Monday, April 11, 2011

Butterfly Gets Charged

There are many initiation rites to life that every Singaporean son go through, like national service, your first flirt with alcohol, the accidental discovery of masturbation, surfing the internet for porn and getting charged.

Getting charged by the military is something that men inherit with time and indolence, and along with the ability to pay a $50 fine with such impunity that we think it as a avenue to solve all problems.

How difficult can it be? I show up at CMPB, I stand before an officer, I bow my head in mock remorse for my actions – or lack of it, and I pay a fine after that. Surely even tying a shoe lace is more complicated than this.

I was wrong.

When they said to come in an appropriate haircut, I imagined that that as long as it was neat, sleek and now where near the flamboyance of a peacock’s tail, it would be fine.

So I spent a whole morning fussing in front of the mirror, cursing the limitations of waxes and wondering if I would qualify as a walking fire hazard for the amount of hairspray I had on me.

When I finally got to the guard house – after braving the raining because I had to park the public carparks and walk over -, I barely even got my hand through to exchange my visitors pass, when started shooting me a bewildered look.

He: “Erm, are you here to report for a charge?”
Me: “Yup…”
He: “You need to get a haircut before you can come in.”

I don’t know if I was hit by the absurdity of being denied entry right at the guard room or having to get a hair cut just to get charged, but I stood there staring at him, half hoping for Aston Kutcher to jump out from behind the file cabinets telling me this was an elaborately casted joke, starting from the documented letter from the military, and ending with them breaking into a flash mob dance involving M-16s and finally culminating in them presenting me a cheque for a million bucks.

Me: “I have to get a haircut just to come in?”
He: “Erh, ya. It’s a regulation.”

This was a plumpish teenager who looked like he would pick a box of donuts over a handjob. And since I didn’t have a packet of chips to bribe him with, I relented grudgingly, pissed that I would now need to drive all the way to my hairstylist in town, pay for ERP charges, car-park, a haircut and a tiring drive back to CMPB. T

his was going to cost me more than it did China for building the Great Wall, and after everything, I was going in to be reprimanded and slapped with a fine. This Monday was turning out to be as disastrous as Justin Bieber after puberty.

My regular stylist was on leave so I went with a junior stylist who looks like he shampooed his hair with bleach on a regular basis. I knew an ‘appropriate’ military hairdo meant that seeing your scalp was part of the mandate, along with slopes and crop tops, but I decided that I was not going to surrender my mullet. Not for 10 minutes of standing in front of an officer at least.

So I kept a little mullet down the back of my head; a defiance to having to abide by regulation, or maybe it was just to hold on that taste of civilian freedom. How bad could that be? After all, I was already cropped neatly on all sides; surely they weren’t going to fault me for just a little infringement.

So I drove back, went through security again and faced that same rigid private who had earlier caused me so much inconvenience.

He: “Can you turn around?”

I stared at him in disbelief. Turn around? I had a haircut that would have even qualified me for boot camp and now he wants me to turn around? I was pretty sure I was going to be subjected to a strip search after this.

He: “I still cannot let you in. Your back hair is touching your collar. I think the barber missed a spot.”

God bless his sweet naïve soul.

Me: “Can’t you just let me in. I’ll just wax it up.”
He: “Really cannot. You can go back to them to ask them to trim it off for you. Just a little bit more.”
Me: “Are you serious? You want me to travel all the way back to get a trim?”

He points to the regulatory haircut print out plastered along the walls. This guy had more rigidness in him than a truck full of Viagra.

So I went back for a trim and when I finally got back to face my chubby nemesis, I had wasted over three hours of my life trying to get into camp to be charged. If I wasn’t perspiring under the punishing mid day humidity, I might have appreciated the vile humour in this.

I had walked pass the security check thrice – which I think might be a new day record of sorts -, tried unconvincingly to persuade a 19 year old to turn a blind eye twice and wasted two dollars on parking coupons. Unless you are going into labour, you’re having a better day than me.

And for all that I had to go through, I was charged and fined $50. Amazing what I do to pay money.