Monday, June 30, 2014

It's All A Game

Board games have always been a family thing for me - from the all time classic favourite of Monopoly to the more recent Game of Life that my brother received a couple of Christmases back. Leaving the games behind during the move over to this side of the Big Puddle definitely curtailed such family-friendly activities.

At least till I bought my niece a storytelling game last Christmas called Once Upon a Time. All began quite innocently with a snowflake that began the story. Irresistibly charmed by the storekeeper who kept my niece happily entertained with her animated storytelling antics - and more than a little intrigued by the ongoing fables theme, I immediately purchased a set for myself as well. After all I do like to spin a tale.

Returning here to find a group of like-minded comrades with a heretofore hidden penchant for gaming only added to the resulting flurry of interest. Didn't take very long after that before the relentless game-buying snowballed into a veritable avalanche of board games that threatened to bury the living room hall.

Soon we were spending the weekends practically knee-deep in medieval peasant farming Agricola-style, escaping sinking islands ala Atlantis and hunting down grunting zombies in Zombicide fashion.

Friend : I think I saw two zombie runners go by.
Paul : It's okay. Let's keep really quiet and remain out of sight. 

Friend : So are we here for food or water?
Paul : I ran out of hair gel. 

Along the way, I came to the realization that I enjoy basic cooperative games rather than the wildly competitive ones. Trying to outwit, outlast and outplay everyone else on the table just seems terribly exhausting. After all this years, it seems I've finally managed to lay my old ambitious, cutthroat kiasu self to rest! Such a blessed relief to know that I won't tumble into an insane spiral of bubbling resentment each time I lose at a game.

Which is more than I can say for the rest of my friends.

The increasingly intense weekend game-playing appears to have woken up the sleeping dragon in our Diffident David. Possibly in a bid to distract himself from the doomed love affair, David has been drowning his sorrows in the gaming extravaganza. Minutes tick by as he deliberately plots his next nefarious stratagem, all the while busy rubbing his hands in glee over stealing our turn or burning down our districts.

Paul : Wow, you sure do like to win. 
David : Umm. But it's a game and we should play to win. And I want to win. You don't like it? Maybe I should stop playing and -
Paul : Hold it. 
David : But I -
Paul : There is no need to fall into hysterics. I just said you like to win. It's a character trait, not a flaw. 

Replacing love lost with a frenzied need to win? I half expect to find him stroking a fluffy white cat soon. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Taking The SATs

Not exactly the assessment tests you're thinking about. But then when it comes to the singular homo called Fabulous Felix, it's preferable not to jump to the necessary logical conclusions since he usually deviates far from the norm.

In more than the obvious manner.

Though he denies my allegations mightily, I - the intrepid biological scientist - have been keeping a keen objective eye on his trivial pursuits and have started keeping score on his various elected quarry. In the treacherous vagaries of the animal kingdom, many a creature has tried to adapt to the untenable situation by camouflaging themselves in a variety of ways. I am starting to believe that Felix has gained that extraordinary ability himself.

All through the science of what I am calling the Semen Absorption Theory. Otherwise known as SATs. Not to be confused with my previously mentioned Siamese Twin Theory where hopelessly besotted couples merge into a single being.

Let me explain my basic premise. Initially Fabulous Felix meets the specified prey who notably amply satisfies the qualifications he desires. Said prey falls into the manly trap laid out by Felix. Certainly no need to rehash the entire act of sexual intercourse but once the deed is done, so to speak - through the physical process known as osmosis, certain qualities of the unwitting donor DNA is absorbed by our more-than-willing Felix into his artless psyche. Leaving the undeniable imprint of said prey's DNA permanently embedded in Felix which slowly but surely converts him.

Look! The Change is taking place before our very eyes!

Hence the Semen Absorption Theory.

So date a nature lover and he gets his hiking boots. Date an avid baker and he buys a cookbook. Date a classical pianist and he listens to Vivaldi.

Of course like all novel ideas, it's always hard to convince the unscientific naysayers at first.

Felix : Pooh. That's utter rubbish. 
Paul : That's what you think. But inevitably you start professing the same likes and dislikes as the guy you're seeing. Then you start exhibiting similar qualities and -
Felix : That doesn't happen!
Paul : Then you slowly inexplicably transmogrify into said guy. It's almost like cloning. 
Felix : No way!
Paul : Start dating a Goth guy and we can see whether you can disprove this theory. 

