When did the body first set out on its own adventures? Snowman thinks; after having ditched its old travelling companions, the mind and the soul, for whom it had once been considered a mere corrupt vessel or else a puppet acting out their dramas for them, or else bad company, leading the other two astray. It must have got tired of the soul’s constant nagging and whining and the anxiety-driven intellectual web-spinning of the mind, distracting it whenever it was getting its teeth into something juicy or its fingers into something good. It had dumped the other two back there somewhere, leaving them stranded in some damp sanctuary or stuffy lecture hall while it made a beeline for the topless bars, and it had dumped culture along with them: music and painting and poetry and plays. Sublimation, all of it; nothing but sublimation, according to the body. Why not cut to the chase?

But the body had its own cultural forms. It had its own art. Executions were its tragedies, pornography was its romance.



HOTEL MANAGER: Very good. The fact that you’ll turn into an animal if you don’t manage to fall in love with another person during your stay here is not something that should upset you, or get you down. Just think, as an animal you’ll have a second chance to find a companion. But even then you must be very careful. You’ll need to find a companion who is the same type of animal as you are. A wolf and a penguin could never live together, nor could a camel with a hippopotamus. That would be absurd. Think about it. But there are certain combinations in particular that are worst of all – for example a bear with a fish, or a lion with an antelope, or a fox with a chicken. I realise that this discussion is a little unpleasant for you but I have a duty to prepare you psychologically for every possible outcome. Have you decided what animal you would like to be if you end up alone?

DAVID: A lobster.

HOTEL MANAGER: Why a lobster?

[David seems to have thought this through rather well.]

DAVID: Because a lobster lives to be over 100 years old, has blue blood just like an aristocrat and stays fertile all its life. And I like the sea very much. I water-ski and swim quite well, ever since I was a teenager.

HOTEL MANAGER: I must congratulate you. Usually the first thing people think of is a dog and that’s why the world is full of dogs. Very few choose to become unusual animals, which is why they are endangered. Rarely does someone choose to be a tuna fish, due to the dangers it faces, or a polar bear, due to its adverse living conditions. A lobster is an excellent choice.

this is a story of boy meets girl

The meet cute was witnessed at a bubble tea shop near school. It was approximately 5.45 p.m.:

Boy: “Hehehe you guess how old I am?”

Girl: “I dunno, you look so young leh! 21? Hehehe”

Boy: “Hehehe no lah, I’m 19.”

Girl: “Huh!? 19? Me also! Hehehehe”

Boy: “You also look so young! Hehehe”

The vapid exchanges continue for the next eleven minutes. Yes, I timed them. Age seems to be a fascinating topic for our lovebirds. 19 is, after all, that awkward threshold between the end of adolescence and the start of adulthood; the end of one nightmare and the beginning of another (I’m kidding, obviously) (haha no actually I’m not kidding at all because adulthood is a nightmare someone save me this is totally a cry for help) (ok ok, I’m kidding). Their conversation results in the entire queue being held up, because our bubble tea barista and his evening soulmate cannot help but get lost in each other’s eyes.

Some customers seemed pissed by the flirtation over the counter. I was pissed too, but whatever irritation I had was quickly subsumed by disappointment at how appallingly inefficient the whole exchange was.

No results were achieved. The two did not trade phone numbers. Nor did they make any promises of seeing each other again. They simply went off their separate ways, hoping, perhaps, that a serendipitous Tinder swipe would unite them once more.

Meanwhile, thanks to our barista’s distraction by his 小妹妹, I received the wrong order, ended up waiting a couple more minutes for the correct order, missed my shuttle bus due to all that waiting, and showed up late for class. This is a story of boy meets girl. It’s also really a story about a negative externality.


Today I killed a land snail. I am typically careful, but with the onset of the monsoon season, the streets are darker and wetter than usual. And the snails always come out to play after it rains. So today, I finally did it — I killed a snail. Or more accurately, I stepped on what might have been a snail.

I felt something crack open under my shoe and took a few steps backwards in panic. I thought to utter an apology: “Hello. Before your soul escapes your little body, I just wanted to say that I’m sorry. I truly had no intention of ending your life tonight.” “Go to hell,” the snail would tell me with its dying breath. Or: “It’s alright — they’ve just told me that I’m to be reincarnated as a member of the British royal family in my next life. Catch you all later, peasants.” Or: “Apology accepted. It happens to the best of us. Be on your way, now.”

I wanted to confront the evidence of what I had done. I expected to see its mangled carcass; its soft grey body spread out like jam over the concrete; its shell, once whole and brown and beautiful with white swirls on it, now littered carelessly across the ground in shards.

When I looked closer though, it didn’t look anything like a crushed snail. In fact, I couldn’t tell what I saw at all. Maybe I didn’t want to see a dead snail. I resisted thinking that my Friday night could conclude with some involuntary snailslaughter. Funny how your eyes can lie to you.