Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Eh Poh Nim and Fun Words

The Star, 30 November 2005

Eh Poh Nim parks her car and makes her way towards the public library. As she passes by the locker area to the left of the entrance, she hears someone talking loudly.

“You’re a hopeless bibliobibuli!” a male voice says.

She stops in her tracks. Bibliobibuli! That’s a person after her own heart.

“Will you please get a grip on yourself? Look at this stack of books! How are you going to find time for me if you’re going to devour all these books during the weekend?” the voice continues.

“So what if I’m a bibliobibuli, huh? You knew from the start that I’ve always read too much and you said you could handle this habit of mine. Now you want to change me?” a female voice replies.

Eh Poh Nim creeps towards the locker area and peeps in. A young woman is standing with arms akimbo in front of the locker. With her hands on her hips and her elbows sticking out, she glares at the young man holding a stack of books in his arms.

“Didn’t you try to change me too? Remember Linkin Park’s concert? You tried to stop me from moshing!” the man says.

“That’s different. All that mosh was really mushing up my brain!”

Eh Poh Nim’s ears prick up like a dog detecting an unusual sound. Mosh – that’s a new word. She must brave the crossfire to find out the meaning of this strange word.

“Er ... excuse me, miss. Sorry but I couldn’t help overhearing what you said. May I ask the meaning of mosh?” Eh Poh Nim asks.

“Ask Darren! He should know!” She glares at Darren, then continues, “Mosh is to dance to rock music in a frenzied way with other crazy fans.”

“We’re not crazy! You’d better watch your tongue, Amy,” Darren says.

“I shall say what I like. Moshing at rock concerts is a waste of money!”

“How dare you say that! We mosh at rock concerts because we’re passionate about rock. It’s not a waste of money. Your reading addiction is. You bust your bank account every month buying new books,” Darren says.

“Books aren’t a waste of money! Reading expands the mind and increases knowledge. For example, do you know what bodewash is? See, you don’t. Thanks to reading, I do. It’s dried buffalo dung, used as fuel for fire.”

“So what if you know what bodewash is and I don’t. You’re not going to use it for barbeque, are you?” Darren shoots back.

Eh Poh Nim weighs her options. Should she back off and let these two fight it out or should she try to arbitrate? She can’t let a fellow bibliobibuli have a lover’s tiff. She’s been there and done that and she knows the heartache that follows. She decides to jump in at her own peril.

“Amy and Darren, listen to me.”

The feuding couple turn to look at Eh Poh Nim.

“If you guys want to have a donnybrook, I suggest you do it in the privacy of your home. A library is not the place for a heated public dispute,” Eh Poh Nim says.

“Excuse me. We were having a private discussion until you butted in. It’s none of your business,” Darren says.

“Yeah, but your argument was loud enough to be heard by everyone in the building. Even if my ears were stuffed full of cerumen, I’d still be able to hear it,” Eh Poh Nim says.

“What’s cerumen?” Darren asks.

“It’s another word for earwax,” Amy says. “She’s a show-off popinjay and a busybody to boot.”

“I’m not talkative and conceited!” Eh Poh Nim protests angrily.

“There she goes again. Showing off her knowledge of words. Do you know the meaning of kibitz?” Amy asks.

“To offer unwelcome advice,” Eh Poh Nim replies quickly, then wishes she hadn’t.

“That’s what you’re doing. Kibitz,” Amy says.

“For your information, ‘kibitz’ is usually used in the context of a card game,” says Eh Poh Nim.

“Whatever. I need to go to the biffy to puke, Darren,” Amy says. Seeing the blank look on his face, she adds, “Let’s go to the toilet where I can throw up and then we can continue our argument in private away from pokey noses.”

“Just a sec,” Darren says as he puts the books into a plastic bag. Then he pulls Amy towards him and drapes his arm around her shoulders.

“Goodbye, popinjay,” Amy says as they walk off arm-in-arm like Siamese twins.

Eh Poh Nim pulls a face. She can’t stand the mawkish display of affection. It’s overly sentimental. Well, her strategy has worked but she feels maligned. Is she a popinjay? Of course not. She gives herself a mental shake and strides into the library for a dose of quiet bliss.

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