Thursday, November 28, 2013

Christmas Grinch

I guess I do have a little cantankerous Scrooge in me.

Will : They are celebrating their anniversary.
Paul : After one month?
Will : Yeah! Great news right?
Paul : That's not much to celebrate!
Will : Aww.
Paul : A month is not that long! I've had butter that lasts longer.

Undoubtedly it makes me feel like a grumpy Grinch picking over such inconsequential issues since we should celebrate the small things that matter, even the smallest milestones.

But really... celebrating a one month anniversary? I understand if it's a private matter between two lovers but announcing the date for all to hear expecting hearty congratulations? Would they expect flaming fireworks followed by a balloon parade? While everyone's wishing them the best, all I could come up with was a nod of acknowledgement at best.

Maybe a light supportive pat on the back.

It's only a month, for chrissakes.

One month? Really?

Sigh. Certainly a tragic testament to how long gay relationships actually last that we prematurely rejoice over flimsy flings that last slightly longer than a week. Deliciously syrupy romance flicks would have us believe that true eternal love can miraculously happen in a matter of days - though we know that's largely unfounded in reality - but is it even possible to even know everything there is to know about someone in a short span of four weeks? With only one month struck off, the relationship hasn't even reached the longevity of a paper anniversary which signifies a whole year.

After that handful of dates, I would still be unsure whether I like the fellow, much less commit to an anniversary celebration.

Bah humbug much?

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Boy With The Bread

Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents. 

Many Christmases ago - almost twenty five to be exact - I picked up a tattered old hardcover titled Little Women ( spoilers ahead but if you haven't read the beautiful classic by Louisa M. Alcott, shame on you ). Until now the initial paragraph still rings as clearly and plaintively as it did when I first read it that rainy evening in December.

Of course then we had the original Little Women love triangle - a controversial subject that still draws impassioned rhetoric till now. In that first flush of impetuous youth, I never could quite understand why the main protagonist, our raging proto-feminist Jo March refused point-blank to commit herself to the handsome, passionate rich-boy-next-door, Laurie. Instead she seemingly settled with the far less personable, more sober and methodical Friedrich Bhaer. Seemed like an unreasonable cop-out by the author back then.

For the impressionable kids born this heavily computerized centurywho would probably eschew paperbound books, the relevant example would be Katniss Everdeen of Hunger Games fame picking stolid baker boy Peeta over fiery revolutionary-miner Gale.

The Boy With The Bread

To pick someone completely different rather than someone of like mind and thought?

Took me years to understand the reasons why but with reasonable hindsight coupled with both age and some minuscule measure of maturity, I can finally nod my assent. With my ex-boyfriend, I've had all the intense raging fire I could handle. Just like me, I picture my ISO as a spirited ball of flame, all energy, fire and life blazing through the many obstacles ahead - certainly sparked each other off plenty - but when we clashed as we often did despite sharing so many similarities, it seemed as if all that was left was bitterly scorched earth.

Simply exhausting I'll admit.

Whereas when I think of Charming Calvin, I do feel a steady sense of calm. Sure our stolid fellow does teeter and wobble at times with his incomprehensible botherations ( body image issues much? ) but I have high hopes that he'll be rock steady enough for me when my flame threatens to sputter out.

So that's why, despite vastly differing personalities, I've grown to understand the choice of the German professor.

And the boy with the bread. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

His Desk My Desk

After countless years of interminable stagnation in his characterless cubicle, Charming Calvin recently made two unexpected leaps from one company to the next. At the mind-boggling rate he's changing companies in the past year, I can hardly keep track of his latest head office. Wouldn't surprise me that Calvin would one day haltingly surface from the dark bowels of the underground only to find himself at the wrong office tower.

That of course hardly leaves him time to decorate his spartan office cubicle. Apart from the leafy plant which I practically forced him to purchase at gunpoint, all he has on the table are the usual office accoutrements provided by the company; basically a chair, a desk and the computer. Which I find undoubtedly tragic.

And mind-numbingly anonymous.

This time the cubicle walls are so low you could even throw spitballs at the unfortunate opposite.

Paul : Some wallpaper, some photos, some little knick knacks, ye olde plant... all those would do wonders.
Calvin : All great ideas but I think people will be shocked to see the plant even. 
Paul : Even the plant!? 
Calvin : Maybe a mug. 
Paul : Good God.

Engineers! The Dilberts of the World!

Gotta love them. Would hate to be in their office though. Drive me insane wanting to paint all the dull greige cubicles neon pink or something.

Not even a wall hanging? Seriously?

Fortunately... even though medicine has a well-earned reputation for being such a creaky, old-fashioned establishment, there has always been a serious soft spot for eccentrics.

