Sunday, July 20, 2014

Read the Rulebook

Let's just agree on this. Rulebooks are indescribably boring. Though bespectacled engineers worldwide would undoubtedly challenge that fact!

Why engineers, you say? Well, from the few that I've carefully observed, namely my brother and my boyfriend, Charming Calvin, they both seem endlessly obsessed with diligently poring over the smallest, most insignificant minutiae listed in the encyclopaedic rulebooks. No sooner is the game box unpacked that they are desperately grasping for the rulebook.

And now we have one of the fellas in my newly formed gaming band, Sober Sam, who does pretty much the same - incidentally also a member of the engineering brotherhood! Wise to his ways, his gregarious wife, Kitty Kat, agrees with me and finds those traits equally amusing.

Kat : Let's have some tea while we wait. 
Paul : Still reading the rulebook? 
Kat : It will take a while. 
Paul : So we can't bend the rules even a bit? 
Kat : Definitely no modifications at all. 
Paul : No die rolling unseen?
Kat : Nor challenging moves recanted!
Paul : That's going to be problematic. 
Kat : Why? 
Paul : I foresee losing badly in the next game. 

Still doesn't stop us from occasionally backtracking on our moves. Or giving that lopsided die just that helpful nudge. Or whispering formerly secret stratagems to the presumed enemy. Which drives poor Sam - so cautiously methodical - endlessly batty as we twist the otherwise fixed rules into a braided pretzel.

I swear half the fun is watching his barely stifled frustration.

Sam : Though you manage to survive the fall off the balcony, you arise in the courtyard only to find yourself surrounded by a cadre of black armoured guards.
Paul : You mean I can't seduce them?
Sam : No!
Paul : Not even the hot captain?

Sam : I didn't say there was a hot captain. 
Paul : There always is.
Sam : It's not in the rules. 


Yes we love them for reading the rulebooks - and painstakingly explaining each tedious principles to us. Though our imbecilic understanding certainly tests their rapidly thinning patience. Poor Sam. When you're left with rulebooks the size of the Almighty Bible, seems almost like a chore to go through each and every tiresome chapter. Left to us, we'd probably just play along with some illogical, hastily fabricated guidelines! 

Sam : So there are three moves. You first take a card, then you move and then -
Kat : What did he say?
Paul : I no understand. Did he say three? 
Kat : Did you see the pretty pictures on the cards?
Paul : Still admiring the mini figurines. 
Kat : Should we paint them?
Sam : Are you even listening?
Kat : We can't play along as we go?
Sam : No!

Wouldn't blame him if he gives us a whack with the rulebook one of these days!

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Posted by savante at 10:22 PM 0 comments


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Jealous Eyes

We all know getting over a harrowing break-up is never easy, but evidently recovering from an aborted love affair takes some time as well. After the almighty rejection followed by the inevitable fallout amongst his fickle foursome of 'friends', I wasn't surprised that Diffident David has been feeling a little despondent and lonely at work, summarily ignored by those so-called 'friends' of his.

Unlike him though, I wouldn't recommend immediately falling into a dark despair - obviously I'm not one to wallow endlessly in the murky mud of misery - but to persevere instead by taking up new exciting challenges such as searching for new friends.

Though trying to get him to listen is like pulling teeth.

David : Well, she is nice but I don't know her that well. 
Paul : Get to know her then. 
David : Not easy to get to know people at work. 
Paul : Are you purposely sabotaging yourself? Well, just ask her out for a meal. 
David : I can't!
Paul : Why? Does she live on photosynthesis? Is she somehow averse to eating?
David : Her husband might get jealous. 
Paul : Over having a meal? 
David : Yes!
Paul : So she needs to get signed permission slips to have lunches? 

David : It's only lunch yeah! Lunch only!
Girl : Tee hee. If you say so. 

Shades of deja vu since I recall it wasn't the first time David made that particular damning exclamation - like a seething husband's jealousy was the end all for every possible issue that pertains to a committed relationship. Which raises the question - is that what David actually thinks?

Look, I'm far from the fearsome high-maintenance spouse and all I ask for is little more than trust. It doesn't have to be utterly blind, all-encompassing trust but it should be enough that having a simple meal out in public with a strange man, no matter how incredibly attractive, wouldn't elicit but a passing neutral comment. It certainly shouldn't provoke the awakening of the green-eyed monster.


Likewise, Charming Calvin has his share of nights out with other men - surely platonic, say I hopefully  - and I do little but shrug and wish him well, perhaps a disgruntled grunt, but nothing more. After all he has earned my love and trust to befriend whomever he likes without the ugly spectre of jealousy hanging over our relationship.

If not, a relationship would be no different from a harsh prison cell.

