Saturday, May 28, 2011

Farmer John

In the 1800s a dashing English explorer bravely sailed upriver in a gunboat to found his own kingdom in the inhospitable jungles of Borneo.

And now - almost two hundred years later - following in his footsteps, an Englishman seeks to do very much the same. Though perhaps with very much less vaunted ambition. Hence he comes only with an ardent desire to set up a measly 10-acre plot of land to call his own.

Master of all he surveys?

The endless drudgery of a dull 9-to5 job caused him to literally snap. Seeking to free himself from the inevitable pressures of the urban rat race, Farmer John has packed all his belongings into a simple satchel to hitchhike around the interiors of Sarawak. All in the hopes of finding his Shangri-la in the lush, verdant hinterland.

Paul : All your worldly belongings can fit in one bag.
John : Yes they can.
Paul : I don't know whether to weep or applaud!
John : Celebrate the simple life! Take yourself off the grid.
Paul : Living in a hut by the jungle.
John : It won't even be a hut. Actually just a platform.
Paul : I think I had a vivid nightmare like this once.

Yes. Getting back to nature means building a raised platform ( to avoid the creepy-crawlies and the occasional wild boar ) in the middle of the jungle with only a tarp to keep away the torrential rains. Eschewing the material consumerism - that is literally my reason for living, John's survivalist nature pushes him to live off the grid on a self-sustaining farm.

Hence the need to grow potatoes, watermelon and carrots. Perhaps a large leafy tree to sustain his hammock. And before that he needs to clear the land. Without any machines. With an axe and a hoe. Think Frontierville.

John : You should try it! The world's economy won't be able to sustain for long!
Paul : Are you predicting an end-of-the-world scenario?
John : Yes, you can move to my farm.
Paul : After two days, I'd run amok killing everyone with an axe.
John : Will keep the sharp implements away from you.
Paul : You weren't satisfied with just point-and-clicking on Frontierville?

Two days in the frontier? I'd probably go stir-crazy after a few hours in the farm. I didn't even know eggplants grew on a vine till six months back.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Notorious II : The Patient's Agenda

One of the good things about being in a foreign city - far away from everyone and everything you know - would be the relative anonymity.

No parents. No relatives. No friends. No one you even vaguely know so you can conduct yourself in the most obnoxious, shameless manner possible at the least provocation. Let down your hair and be a bitch if you wannabe. Monumental the number of rude waiters, crabby salesmen and nasty civil servants I've reamed out the past few months.

You wouldn't believe how liberating it can be.

Yes, you might laugh at it but it's nearly impossible to do so back in your hometown where chances of being recognized would be high! Not to mention you have to maintain at least some sense of decorum in public since there's always a chance that someone out there could be watching.

Or even worse a patient.

Paul : You saw me outside of the hospital. Now I'll just have to kill you.
Patient : W-what?
Paul : No worries. It won't hurt. Much.

Believe me, patients are always out there watching. It's hard trying to prescribe serious medical advice after being caught dancing on the tabletop utterly hammered with a smoking spliff in hand.

But of course - as long as you work in an inner city hospital, you don't actually remain blithely anonymous for that long. Notoriety comes along to club you on the head when you least expect it.

Even in a dark, smoky bar. Imagine my consternation when after shamelessly flirting with a cute twink-ish bartender with amazing dimples for about a half hour, he still comes back again and again, continually smiling and perfectly accomodating. Only makes me wanna push the envelope just a little more.

Bartender : The bill, sir.
Paul : Can I slip it into your skintight jeans?
Bartender : Sure, if that's what you want.
Paul : Oh, I want so many things from you. Are you gonna say yes?
Bartender : You don't remember me? I know you, doctor.
Paul : Oh shit. I've already seen you naked, haven't I?
Bartender : Well, not yet. I've just seen you around.

Seen me around?

Exactly how notorious am I getting! Immediately racked my brain trying to place that eminently adorable dimple. A patient? A relative? A part-time nurse? Fortunately I hadn't already slipped the dollar bill into the blue briefs peeking out from his jeans!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Why I Hate Marriage?

