mental indigestion

R is for Route 66 April 21, 2016

Filed under: A-Z Challenge — mel @ 9:00 am
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If you ever plan to motor west,
Travel my way, take the highway that’s best.
Get your kicks on Route sixty-six.

It winds from Chicago to LA,
More than two thousand miles all the way.
Get your kicks on Route sixty-six.

Now you go through Saint Louis
Joplin, Missouri,
And Oklahoma City is mighty pretty.
You’ll see Amarillo,
Gallup, New Mexico,
Flagstaff, Arizona.
Don’t forget Winona,
Kingman, Barstow, San Bernandino.

Won’t you get hip to this timely tip:
When you make that California trip
Get your kicks on Route sixty-six.

Won’t you get hip to this timely tip:
When you make that California trip
Get your kicks on Route sixty-six.
Get your kicks on Route sixty-six.
Get your kicks on Route sixty-six.

I once went on Route 66 from Missouri to Arizona for Alternative Spring Break with the most disparate group of white people who spoke to me very slowly thinking my English wasn’t good.

Guy was a frat boy with socialist leanings and told me he wanted to backpack around Southeast Asia one day and live in Bangkok for a few years as a musician.

Ben was a farmer boy who loved cow-tipping and played Disney techno music when it was his turn to drive.

Scott was in the school’s football team and talked a lot about protein shakes.

Lisa was Scott’s girlfriend who made sure no other girl could talk to Scott.

Julie was against most chemicals and made a personal decision to bathe only once a month.

Laura thought my bleached blonde streaks of hair were natural and asked me if that ran in the family.

In Joplin Missouri, Ben was dance-driving to a revved-up version of Beauty and the Beast as the girls laughed. “Disney is my happy place,” he declared. Guy brought up Disney Illuminati conspiracy theories. Did you know Little Mermaid’s underwater castle has a tower the shape of a penis?

“Why don’t you just burn the American flag while you’re at it, huh Guy? Do you want to take this outside?” said Ben. My crush on him diminished exponentially after that.

Julie bought a lot of processed food at petrol station stops. She loved Cheetos. At one petrol station in Texas, I gaped at a lady in a thick white fur coat and stiletto white leather boots buying bottled water. “I won’t be surprised if she wasn’t wearing anything under that coat. Lots of rich trash here,” Guy whispered.

Supermarketing in an Arizonian countryside town: many, many different types of chili. I wish I could have bought them to add to scrambled eggs but instead ingredients are bought for grilled cheese sandwiches and pasta meals with lots of potato chips and soft drinks. I wrote and send out a postcard to a friend back home and Laura couldn’t stop laughing when I wrote “USA” at the end of the return address. I don’t think she’s ever sent international mail.

The desert sky is beautiful both day and night. In the day, the clouds are wispy, like they decided to express themselves as little squiggles as an afterthought. At night, the stars sparkle in full radiance, unhindered without all the urban layers of distraction.

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Q is for Quien Sera (Who Will It Be?) April 20, 2016

Filed under: A-Z Challenge — mel @ 9:00 am
Tags: , , , ,

Quien será el que me quiere a mi?
Quien será?, quien será?
Quien será el que me de su amor?
Quien será?, quien será?
Yo no se si lo podré encontrar
Yo no se, yo no se
Yo no se si volveré a querer
Yo no se, yo no se
Eh querido volver a vivir
La pasión y el calor de otro amor
Otro amor que me hiciera sentir
Que me hiciera feliz como ayer lo fui

Ay quien será el que me quiere a mi?
Quien será?, quien será?
Quien será el que me de su amor?
Quien será?, quien será?
Eh querido volver a vivir
La pasión y el calor de otro amor
Otro amor que me hiciera sentir
Que me hiciera feliz como ayer lo fui

Quien será el que me quiere a mi?
Quien será?, quien será?
Quien será el que me de su amor?
Quien será?, quien será?
Yo no se si lo podré encontrar
Yo no se, yo no se
Yo no se si volveré a querer
Yo no se, yo no se

Hey!

