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Time To Bite The Bullet

, , , , , | Romantic | October 11, 2020

I’m fifteen, and I’m at a family dinner at my grandparents’ place. The conversation rolls around to my relatives’ time in the army. Every male in Singapore has to serve two years in the army when they turn eighteen, so I’m quite interested in finding out what I’ll have to go through. We call it National Service or NS.

Me: “So, what’s the scariest thing in NS?”

Cousin #1: “Live firing. You never realise how loud gunshots are until you’ve shot a gun.”

Cousin #2: “Don’t listen to him. He spent all his time on a desk job. What’s scarier is the explosives. However loud a gunshot is, they’re louder.”

Cousin #3: “Forget that. You’ve never left Singapore. There’s nothing scarier than camping in the Brunei jungle and waking up with a snake right beside you.”

Uncle #1: “Hey, I was part of the National Guards. Nothing is scarier than rappelling out of a helicopter.”

Uncle #2: “I was in NDU [Naval Diver Unit] in the eighties. Last time wasn’t as easy as now. Scariest is the drown-proof training. They tie you up and throw you into a pool.”

The conversation degenerates into my three cousins and two uncles bragging about their scariest exploits during their time in the army. My aunt decides she’s had enough of it.

Aunt: “Quit your d**k-measuring contest. I know what the scariest possible thing in NS is!”

Cousin #1: *Unconvinced* “What is it, Mom?”

Aunt: “Potong Jalan.”

There is an immediate and total silence among the male crowd.

All Five Of Them: “Yeah, that is the scariest.”

Me: “Potong Jalan? What’s that?”

Aunt: “It’s Singlish for your girlfriend getting stolen by another man while you are in the army.”

Me: “Pffft. Like that’ll happen to me.”

All Five Of Them: *Thousand-yard stare* “That’s what we thought.”

Cousin #2: “If you don’t believe me, you can ask around. Happens to ninety percent of the couples in NS.”

Uncle #1: “Yeah, trust me. By the end of BMT [Basic Military Training], half your section will have lost their girlfriends.”

Cousin #2: “Yeah. Like, in some places, they make the officers all go for training as breakup counsellors. My friend who signed on had to do that. It’s that prevalent.”

Cousin #3: “And depending on your unit, sometimes you can get compassionate leave if you have Potong Jalan.”

Uncle #2: “Yeah. All the sergeants bully you so much, like to make you suffer, but then when they see someone crying because of Potong Jalan, they stop shouting and actually treat you nicely.”

Cousin #1: “There are even marching songs about Potong Jalan. It’s that prevalent.”

Me: “Well, I won’t have to worry about that. I can’t even get a girlfriend.”

Everyone: “Don’t date until after NS!”

They were right. There were several breakups within the first week. By the end of the nine-week BMT, the number of intact couples was about two-thirds. By the end of the year, it was below half. It turns out that after seeing your girlfriend cheat on you, nothing the army throws at you is even remotely scary anymore.

He Probably Thinks Women Don’t Fart, Too

, , , , , , | Romantic | September 28, 2020

I’ve been seeing this guy for about a few weeks when he comes over to my place. We’re sitting on the couch watching a movie, when…

Guy: “Hey, you smell different today. Are you wearing perfume?”

Me: “No, I got a new shower gel.”

Guy: “Why would that make you smell different?”

Me: *Confused pause* “Because it’s a different scent than the last one?”

Guy: “But the shower gel shouldn’t change the way you smell.”

Me: “Um. When you wash with soap, you smell like that soap. You smell like your shower gel, don’t you?”

Guy: “But you’re a girl! You’re supposed to just smell good naturally.”

Me: “Uh… women do sweat, you know. Why do you think we take showers?”

Guy: “It’s to wash off the sweat and stuff. Then, the natural smell comes through, and some girls just smell better than others, just like some girls are prettier than others.”

Me: “Hold up. You really thought the smell of citrus just… came out of my pores? Dude, I’m not a grapefruit.”

Guy: “So you’ve been tricking me this whole time?!”

Me: “What?”

Guy: “You’re just like those girls who wear perfume and makeup! We’re done. I don’t want to see you anymore.”

Me: “Fine by me, but I can absolutely guarantee you that any other woman you date is also going to smell like whatever she washes with. You’re not going to find a lady who ‘naturally’ smells like fruit and flowers.”


This story is part of our Best Of September 2020 roundup!

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They Lost That Game

, , , | Right | August 26, 2020

I work at a ludopub, namely a place where you can play board games while also eating dinner. This fact is not very well-advertised, which leads to situations such as this story.

A middle-aged couple enters the ludopub as I’m busy reorganizing the boardgames’ shelves.