Gay doctor hides his sexuality from the family and pretends his lover is just a friend - while the mother nags him endlessly to be married.

Sound familiar? Déjà vu perhaps? That particular storyline could have taken a leaf from my book I swear! Eeriely enough, that familiar narrative runs in a serial Korean drama that has my mother hooked for the past few weeks. Yet the shockingly similar scenario in her own son's life doesn't seem to have rung any suspicious alarms in my usually savvy mother's head!

Life is Beautiful 인생은 아름다워 tells the story of an extended family who all live on a family compound in Jeju Island. Controversy erupts when the eldest son decides to come out of the closet after being hounded by his mother over his persistent state of bachelorhood.

Mother : You simply must watch this drama.
Paul : Well I suggested it.
Mother : There's a gay son who's a doctor!
Paul : I can already empathize.
Mother : And the mother desperately wants him to be married.
Paul : Kinda like you.
Mother : But he already has a boyfriend!
Paul : The similarities are uncanny.

I don't know how it could be any clearer. Maybe I could pick up Korean?

Paul : Shit. What just happened here?
Calvin : I have no damned idea.
Paul : Did I just come out only to have my mother ignore it?

Sometimes I don't understand my mother's Jedi mind-tricks playing does she or doesn't she know. Or is my mother heavily into denial? Then after that brief segue into gay doctors in domestic dramas, my wickedly sly mother immediately leaps onto her marriage soapbox.

Mother : Why do the men these days refuse to get married! Do you dislike marriage?
Paul : Dislike marriage? I am the biggest advocate of marriage this side of the Big Puddle!
Mother : So why aren't you looking around?
Paul : Maybe because I have been in a committed relationship for a few years already?
Mother : Oh wait, look the plane's boarding.
Paul : WTF.

Seriously. It was the closest I've come to an admission of homosexuality. If she'd stayed a moment longer, I might even have leapt out of the closet. Right in the lobby of the airport.

But then she spun off for immigration and customs. Denial much?

Maybe I should wave a rainbow banner instead.

Friday, May 20, 2011

You Had Me At Hello

Or at least 'You had me at barbecued meat' for Fabulous Felix.

Ever since I've known him, I've frequently marveled ( and secretly envied ) at the light-speed that he falls after a lovey-dovey meetcute. Just one look is enough for Felix to fall heads-over-heels in love/lust.

Felix : I'm in love!
Paul : You barely met the fellow!
Felix : But his voice!
Paul : Made you fall for him? Is he a seductive siren on the rocks wailing away?
Felix : Oh yes he is! So sweet! So handsome! So nice! And he gave me barbecued meat!
Paul : A gift that obviously represents his heart?
Felix : And it's black pepper!
Paul : How zesty!

I half expect to hear an entire host of angels singing in the background when they first met! And possibly the two of them later sharing bites of barbecued meat in the style of the Lady and the Tramp.

Love at first sight?

Somehow though I have never really believed in love at first sight. Never have, probably never will. Sure I find the starry-eyed concept terribly romantic in trashy paperbacks - and yes, I do swoon over the mushy scenes - but I don't see how any such quickie affair could possibly weather the painful hardships of a long-term relationship. After all surely our judgement at the first meet, with our mental faculties already moonstruck, would be terribly impaired! All those overpowering pheromones!

My heart might go pitter-patter over a handsome face but my head still keeps a pretty good rein over my actions. Already knew my ISO for a long while before I even realized that I had feelings that ran deeper than just a platonic friendship.

And for Charming Calvin? Was it love at first sight? I doubt it was for the both of us. Although I'll readily admit the first gift he gave me did cause my heart to skip a beat. Just a simple beige and brown striped tie. Yet it makes me smile. Even now.

You had me at hello? Well, not really. Maybe several dates down the line with a hello again.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

All About Jazz

I'll admit I seriously underestimated the jazz festival here.

Thinking it would be a small shindig for the locals here, I was unprepared for the crowds of people packed at the venue for what seemed like the social event of the season. Seems like every ang moh for a thousand miles - and their attendant sarong party girls - had been issued an invitation!

