Monday, December 11, 2017

The Skinflint Scrooge Sensibility

I love them dearly but even I have to say that my parents are overly, overly generous. Almost indiscriminately so. Which would certainly explain why no matter how much we try our best to economize in so many ways, there's no way we would ever be a real challenge to the Rockefellers or the Vanderbilts.

But that's alright since I did learn a worthwhile thing or two about generosity from them, though of course my pragmatic brother and I won't ever be quite that ridiculously magnanimous. The occasional spare change charity for the rare stranger who needs it perhaps but not quite the clothes off my back unless I'm donning several layers.

Really, my benevolence only goes so far.

It's different when it comes to my friends and colleagues though since close familiarity does draw some genuine altruism from me. Surely it isn't that difficult to give out the occasional treat or even the infrequent gift to your friends, especially those in far less affluent circumstances?

No doubt Mr Scrooge would beg to differ.

Bah, humbug!
In age, wisdom and work experience in his own milieu, he would probably rank around the same as me so he does have more than his share of subordinates - one of them would be Sober Sam who once interned for him. Unsure how Scrooge performs at work but it's only when we fraternize after work hours that he starts showing his more... undesirable, parsimonious side. Although most of his juniors - who obviously earn so much less than him - have actually brought him out for a meal, I'm starting to notice that he never ever returns the favour.

When given a not unfriendly nudge, he frequently professes to be utterly impoverished. Absolutely preposterous since we can gauge exactly how much your remuneration is from your exalted work position. And seriously, to wail about being penniless in front of your own underlings who earn less than you?

Have you no shame, sir! Thoroughly ungenerous behaviour that I can't quite comprehend since when I'm with my nurses and junior doctors, I generally pick up the tab as a matter of course. Rare enough that we all manage to get together for a meal so why not give them a nice treat? Just a simple meal, not like we're getting them all a huge chunk of Kobe beef steak each.

Paul : It's so weird that he asked Sam to pay for dinner.
Calvin : That's Scrooge after all. 
Paul : Sam used to be his intern. Isn't it quite a shame to ask someone who's just starting work to foot the bill when your pay has to be ten times of his? 
Calvin : Don't think he ever thought of that.
Paul : Gosh I just realized Scrooge is really helluva stingy. 

Unequivocally yes. For Scrooge, 请 is obviously a word entirely foreign to his vocabulary.



Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Religious Compulsions

Let there be no compulsion in religion. 

Still one of the exemplary tenets that I have always recalled from school way back when and something I've always tried to serve best. Though our generally prejudiced social media occasionally tries to villify missionary schools by claiming they have a hand in miraculously evangelizing students there, I can tell you that's all utterly ridiculous bs since in all my years there, I never saw any such thing.

Unless someone out there can convince me that merely strolling by a cross on a wall can be tantamount to a miraculous conversion.

Religion should be something utterly individual - and personal faith should be something nearly unshakeable otherwise why hold on to it in the first place? State-sanctioned religious conversion aside - something I personally find preposterous, I never can quite understand it when someone I personally know undergoes a conversion just to marry someone else.

If they have been admirably drawn to the new religion because of their love, then I would heartily salute that particular conversion.

Not to mention a baptism would be less a holy sacrament and more an unwelcome dunk in cold water.

But most times, the one being converted is doing it purely because.

Which I find almost sinful.

Paul : So after all the months of religious classes, you have finally come to believe? 
Friend : No. 
Paul : You haven't seen any light? 
Friend : No. 
Paul : You're still converting?
Friend : Yes. 
Paul : Good God. 

Let's not kid ourselves about the entire romanticization of making that ultimate sacrifice for luuuurve. Has anyone wondered why any religion would want a staunch non-believer to even enter their halls to take up vows? Not to mention why anyone would force their loved one, someone they purportedly love above all else, to be a disciple of a religion they don't actually believe in.

Always remember this. The book is holy only to the devout followers because of their intense faith - but to anyone else who doesn't believe, it's not very much different from the entirely fictional Greek myth about their own gods.


 


Thursday, November 23, 2017

Back In The Days

Meeting up with a schoolmate and friend in Tokyo certainly brought back many bittersweet memories, and it wasn't long before Skinny Stacey and I started dredging up funny anecdotes from way, way back then. Seemed so fresh in our minds that it made it hard to grasp the fact that it actually all happened twenty years ago! All those wacky pranksters, smooth talkers and emo youngsters were already relatively grown up parents of their very own children.

And in all likelihood - confirmed and reiterated by many, many of my classmates - I wasn't as much of a shy wallflower as I would like to think. Apparently I had quite a fearsome reputation in school, something that I hadn't been entirely aware of back then.

The looks on my friends' faces when I say I'm a blushing blossom in school. 
Occasionally there are smirks and snorts. 