(Quien será que a mi me quiera?) Que a mi me quiera y no me abandone
(Quien será?) Quien será, quien será, el que me adore?
(Quien será que a mi me quiera?) Amor del bueno, amor sincero, amor eterno, amor

Si me encuentro en sus brazos
Tocarme entregada
El tuviese mi alma y siempre viviré
Enredada en su piel, realizada con él
Wooh!
Pa’ ti!
Te quiero flaquito

Hola amigos! My name is Carl I’m here in the beautiful land of Brazil to find my one true love and I can’t wait to get deep into the search. Many thanks to Matchmade Productions for sponsoring this once-in-a-lifetime trip around the world for their cutting-edge, award-winning hit show “Searching for Soulmate”.

As a just-on-the-brink-of-stardom artiste, travelling has taken a backseat these past few years as I focused on auditions. Man, I’m so glad I passed this one because I think this will really be that one big break I’ve been looking for all these years. Over a million followers on the Searching for Soulmate FB page, and 3 million on Instagram? OMG the exposure!!

What? Oh of course, I’m supposed to be talking about my tragic love life for the introductory voiceover. Seriously, you do know that’s not really the case, right? But of course, this is reality TV, so it has to be muy dramatico.

(Clears throat) I thought that it would be impossible to love again after my heart was broken by a cheating girlfriend two years ago. But I had a dream, and in that dream, a lady in white walks towards me, places her hand on my head and says, “Love is where you find it.” I woke up with a new sense of hope. The universe was telling me that the love of my life is somewhere out there, and I will get to her even if it means travelling all around the world to find her.

How’s that, Cameraman Joe? Great! So apparently the lady participants will be wearing white bikinis and they will be walking towards the camera with their hands reaching out to me. Heh, Uncle Joe, I’m so sure you’re going to have fun at the shoot.

Based on the script so far, there are some fine-looking (and diverse, that’s so important) specimens in the ladies’ line-up for the South America and Australia episodes. The casting producer made sure he only hired models with acting ambition so they would look good crying in hot tubs (the swimsuit sponsor was very firm about that).

Anyway, last night, I met up with last year’s “Searching for Soulmate” bachelor Kevin last night just to get some insider tips. He is doing so well for himself with all these cameos in K-pop videos (he is super hot stuff in Seoul, that lucky bastard). He’s also worked out a really doable arrangement with TV-fiancée Ashley to meet once a week at a high-profile event to take lovey-dovey photos together. Apparently, Ashley is going to get her own show soon called “Searching for Prince Charming” (after they announce their break-up this summer).

Woops, I’ve got to go know – spray tan time before the first shoot tomorrow night. I’m so pumped (and yes, I better pump too)! Do you think I should vlog as well?

 

P is for Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps April 19, 2016

Filed under: A-Z Challenge — mel @ 9:00 am
Tags: , , ,

You won’t admit you love me
And so how am I ever to know?
You always tell me
Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps

A million times I’ve asked you,
And then I ask you over again
You only answer
Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps

If you can’t make your mind up
We’ll never get started
And I don’t wanna wind up
Being parted, broken-hearted

So if you really love me
Say yes, but if you don’t dear, confess
And please don’t tell me
Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps

Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps

If you can’t make your mind up
We’ll never get started
And I don’t wanna wind up
Being parted, broken-hearted

So if you really love me
Say yes, but if you don’t dear, confess
And please don’t tell me
Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps
Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps

Dear Jenny,

I know you are expecting a clearcut answer from me. After all, we have been together for five years.

However, you do know that I am unable to  lie, and I cannot say I love you, mostly because I don’t really know what love feels like. It is impossible for me to categorically state things that are not wired socionormatively  in my brain.

Look, I have not even told my mother that I love her, and she has done so much more than you have ever done for me. (To be fair, she has had a twenty-year head start.) Even up till today, she tells me she loves me after we talk on Skype each night and does not expect me to reciprocate the ridiculous air-kissing. Perhaps you may wish to converse with her on how she has executed unconditional love with such pep all these years.

But aside from this misgiving that seems to have resurfaced these past few day (i.e. not going “official” – whatever does that mean? are documents required?), I do think our relationship has been quite efficient, pleasant and intellectually-stimulating. People tell me that I smile a lot more these days, and based on empirical records, it does appear to be true.

While I view most things in this world as absolutes, I am afraid I can only offer you a subjective reply to your recent question i.e. “Do I love you?”. My answer, as I’ve mentioned to you before, is perhaps.