In fact when I actually had an office, there were three leafy plants - one of which had practically grown monstrously into a thriving ecosystem of its own, possibly generating its own weather patterns. The sadly plain notice board had been wallpapered with pastel green chinoiserie patterns with forest green pins to match. Pictures of my travels along with Chinese opera postcards were littered all over. Medical textbooks - arranged according to colour - were clapped in between two busts of acupuncture heads. As a nod to the exotic frontier I had been posted to, an ornate Iban pua kumbu had been suspended on wooden beams behind my chair, along with the woven rattan bag I brought to work.

And that's not counting the couch with the pastel cushions.

And my own lamp that I painted with happy chic designs.

So gay, I know.

Maybe I should introduce Calvin to Jonathan Adler.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Unfriend You

Back in the heady desperate days of high school, it's hard to be alone without a close coterie of chums. Shallow though it may be but frequently high school popularity was erroneously measured by the number of friends you had listed on your cellphone, no matter how staunch or steadfast they may be.

Me, I always had my best buds who I could count on to go to the wall for me. The rest I relegated to mere acquaintances - and believe me, I drew the line quite clearly.

Doesn't seem to be true for everyone though.

Felix : Hi! Are you free? 
Paul : Somewhat yeah. 
Felix : Just found myself stranded somewhere. Could you give me a lift?
Paul : Where are you?
Felix : Oh after lunch, my friend left me in the middle of a highway to run some errands and I need a lift.
Paul : You just got abandoned by a so-called friend who left to run some errands?
Felix : Yes! Could you come pick me, pretty please?
Paul : What kinda errands? Saving the world from invading aliens? Delivering a life-saving vaccine to a dying mother?
Felix : Nah, he had to buy some vegetables.
Paul : WTF.

Yes, ditched by the side of the road for an insignificant errand. Even a mere one-night-stand would have been more courteous.

Felix : Dammit there really are no buses. Do I really have to sell myself for a ride? 

Me, I would have punched that so-called friend in the kisser. Then if he was lucky, I would have just unfriended him publicly. Really you can count that as lucky. Usually I would have hexed him, maimed him and burned down his house for good measure.

Do that to me and you're certainly no friend of mine.

And yet ever-ecstatic in his dizzying rainbow world of flying unicorns, candy floss and go-go boys, Fabulous Felix remains utterly unscathed by this sudden betrayal. Far from turning all vengeful demon, he seems to have so easily forgotten all about the perfidious desertion and whatever lame excuses had been summarily chucked at him as the car was leaving him behind in the dust.

Seriously, does he need a Smack of Sobriety from me?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Tale of Samson & Calvin

Budding astrologers would have you think that boys in November ( and late October like me ) make the most monstrous green-eyed monsters, proverbial Scorpions perpetually on the lookout to lethally sting those who prey on their precious possessions.

I won't deny that oft-quoted maxim since more than a decade ago, I did turn quite decidedly frightful. In fact, from what I hear from my ISO, I supposedly grew pointy devil horns and spouted flames from my nostrils. Not exactly the fuzzy forgiving sort the ruthless Scorpio.

Yet time - and experience - does blunt those horns. Douse those flames somewhat. And lest you think I'm only tooting my own horn, I actually have a tale to back it up.

Just the other day Charming Calvin made an impromptu visit home - something about a twisted ankle which gave him much-needed time off from work. His imminent return usually heralds an entire string of dinner parties and scheduled meets with the local hidden homosexuals.

Paul : This is a friend that we've been meeting up with lately. His name is Samson. Stays just around the corner from us. 
Calvin : I think I've met Samson. 
Samson : Yeah we met a few times before. Hey how have you been doing?
Calvin : Doing okay. Been a while though since we had dinner. 
Samson : We used to see each other regularly back then. 
Paul : Interesting.


And there goes our scandalous Calvin with his past illicit affaires. Obviously I don't get all that green eyed.

Right! And now you're telling me? 

Well maybe a tinge.

For someone who prides himself on knowing, it was a slight blow to my overweening ego. Surprisingly close to reaching for a leather glove just to smack Calvin for not giving me prior warning. Years ago, I would probably have demanded a written detailed account of each and every meeting, possibly with incriminating photos, videos and receipts attached. Perhaps signed with blood for good measure.

Now I just turned to him and asked.

Paul : Sex buddy?
Calvin : No!
Paul : Hmm. 

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Just Can't Wait To Be King

As our aspiring lion king Simba would put it.

Something I used to think myself as well. Ah, the things I would do if I were king!

Then I started playing the highly addictive, terribly complex Crusader Kings II - the type of grand strategy game so intricately byzantine in nature that it takes several aching hours just to read through the inch-thick manual. And that's before even starting the staggeringly confusing in-game tutorial detailing the dozens of minute political moves possible.

But I managed.

