From boys to...

I've heard many girlfriends complain when their male/boyfriends/husbands launch into "army talk". Inevitably, many women roll their eyes, make that trip to the toilet, or start making "we've heard that before" remarks. I must admit I love listening to guys talk story about their training/reservist experiences, because usually it's really very funny (even when the stories are repeated - and they usually are).

One of my favourite is of J's army mate, who is blessed with the fortunate name of "Happy". No kidding. Happy, whose native tongue is Hokkien, has many a close encounter with authority in the army because of his name.

Officer: Private, why are you squatting here?
Happy: ... [Looks up]
Officer: Why? What's your name?
Happy: Happy, sir.
Officer: I ask you what's your name, you say Happy? Why? You trying to be funny, is it, Private?
Happy: No, sir, my name Happy.
Officer: You don't be funny.
James: Er, sir, really lah, his name is Happy.

Happy Boy ("I Surrender": One Happy Boy)

Several hours ago, before BATMAN BEGINS, J and our friend Ig started on the army talk over a plate of Beehoon Goreng and 2 of HorFun. They were talking about death. Well, not the real kind. But the kind make-believe soldiers suffer in a make-believe battle. During staged scenarios of enemy invasions, death comes swiftly in the form of a Sergeant (or is it the trainer?) who would descend upon the soldier, pointing " you - you - you -you - and you, all dead. That's the enemy tank." And the newly dead would protest, before accepting their afterlife (usually in the cool shade, resting) graciously.

Recounting this now, the story seemed to have lost whatever comic qualities I thought there was. Oh well. I guess because the comedy, really, was in how those stories were told - the exaggerated gestures, the impersonations, the sophisticated Singlish. Whereas it would be too cavalier to laught about the subject of war and death.

But maybe telling and re-telling the story is one strategy for getting by what must be, in reality, pretty unfunny days. Days that are physically draining, dull and even de-humanising (young upstart officers ordering you around, sleeping in your muddy uniform or just squatting around waiting and waiting for nothing).

J likes to say that you just have to pretend you're acting in a movie. A movie also about men donning Batman Begins? or something more grim, less happy in its making and conclusion?

Me? I'm just glad us women are spared of the action, but none of the talk :>


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