Perhaps I should state how I will honour our relationship for as long as you don’t find me insufferable. Firstly, I will not cheat on you as that is an utter waste of energy. Secondly, I will make it a point to bring you to at least one dinner each week where I will stay silent as you talk about all that is happening in your life. Thirdly, I will say sorry even when I know I am right.

 

I sensed a disturbance seeing you cry last night. In offering this magnanimous olive branch, I do hope that you will at least e-mail me so I will know how to proceed from here.

I am sorry.

Yours sincerely,

John

 

 

 

O is for Orange-coloured Sky April 18, 2016

Filed under: A-Z Challenge — mel @ 9:00 am
Tags: , , ,

I was walking along, minding my business
When out of an orange colored sky
(Flash, bam, alakazam)
Wonderful you came by

I was humming a tune, drinking in sunshine
When out of that orange colored view
(Flash, bam, alakazam)
I got a look at you

One look and I yelled timber
Watch out for flying glass
‘Cause the ceiling fell in and the bottom fell out
I went into a spin and I started to shout
I’ve been hit
(This is it, this is it, I’ve been hit)

I was walking along minding my business
When love came and hit me in the eye
(Flash, bam, alakazam)
Out of an orange colored sky

One look and I yelled timber
Watch out for flying glass
‘Cause the ceiling fell in and the bottom fell out
I went into a spin and I started to shout
I’ve been hit
(This is it, this is it, I’ve been hit)

I was walking along minding my business
When love came and hit me in the eye
(Flash, bam, alakazam)
Out of an orange colored, purple striped
Pretty green polka dot sky
(Flash, bam) alakazam and goodbye

Wow, I thought love was much softer than that
For the most disturbing sound

 

This evening, there was a beautiful sunset. The sky took on a brilliant orange-reddish hue that had to be shot and posted on my various social media platforms. Of course, some of my online acquaintances beat me to it, but I had the best view, from the rooftop of my 50-storey office building i.e. the smokers’ area. My photo, with the Mayfair filter, looked pretty damn good #inspiringlandscape #gorgeous_skies #whatawonderfulworld.

I was waiting for the “Likes” to come in when suddenly, I saw purple stripes and green polka dots flying across the sky (#omg #wtf #ufo). Before my trembling hands could snap some shots of that, there was a huge flashing light and the next moment, I woke up with a start in a glass room, lying on a glass bed,  with a pale, silver-haired lady who looked like a Liv Tyler-type Elven Queen hovering above me.

Who are you? I asked, surprisingly with just silent brain waves.

“There is no who. There is only you. I am just but a figment of your imagination and I can do anything your heart desires,” she replied rather sophisticatedly, to my head.

“What are you talking about you crazy lady?” I yelled as loudly as I could silently.

The strange lady touched what seemed to be a glowing contraption attached in her ear. “Oh crap. I’m not supposed to be here.” She touched my forehead and I could feel my eyes shut heavily even as my mind screamed in vacuumed panic.

When I next opened my eyes, I found Justin Timberlake in a tuxedo staring deep into me eyes.

“Hey girl, is this better? I’m here for you always,” he said, aloud this time.

“What the hell is going on?” I croaked. There were wires in me everywhere, but when I tried to rip them off, I realised I could not will my body move.

“It’s going to be alright, sweet cheeks, just routine check-ups, no implantation of alien eggs anywhere, just scan scan zap zap and everything will go right back to the way it was before you saw the orange-coloured sky.”

“But everyone saw the orange-coloured sky,” I growled.

“Well, yes, that’s why we’re in a bit of a tizzy here. Accidentally sent you the princess that was meant for one of the male specimens occupying the same building as you.”

I looked around the strange glass room with strange, glassy eyes that did not blink. It was good to have Justin Timberlake for company, VR as he was.

“So the whole world is getting a check-up today?” I asked as casually as I could.

He smiled and his eyes twinkled. Damn, this technology was good.

“Sure, girl. We do it every year. I remember last year, you were really hot for chocolate cronuts.”

“Oh you remember, that’s so sweet! But wait, how could I ever have forgotten this?”

“Well, if we have the technology to make Justin Timberlake your bff-bf, what makes you think we can’t configure memories on a mass scale?”

