Saturday, May 31, 2014

Bad Botox Bites

Paul : I hate pain. Go away. 
Colleague : Maybe just a shot. 
Paul : No. 
Colleague : Just a teensy shot next to the eyebrow. Won't hurt a bit. 
Paul : Get that needle away. 
Colleague : A bit of practice please!
Paul : No. 
Colleague : It will look good, I swear. 
Paul : I like my wrinkles. 
Colleague : Double eyelid then? 

Just one of the odd conversations I once had with a colleague in plastic surgery. With youth and beauty always in demand by our disgracefully aging clients, many of my junior compatriots ( read gay ) have opted out for the ever-lucrative niche of aesthetic medicine. Working under the auspices of preternaturally smooth-faced, youthful peers who presumably sup on virgin blood during the full moon, they have slowly been brainwashed into the erroneous ideology that aging is a debilitating disease meant to be battled hard with all the modern medical weapons at our disposal.

Left to their devices, wrinkles would be a dire medical emergency demanding an entire crew of physicians and surgeons equipped with Botox injections and razor-sharp scalpels at the ready.

So having dinners with them turns into an immediate show-and-tell of every possible youth-enhancing anti-aging procedure known to man - from placenta to collagen - and some wild newfangled inventions I've frankly never heard of. Followed by a brief but thoroughly excruciating half hour of pointing out every possible flaw on my oddly lopsided face that could easily benefit from just that little filler implant. 

Or three. 

Make than ten. Usually ending with the earnest suggestion that I immediately book an appointment at the nearest plastic surgeon. 

Fortunately I do know my face is shockingly askew - and like the proverbial Humpty Dumpty, even all the king's horses and all of his men wouldn't be able to set it right. And that's alright by me. 

Just one more magic laser and it'll be that much more perfect. 

Unlike one of Prudent Patrick's coterie of closeted comrades who finds himself immediately taken with all that aesthetic sales spiel. The poker-faced Gordon Gray. If there's anyone who would serve as a cautionary tale not to indulge in a bargain Botox blowout, that would be him. Rather than allow that single wrinkle to mar his sublime visage, Gordon had himself locked up in the closest aesthetics clinic to experiment with their entire rejuvenating buffet resulting in a shockingly expressionless mask-like face.

Think frozen. Even a smile is getting hard to find.

I mean, is it too much to ask to grow old gracefully? 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Unwanted Guests

Anyone who has even glanced at my Pinterest album would note that I have an inordinately generous album replete with wedding planning clips. For a gay man who might find it nigh impossible to be married legally in this state, some would find that quite surprising. But then we're talking about me - I do so love the seemingly impossible, I have had extravagant wedding plans floating around my head since primary and I probably would have sewn a lace-bedecked bridal trousseau if I could thread that damned minuscule needle.

But since mine is still in the early pre-planning stages, I figured I might as well help out someone who's already deep in the throes of her own wedding. After all you need a friend to talk you out of that skimpy champagne-coloured cocktail mini you were planning on wearing to a conservative church wedding. Three months after her extremely hasty engagement, Pretty Panacea finds herself nearly buried in invitation card samples, photographer folios and bridal magazines.

Paul : Much better.
Panacea : Not the champagne mini?
Paul : Not unless you want the old biddies to talk. 

And the ever-horrifying growing guest list.

Once the diamond ring's tight on the finger and the proposal flush has died down, every soon-to-be bride has found herself confounded by the astonishing number of odds and ends threatening to appear on the wedding day. Soon peculiar eccentricities start creeping out of the family tree to emerge on table 6 courtesy of the overly accommodating parents.

Paul : Get started on the guest list. 
Panacea : Yeah, my parents are doing it up right now. They are even asking me to invite the heads of department in the hospital. 
Paul : A bit odd. 
Panacea : Why not? 
Paul : Are they even your friends? 
Panacea : Not really. Don't know them very well actually. 
Paul : And you're planning to resign soon. 
Panacea : That's true. 
Paul : So why invite them? Never ever imagined I would invite my boss to the wedding. 

Pretty much sums up what I think about inviting bosses to the wedding. Decidedly de trop.

Though it is generally assumed in our patriarchal society that the boss gets the obligatory invite, that is something I've always held firmly against. In fact it's something I actually made up my mind about years before with only a couple of caveats. Definitely no invitation to be sent unless the boss is a good friend. Or unless the boss has gone out of the way to do something extraordinarily magnanimous.

Otherwise, why would you?

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Days of Future Past

As we grow older, we tend to compartmentalize the many friends we find along the way. Though we might deny it vehemently, our tastes and interests do change with time - as do our chosen coterie of companions. A select few remain but all the same quite a number just languidly fade into that forgotten facebook notification that crops up rarely.

Fortunately comicbooks have always remained a lifelong friend - someone I've known quite as long as I've recognized alphabets. And somewhere along the way while I graduated from Archie to Avengers, I came upon someone who appreciated the pulp fantasy world quite as much as I did.

Rather than the instant digital comics that appear almost instantaneously on the iPad these days, those were the times when we had to wait patiently for the monthly print of each comics, standing in line at the specialty bookstore just to get the next available copy. And my ISO sometimes bought an extra one just in case I missed out on that issue.

Wolverine : I'm the best there is at what I do. 

So many were the evenings we spent in his messy dorm room talking about the complex merits of a British telepathic aristocrat melded into a Japanese ninja assassin. Or the sheer tragedy that the most populous continent could only come up with the likes of our underutilized Karma and Sunfire, the hackneyed island-nation stereotype of Madripoor and the lamentable super team called Big Hero 6 ( soon to be made into a movie shockingly enough ).

Or the various devious ways we would entrap the handsome virile Nightwing into all sorts of undeniably lewd propositions. Ah, those were the days.

Which is why he had to be the first I had to call upon finding out that my favourite character had finally returned to the X-Men franchise - even if it was for a fleeting blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo in X-Men : Days of Future Past. After all who else could understand my lifelong appreciation for Scott Summers?

Paul : He's back!
My ISO : Not the Messiah?
Paul : No, my favourite X-Man!
My ISO : Scott the weenie? Didn't we kill him off already? 
Paul : Well they tried their very best but it didn't work very well. Even you have to admit the X-Men : The Last Stand came up with a deplorable way of killing him off. Aren't you glad he's back?
My ISO : Hey, you're the one with the boner for Scott, not me. I would rather fuck the furball anytime.
Paul : Logan? Even with the hair spikes?
My ISO : Oh yeah come to me daddy. 

Obviously we would have made far different choices as Jean Grey. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

There's No Accounting for Taste

Though I took Principles of Accounting as a subject back in high school - unfortunately a stated requirement in my class, I never was very good at it.

Even plain old Mathematics still puzzled me mightily so you can imagine what I thought of Accounting. Far from providing inspiration for the students, having a lackadaisical, barely articulate teacher at the helm didn't help much. Half the time I didn't even know exactly which mysterious ledger to use - and when I actually got that partly right, my hastily added-up accounts never actually balanced correctly leaving me with the dreaded suspense accounts galore.

Which is far less exciting than what it sounds like. Basically a suspense account stands for an account used temporarily to carry doubtful receipts or discrepancies pending their analysis and permanent classification. Let's just say having far too many suspense accounts didn't actually bode well for my accounting future.

Gosh, how do accountants deal with these numbers everyday without falling asleep?

Unfortunately something that haunts me till today when I try to get my books balanced. Unlike some of my more zealously organized friends who carry check balances everywhere they go, I find it almost impossible to keep track of every little expenditure made on a daily basis. Painstakingly hunting down each itemized receipt received just to keep the monthly accounts nicely balanced can really drive me up the wall. Imagine searching high and low for irrefutable proof that you actually spent that measly 25 cents on miscellaneous objects.

Friend : Something's missing!
Paul : You want me to help look for it? 
Friend : There's ten dollars missing!
Paul : You left it in the car? You dropped it? 
Friend : No, I spent it!
Paul : Then it isn't missing!
Friend : But I can't find the receipt! What did I spend it on? Now my income and expenditure account doesn't balance!
Paul : OMG.

Frankly I'm just happy not running deep into the red.

Not exactly the right attitude when you have a private limited company to take care of. Alas my horrific bookkeeping skills probably keeps the bewildered accountant awake all night. Doesn't poor Moneypenny understand that I simply can't punctiliously file all my receipts and bills in an orderly, judicious manner? Stuffing them all into a shoebox is about the best I can do. If I really could have been that methodical and thorough, I would have easily topped the class in Accounting.

Dammit, maybe I should have paid more attention to my brother's weekly financial lectures.

Friday, May 16, 2014

It's All Relative

Super-hyper-extended families are the norm for my side of the family.

With my paternal grandmother's penchant for keeping in contact with almost every farflung relative she could possibly find, it certainly comes as no surprise when hitherto unknown relatives drop by from distant lands unannounced. In fact it became quite the running joke on the family newsletter that my surprisingly resourceful grandmother could miraculously produce close relatives on almost every destination served by our local airlines. Timbuktu? Oh yes, she probably has a grand-aunt who migrated there back in the early days of the 20th century and had several children there.