Man: “Excuse me, do you have a table for two?”

Owner: “Sure, right over there. What would you like to play?”

Woman: “We’d like [Classical Music Piece] if you don’t mind.”

Owner: “No, I mean, like, what board game?”

The couple stares at the owner in awkward silence for several seconds.

Me: “Are you sure you’re in the right place?”

Woman: “I mean… you did look like a pretty romantic restaurant.”

Man: “Told you to check on the Internet!” 

Woman: “C’mon, how could I have guessed? This kind of place is in ugly streets, not on the waterfront!”

Owner: “Well, we’d be happy to put music on for you and serve you, if you wish.”

The couple hurriedly left the place.

A Non-Regulation Dress Code

, , , , , | Working | August 24, 2020

I’m planning a third date with a guy I really like. He suggests a sports bar that neither of us has tried for brunch because they have a $1 mimosa special, and I agree. I drive us there and the parking lot is almost full, so I drop him off at the door to get us a table while I find a spot.

When I get to the front door, a man in a button-down shirt and slacks reaches over and physically holds the door closed.

Man: “Sorry, ma’am, you’re not allowed in.”

I laugh, thinking he’s joking.

Me: “Okay, sure.”

I try the door again, but he holds it firmly shut.

Man: “No, really. You’re out of dress code.”

He gestures to a small plaque by the door and sure enough, there’s a posted dress code. My crime? “Non-regulation camo” shorts.

Me: “Wow, you must hate the redneck population.”

Man: “We don’t hate anyone, ma’am, but—”

Me: “Yeah, bad joke, whatever. Bye.”

I’ve never been kicked out or denied entry anywhere before and I’m worried that my date will blame me for it, even though I’m quite sure that I never read anything about this place — a sports bar with a $1 mimosa deal — enforcing a dress code. For reference, they happily let him in wearing torn jeans and a band T-shirt.

Thankfully, he’s easy to find because he chose a spot on the patio. I walk over and get his attention.

Me: “We have to go. They won’t let me in. I’m violating their dress code.”

I explain the situation.

Date: “WHAT?”

He looks thunderous, and my next fear is that he’ll kick up a fuss. If this place wants to enforce a dress code, then fine, and I don’t want him to browbeat the front door guy or a manager about it.

Date: “Do you want me to cause a scene? Yes or no.”

Me: *Pause* “What?”

Date: “If you want, I’ll go talk to someone. I’m a veteran and I think the camo rule is bulls***. Just say the word.”

Me: “No. I absolutely don’t want that. Even if they let me in, I don’t want to eat here anymore. Honestly, I’m feeling kind of humiliated. This isn’t the hill I want to die on, and I just want a God d*** mimosa somewhere else.”

Date: “All right.” *Hops the barrier* “Somewhere else, then.”

In hindsight, this experience was a watershed moment for me: instead of flying off the handle and shouting at waitstaff just to be performatively masculine or protective or whatever, he asked what I wanted to do. He was prepared to stand up for me if I really wanted to eat there but equally prepared to accept my decision to let the matter lie and go elsewhere. That kind of thoughtfulness stuck with me. Afterward, I went to the bar’s website and triple-checked: absolutely no mention of a dress code anywhere to be seen.

Anyway, we married a few years later and never went back to that bar. He also teased me about my “non-regulation camo” whenever I wore those shorts after that.


This story is part of our Best Of August 2020 roundup!

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Enough To Put You Off Dating Entirely

, , , , | Romantic | August 11, 2020

I’m a woman. After feeling sorry for myself, seeing all of my friends getting married and having kids, I decide to try online dating. I start talking to a seemingly nice man, and we decide to get dinner one night. Things start off pretty well. We’re having a good conversation, and we seem to have a lot in common.

Then, my date starts looking over my shoulder a lot. I turn around and see a group of young women, probably in their early twenties, seated at a table behind me. One woman, in particular, is dressed in a somewhat skimpy tank top and miniskirt, with a few visible tattoos, and she has a baby with her.

Date: “Must be some sort of bachelorette party or something.”

Me: “Well, they don’t seem to be causing any problems. We can ignore them and finish eating.”

Date: “That chick with the kid must be the bride. Probably got knocked up at a drunk party, looking like that. I wonder if she even knows who Daddy is. Pity the poor guy she tricked into marrying her and raising the kid.”

Me: “[Date], shut up! That’s really rude.”

Date: “Hey, I’m just saying, wear a condom, you know? Especially with her — she’s cute and all, but she looks the kind of girl who spreads diseases.”

I walked out of the restaurant, and when I got home, I reported the guy on the dating site for his behavior. Then, I closed all of my online dating profiles. I would rather be alone and single than have to deal with guys like that again.