“Eh, so, Diana Ser’s boobs really quite big, ah?”
And another thread of conversation in the bunk commences. In-Camp training (ICT) gives us licence to become lewd, loud blockheads. It’s one of the symptoms of what my platoon mate and journalist, Corporal Dilbert Chua (not his real name, obviously), calls the ‘Green Disease’, where the moment you put on that No.4 uniform, you leave your civilian sensibilities and common sense at home. And you feel sleepy every single minute of the day.
At 9.30am on the first day, we have our first canteen break, where we spend half an hour or so catching up on each other’s lives over a cup of coffee and some oily canteen food. The ones in front of the queue buy the coffee, and tell their friends to go chope a seat. This is where we forget, no matter how many times we’ve been to ICT, that we’re not used to being in uniform, or seeing our friends in uniform.
Reservist No.1 buys and carries a tray of coffees, turns around to look for his friends, and suddenly realises that everyone is wearing the same thing, and so can’t find his friends. Ditto Reservist No.2 after getting his and his friends’ drinks. It takes about two days before we get used to this, and look out for our friends’ faces instead of what they’re wearing.
Later on in the day, we complete our drawing of stores and equipment, and there is some free time, which is spent lounging on our beds, chatting. Our newly appointed Company Sergeant Major, a school teacher by civilian profession, comes into the bunkroom and joins in the conversation. This in-camp’s conversation thread reflects the boys’ ages, and most of them are turning 28. Thoughts turn to marriage, career, new cars and babies. Dilbert says he wishes we’d still talk about loose women, tight girlfriends and good blowjobs.
So, our Company Sergeant Major, 2nd Sergeant Clive Lim (not his real name also) laments that he too, isn’t married, and doesn’t know when he’ll ever get a girlfriend. He looks at the tattoo on my arm and asks if he too, should get a tattoo so that he can get the girls. Dilbert tells him dismissively, “You getting a tattoo is like a man with no hair trying to have a ponytail”.
Undeterred, 2nd Sergeant Clive carries on soliciting advice. His questions begin to reveal too much information: “Eh, I ask your advice ah, should I have a circumcision? I think my foreskin is too long”.
And because we have nothing better to do, we ask him if this is giving him problems. He says not really. We tell him then don’t cut. He then tells us that once, he walked into a table and injured his penis, but that it wasn’t serious, because the foreskin protected him. We tell him, see? Good what! Cut for what? Then he tells us that he gets aroused too easily, and that maybe, being circumcised might help.
Thankfully, the conversation is broken by several phones going off and some of us having to answer our phones and talking to our loved ones. (Dilbert and myself excuse ourselves and go make phone calls to our loved ones.)