The Thing About Life

The 2nd Greatest Mystery of the Universe

Dear Xander,

In this letter I shall attempt to explain to you an extremely difficult concept which you will find yourself trying to grasp through most of your life.

I’m going to talk to you about women.

In the most technical form of the relationship between genders, the human race must rely on the co-existence of both men and women in order to survive. That being said, such a co-existence is held together only with a thin, fragile bond which I would like to call the Y-factor. Similar to the X-factor you will hear people talk about when describing individuals of a certain inexplicable attraction and charisma, the Y-factor is refers to a mysterious logic and inexplicable reasoning that both ensures the superiority of the fairer sex and will forever elude the understanding of their male counterparts.

Let me use your grandmother, my mother, as an example. In the early 80’s, the Singapore entertainment industry produced a very popular Chinese singer named Eric Moo. He made women swoon, married the most beautiful Singaporean actress of the time, and generally had great fame and success as a singer/songwriter/producer for many years.

Your grandmother absolutely hated him.

When asked why, all she could offer was that she could not stand to even look at him or hear him sing. Even she couldn’t put a finger on why she would so thoroughly detest someone who, apart from appearing regularly on television, having put out numerous music albums and having an unfortunate last name, had nothing whatsoever to do with her.

Hence, the Y-factor: whenever you ask why, no answer will come out.

My family has come to acknowledge your grandmother’s bizarre affliction as the Eric Moo phenomenon. The term was coined out of necessity, for we have found Eric Moo wasn’t the only victim: the same inexplicable scorn has been applied to various other men (some of which your aunties have dated) and women (two of which I haves dated) over various points of time and over various situations (on TV, in the bus, at the wet market, etc.). And once your grandmother casts the Eric Moo phenomenon on someone, it lasts forever.

Your grandmother is but one example; the Y-factor manifests its illogical self on every woman in very different ways, each one phenomenon as comparably confounding as the last. The only constant which binds all these phenomena together in a cohesive gender-defining quality such as the Y-factor is that they always –always – leave men questioning why.

I am woman, hear me reason.

The Y-factor is exactly what makes the co-existence of men and women so frustrating, yet it is also the one thing that makes the pursuit of women of such interest, if not excitement, of many men. For you, I have just 3 pieces of advice if you are to get around the Y-factor in seeking the girl of your dreams.

  1. Learn as best as you can, observe as much as you can, understand as much as your sense of logic allows. Your father, being surrounded by 3 sisters and their countless experiments with makeup and dresses (on me, no less), had a treasure trove of women’s magazines to do my research with.
  2. Where understanding fails, acceptance is key. While it seems this point contradicts the first, bear in mind there will be situations where you will have no choice but to make the relationship between yourself and a woman work, i.e. your mother, if your boss is a woman, or the woman manning the passport booth while you go through immigration.
  3. If both understanding and acceptance is out of the question, and the other woman is not your mother, your boss or the woman manning the passport counter while you go through immigration, find another girl and repeat 1 and 2.

Good luck, son. You’re going to need it.



P.S. If you’re wondering what the 1st greatest mystery of the universe is, it’s time travel. Look it up.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *