SHE TOLD ME, HER NAME WAS ‘SANDRA’ – A STUDY ON THE PRICE OF SOCIAL CONFORMITY

May 21, 2008

 

 

To be or not to be? That’s the question. In today’s society we are taught to give in. Fortunately, most of it is what I call the good giving; like volunteering to give up one’s seat for the aged or a pregnant woman. Slowing down for pedestrians on the zebra crossing and even digging for shrapnel whenever school girls accost me no end for donations.

 

But there’s a less savory side of giving in; which isn’t so good; and that’s the part where you have to give up part of who; you are or who; you aspire to be; so that no one labels you a troublemaker. Here like thumb screws; it’s the law of steady increments that really squeezes you where a plethora of fuzzy justifications such as the “collective good” or the “socially acceptable” kicks in. Sounds innocuous enough; after all everyone wants to get along, everyone wants to be happy; besides who wants to get red flagged as a trouble maker?

 

But what happens when, the cost of conforming just slips over the line into plain selling out? What happens when saying yes or bowing out thrusts one’s consciences into turmoil because deep down, you just know its just plain rotten right down to the core?

 

 

I guess you can even throw the question against a broader canvas and ask yourself questions like what are you really expected to do; when society is telling you one thing but your mind another?

 

When the question of conformity is posed that way, it gets terribly complicated, even darn right impossible to seek a happy balance. At the end of the day, it really boils down to beliefs and how prepared you are for the long haul. I mean this reminds of the time; when I saw this transvestite sprawled out across my bonnet in Changi Village; she had probably been whacked up by one of her customers over the bonnet of my car.

 

At first, I said to myself, I better outsource this to the police, but I don’t know whether they’re going to book her? So there I was running through the calculations till it was just about smoking; Mmmmh, what if I decided to take her home with me? After all it’s only for the night; besides, I am sure she or he will be up and running again by then. But what if the nosey parker bible thumping brigade in my condo spots me out with their high powered binoculars? What if someone whips out a camera phone and machine guns away? What if someone tells my ram rod pastor? What will happen to me? See my point, it’s a slippery slope, but one thing holds true in every calculation: to be or not to be; it all boils down to how others see you and not how you actually see yourself, as person.

 

That’s one of the things that confounds me no end about the whole business of giving in; as what it usually boils down too is a form of fight or flee. Where usually the response is the latter only because one has to take care of one’s interest first before others; you know what? You can even call me someone who has a very weak personality, since I am just the sort to be bullied into conformity. I am just being really honest here about how I make those sort of life calculations.

 

As it turned out; I did take Mr Chin aka Sandra back home with me; that’s at least is what I gathered from his and her IC. And yes, the Bible brigade did turn out in full force. They even filmed me carrying Sandra into my apartment with one silicone augment tit splaying out; and yes, my church was duly informed and it even reached a point when I even asked God why: did he allow all these things to happen to me?

 

At first, I tried to explain to everyone; but after a while. I realized, I was merely compounding their suspicion and very slowly, I just settled into a sort of stoic silence where you could even say. I just didn’t give a damn any longer.

 

That one incident set me adrift in more ways than I can possibly elaborate. You could even say; as far as my known community in condo land was concerned; I was the devil incarnate; gone were the days when every door was open to me; some people even came up to me and expressly told me not to look at their children; eventually, I kept to my world which saw me ridding mostly in the nights on my bike; it was a period which allowed me plenty of time to reflect; to really work out some things which I’ve just taken for granted all my life; respect, position and even the sense of belonging to a community.

 

Here I wish, I could say there is some redemptive ending which one usually associates with Hollywood movies where the sun suddenly breaks through the clouds and the hero discovers what he’s been searching for, but no; trite homily sugary narratives like if you conform to a way of life that is completely alien to their own, then you lose part of yourself in them! Sounds well and good, but it doesn’t cut any ice when one has to deal with malicious mail that’s regularly slipped under the door. Words of comfort which are supposed to steel and fortify; like if you gave in to your principles then some little bit of the real you dies and you’re taken over by someone else who is the epitome of what society is looking for. You know what? I have no idea who is the idiot who came out with such clap trap. I really feel like shooting him with a tranquilizer gun and stripping him naked and tying him up to the flag pole in the padang with a Ah Kua with a moustache.

 

Truth remains, life gets tough when you go against the system and it really doesn’t matter what the system is; it could just as well be the consortium of nosey parkers who run the condo community; the pastorial dream team; your bosses or even a group of people who think they are so smart in the net when they go about building us all a giant coffin. At the end of the day even the best of us eventually learn not to cross those boundaries and to stick to our preplanned yellow brick lives. Those who do not conform will simply learn it just doesn’t pay.

 

They will have to fight for their beliefs and constantly defend themselves and their ideals while they are living in a society that is constantly trying to hold them back, push them down, and beat the individuality out of them. Yet those who make it through, those who can proudly stand on their own two feet, will have a mental and physical strength entirely unknown to the other category of citizens also known as the conformists. You know, what? I don’t even believe in the last two sentences, but I just thought, it would allow me to reach the word count if I just included in as an adjunct.

 

At the end of the day; the life of the cookie cutter goes on; I still ride at night to Changi Village and on one night; when it just rained cats and dogs; I settled into a chair in some non distinct kopitiam in Changi Village mesmerized by some forgettable HK serial where this one eyed swordsman’s with really bushy eyebrows was fighting to save the planet; besides the ABC beer auntie there never looked so good in her cowboy booties and tank top. She’s even gave me the “special,” buy one get two free providing I stayed right on till her shift ended – and in the land of the fee where everything is going up and up; how can I say no to all that?

 

And to cap it all off, Sandra, the he or she, I once saved, sashays in with a few of her colorful friends; there, I was in my super skin tight spandex cycling outfit; amid the boisterous recount of how I saved her and the whales; the endless trades of yam seng and fren forever; providence won the day; good finally triumphed over evil; the serpent’s head was crushed; and of course the lingering question: how they hell am I going to get home after this? The night wore on, unfurling like a prow on a calm ocean of time – there amid it all. I felt like crying for the very first time. The world suddenly became silent, calm, soon in my minds eye. I found myself like the mythical explorer standing before the prow of a boat as the ocean of time unfurled – life I realize just goes on.

 

Darkness 2008 (I have to leave the office now, I am sick and tired of pretending to work. Today, I took out a PAP application sheet.)

 

The Brotherhood Press – 2008

 

4 Responses to “SHE TOLD ME, HER NAME WAS ‘SANDRA’ – A STUDY ON THE PRICE OF SOCIAL CONFORMITY”

  1. human3rror said

    Whoa.

    I remember a moment of my life where I had the time to write these types of blogs…

    *****flashbacks******

    ok. back.

    very cool. keep on writing.

  2. heroinguy said

    It seems like the brotherhood is not coming back huh..Anyone have any ideas? Or are all the people in the read clubs just sitting around and waiting for a miracle to fall out of the sky?

    I may not have any idea about what goes on behind the scenes but if a silent reader like me has to start posting comments around, I think its time the BP readers stood up for what they believe in.

    Sorry if I’m making comments that are untrue but at this moment this is the only conclusion that I can draw.

  3. heroinguy said

    Dear Dotty,

    I do notice that the picture has changed. Is that a hint? I would really like to find darkness and perhaps even have a chat with him. Thank you.

  4. JR said

    Excellent insightful article. Please don’t desert us, BP…

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