David : Husband sure get jealous la!
Paul : If that's true, it obviously isn't that strong a relationship. 
David : No ah, they are close wor. 
Paul : So that the husband gets jealous of all her male friends and automatically assumes infidelity? 
David : A bit maybe? 
Paul : Then there's little trust in the relationship. 
David : Not to say that la. 
Paul : There should be enough trust that she should be able to lie down utterly naked in a full-on orgy without worrying that her husband would think ill of her. 
David : Wah so you would trust Calvin to do the same?
Paul : Undoubtedly. Though I won't blame him if he just stroked some abs or lightly spanked an ass. Nothing more than that though.

David obviously doesn't agree - and blithely assumes that even a platonic friendship would endanger the girl's supposedly committed relationship with her husband. Seriously, one workday lunch would drive him off the brink? Though he might not have known it but undoubtedly David has betrayed his own thoughts - and would probably guard his own partner equally zealously in the future.

For that I can only sigh and shake my head.

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Posted by savante at 9:28 PM 0 comments


Monday, July 14, 2014

Fall of Grandma III : Buddha Business

First, let me just say how glad I am that my grandmother made it through her surgery successfully. Not that it was a particularly problematic procedure nor was it a perilous life-threatening emergency but still at her advanced years, one never knows.

Paul : The surgery doesn't take that long, maybe about an hour? 
Grandma : That's quite fast!
Paul : But you're old... and there is a chance you might just die on table. 
Grandma : Well then it's a final goodbye to you then. See you on the other side if it exists. 
Paul : I'm not done talking yet!

Yes, I don't mince words.

Not that it managed to disturb her calm composure. Since I delivered this alarming lecture on the treacherous dangers of decrepitude a few years back when she underwent her cataract surgery, obviously she didn't read very much into my ominous tone. I guess when you've lived till that ripe old age, heading into that final sleep isn't as much of a terror but a kind of sweet relief.

A serene sense of acceptance apparently not shared by my overwrought relatives who treated the coming surgery as if it was the dreaded end. Seriously just short of the kinda hair-tearing, chest-beating wailing attributed to professional Italian mourners.

Which seriously troubled my grandmother. Though quite the staunch traditional conservative, she surprisingly enough doesn't relate much to organized religion. In fact, I have the distinct impression that my eccentric grandmother just might be a true agnostic - hence her apparent fearlessness at greeting death.

Paul : Okay, who ordered the chanting nuns?
Mike : Wasn't that you?
Paul : If it was up to me, we'd have sexy Mormons every night.  


Unlike her eldest daughter - my aunt - who recently must have received a religious epiphany of some sort for there could be no other logical explanation for her sudden spiritual zeal! So much so that I half expect her to enlist in some obscure Buddhist convent - if she hasn't already done so. Unsurprisingly her regular messages on the family newsletter seems to be entirely composed of complex Buddhist mantras, floating lotus flowers or serene images of Buddha.

On receiving word of my grandmother's impending surgery, she immediately fell into a mystical Buddhist trance and started muttering sacred sutras. Caught up in her burning religious fervour, she immediately adjured my disbelieving grandmother to join in. Fortuitously she had already printed out a Buddhist text for her to read out and recite. Much to my grandmother's glaring consternation.

Obliging as ever though, my grandmother read it. And instantly sent me, ever the skeptic, a recording as proof.

Well, my grandmother did make it through so perhaps Buddha did watch over her after all.


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Posted by savante at 6:07 PM 2 comments


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Fall of Grandma II : Hospital Hubbub

The hour is getting late. 

All the regular evening visitors have long departed the rooms leaving the long, echoing hallways empty and bare - with naught but the sound of tense murmurs from the nurses' bay. 

There behind the gleaming counters topped by towering case files hide a frightened huddle of night-shift nurses who all whisper nervously in a soft hush, all in the fast diminishing hopes that the fearsome hellion will not pay a visit that night. Distressing rumours from the afternoon shift spread tales of an intimidating monster who devours the unwary nurse - or unwitting physician - who dares walk by that particular room in response to a call. Dread of waking up that particular monster has kept the crew near silent the entire evening.

The button is pressed. The red light on the switchboard blinks repeatedly. There is an audible gasp of dismay as the trio of nurses start hedging their bets to see who would be the unfortunate victim that night.  
  
Yes, we might all laugh at the B-grade medical horror flick scenario but believe me, this happens more often than you might think. Only the fearsome monster in question wouldn't be something out of a surreal Lovecraftian nightmare - but the even more terrifying relative from hell. Oh yes, the demanding, oversolicitous, fussy relation of the patient who no doubt enjoys having servants at their beck and call. 

Or at least the touch of a distress button. 