Well he already has had the piercings done. Lo and behold, the change has begun! Wonder which disreputable journal I should submit this observational study to!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

He's Just Not That Into You

It's just that simple after all. After that infamous bestseller with the same title debuted to much acclaim, you would think that every aspiring singleton on the make would already have that particularly refreshing mantra tattooed in their hearts each time they go out on a date.

Or at least that's what I initially thought.

Despite having being out there for several years, that little bit of knowledge doesn't seem to have trickled down to Diffident David who has been nursing a hitherto clandestine straight crush for the longest time. No longer all that secret since he isn't quite as discreet as he might like to think.

Hell, even the target of his glaringly pronounced affections knows - and therein lies the problem.

Since the emphatically straight boy doesn't want anything to do with David. Despite handing out a clear homophobic warning to stay away - and generally avoiding him, nothing seems to be able to dampen David's ever-burning ardour in the least. Even occasionally acting like a massive douche didn't work to scare away our lovesick David with his rose-tinted glasses. Repeated admonishments from all his friends - and us to remain a hundred feet away didn't seem to sink in at all.

Yes, I swear I had to physically restrain myself from repeatedly smacking David upside the head. I'll readily admit the straight boy is briefs-dropping hawt but he's undeniably straight. Possibly good for a drunken drug-fueled fuck ( maybe twice! ) but nothing else.

Oh baby, you wanna get with this!

So like I told David. This is not even He's Just Not That Into You. This is actually He Will Never Be Into You. Fortunately I didn't have to be the one to deal him that particular Slap of Sobriety since the straight boy - ever so helpful - handled the final blow himself.

David : He told me to stay away. 
Paul : Good for him. 
David : He said he never wants to see me. 
Paul : Good for him. And you. 
David : But I want to be friends only. 
Paul : He took the choice away from you. Good for him. 
David : But I -
Paul : No. 
David : But -
Paul : No buts. It's a fait accompli. 
David : He didn't have to say it like this.
Paul : Tough love but I like him now. 

Tough love but I am glad it happened actually. At least now he can start getting over this tiresome straight boy already.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

I Whistle a Happy Tune

Though my mother might mask it under an extremely convincing mask of gaiety, I know she still feels the tragic loss of her brothers in Thailand very keenly. Almost ten years ago, both succumbed to fatal illness in surprisingly quick succession leaving a trio of combative consorts and their troubled offspring to survive them. Oh the funeral was quite the scene.

But even back then I could only imagine how very lonely my mother must feel to have been left behind by her brothers, both boon companions of her happy childhood days.

Those halcyon days

So it doesn't surprise me that one of the reasons she frequently insists on making bi-annual trips to Bangkok is to keep an eye on the intrepid exploits of my handful of cousins - perhaps on behalf of her late siblings. Most of the kids were still in school when they passed on - and I sometimes wonder whether they would have turned out differently if their fathers had lived.

The What If scenario. No doubt my mother wonders the same. Maybe the Samaritan would have had more of a spine. Pretty sure my cousin Saffron wouldn't have ended up the office manager for a debt collection agency.

But c'est la vie as they say.

Doesn't mean it's all morbid melancholy at the cemetery when my mother visits though. Recently one of my cousins - the Candystriper - actually gave birth to a daughter who closely resembles my mother. Practically cloned. Point that I can actually prove since I compared her old sepia-toned pics with the new babe's snapshots on a computer for comparison.

With the cherished newborn babe quite as wonderfully jubilant as her name, now that surely gave my mother a reason to whistle a happy tune.

Mother : My brother would have been so happy to see this baby girl. 
Paul : Yeah, I'm sure. 
Mother : Would be good to see yours one day. 
Paul : You already have two grandkids. 
Mother : But not yours. 
Paul : Don't think gay adoption is gonna be legal here anytime soon. 

Good to know where she stands though. 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Getting to Know You

Born in the same year as me, my cousin the Saintly Samaritan doesn't seem to have much of the fire and flame that the mythical dragons are supposed to be born with.

Emitting neither puff nor smoke, instead he seems to be entirely cowed by his far more dominant baby brother - and his terrifyingly oh-so-wicked matriach who has definite shades of Maleficent prior to the recent reboot. All cackling wicked witch, no beneficent forest fairy! Under the deepening shadow of these two domineering monsters, he has deformed into a hidden dragon of sorts, stealing his way into the solace of his church.

