

I can’t yet know if I’ve won the game, but it has also been one of those games, you know? The ones in which you’re playing with the loveliest people and you’ve been belly-laughing non-stop and no one’s winning because no one is trying to. Everyone is secretly trying to keep the game going. Even though it’s late and you have work tomorrow, you couldn’t give a shit because you’re enjoying things as they are a little too much to want it to stop.

It’s one of those games where the process matters more than the outcome. And if the journey is beautiful, who can say that anyone loses?

Mid-blog-life crisis

I am quite positive all owners of personal blogs go through this one phase, in which they wake up one day and decide that they have too much crap on their blogs. You can usually tell someone has hit this phase when their blog, once full of widgets and links and images, and moving bits and colorful bits and pointless bits, suddenly becomes very…. spartan.

So this is me, going for the minimalist look.

I was going to go for something very bare-bones, something very text-editor-esque, but I changed my mind because I realized I like color too much. Plus, black text on white reminds me of Word documents and college research papers, which reminds me of gruesome all-nighters, which are not very pleasant things to be reminded of.

It’s unbelievable how much time I was willing to spend working on the last theme, because now I can’t really be arsed about these things anymore.

Unwritten

I’ve spent the past four years writing academic papers, pieces of writing that ranged from 2 pages to something crazy like 40 pages.

Works that needed a ton of research, and a ton more of analyzing and synthesizing, referencing and citing (always a huge pain in the buttocks).

Writing research papers is not new to me, I am no stranger to coming up with thesises, searching through books and journals, pulling out referencable material, condensing them and articulating them in (kind of) smart sounding ways.

And so I am more than just a little disappointed to find myself here, a mere 2 months after leaving college, staring at the computer screen, fingers poised on the keyboard, desperately trying to draw out a single-paged composition that is stubbornly refusing to show itself.

I’m trying to write a press release about a workshop that took place two weekends ago, I admit I’ve never written a press release before, but it shouldn’t be this hard to write. I mean, it’s all facts, information that I already know from having been there, done it. But nope, my blank mind is in no mood to cooperate with me tonight. This same mind that is used to crunching mountains of research information into a (semi) coherent paper is now having trouble turning a bullet-pointed list of Who-What-Where-When-Why-How into two short paragraphs of a few sentences.

Is this what leaving college does to you?

(But isn’t it funny I can still blog? Eh? Eh?)