Singaporeans love to stare at people, places and problems. In fact, Singaporeans are so open about staring that it is not uncommon to hear someone say, “kua si mi?” (which essentially means, what are you looking at you biznatch?).
Staring is often done in public places, such as in the train or at your local hawker centre. The person/thing/situation that is being stared at is usually 1) something unusual, like a flood-water swimming pool outside the Hermes shop on Orchard Road, 2) a scantily-clad woman parading inside the train station or, 3) a scantily-clad auntie with too much junk in her trunk.
In some cases, staring also occurs when Singaporeans chance upon the occasional aspiring fashionista who decides that it is perfectly sane to prance around in the sweltering heat in furry boots and a leather jacket. My Singaporean Mom once encountered a woman who wore a leather jacket while she was having a durian feast out in the heat. If your own Singaporean Mom hasn’t told you this, let me give you a little nugget of wisdom. Durians are heaty fruits, and may cause giddiness or overheating when eaten in excess. In extreme cases, like aforementioned leather-clad woman, you may even faint in front of all the other durian-eating patrons and then, people will really stare at you.
There are two types of staring that Singaporeans tend to engage in. The first type is when you dare to stare, also known as Loud and Proud Staring (or LAP Staring). This is often done when something out of the ordinary occurs, such as when you see a Caucasian expat speaking perfect Singlish. LAP Staring also occurs when there are commotions, celebrities and controversies. In cases like these, Singaporeans are not afraid to stare openly because it is not impolite to do so.
The second type of staring is Sneaky Staring, where Singaporeans try to steal furtive glances at an object of interest without being detected. This usually occurs when you see someone walking on the street in her underpants, or encounter a teenage couple canoodling on the train. Often times, Sneaky Staring may even turn into LAP Staring when one gets too carried away. One time, a dodgy man on the train kept staring at some lady’s boobs in a rather surreptitious manner, until she glared at him and said menacingly, “What are you staring at huh? See what see!” Aforementioned shifty-eyed man then averted his gaze quickly and gave a nervous giggle, as all eyes shifted to him.
Sneaky Staring also occurs when you know you shouldn’t stare at something, but can’t help doing so because it’s just so in your face. Case in point: When you’re talking to someone with a big pimple on his forehead, and you end up Sneaky Staring at the zit despite your efforts to avoid looking at it in all its pimply glory.
Speaking of which, don’t you just hate it when you have a giant pimple on your forehead (that you tried desperately to cover up with BB cream) and someone tells you, “Eh! You have a big pimple on your forehead”? Why yes, it may be hard for you to believe, but I actually do know about the giant pimple between my eyebrows. And yes, I am completely aware that it makes me look like I have a third eye. Pfft.