For instance, when I was a boy, I enjoyed going to Gay World.
Nowadays, that could be taken to mean that I used to enjoy going to a world of homosexuals.
Which may be true, but that’s not what I meant.
“Gay World” refers to the now-demolished Gay World Amusement Park, originally known as Happy World.
Of course, it has been a long time since “gay” just means “happy”.
Just as it has been a long time since I can be accurately described as a "boy", although I was described as “childish” by a reader as recently as three weeks ago.
When I was an actual child many, many years ago, the sternest admonition I could receive was to be called “naughty”.
As in “Why did put glue in your sister’s hair? You’re a very naughty boy!”
“I’m sorry. Please don’t punish me.”
More or less synonymous with "naughty” is the word “mischievous”.
I would’ve preferred to be called “mischievous” as a boy because “mischievous” sounds less naughty than “naughty”.
“Mischievous” evokes a sense of playfulness, a twinkle in the eye, as opposed to the bratty misbehaviour of “naughty”.
But now that I’m an adult, “naughty” has taken on a more, uh, adult connotation. Being called “naughty” is almost sort of a good thing.
As in “Why are you wearing edible underwear? You’re a very naughty boy.”
“Yes, I am. Punish me, please.”
On the other hand, it seems less acceptable to be “mischievous” as a grown-up because you may be charged with “mischief” and go to jail for it.
Last week, Samantha Lo Xin Hui, better known as the “Sticker Lady”, was charged with 15 counts of mischief for offences included pasting stickers with the words “Press until shiok” on traffic-light control boxes and spray-painting “My Grandfather Road” on public roads.
If convicted, Lo, 26, could face a fine or up to two years’ jail, or both.
While there was certainly playfulness in what Lo allegedly did, this is “mischief” of a different kind.
According to the Penal Code:
“Whoever, with intent to cause, or knowing that he is likely to cause, wrongful loss or damage to the public or any person, causes the destruction of any property, or any such change in any property, or in the situation thereof, as destroys or diminishes its value or utility, or affects it injuriously, commits ‘mischief’.”
If I read that correctly, it means that you could actually go to jail for putting glue in your sister’s hair but not for wearing edible underwear.
The Penal Code doesn’t say anything about playfulness or a twinkle in the eye.
It does give the example that if you have “joint property” in a horse with someone named Z and you shoot the horse, intending to cause wrongful loss to poor Z, you would have committed “mischief”.
Well, there goes my plans for next weekend. I must remember to inform the folks at Ikea I won’t be sending them the horse meat after all.
Let me give you another example of “mischief”.
In February 2008, a man masturbated to a photograph of a female colleague and collected his semen in a small container.
The man, who worked as a civilian officer in the police force, then went to his office in the police headquarters at Irrawaddy Road and waited for the colleague to leave her desk.
When she did, he mixed his semen with the water in her water bottle. When she returned, he struck up a conversation with her and secretly recorded her drinking the tainted water.
Two months later, he did the same thing with another female colleague.
The videos of his colleagues drinking the tainted water were stored on his personal computer at home.
These and upskirt videos were discovered in a police raid after a third female colleague caught him taking upskirt photos of her.
Although he had clearly been a very naughty boy, he wasn’t charged with naughtiness.
In December 2010, he was sentenced to 18 months in jail after pleading guilty to eight counts of taking underskirt videos and two counts of mischief for putting semen into his colleagues’ water.
Yes, that counted as mischief.
So the Sticker Lady, who allegedly vandalised public property, is facing the same charges as the guy who “vandalised” someone’s drink.
It brings a whole new meaning to “Press until shiok”.
I would almost rather be charged with vandalism - especially if I’m a woman and exempted from being caned.
And I believe the Sticker Lady is a woman even though she did not look like one in court last week.
How I long for the days of my grandfather when women looked like women, “gay” still meant “happy” and “mischief” didn’t mean putting semen into...
“Wait, that is glue in your sister’s hair, right?”
- Published in The New Paper, 31 March 2013