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In the ongoing series, Conversations with Singaporeans, I relay some of my more entertaining Singlish exchanges with the locals.


It’s late at night and I’m in a taxi, returning from a party with three of my French girlfriends (S, B, and A).  We are trying to convince B that the guy she likes is actually a loser.

B: But I don’t understand, I thought he really liked me. He asked for my phone number.  We kissed.

S: But really, he was behaving like this with all of the girls at the party.  He’s just playing around.

A: He’s just interested in flirting and he doesn’t want a serious relationship.  He likes the chase.

B: But what’s wrong with me?

Me: There’s nothing wrong with you.  It’s just a game for him.  Don’t take it too seriously.

B: But we kissed, so that means he really likes me right?

Uncle Chua: [breaking his silence] You are just the spare tire.

[conversation stops]

B: Huh? What did he say? I didn’t understand.

Me: [Desperately trying not to laugh.  Desperately, desperately trying not to laugh]. Oh, ummm, I’m not sure…

Uncle: [impatiently] I said, that you are just the spare tiiiiire.

[it’s too late – I lose all self-control and start laughing uncontrollably]

S: Wait, attends, I can’t understand his accent!  Kiersten, tell us what he said!

Me: Ummm, I think he said that she is a spare tire.

S: [to A] Mais non, je ne comprends pas. I don’t understand.  Qu’est-ce que c’est “spare tire”?

A: Spare tire: it means une roué de secours.

[S gasps. The cab is silent. All jaws are on the floor. We all eye B, nervously anticipating her reaction]

Uncle: [laughing] You know if he have maaaany girls, and he doesn’t call you, you are spare tire. Understand?

B: [leaning forward in interest] I am a spare tire? But so what do I do then?  Should I call him?

Uncle: Cannot, lah!

B: And if he texts me tomorrow, should I text him back?

Uncle: No!  Listen.  You have to understand how the man’s brain is working.

S: Please. Tell us.  How is working the man’s brain?

Me: Oh geeze.  Now you’ve done it…I’ve had enough crazy taxi drivers to know where this is headed…

Uncle: Yes! I tell you!

Me: Oh no. Ohhhh noooo…

Uncle: Fiiirst, you have to be pleasing the man.  Twice.  Two times.  Because after one he still looking for number two.  He find other chio bu for number two.

[the cab erupts with laughter]

Me: I warned you!

S: [to uncle] Ohh really? Is that so?

Uncle: YES!

S: Please, what other wisdom can you impart this evening?

Uncle: Yes, well you have to sometimes be cooking a little bit the dinner.

B: I don’t know if I’ll do this…

[arriving to our destination]

Uncle: Why you think I love so much my wife?

Me: Girls! please!

October 2010
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