An embarrassing purchase

Still in the spirit of nostalgia, I did something mildly embarrassing last night.

I went to Borders and bought three teenage novels.

Teenage novels

Well, in defence of my honour, I didn’t set out to buy these teen novels, or any teen novels, for the matter.

I was at Parkway Parade waiting for the Goonfather to show up for dinner. I had about 10 minutes to kill, so I decided to use a $20 Borders gift card which had been in my possession for 15 months. (I can’t even find a picture of the old card on the Internet anymore.)

Borders Gift Card

(To digress a bit, the reason I’d left the gift card sitting in my wallet for 15 months is because I seldom go to Borders; my bookstores of choice are Kinokuniya and Amazon. Plus the fact that $20 is, like, one book, which doesn’t exactly make me want to rush to the store immediately.)

I walked into Borders and checked out the “3 For 2” display shelves. They were filled to the brim with teenage novels.

Teenage novels

So, it’s not like it’s my fault I ended up with the books I did!

I browsed every title carefully, hoping to find an un-teenage novel hiding somewhere among the piles. And that was when I saw this book, which hit me with a thick blast of nostalgia.

Horror High - Toxic Beauty

I used to love reading teenage supernatural horror books. I even once tried writing one myself, when I was about 11. I didn’t get very far with that endeavour.

Smiling at the memory of my youthly folly, I turned the book over and read the blurb.

Starting a new school is hard enough, but Bethany has never felt more plain and ordinary. She’d give anything to be popular, beautiful and clever.

When a mysterious man offers to make all of Bethany’s wildest dreams come true, she jumps at the chance. But she doesn’t realize that beauty comes with a price…

Not exactly the most creative plot in the world but I love “deals with the devil” stories. I’ve always held a keen fascination for the occult and can’t get tired of reading all the different ways people get enticed by promises of fame, riches, talent and looks, never realising the doom that lurks before them.

On a whim, I decided to buy this book, even though it had all of 200 words in large fonts and double spacing, written in a language style that makes me and want roll my eyes and smile indulgently.

As I continued browsing, the next book hit me with its pinkness.

Princess Academy

It reminded me of The Princess Diaries, which I enjoyed maybe three books of and then outgrew before the further sequels were published.

Since I was in the mood to be nostalgic, I experienced a what-the-heck moment. Looking left and right furtively to make sure no one could see me trying to buy this childish pink book, I added it to the growing pile of embarrassment in my right hand.


One more book to find.

Because good things come in threes, and we must always be mindful of old, wise sayings, I didn’t doubt that the third book I was going to pick up would be a teenagely one.

Probably in anticipation of Halloween, the “3 For 2” shelves are now full of vampire books. Maybe, like many teenagers then and now, I used to wish a handsome vampire would bite me so I could rule the night with him eternally.


I kind of outgrew that some time back, but I recently watched Twilight and, suddenly, vampires became somewhat appealing again.

I considered buying the Twilight sequel, but watching the movie actually gave me heartache and I didn’t feel like dealing with heartache at the moment.

I picked this one, instead, the first in a series of currently four books.

Vampire Academy

Besides vampires and the occult, I also loved boarding school books. I practically read my Enid Blyton “The Naughtiest Girl in the School” series to death. Like about 20 times each.

Thinking about the books now gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling.

The Naughtiest Girl in the School

I love reading school stories. Doesn’t have to be boarding school. I guess I just love school. I hated growing up and not being able to go to school anymore.

I’ve always harboured this thought that, when I’m 50 or 60, I’d go back to university and learn all the things I still haven’t learned by then. It would be such a wondrous way to spend the rest of my life.

I was inspired to this thought by a charming granny who was in my Philosophy class at uni.


So, anyway, I bought the three books with a faint prickle on my cheeks (from embarrassment and, maybe, a bit of eager anticipation).

When the Goonfather arrived, I blamed him for making me spend money on stupid teenage novels. (After the $20 offset, I still had to pay $18. Freaking books are too expensive these days.)

The Goonfather gave me a WTF look as he always does when I blame him unreasonably.

And before I could extort money from him to cover for my impulse book purchases, I ended up paying for dinner ($76) because I had the right credit card to get a discount.


And all because I had played Sushido the night before and gotten a sushi craving.


But that’s another story, I guess.

Were those ghostly encounters?

Some people get paranoid when the Hungry Ghost Month rolls around. They see a “ghostly encounter” in every damn thing.

I usually don’t. I’m very aware of the principal that people see what they want to see, because people like to be thrilled and shocked and teased, so I like to underplay coincidences and strange occurences.

Therefore, I’m going to underplay this following encounter.

Encounter #1

It was on the second day of the Hungry Ghost Month, just the day after the Goonfather and I watched the documentary, A Month of Hungry Ghosts.

The Goonfather woke up to prepare for work. His alarm clock had awoken me. I remained in bed and looked around the room blearily as he walked to the bathroom.

As he opened the bathroom door and stepped in, I heard the sound of rushing water.

He kinda paused for three seconds, then stepped out again and looked at me.

“Why did you leave the tap on last night?”

The wheels in my mind creaked into overdrive trying to start up.

I tried to remember what had happened last night. My mind was a haze of sleep and confusion. I remembered that I had brushed my teeth, turned off the tap, wiped my mouth, then gone to bed.

The best response I could muster was, “I don’t know.”

Later, when I was more awake, I decided that it was only 10% possible that I had left the tap on carelessly. Turning off the tap is very much fixed into my nightly ritual of teeth-brushing. It comes just before wiping my hands and mouth.

And if I had really neglected to turn it off, I would have been able to hear it as I stepped out of the bathoom because it’s quite loud.

It’s 2% possible that either the Goonfather or I sleepwalked and turned on the tap in the middle of the night. But we don’t have a history of sleepwalking.

It’s 10% possible that it was a “ghostly encounter”.

That makes 22%. I don’t know what other possibilities there could be. Nothing really makes compelling sense.

And then, I sort of relegated this incident to the back of my mind. There are more important things to worry about in life, such as what the water bill will be like at the end of the month.

Encounter #2

Yesterday, I was out having coffee with a couple of friends. The conversation turned to the Hungry Ghost Month.

One guy was telling us that, the day before, his mum and maid had argued over who had left the tap running in the kitchen. Both of them swore it wasn’t them. So his mum concluded that it must have been ghosts.

A bell rang in my head.

Running tap!!

I recounted my experience, then, and the guys looked at me, and I looked at them… and we decided that we didn’t want to commit to an opinion.

I think none of us wanted to outright say that those were ghostly encounters because we are children of science.

It would be quite thrilling to see something supernatural in these encounters but then we can’t deny that people do leave taps running by honest accident.

I don’t know. You can read what you want to read.

Perhaps you have a running tap story to share, too? LOL.

Incidentally, is running a series of campaigns around the Hungry Ghost Month. There’ll be tons of spooky stories around the bilingual portal. If you’re interested, check out it out here.