So when it comes to placing the various clanspersons on the increasingly heavy branches of the tangled family tree, I have become quite the expert. Yes, even for that long-lost cousin twice removed.

Paul : Who the hell are those guys following us?
Lori : Didn't you say they were our third cousins?
Paul : I thought you said that!
Lori : Oh no. 

Which doesn't seem to be the case for everyone.

Paul : So she's your only aunt on your mother side? Your eldest ah ee?
Felix : Think there's another.
Paul : You think?
Felix : And probably two more uncles. Not sure where they are. Maybe Canada?
Paul : You lost your uncles?
Felix : Pretty much. Never actually seen them.
Paul : Or even heard of them?
Felix : Yeah. There could be only one. 

For someone who comes from as close-knit a family as mine, I find myself astonished. To lose one relative is tragic enough but to misplace several at one go - short of world war or natural disaster - seems almost a travesty. Can't possibly imagine my niece or nephew ever losing sight of me.

As you can imagine, the Chinese place a helluva lot of importance on family and familial relations. Yet again lay the blame on Confucius. To emphasize the familial and yes, wholly patriarchal hierarchy, there's even a different set of names for just about everyone you're related to, based on their relation and gender. Call it the whipping order depending on seniority. For example, an uncle would have a distinctive name depending on whether he belongs to the maternal or paternal side; and even then there would be the matter of his seniority in the family in relation to the parents.

For instance my niece and nephew would address me as 叔叔 without numerical differentiation since I'm their father's only brother.

No doubt in mainland China these days, this age-old practice is almost lost since the advent of the controversial one-child policy would conclusively invalidate the usage of such familial terms. Not much use for the different provisions to describe an uncle or an aunt when they wouldn't even be present in a single-child home born from single-child parents. Pity that.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Misfits, Madmen & Misanthropes

Supposedly May brings flowers but over here it just comes across as a burning tropical heatwave that wilts even the hardiest blooms. So lazy sultry afternoons are upon us again, those sweltering hours of the day when the blazing sun burns till late in the evening, the boiling road steams up a dubious mirage and even the mad dogs stay hidden in the shade.

Never have I been more glad for electricity and air-conditioning. Recovering from my springtime malady and then having to face this sudden blast of hellish summer heat is almost too much. Fanning ourselves with paper fans on the verandah, we've chanced upon an old past-time.

Yeah, card games.

Though not the old card games of yore such as go fish and parcheesi. No, these days, we're more into Gloom.

Damn this tropical heat. Let's get some Gloom here. 

When the sun's burning bright right outside, it's so much more fun to imagine a place where the sky's dark and gray, the tea is served cold and a new tragedy lies around every corner. Sometimes brought upon by your closest neighbour. Which isn't all too surprising since after being dealt with a hand of the cards, we're usually playing with the unfortunate lives of the most miserable motley of misfits, madmen and misanthropes.

Then we start the game by hurling our own gloomy characters into the most lamentable events ever from being tortured by toddlers to being vexed by vampires. The more tragic, the better. Hence the name of the game. Think Happy Families crossed with Lemony Snickets.

Of course I tend to get quite attached to certain characters. While Fabulous Felix loves the rolling high life with the accursed aristocrats of Hemlock Hall, I have become quite enamoured with the dramatic dilettantes of Le Canard Noir! Honestly an entirely tragique brand of bohemian artistes ranging from a misunderstood model to the consumptive courtesan, none of whom would look even a smidgen out of place on the Moulin Rouge.

There's even Rosseau, the patchwork painter with a hearing impairment due to an overly generous gift to his paramour.

And might I say I think James de Winter, the penniless poet, kinda adorable in his own way? Reminds me a little of the woebegone Christian in the movie. 

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Doubly Speechless

Yes, seems like it's that time of year again. Time for me to remain mute and play the mime at work. By now, I've already almost perfected the art of communicating with my nurses purely with significant head nods and hand gestures.

I've got horrid acute laryngitis again. Cue miserable days of high fever, chills and aches. And of course, utter silence apart from a few hoarse croaks. On the plus side I get to sit on a couch with hot tea and blanket watching reruns of FRIENDS.

Certainly brings me back to the days when I used to run down from my dorm room to commandeer the television rec room just to watch my favourite show. Yes I was quite the bitch. Granted there might be a few complaints initially but all the dissenters grew to like the show as well.

And all I could think of was... gosh, that little blond tyke Ben Geller would already be 19. Has it been that long?