Basically you're the unenviable paterfamilias of an obscure titled family out at the far edges of the European chessboard - if that's what you desire of course - with every intention of enhancing the reputation and prestige of your dynasty to rival that of the Borgias or even the Tudors. Full of political intrigues and dynastic manipulation... by hook or by crook.

Turns out it's not that great to be king.

Really, some of the ignoble Machiavellian decisions made would have been nearly unthinkable in real life. Monstrously calculating more like.

Dedicated family man definitely won't be in the cards. Far too busy conquering neighbouring counties and plotting mayhem with the local nobility, it leaves little time for playing cards with the numerous children. And let's face it, it gets increasingly hard not to see them - as well as the rest of your extended family - as helpless yet marriageable pawns to be sold off to the highest bidder for that advantageous alliance.

Marrying my jinxed half-sister off again for the third time is getting boring. Fortunately the French brought delicious man-candy to the wedding. Man, that Duke of Bordeaux is damned gorgeous. Maybe I should fabricate a claim on his lands, invade with overwhelming force and then make him my unwilling sex slave. 

In less than a day, I'd denounced my barren queen, had her imprisoned - then divorced, and then married her exceedingly fertile half-sister who then presumably had her ultimately poisoned. Then my only legitimate son and heir who refused to have himself married, found himself unwillingly stripped of his titles. After a disheartened letter of dismay hastily despatched to me, my unfortunate son realized my ambitions of having him married to a foreign Duchess only to find himself crippled and maimed after doing battle in her name hundreds of miles from home.

Which left me with my dimwitted bastard son who I hastily legitimized much to the horror of my family. But so terribly foolish and idiotic was he that I found it easier to have him speedily assassinated - rather than to have the vassals revolt over his ill-bred stupidity - the moment my new wife found herself enceinte.

Not exactly a paragon of virtues. Seriously, decay of moral values much.

Homosexual characters abound but as of now, I have not been able to manouevre them into lustful immoral relationships. Damn. You mean I can't have a horny royal in charge of buggering all the hunky manservants? Bring a hopeful nation down to its heels just to bed the handsome deposed prince?

Monday, November 04, 2013

Ponzi Steals the Show

Or like Poppy Ponzi calls it - in a more politically correct manner - all about Network Marketing.

From Charles Ponzi all the way down to Poppy, that infamous moneymaking scheme frequently revamped, rehashed and rebranded to fool a whole new gullible generation. Vaguely based on a pyramidal scheme with new deluded members adding to the ranks with mindless fervour - while parting with just a negligible fraction of their hard-earned wages.

All in a bid to double, triple or compound their investment in a matter of months.

Don't ask me how... but I somehow got conned into attending a Network Marketing spiel for an obscure new company whose name currently escapes me. Actually I was unwittingly ambushed and dragged there. After practically forcing you in at gunpoint into what seemed like an unfortunate captive audience, the entire crash course on marketing their products comes out firing like a rapid-fire hail of bullets.

Of course I remained utterly impervious to their oft-repeated spiel. Sorry Poppy but I ain't buying.

Seriously? Didn't Ponzi schemes go out with the 90s? 

Yet for cynical disbelievers like me, there's always the idealized images of those who have come before with their ill-gotten gains - usually in the form of a lavishly decorated luxury automobile. Nothing like a shiny sportscar to convince the naysayers.

Poppy : Do you understand the entire lecture? 
Paul : It's not that complex. You didn't actually have to read every line on the slide. 
Poppy : Must lo. In case you no understand. 
Paul : So to be a member you have to hand over money, whereupon you'll give me some dubious products in exchange. Then I'll have to con a couple of my friends to do the same for me to continually feed this entire pyramidal scheme. 
Poppy : Well not to put it that way. 
Paul : And then I could be a Knight? Or a Marquis or something? Is there a ceremony?
Poppy : Knight first!
Paul : In your entire lecture, you hardly ever talked about your products. Doesn't sound like it's all that good. 
Poppy : Sure good one la!

Of course I never said that. Wouldn't want to be hounded out by the overzealous advocates with broken bottles of their inferior products. Obsessive multi-level marketers might get their immediate downline to come beat me up - and you do know their downlines go on literally forever.

Don't get me wrong, I can easily see the allure. Sounds like a good idea to most young idealistic cash-poor youths who would do literally anything for a quick buck. Judging from everyone else seated in the room, obviously their target audience. What more for those with the unenviable gift of the gab, certainly easy enough to convince a few unfortunates to part with only a small portion to be a member creating a downline.

What I wanted to ask was what would happen when there's finally no one left to fuel the entire payment scheme. The perpetuation of the high returns requires an ever-increasing flow of money from new investors to sustain the scheme. So never be the last to join in on a Ponzi.