Now that the somewhat competent contractor's been chosen and the ensuing deal signed, hardly a week goes by that I don't drop by the makeshift construction site to keep an eye on things. Certainly a bustling hive of boisterous activity each time I make my irregular visits to Hartfield; from the odd worker hammering down the old walls for the new to some handyman peeling out the hideous metal banisters that I heartily disliked.
Of course along the way I've discarded some of my more fanciful dreams for the more practical realities of construction. Rather than take down entire rooms to fit a sauna sized bathroom that I would hardly ever use, I've decided to only widen it by a feet or so. At least give me enough shower room to raise both my arms without hitting a glass partition.
Seriously. What's with the tiny bathrooms?
I did originally try not to hysterically hover over the itinerant workers as much as possible but the number of pressing questions they start peppering me with has made it nearly imperative for me to visit every couple of days. Despite the sweltering summer heat.
And the severe lack of hunky shirtless workers for me to ogle over. Erroneously assumed that hammering hardware and shifting lumber would help build an enviable Herculean physique only to find out quite painfully that it doesn't actually hold true for everyone. At least not for those involved in the ongoing renovation of Hartfield!
Nothing to ogle over in Hartfield unfortunately.
Still it helps that I'm around since certain design decisions that they unconsciously make seem entirely... unprepossessing.
Paul : Aren't the banisters a bit odd? Worker : Oh? Paul : That gap is large enough for an obese elephant to slide through. Worker : Oh? Paul : And it's unequal in certain places. Three steps to one. Two steps to one. Worker : Oh? Paul : You don't understand me at all? Worker : Oh. Paul : Let me sketch it for you.
Makes me feel like I'm speaking in Swahili sometimes.
Apparently I cannot leave some of the simpler decisions to the contractors since their personal design values are extremely circumspect. If it were up to them, they would probably enthusiastically demolish every remotely interesting design feature in the house till all that remains is a nondescript square box; which certainly explains some of the more uninspired choices in town.
Not that I want to nitpick but I have to freakishly micromanage till the placement of each and every wooden banister on the staircase, sketched in with an X to mark the spot. Reason enough for me to walk around with a pencil and a notebook.
Remember that I once mentioned the third in the terrifying trio of Dogmatic Duennas? Apart from our oh-so-straightlacedSober Sophia to the wildly bohemian Marvellous Mabel, there is also Yoga Ysabel.
If there ever was a cliched stereotype for the Eat, Pray, Love missionary on the ever popular Banana Pancake Trail, that's Yoga Ysabel for you. Originally hailing from Italy which somehow never seemed to be her spiritual home, our Ysabel found herself wandering adrift meandering down life's torturous paths into the sweltering heat of the Maharashtra in India where she finally found herself.
Her soul. Her head. Or whatever.
Perhaps the burning sun or the crazy monsoons transmogrified her for Ysabel barely has any trace of her Italian ancestry in her anymore. Chappatis, jalebis and ladoo have become a part of her, along with daily yoga, ayurvedic home remedies and glittering sarees. When she speaks with her accented English coupled with dramatic gesticulations and well-timed eyerolls, there's an immediate vision of the heated plains of the Indian plateau with the teeming overpopulated cities redolent with the heady scents of exotic spices, the malodourous stench of ever-present refuse and the humid heat of man.
Even the infamous Indian headshake has become ingrained in her everyday behaviour.
Care to enter my inner self?
Even so, occasionally her boisterous Italian side does come crawling back to haunt her - which causes Ysabel to be a study in peculiar contradictions in her personality. Like the time she insisted on turning vegetarian.
Ysabel : I am vegetarian this week. Paul : You just put a piece of pork in your mouth. Ysabel : Oh that's alright. That doesn't count. Paul : Well you still have a salad. Ysabel : That's not a salad! Paul : What? Ysabel : It has a leaf! Paul : Salad has vegetables. Vegetables have leaves. Ysabel : Vegetables don't have leaves! Paul : What?!
Since she did the headshake wobble right at that moment, I got quite easily distracted - which easily left me open for her next surprising comment.
Ysabel : I need to find an ashram. Paul : Unlikely to have one here. Ysabel : I need to find my inner self. Paul : You misplaced her? Ysabel : No, I haven't been taking care of my inner self so it went away. Paul : You have been abusing your inner self? Ysabel : In a sense, yes. Paul : So you're now a dead shell? Ysabel : Yes, and a few days of deep meditation in a retreat should help. Paul : Couldn't you just call and ask her to come back? Ysabel : It doesn't work that way. Paul : Man, what a difficult inner self.
I couldn't make up this conversation even if I wanted to.
Sometimes I simply cannot fathom the circuitous thought processes of other people.
Previously I mentioned the unequitable crush that Diffident David had on our resident panda Grizzylocks. Rather than nip it in the bud as we would on any of his hopelessly straight crushes, we did our best to encourage David's nascent feelings to blossom since Grizz was at the very least wildly homosexual. Though our single-minded Grizz seemed to be wholly into grizzly bears, at least there was a faint glimmer of hope there.
Rather than none with a straight fellow.
However what we didn't expect was how fast the winsome bud turned into a freaking Rafflesia bloom!
Really. Love on fast forward. It took barely days after his tentative announcement to have David already head-over-heels deep in his crush wetdreaming about that grizzly prince of his. And that was way, way before the two near strangers have even shared five multisyllabic words in between them. Much less exchanged bodily fluids.