Hate to pander to stereotypes but the truth seems to be everywhere here. Big Caucasian fellows with colourful Hawaiian shirts covering their beer bellies accompanied by big-haired permatanned sirens in halter tops and minis. Seriously, do they actually dress to match the cliche?

No sarong party boys to ogle over though, much to our dismay!

Fortunately they came though since I don't think there's anyone more well suited to rocking a party! Left to a typically conservative Asian audience, it would have been terribly dull with the undemonstrative guests standing still in place while the disheartened performers try their best to get them moving, to no avail. As it was, the jazz crooners played to an appreciative crowd milling around a sandy beach under a cool tropical night.

And yes, the sarong party girls can dance.

Even I managed to a bit of a clumsy shimmy.

Though oddly enough, the music turned out to be a bit less swing and a lot more blues. More Janis Joplin than Ella Fitzgerald. Found it odd that the organisers of Borneo Jazz searched the entire world for performers but neglected to invite local jazz songbirds such as Sheila Majid, Sean Ghazi and even Zee Avi.

Smacks a bit of discrimination? Seriously. What's up with that? A little sad that we had a Borneo Jazz Festival right here in Miri but we didn't showcase much of our local talents. No wonder Zee Avi's having a bit of a bitter heart.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Misdemeanour of Maid Mumbles

Over here, society fêtes seem to be the proper occasion to share the difficulties of running an estate, no matter how small or trivial the botheration! Since I moved into Netherfield, the neighbours have only been to eager to fill my ears with every bit of idle gossip in the county.

Especially horrific tales of the domestic help in these parts!

Turns out the new maid Maid Mumbles has had a prior employment history that's quite the hair-raiser. Several of her previous working relationships have soured from her unfortunate predisposition to inflict her numerous household melodramas on the hapless employers. Encumbered by disreputable relations nagging for handouts, the little minx has been spinning weepy tales of woe to her former employers - hoping to get just that little bit of compassion in the form of monetary compensation.

Of course I tried my best to ignore such atrocious rumours dismissing them as pure conjecture. Only to have Maid Mumbles return to her usual tricks.

Maid : A moment of your time, sir?
Paul : Mother of God. The rumours are true.

Which is how she caught me - this very morning just as I was leaving for the driveway - her calloused hands still grubby from polishing the silver. Despite garbling every other sentence she utters into unintelligible gobbledygook, Maid Mumbles certainly came through loud and clear when it came to her risky financial misadventures.

Paul : And what can I do for you, Mumbles?
Maid : Sir, could I have an advance this month? I've got a real need with plenty of mouths to feed. My poor papa's just been laid off from the mines.
Paul : I'm terribly sorry, m'dear but my entire credit flow is tied up in the running of the estate.
Maid : The Netherfield Estate?
Paul : Yes, don't listen to the gossip but the flow is actually a miserable trickle.
Maid : Perhaps I could ask the other tenants?
Paul : Felix and Kat? *chuckle* By all means ask.

The impertinence of the help these days! Though I truly wish her well in trying to squeeze a proper penny from them. Lucky if she doesn't get a proper shelling from the miserly Kat.

Although if Mumbles had been more manly... perhaps a strapping young farmboy, I would have been far more eager in granting such wishes! Probably have a pleasant barter in return for unspeakable services rendered.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Bricks for Charity

Recently mentioned on my facebook status that I donated a thousand ringgit worth of bricks to charity.

Don't be too quick to laud me on my charitable instincts! Unfortunately the seemingly benevolent act itself was begrudgingly done, and far from voluntary on my part. Hardly worth a cent of karma in return I'm sure.

Though I'm sure some tax returns would be likely.

You see, my mother has elected herself the patron saint of lost causes. Or at the very least she should be. For some reason her lady bountiful altruism seems to extend primarily to her more unfortunate - and far from deserving - relatives. Why the bitter rancor on my side? Well, fair-weather friends and relatives I can certainly do without, especially those perpetually clamoring for hand-outs.

Mother : My son, for all you give, you shall be repaid a thousandfold!
Paul : Really? Why, I see the postman coming! Is he delivering the thousand?