With such unbeatable odds, is it any wonder that the Samaritan finds it nigh impossible to find a Princess Charming willing to rescue him?

Though he has had his share of pretty maids in a row, he doesn't seem to be able to keep any in the tower permanently. Possibly scared off by the monsters above. Honestly I have yet to meet the same fawning inamorata twice in a row, despite the fact that I regularly visit Bangkok every couple of months. Which beggars the question : How does the Samaritan actually pick these ladies up?

Surprisingly easy it turns out.

Would you like to have a taste of my som tam? 

And no, the Samaritan doesn't look anything like the handsome, well-endowed fellow above. If he did, I wouldn't find all that female attention surprising.

What he lacks in the courage of his convictions, he obviously has in spades when it comes to sex appeal. Inconceivable but true. Though he might not have looks or wit to spare, he seems to have an indefinable charm when it comes to the ladies. Possibly the gift of some fairy godmother at his birth?

Samaritan : Yes, I am seeing a new girl. 
Paul : That was fast. Didn't I just hear about the last one six months back? 
Samaritan : Yes, this one is new. 
Paul : And where did you meet her? In the office? 
Samaritan : No, I met her in a restaurant. 
Paul : A group date you mean? 
Samaritan : No, she was a waitress and I chatted her up. 
Paul : You chatted a girl up? Successfully? 
Samaritan : Yes, I got her number. 
Paul : Wow. You might not know this but my opinion of you just went up several significant degrees. 

Obviously we do share the same genes when it comes to successful flirting. I was undeniably impressed.

Shockingly so. And even more so when he showed me her picture.

Paul : Oh, she's pretty. Is she still working then? 
Samaritan : Oh no, that was her part-time job. Now she's back in school.
Paul : What?! 
Samaritan : In school yes. 
Paul : I hope you mean post graduate school. 
Samaritan : Oh no, she's only 20. 

My jaw dropped. Apparently in Bangkok, men of my age are fucking rock stars to the giggly sophomoric co-eds. Makes me wonder if the cute Thai boys feel the same!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

March of the Siamese Children

Obsessed with catching up with the news every morning, we never do think of those who don't even bother to read the daily headlines.

Tat : And these days, there's even a coup d'etat in Thailand!!
Friend : Oh, I didn't know. I know they opened one in Singapore after Bali. So now in Bangkok?
Tat : Coup d'etat as in overthrow of the government. Not Kudeta as in the bar. 

For all the militant trouble they are supposedly having there, there might as well be a fabulous new nightspot opening its glittering doors in cosmopolitan Bangkok. Especially since all the shirtless Instagram boys with their impossibly sculpted abs - seemingly as common as the ubiquitous tuk tuks - are still dancing the night away in the clubs Gay Songkran style. Few would actually believe there are actually throngs of well-equipped army trucks surrounding the designated party area with an enforced midnight curfew.

All the same a trivial coup d'etat doesn't seem to bother my mother who insisted on returning to Bangkok to visit her nieces and nephews. What we call the annual march of the Siamese Children. Never mind about the increasingly violent riots, said she oh-so-nonchalantly, after all they only occur on that part of town! So reluctant though I was, I had not much choice but to squire her around.

Turns out mother is right as usual. Though the exacting curfew hadn't been lifted at that point, it had been reduced somewhat to only a handful of hours leaving most of the daily urban activities running as usual.

This time the adventure wasn't so much avoiding street protests and armed squads but catching up with my itinerant cousins who seem to have stumbled into all sorts of peculiar predicaments. Life truly can be unpredictable. Even my youngest cousin - Sunny Saffron, a cheery girl who I recall having dandled on my knee as a wee child, had muddled her way into some seriously shady company.

Saffron : Yes yes, I find new work. Good work. 
Paul : Oh, what are you doing now? 
Saffron : Working with a debt collection agency. 
Paul : What?
Saffron : Yes. 
Paul : And how do you go about collecting the debt? Aren't you a bit...
Saffron : Small? Yes, but I have big workers who have guns and pistols. 
Paul : What the...
Saffron : Yes, they bring the debtors to the jungle in black vans and threaten them with guns. 
Paul : What the...