Here we are whispering about maybe, perhaps, possibly asking for a date - and our lovestruck David's already crafting an entire Bollywood song-and-dance. Talk about a runaway train. Apparently love at first sight doesn't only happen in sappy overblown Disney romances.
With wifi-connected technological devices easily at hand, it didn't take our David all that long to obsessively cyberstalk his chosen prey. The better to know his bear prince after all. Since I'd already scouted out Grizz online to determine his sexual proclivities, I couldn't very well blame him for doing pretty much the same.
But what we both concluded after the furious web investigation turned out to be entirely dissimilar.
David : I'm terribly sad. Paul : Suddenly! David : Yes. Grizz has so many friends. Paul : Now isn't that nice? David : But he has so many friends! Paul : What's your point? David : He already has so many friends! Oh why would he want me! Paul : I did not see that coming.
Really I didn't.
Honestly someone tell me how does his perplexing brain work? I don't know how the fact that affable Grizz has bear packs perpetually surrounding him like a grizzly entourage translates into not wanting to have a date with David. Even the number of friends on Grizz's Facebook - supposedly in the upper hundreds, both male and female - intimidates our oddly timid fellow.
I bet he has lots of friends.
Somehow David magically turned simple gregariousness into a sore point. Perhaps he envisions being horrifically mauled by raging bears in raunchy black leather for daring to approach their prince?
Without the threat of a possibly myocardial infarction, I would probably never don my running shoes ever. Zealous advocates enthuse about the intoxicating endorphin rush - I blame the oxygen depletion - but so far the only thing keeping me awake during the mind-numbingly tedious treadmill scamper is my trusty podcast replay informing me on all the stuff I missed during history class.
So the thought of getting up on the wee hours of a lovely Sunday morning just to hobble around a 10 km track sounds like something purely derived from the sordid punishments book of hell. Something Mad Madison, perhaps a closet masochist, seems all too willing to participate in.
Madison : Can't stay up late tonight, guys. Paul : Wow, hot date? Madison : I've got a marathon to run tomorrow morning. Paul : What? Madison : A marathon. Paul : I know what it is. Why? Madison : Because I like it? Paul : At some ungodly hour as usual? Madison : Gotta get up at 5 in the morning. Paul : On a Sunday? That's cruel and unusual punishment.
Apparently Madison has peculiar methods of getting her own personal high. Since the odd female counts hiking and photography as her daily amusements, I shouldn't be terribly surprised since strangely all those hobbies somehow tend to flock together.
I seriously doubt they have these as prizes, do they?
For a while back there, so many young virile sportsmen seemed to be falling lifeless at the various marathons that I wondered why any reasonably sane persons would still want to participate! Seemed like a near lethal sports event! Of course I'll probably never see the inexplicable allure of dragging myself out on a weekend just to sweat myself around the burning tarmac for a fake silver medal. Short of dangling a suitable prize such as a sexy sculpted stud in short shorts at the end of the race, I doubt I would even bother registering.
Of course that led my ever supportive friends to suggest placing booths and stalls stacked high with handicrafts and antiques all along the marathon route - with the early bird discount - buy one free one - as a suitable inducement for reaching there first. Intriguing.
If that were true, and they also had the sexy stud at the end as a prize, I believe I just might throw in my hat.
Then again I might do a Sophie Ellis Bextor and viciously eliminate all my other hopeful competitors. After all there's a prize I want.
Aren't we all glad they don't have such unique marathons?
Not in the modern interpretation of the word but the more ... antiquated definition of the term where the subtle art of flirtation seemed to be a prerequisite for dinner conversation. Nothing too shockingly vulgar or overly candid but just light, frothy repartees between fresh acquaintances.
Something seriously lacking in our modern days of technological devices and homosocial apps where 'fuck me' is considered the height of communication. Not that I have anything against the sweet brevity of such a blatant come-on but there's such an old-fashioned charm in trading witty, slyly suggestive ripostes that's incredibly arousing.
At least for me.
Which is what we all suggested for Diffident David who has been battling a seemingly inequitable crush on Grizzlylocks or Grizz for short. Short of brazenly coming out to ask the bear for a date - which is something David adamantly rejects even as a desperate last resort, there is little choice but for him to play the coy coquette.
Something he evidently fails terribly in.
Before you claim that I'm awfully judgemental which I undeniably am, witness this conversation that he had while chatting up Grizz who is evidently quite the gourmand.
Grizz : Yes, I have been trying out some new recipes. David : That's great. Grizz : You can always come over to try some out. David : You know, cum in dishes is always interesting. Grizz : What? *long pause* David : Umm.. have you tried raw chicken? Grizz : What?
Don't ask me how those topics stumbled out since I have never ever, ever mentioned either of those taboo topics, at least not in a polite conversation. Nor would I ever pass a pointed remark on them especially if I were interested in the fella in question. Seriously once you've broached the topic of palatable cum, there's very little left on the conversational plate to serve.
Except yourself. Since the next logical move after such a flagrantly bold turn would be crossing the momentous threshold of the bedroom.
Kat : Oh dear, you talked about raw chicken? Paul : And cum in a dish? David : Was that wrong?
At least that's what I thought. Maybe I am terribly old-fashioned. Obviously our David has far more revolutionary ideas! His only dismal defence was that he thought the general topic of the conversation was food.
An overworked plebeian from Malaysia who imbibes caffeine ( though slowing down some ), drives dangerously ( same as prev. ) and writes bedtime stories about guys into other guys to indulge in wicked unfulfilled