Nurse : Hello, do you need anything? Is everything alright?
Relative : Everything's terrible!
Nurse : Oh dear, is the patient alright? 
Relative : She is fine but the room is... just so unfashionable! Could we change the drapes? 
Nurse : Oh. 
Relative : And the pillows are so hard!
Nurse : That we can change -
Relative : Why are the traction weights so old-fashioned? Couldn't we have something more modern? Is the doctor coming by? I haven't seen him in one hour! I need to take a picture of the X-rays for a second opinion. Maybe he's wrong - or at least that's what my neighbour's second cousin told me.  
Nurse : Umm... 

So you can imagine how hospital denizens look upon such intolerable monsters. 

Colleague : You lost the bet dammit! You have to review room 307.
Paul : Oh God, must I?
Colleague : I did it this morning already. Don't make me face them again.
Paul : Could I just drop a volatile anaesthetic and knock the lot out?
Colleague : Don't think I haven't thought of that. 


Almost always, finicky patients are easily forgiven by virtue of their lamentably untoward malady - generally enough to make any reasonably genial person extremely disobliging. But their visiting relatives and their idiosyncrasies - along with their increasingly outrageous demands - can be a little harder to take. 

So much to my dismay, I am starting to believe that my loud, boisterous passel of relations - oh-so-lovable in my eyes - might be turning into the very monsters that everyone else avoids at work. Ten of them chattering in the room at all hours, eating and drinking with their own portable picnic basket while intermittently bugging the staff with oddly impertinent questions. My sympathies to the undoubtedly stressed-out nurses and doctors tending to my crazed troublesome relatives. 

Oh yeah, and my debilitated grandmother too. 

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Posted by savante at 4:59 PM 0 comments


Sunday, July 06, 2014

Fall of Grandma I : Dowager Dips

Though a Chinaman like me might not be overly demonstrative at times, I do care for my grandmother. Home visits might be increasingly few and getting rarer but each time I desperately scramble my way home, I usually spend most of my time having long drawn-out conversations with her over a pot of green tea. Unlike most of my more staid, reserved cousins, I'm quite the irreverent eccentric which amuses her to no end.

Since despite her traditional Chinese upbringing, she is far from conventional.

So you can imagine my distinct horror when I received news on the family grapevine of her great big fall this morning.

Cousin : Grandma fell. 
Paul : What?!
Cousin : Grandma fell. 
Paul : You're just repeating. How? Was she having a stroke? Did she break anything? Did she suffer a concussion? How is she? 
Cousin : Don't know wor. Only know she fell. 

And that was all we had to tide us over for the next half hour. Nothing like leaving me teetering with the suspenseful intelligence that my fragile nonagenarian grandmother, no doubt wildly osteoporotic, had taken a precipitous tumble. With my morbid disposition, I wondered tragically whether I had to get my blacks ready.

Of course that little precious drop of information only served to bring on an entire deluge of questions from the rest of my extended family. Like an overwhelming tsunami of disquietude, the increasingly hysterical chatter on our family messageboard threatened to drown out any sort of levelheaded inquest. Yes, big families do have a tendency to overreact to the smallest things.

Intern : Oh, that crazy family is back.
Paul : Unfortunately yes.
Intern : They are so damned fussy and opinionated!
Paul : I know. They're my family. 

Intern : Oh I'm sorry!
Paul : Why? Not like it isn't true. 

Very soon, it seemed like half the family was flying in to provide support and succor for the suffering invalid - who it turns out had snapped her femur after a lamentable stumble in the toilet. True, it's definitely more than just a minor cataract surgery but it's still manageable. Nothing a few metallic screws, bags of opioids and some much-needed rest wouldn't fix.

Paul : Ouch. But she should be fine after the surgery. 
Cousin : She almost died!
Paul : No, she didn't. 
Cousin : She can still die!
Paul : Not because of the surgery. Not unless something wildly improbable happens. 
Cousin : She can still die!
Paul : Of old age, yes. 
Cousin : We should all get together to pray and chant!
Paul : OMG. 

Such a sudden fit of hysterics from visiting relatives in the hospital hallways usually inspires an irresistible urge to hand out patented Slaps of Sobriety on my part. No doubt some of my distressed aunts are now setting up candlelight vigils to pray for my grandmother's supposedly 'ailing' health. Times like these, I fear some of my overly concerned relatives are turning into one of those horrifically finicky families that ward nurses try their best to avoid during the hospital stay.

While all this was happening, I gave a call to my grandmother who assured me that she was doing fine, all the while watching the increasingly panicky drama unfold around her. Even intravenous morphine failed to sedate her with all the familial chaos around her. Well, at least this time she isn't crying wolf

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Posted by savante at 4:38 PM 3 comments