“This is beyond awesome.” I was beginning to enjoy myself, even if I was paralysed. “So Justin, can you tell me, what exactly are you researching about humankind? We’re a pretty primitive bunch compared to you guys.”

Justin combed through his hair and did a sexy little Bye-bye-bye dance move. “Well, if you really want to know angel face, we’re trying to create a treatment for love. Our fertility rate is really plummeting where we’re from and we’re projected to go extinct in 50 years at this rate. No one really interacts with each other in real life any more – their personalised tachyon personal assistants fulfill all their physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual needs.

“So you kidnap us and appear to us as fantasy lovers so you can study every single thing that’s happening to us in our bodies when we are in love?”

“Precisely babe. I love how you always figure it out each time we meet. Beauty with brains, man, you are a rare diamond in the sky.”

“Urm, how many times have we met?”

“It’s been a good five years, baby.” Justin swept in to kiss me and I would have swooned if I could. However, I realised that the euphoria made me wiggle my fingers in glee.

“Interesting, once again, the energy force field from your crush on me is actually neutralising the behavior modification medication that is supposed to completely paralyse you for the next hour. Such a potently powerful mystery, this baser human emotion.”

Justin came closer to me. “Let’s try this one out, human lady.” He cleared his throat, got to his knees and declared a tad too dramatically to the cue of my favourite ballad This I Promise You, “I love you and want to spend the rest of my life with you.”

Still, it worked. Both of my arms shot out to grab Justin to kiss him once more. He gently pulled me away and touched my forehead. Just before everything went black again, I suddenly remembered why there were these strange “JT” scratchings that sometimes appeared on my right hand.

 

 

N is for Night and Day April 17, 2016

Filed under: A-Z Challenge — mel @ 1:01 am
Tags: , , ,

Like the beat beat beat of the tom-tom
When the jungle shadows fall
Like the tick tick tock of the stately clock
As it stands against the wall
Like the drip drip drip of the raindrops
When the summer shower is through
So a voice within me keeps repeating you, you, you
Night and day, you are the one
Only you beneath the moon and under the sun
Whether near to me, or far
It’s no matter darling where you are
I think of you
Night and day, day and night, why is it so
That this longing for you follows wherever I go
In the roaring traffic’s boom
In the silence of my lonely room
I think of you
Night and day, night and day
Under the hide of me
There’s an oh such a hungry yearning burning inside of me
And its torment won’t be through
Till you let me spend my life making love to you
Day and night, night and day

She couldn’t sleep. And it’s not just because she was old, as the doctor told her before prescribing her a few months’ worth of Valium.

It was because of him. Henry. His laugh. The twinkle in his eyes every time they hobbled past each other on walkers. But my goodness, wasn’t she too old for crushes at the grand old age of 80?

She needed more sleep. Her blood pressure was too high, her feet were too swollen and her hair kept dropping. This was absolutely the wrong state to be thinking of well, old men.

Henry was two years older than her but still had a generous portion of snowy hair. He could pass off as 65 and people would probably think she was a cradle-snatcher if they ever dated.

Dating…now how would that take place in a nursing home? The attendants would probably be the occasional chaperones while checking to see of their pee bags were full, and the romantic meal would probably be oats or porridge because they didn’t have most of their teeth left.

But oh, to hold hands with someone again! Henry had a nice, crinkly, firm, warm grasp (she’d noticed that when they first shook hands). So much nicer than the clammy, flaccid and practically non-existent grip of her deceased husband (may God rest his soul) who was simply too lazy to expend energy in bending one’s fingers.

Henry spoke impeccable English and had read law in London, just like her. They’d spent many an afternoon sharing thoughts on their favourite books. He’d highly recommended Tennessee Williams and Isaac Asimov, while she asked her daughter to bring over her old Edith Wharton and Virginia Woolf books to prove to him those works were not just “chick lit” (a ridiculous term he’d learned from his teenaged grandson).

She wondered how their families would get along if the ever remarried. My goodness, what was she doing, thinking so far ahead? They’d only loaned each other books last week.

Get a grip of yourself, Patricia Chan, she told herself. She’d always prided on being the more logical and level-headed one in the family, and simply could not allow herself get into such ridiculous frivolities. For one, there was still that will that needed to be written.

