mr brown's latest Today column - "Treading gingerly the SMS road of love"...

pretty cute... - though not super funny, really...


i guess it's just meant, not so much to entertain, but really to tell the truth... - and then hopefully, it is funny... But then again.. - i think of Bill Cosby - and then all bets are off. (HOPEfully, he told the truth. If not... he will be a STUPID liar. I'm not the stupid one - i cant be).


The next time you get a weird call from me, it's from my son who is trying to eat the mobile phone

My wife sent me an email the other day containing images of American Idol look-alikes. "Thought you might find this funny. Regards."

I was shocked, of course, at the email contents. How could they say that Diana De Garmo looks like Miss Piggy? That is so rude! Oh, wait. I said that too. But I did not use pictures.

And the other shock I had was her message. All those years of wedded bliss and she signs off her email with "Regards". So, I sent her an email declaring how upset I was at this insensitive use of words and signed off, "Yours sincerely, bear."

Later, I found out it was a forwarded message, so she was not the writer of that email. Just the forwarder. So, I told her it was insensitive to not attach a note of affection with her forwarded email joke, like "Miss Piggy made me think of you."

Of course, like all couples with too many SMSes left on their mobile phone plan, we trade SMS text messages throughout the day.

Some of these messages are about the mundane things of life, like "Are you picking me up after work?" or "Remember to pick up the pimple cream." Other times, we share our feelings with messages like "Bored", "Busy day at work, v stressed" and "I am full of crap, have not gone to the toilet for many days now".

It is important to understand that SMS has no way of communicating emotion. Although if the sender uses a phrase like "You are an ***hole", you can be pretty certain that he is not happy with you. But most times, a message can be interpreted the wrong way.

For instance, if your wife asks you if you are picking her up and your reply is "Ok", is that an "Ok" with a smile or an "Ok, if I have to"? And if you reply with just a "K", would she misread it as you being curt and grouchy? Or would she understand that you were in a meeting and trying to reply to her message by typing with your hands and mobile phone under the table, so that your client would not think that you were touching yourself in an inappropriate way?

It is a delicate line we walk every day, this SMS Road of Love.

My wife has the privilege of inheriting the almost-latest technology in mobile phones most of the time. By that, I mean that she usually ends up with my previous mobile phone after I have upgraded mine to the latest model with the built-in blender-cum-flashlight. She does not really mind, but it does mean that I do a lot of mobile phone technical support after she starts using my old, er, pre-owned, phone.

Usually, during the first few days, she will be sending me blank SMSes, or hanging up on my phone calls or putting me on hold when I call her.

I also get a lot of phone calls asking me urgent questions like "How do I get a comma in my SMS?" And also a lot of "Your phone is no good one, it is so hard to use."

But usually, by the third week, she settles into a groove and figures out most of the functions, by which time, it is time for me to change mobile phones.

I had the difficult task of breaking the tragic news to her too, that her "new" mobile phone does not have a built-in camera to take photos of our children. That feature is found in my new one, which will be hers real soon, if she continues to be the good wife that she already is.

Camera phones can be so important in this day and age. You want to be ready to capture that special moment when baby learns to crawl, to walk and to yank your hi-fi speaker cables off their sockets.

This is so that you can remind your child when he is older, of how much he owes you for bringing him up and for the damaged Xbox and five-speaker surround sound cinema system which he will be paying for in instalments once he starts work.

I swear, baby boys are not the same as baby girls. I do not mean that only in the obvious ways of course (yes, I know that girls have longer hair). But while Faith was a sweet child when she was younger (her biggest post-walking crime was pressing the buttons of my LaserDisc player just to see the tray open and close), Isaac is another child altogether.

He is now all of seven-and-a-half months. Last week, on Friday, he was still trying to figure out how to crawl. By Saturday, he realised that if he placed his face on the floor and blew out a lot of saliva, then used his legs to push his butt into the air, he could move a few centimetres forward, like a snake. A very tubby snake.

By Sunday, he had figured out that if he used his arms and legs, he could drag himself on his tummy and actually move from one end of the hall to the other.

By Monday, he was able to move well enough to reach the TV cabinet, to try to get at the DVDs behind the glass doors, then failing which, he decided to crawl to his pram and chew on the dirty wheels for a while.

When the novelty of that wore off, he decided to crawl behind the TV cabinet, which is unprotected by inconveniences like glass doors and noticed the wonderful world of wires and cables just waiting there for his pulling pleasure.

His face lit up with joy as if he had discovered a cave full of treasure. So that is where Papa keeps all the neat toys!

Another thing that is different about him is his interest in cars and TV remotes.

Faith had no interest in toy cars and the remote she only enjoyed for the buttons. Isaac on the other hand, not only likes the remote control, he thinks it is good enough to eat. In fact, most things look good enough to eat to him.

As for toy cars, nothing makes him laugh harder than seeing the car speed across the living room floor and crashing into the wall.

Needless to say, he will not be allowed to drive my car for a long long time. Maybe when he is 50.

So, the next time you receive a weird call or SMS from me, it is either my wife trying to use my phone or my son trying to eat it.

mr brown is the accidental author of a popular website that has been documenting the dysfunctional side of Singapore life since 1997. He cannot wait till his son learns to walk.

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