Unfortunately my ever-hopeful mother doesn't judge her ne'er-do-well relations thus harshly. Which is why they shamelessly keep coming back for more.

Much to my dismay.

Mother : Send me some money.
Paul : Are you in debt? How much do you need?
Mother : You're donating to the National Kidney Disease Foundation.
Paul : I am?
Mother : Yes. You're giving a thousand ringgit worth of bricks for their new building.
Paul : Why the hell?
Mother : Because I said so?
Paul : There has got to be a better reason.
Mother : Your aged auntie is trying to get donations for her chapter.
Paul : Good gracious, mama. The graceless aunt who couldn't be bothered to help when my father was paralyzed in a wheelchair? I would rather flush my money down the drain.
Mother : Oh, we musn't think of such horrid things now. Be a dear. Do it for me then.
Paul : Would this be in lieu of a Mother's Day gift then?

Budding philanthropist I decidedly am not. Perhaps I am being mean - but I don't see why I should bother helping a faithless relative who didn't bother lifting a finger to help when my family was in need!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Pretty in Pink

It was pretty, pink and covered in brown warts ( genitalia or otherwise ). And all the boys who saw it wanted a bite.

Short of having it come in a phallic shape with delicious cream filling, I simply couldn't imagine a more fitting birthday cake for Fabulous Felix. Celebrating another significant milestone in his life - all in his own inimitable way.

Queen Mary!

Which I reluctantly admire. After all Felix is just so very unashamedly gay, kinda like a rainbow-flag waving, disco-dancing Queen Mary floating in a tub of lube to paraphrase, without any of the internalized homophobia, irritating neuroses and freakish hang-ups that characterize some of us. Recently disengaged from a bad romance, Felix has been on the rebound... again. And again.

And again.

Yeah, I would say he has been... making the rounds.

Paul : You having dinner?
Felix : Nah, meeting someone.
Paul : Didn't you just come back from an afternoon delight?
Felix : Isn't it time for a bit of dessert?
Paul : Would this count as overeating?

Just as long as he doesn't bring home a serial killer. We all have our own ways of dealing.

I really can't blame him. Reminds of the brief halcyon summer I had after my first break-up. Of course back then without the shocking immediacy of Grindr ( where a quick fuck is just a simple click away ), we had to send emails back and forth for quite a while with the veiled pretense of getting to know one another. Damn!

Sunday, May 08, 2011

The Siti Maria Equation

Chances are in a gay relationship, both partners hold regular 9-to-5 jobs that often necessitate career moves that mean a change of address. Hence a certain amount of time spent in a long-distance relationship.

In my case I moved right across the Big Puddle. It hasn't been easy dealing with a long-distance relationship. Whereas I prefer keeping myself busy with dozens of new hobbies, my erstwhile partner Charming Calvin prefers bouts of endlessly emotional weepy karaoke sessions.

Obviously after several episodes of severe dehydration, his method of dealing with the stress of separation hasn't worked out as well!

So rather than drown himself in a sea of sangria while wailing jiwang sob-songs, Charming Calvin has decided to solve his domestic separation woes by sharing with friends in similar situations. Kinda a mutual aid support group for gay couples dealing with geographical separation.

Work was hard today!

Fortunately he has found a confidante in Jaunty Jared - who coincidentally enough might be dealing with a separation of his own if his boyfriend accepts the transfer.

Together they have come up with a dubious plan to distract themselves by ostensibly playing domestic maids with husbands in distant lands - calling themselves Siti and Maria respectively. Leading off with occasional arguments over the superiority of dishwashing liquid brands.

Calvin : What brand you using woh?
Jared : Must buy cheap cheap loh. My boss won't get better dishwashing brand la.
Calvin : Labour superior to Sunlight lo. Very cheap some more.

I swear even I couldn't make this up.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Engineers Gone Wild

Engineers are freaks.

I can say that with some certainty since my boyfriend is one. Even my brother is one. And let's face it, with engineering being the default choice of career for most men these days - whether they like it or not - almost all of my friends are engineers as well.