(Secretly, she wondered whether this was the first symptom of dementia.)

Nurse Marie came in with the pills in a little plastic cup.

“How did you sleep last night, Mdm Chan? Did the Valium help?”

She shook her head morosely.

“Oh dear, let me increase the dosage a little and see if it helps you tonight ok?”

She nodded her head morosely.

“Oh Mrs Chan, I think Mr Tan wanted me to return these books to you and he included a note too.”

She knew it. Henry did not like the books and was gently turning her down with this seemingly polite gesture.

She deliberately ignored the folded sheet of lavender paper lying on her bedside table for a few hours. However, there was nothing much on TV and so she opened the note which was written in broad, yet gentle cursive strokes.

My dearest Pat,

It is lovely being able to read new works at this point in my life. Thank you for sharing your books with me. I hope to see you around this afternoon at the recreation room. Apparently, they’re serving berry crumble for tea today, and I do remember you telling me that was your favourite dessert.  

Yours,

Henry

A love letter! She clutched it close to her heart and suddenly felt sleepy.

 

M is for Moon River April 16, 2016

Filed under: A-Z Challenge — mel @ 1:58 am
Tags: , , ,

Moon river, wider than a mile
I’m crossin’ you in style some day
Old dream maker, you heartbreaker
Wherever you’re goin’, I’m goin’ your way

Two drifters, off to see the world
There’s such a lot of world to see
We’re after the same rainbow’s end, waitin’ ’round the bend
My huckleberry friend, Moon River, and me
*****

Once you cross the Moon River, she told me, you will be home.

I never understood what that meant, or why that was the last memory of my mother. She didn’t escape immediately after that, she hung on for a few more months with all the grit she could muster, and then she left suddenly, like a deflated balloon twirling away randomly into the wind before finally landing on the ground.

The ground – that was where my father found her, and by then, it was far too late for him to get grounded. But he did anyway, so full of guilt was he, that he cleaned out his liquor stash, attended AA meetings, and joined the Baptist church near our house, the one he used to make fun of because they had a tuneless choir. He joined that choir in return for getting a break from me every Saturday afternoon when they had practice.

Meanwhile, every night upon her passing, I would try to spot the moon, and in particular, her rivers. According to NASA, there are no rivers on the moon but there’s water. Sure, I could work with puddles. I knew deep down in my heart that her spirit had somehow made her way there. Sometimes, I tried to cycle fast so I could fly like Elliot and ET. Sometimes, I would pray to Jesus to be abducted by aliens so I could at least get out of Earth first.

I never made it to the Moon River. The older I got, the more I thought my mum had probably lost all her marbles during the weeks leading to her suicide. I received counselling for this, like my dad, but we were never at a session together because I just clammed up with him around, just as I always had since the day I was born.

Jean, my mother used to say, let’s go to your room now. Daddy is in a bad mood again so let’s not disturb him, ok?  

Meanwhile, my dad became the “Cliff Richard of Hope Baptist Church”. He got promoted to soloist within weeks of joining, and eventually became a worship leader and a choir master. I didn’t really care for such religious promotions, but it did seem to distract him away from the bottle. He even dated a string of respectable, sensible women from the choir, but according to the church gossip mill, he’d balk everytime he was asked to make a serious commitment.

God is enough for me, he’d say with a wink every time some church auntie would throw some Bible verse at him about getting over my mother, needing companionship and how he, as a legit widower, fully qualified to remarry. I’d just roll my eyes, and eventually, I stopped joining him at church, a place where he had been saved but somehow, I hadn’t.

One Saturday night, I decided to head back much earlier from my usual clubbing routine because I was having a headache. I froze when I heard a familiar strumming as I approached home. My mother’s guitar! I crept slowly towards the slightly ajar door and peered in to see my father strumming and singing, with tears streaming down his cheeks.

Two drifters, off to see the world
There’s such a lot of world to see…

My father’s voice broke at this point. He stopped playing and laid his hands on the guitar, as if he was expecting my mother to pop up out of it any minute from now.

I took a deep breath and went home.

