Sunday 2 May 2010

Dear Goondu, why you so blur like sotong?

It was a little joke that took on a life of its own.

Imagine my horror last Friday when I opened The Straits Times and saw a caricature of me labelled “Dear Sotong”. How did this come about?

A few days earlier, my New Paper colleague Sylvia Toh Paik Choo surprised me with news that she and I are going to be writing an advice column in The New Paper on Sunday for a new section called Family Matters.

Naturally, my first reaction was to act blur, although as many have surmised, I’m not acting.

Why didn’t anyone tell me about this earlier? I could’ve prepared for it by re-watching all the Oprah Winfrey episodes where Dr Phil was a guest.

Paik Choo told me to relax. She said the fact that she and I were asked to do it and not, say, someone with actual qualifications or at least capable of appearing to give a damn meant that our joint advice column was not intended to be taken seriously.

Now that stung. Who says I’m not qualified?

Having been married twice, in therapy, retrenched, a country music fan and arrested for violating a restraining order, I can certainly give advice on what not to do.

But I saw Paik Choo’s point. After all, my current column in The New Paper on Sunday is called Act Blur. How can I expect anyone to take me seriously?

When I told my wife about the new advice column, she immediately told me she had the perfect name for it. “Dear Sotong,” she said excitedly.

Oh, as in “blur like sotong”. A great idea except that I wasn’t keen on being named after a squid.

But when Paik Choo asked me to come up with a name for the advice column the next day, I made the mistake of telling her what my wife suggested – as a joke.

“And I can be Dear Goondu!” Paik Choo said excitedly, referring to her decades-old bestseller Eh, Goondu!


Before I knew it, e-mails were sent, caricatures were drawn and there I was in the newspaper as “Dear Sotong”. It was part of a blurb inviting readers to write in about their problems to Paik Choo and me.

But who in their right minds would write to seafood for advice, serious or otherwise?

If the answer is you, please send your problems

The Goondu and I await your mail with dread.

- Published in The New Paper, 2 May 2010

Dear Goondu, Dear Sotong column: My teacher sister behaves like a kid