What they do at work usually boggles my mind! When I think of what the engineers do in their nondescript cubicles, my creative imagination runs the gamut from crazy scientists concocting experimental disasters in secret labs to officer drones endlessly filing incredibly dull, mundane paperwork. Although I think their workplace would work along the lines of Dilbert.

Let's get to work, guys!

Still, I gotta say engineers are an unusual bunch. Totally fascinated with numbers and figures, so much so that it starts to invade their everyday speech.

Paul : How many days of leave do you have left?
Calvin : 8.875.
Paul : WTF.
Calvin : Yes, 8.875 days left.
Paul : Who the fuck says that!
Calvin : It's accurate.

See what I mean by freakish engineer?

BTW 0.875 of a day would come up to 21 hours for those who are curious. Yes, I counted with a calculator.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

My Left Feet

Relax. Take it easy.

Like a daily mantra, her calming words keep repeating in my ears.

Yet as the music starts, I still find myself all tensed up with my fists clenched and my brow increasingly creased in frustration as I try to recall the complicated steps. Even worse, my shockingly uncooperative, vaguely robotic limbs, with my suddenly stiff joints, just doesn't seem to be able to respond.

Leaving me stumbling about over my own two left feet like a pathetic marionette shorn of its strings. Not exactly grace in motion! More like Larry, Curly and Moe.


Fred Astaire I ain't, but it's all in a day's work for my dancing lessons. Yes, you heard it right, fellas! Much to the dismay of my much beleaguered dance instructor, I have finally started ballroom dancing lessons. As I leave the dance studio in the evenings, I imagine she slams the door shut to weep in a dark corner bewailing her lamentable fate while she massages her tortured fingers - relentlessly crushed by my white knuckled death-grip! A nimble dancer herself with astonishingly double-jointed limbs, she probably wonders why my knee joints are seemingly fused together.

Teacher : So you bring your right foot in, spin on the ball of your foot, lean forward and then do another spin back.
Paul : Oh yeah, I don't do that.
Teacher : How about this hip shimmy?
Paul : You gotta be kidding. I think my hip joints are fixed in position. If I pop my hip that way, I'd probably fall flat on my face.
Teacher : Try it.
Paul : Okay.


Teacher : Oops.
Paul : Come help me up. I probably broke my hip.

I know. I'm an impossible student.

Yet it's been a lifelong dream of mine to dance - despite my horrible coordination! Or perhaps because of it.

See that trim elegant fellow effortlessly tripping the light fantastic? Yeah, I'd want to at least try - though something tells me I have to dislocate a couple of joints to dance the way he does. I mean, does the shockingly dexterous fellow even have bones?

Monday, May 02, 2011

Ponderings of Raoul

Sometimes kids really do say the darndest things.

Remember when we once worried about my nephew Rambling Raoul's stoic reticence? How his lack of speech made us all wonder about his somewhat delayed developmental milestones? Well, worry no more - since once the kid started forming coherent sentences, he has been talking almost non-stop. Rambling on and on would be just about right.

Quite a relief for his many well-wishers!

In the past, silence hampered his communication skills somewhat but now that Raoul has mastered the art of articulate speech, it seems the kid actually has plenty of sly observations to make.

I've got something to say!

Just last weekend when he spent hours nagging his mother about the definition of a family! No one knew exactly what brought that mundane topic about. But after my sister-in-law Sassy Sue gave up and delivered a long-winded explanation of what a family was, pointed out important figures on the family tree and where Raoul's place was in the entire scheme, the boy wisely nodded.

Then he smiled impishly.

Raoul : So Uncle Paul is daddy's brother?
Sue : Yes.
Raoul : So that means Uncle Calvin is part of the family too?
Sue : Oh yes it does.
Raoul : Good.

Not sure how Raoul even made the jump from me to Calvin but hell, kids really do say the darndest things!

No doubt if Charming Calvin was there within hearing range, he would have bawled out crying. Even a heartless troll like me found myself getting a bit teary. As it is, I think Raoul is overdue for a present from Uncle Calvin.