 

 

(The) Lady is a Tramp April 15, 2016

Filed under: A-Z Challenge — mel @ 12:41 am
Tags: , , ,

I’ve wined and dined on mulligan stew, and never wished for turkey
As I hitched and hiked and grifted too, from Maine to Albuquerque
Alas, I missed the Beaux Arts ball, and what is twice as sad
I was never at a party where they honored Noel Ca-ad (Coward)
But social circles spin too fast for me
My hobohemia is the place to be

I get too hungry for dinner at eight
I like the theater but never come late
I never bother with people I hate
That’s why the lady is a tramp

I don’t like crap games, with barons and earls
Won’t go to Harlem in ermine and pearls
Won’t dish the dirt with the rest of the girls
That’s why the lady is a tramp

I like the free, fresh wind in my hair
Life without care
I’m broke, it’s o’k
Hate California, it’s cold and it’s damp
That’s why the lady is a tramp

I go to Coney, the beach is divine
I go to ballgames, the bleachers are fine
I find a Winchell, and read every line
That’s why the lady is a tramp

I like a prizefight, that isn’t a fake
I love the rowing, on Central Park Lake
I go to opera and stay wide awake
That’s why the lady is a tramp

I like the green grass under my shoes
What can I lose, i’m flat, that’s that
I’m alone when I lower my lamp
That’s why the lady is a tramp

 

My roommate Lucy was the first American I knew who would add Sriracha sauce to green curry chicken. Every Wednesday, we’d trudge over from our dorm room to have dinner at the only Thai restaurant in the Pleasantville-like campus town.

It was only around her that I didn’t bother trying to sound American, and I could happily liberate my tastebuds to all the spices and herbs that made me feel a little less homesick.

Over these meals, she would tell me about her military family upbringing – she had been born in Okinawa, Japan and had spent her elementary school years in Manila. She hoped to join the SEALs one day, but not before backpacking around the world for at least a year or two.

She would ask me about what my plans were, but I never had much to say. I’d have much rather listened to her rattle on– she was a walking motivational poster that somehow did not make me snort. Instead, my spirits were lifted and in gratitude, I’d give her a few tomyam-flavoured cup noodles which my mother use to send over to me in bulk every few months.

Lucy was restless but she created an outlet for it by making friends with anyone she came into contact with. Everyone in our dormitory had had some form of heartfelt talk with her at some point in time, and as such, she was totally clued in on all the gossip.

“Nikki brought someone back to her room after clubbing last Saturday, but who she really likes is Cute Craig,” she told me out-of-the-blue while I was my laptop trying to finish some essay one night.

“Uh huh,” I acknowledged distractedly.

“That girl is a walking time bomb. In ten years, she’s going to wind up being this pothead single mother with an abusive boyfriend.” Lucy always had this sense that she had a sixth sense, and she’d repeatedly predicted that I would have a high-paying job. (I never did).

In the end, Cute Craig and Lucy dated till graduation, where she sensibly dumped him so she could globetrot without anyone to hold her back. She travelled for two years (she always sent postcards, with anecdotes of people she’d made friends with on planes, trains and buses) before deciding that she did not want to be a SEAL and pursued a Master’s Degree in Political Science in Melbourne, Australia. She’d met someone in her class who seemed to fit her bill of a perfect husband, and when I flew down for their perfect seaside wedding, I thought so too and sentimentally wept tears of joy.

A few years later, Lucy called me saying she was going to be in my part of the world for a few days, and asked if we could meet at a Japanese restaurant near her hotel.

She was still as radiant as ever but something in her eyes told me something had happened. I didn’t probe, but while we quietly observed the sushi train go round and round, she suddenly muttered, “I’m getting a divorce.”

Her husband had been abusive, and had cheated on her several times. Her two kids were now with her in-laws, and she was flying back to the US to get the necessary paperwork to bring them over where she’d figure out what to do next.

She grabbed a plate of edamame beans. “I made a mistake. I made a terrible mistake.” She looked at the plate listlessly, unsure of what to do next.

“Whenever one door closes, one more opens,” I said.

“What?”

“You always used to tell me. And now I’m saying it back to you.”

She sighed. “I’m sorry for being such an idiot back then. What did I know? The truth is: the doors all fucking lead to blackholes.”

“Well, you can time travel in black holes. So they are kind of like open doors?”

Lucy let out a slight laugh, but immediately grew silent after that.

“Cute Craig was cute, wasn’t he?”