Speeding black vans that shanghai their hapless victims? Here I thought that only happened in the movies.

Of course if the hoodlums looked liked this, I might reconsider my position. 

So there you go, I now have a beribboned kawaii Hello-Kitty-headband-wearing cousin working with tattooed loan sharks. From the blasé way she referred to her work, I had a feeling she wasn't being particularly facetious. Kind as ever, Saffron even offered a significant family discount if I ever needed help recovering debts.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Spicy Sichuan Shop

Remember when I once talked about a notorious chicken rice shop surrounded by cheap upstairs brothels?

Now we have a spicy Sichuan chicken shop frequented by said working girls - and their attendant pimps. Unlike the previous haunt which was replete with aspiring natives, this new restaurant seems to have drawn an entirely Chinese mainlander clientele. Utterly unsurprising that they should congregate at this Sichuan restaurant since there are few other stores run purely by the mainland Chinese.

And their continued patronage obviously accounts for the odd opening hours of the eatery which runs from late evening till the early morn. Just about time for the China Dolls to make a quick early breakfast stop before taking that slow walk home.

I have to admit I balked a bit after encountering several dolled-up pleasure workers having their early bites before punching in to work. It wasn't the prostitution that caused me to flinch since I have always been an advocate of legalizing the profession, it was the unwelcome sight of their satellite hustlers who kept a constant vigilant eye on them. Fit the sleazy whoremonger stereotype down to a tee from their brash unforgiving mien down to their brazen neon-coloured tattoos.

Trust me, hardly any of the pimps looked like this. If they did, I would have hired them. 

But I had too much of a craving for spicy Sichuan eggplant to bother much.

So as the China doll on the next table lit up her cigarette with disdain, I flipped through the massive menu that was unceremoniously dumped on the rickety table. Funny this penchant the Chinese have for excessively large menus rivalling the size of medical textbooks with endless pages listing down every possible dish known to the entire Chinese diaspora from the obscure roasted flying fox to the mundane egg foo yong.

But even the spicy dishes failed to interest me as much as the scintillating conversation on the table next to me. Soft-spoken and genteel obviously wasn't the selling point for these girls since their lusty, vociferous voices muttering the occasional profanity carried through the entire restaurant. Aided and abetted no doubt by their similarly uncouth companions.

Doll : Hey, that guy keeps watching us. 
Pimp : Well, he could be a paying customer soon. 
Doll : Well, he's surely better than the old fart I had last night. 
Pimp : Keep it down. 
Doll : Why bother? They all know what we're here for. 

I had to love her honesty. Though it wouldn't take long for her to guess that I would never be a paying customer. Amazing gay-dar these working girls.

Though I did want to ask her where they were keeping the hot Chinese working boys? 

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

No Sweat Man

After a rigorous hour or so at the gym, I always take the time for a relaxing steam followed by a quick shower - at the very least. Even the minimal workout that I do already works up quite a sweat and there's nothing quite as refreshing after that than a wonderfully chilly rinse. Gotta say having a shower at the gym's quite a necessity for me, especially seeing how I might have to rush back to work soon after.

Turns out I might be the only one who thinks so.

You see, usually I'm not the only one who sneaks out during lunch break for a quick run or cycle. A number of irregular regulars come by as well, probably could count them out on one hand by the way. One of them I've dubbed Grunt Graham since he rocks the entire tattooed hulk look, mechanically lumbers his way to the weights and obviously grunts his entire way through his sets.

Which is all fine by me.

Except the fact that he gets all sopping wet. No, not teensy wussy dripping. Nah, for our macho he-man here, it's literally pouring off in wide swaths of Amazonian sweat-rivers into mile-wide waterfalls that crash off his cliffside pecs.

All hard and sweaty. 

Which is still fine. I do appreciate the natural scenery.

But then Graham immediately goes straight back to work after changing into his work clothes. With just a brief cursory wipe of the hand towel. Snap back on those work shirts and jeans. Remaining mostly still sopping wet.

And Grunt Graham doesn't seem to be the only guy who does so. In fact it turns out that it's quite common amongst the gymgoers here.

Which leads me to question time. Do they have some irrational fear of gym showers? Do they suffer from some debilitating soap allergy? Do they secretly fetishize the reeking scent of the grossly unwashed? Do they prefer having their unfortunate work colleagues expire after breathing in their noxious body odour?