So drooping daisy I definitely wasn't.

Sometimes I do wonder how Charming Calvin and I would have been like if we'd both been in high school at the same time and place. Though never did it occur to me that Charming Calvin would think I'm some monstrous Venus flytrap with dripping green fangs out to catch the next hapless victim.

Calvin : You know I don't think I would have dated Paul in high school.
Stacey : Why not!
Paul : What the- 
Calvin : You probably wouldn't have seen me also!
Paul : Excuse you! Frankly I'm vaguely insulted.
Calvin : Anyway I'd be a little afraid of you. I mean I'd have admired you from afar but would be too scared to come close.
Paul : Eh.

Wait is this one of those inexplicably paiseh things? Turns out Calvin might be one of those timid Clay Jensens who try their best to discreetly blend into the highschool background, perpetually afraid of making the slightest disturbance in the force? Though I might not crave the spotlight as most would think, I doubt I'd be the kind to shrink back from making my opinions heard.

Loudly. Passionately. From the rafters if need be.

Think I've made quite a ruckus or two in the school canteen that stunned everyone once or twice even.


So yeah, that would probably make me stand out from the crowd - as it probably did according to my classmates. Odd since I always thought I was kinda invisible in school. So believe it when I say how you think of yourself doesn't always match up with the truth.


Saturday, November 18, 2017

Doing Nothing At All

Unlike most, I prefer to take my Netflix fix slow - so rather than frantically binge-fest over the newly streamed episodes, I basically drag them out painfully anticipatorily into a couple of weeks. An episode a week basically. Reason why it took me so long to finally see Clay Jensen figure out the entire thirteen reasons given by his tortured paramour on what drove her to put a permanent period to her life.

One specific cause of which is obviously our quietly ineffectual Clay himself. Hardly a spoiler since he received the iconic cassettes right in the beginning of the series. You would think someone like Clay would hardly cause a ripple, no?

Something I've noticed since high school myself; quietly reticent fellows such as Clay who tend to blend unobtrusively into the the general background without causing much of a scene. Unassuming, unpretentious, unnoticeable; till sometimes they don't even seem to be involved in anything that's happening around them.

Or prefer not to be.

Seems very little reason to irrrationally aggravate me but it does.

Maybe I shoulda done something.
Coulda Woulda Shoulda. 

Do they actually think doing nothing actually helps anyone? How many times have we seen people hang back from a potentially ugly situation, trying not to dirty their hands? Not realizing that backing away with their arms folded is almost as bad as causing the incident to happen in the first place.

Oft repeated statement that I've always found inspirational.
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men should do nothing.
Sound familiar, David? 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Ponponpon

Conservatively straight-laced they might all seem with their perfectly combed hair, impeccably pressed suits and excruciatingly appropriate behaviour ... but when you're a gay man like me, it's near impossible not to have a spectacularly warped idea of Japanese men; what with the dozens of raunchy Japanese gay porn where hitherto absolutely straight, impossibly beautiful college boys are titillated and seduced by a villainous handful of wickedly mustachioed men bent on getting their rocks off.

It's a thing. Really.

All the while the apparently unwilling victims of their pitiless ministrations whimper kimochi repeatedly under their bated breaths, inevitably followed by the final blissful surrender of an ikku. Hard to believe they are all so meekly amenable sometimes. Of course if you're foolhardy enough to try that out with any of the muscular cuties on the streets, I think there would be serious mayhem to follow.

Art by the amazing Silverjow
Doubt all of the boys are as amenable to having their banana played with as the porn suggests.

That's only the miniscule gay subset which is a teeny tiny portion of the entirely too open porn industry here. So you can imagine the thousands of titles available for the horny straight boys drooling wordlessly in the sex shops and computer dens of Akihabara. And we haven't even talked about the more peculiar underground fetishes brought to life by Japanese porn.

Though the majority of Japanese men look perfectly average like anywhere else in the world, still the beautiful boys are around if you keep an eye out; from the sleekly suited salarymen to the hipster collegiates. However one thing they all share, regardless of good looks, would be their tight butts. Really. Perfectly spherical with a dangerously sinuous curve that anyone would just want to slap just to get that wiggle. Easy enough to see where they get it since there's all the endless walking up and down the stairs practically everywhere.

Just like in Korea, they just want everyone to walk.

Makes it quite a pleasure to sit on their trains watching the men pass by.


An odd subset of Japanese boys that I can't quite wrap my head around are the shockingly deeply tanned boys; an oddity in these cool temperate parts. Quite a few to be found working as the amazingly sexy jinrickisha danshi, otherwise known as rickshaw boys, around the historical Asakusa area. Tall, attractive, well-built with friendly smiles and an intense passion for service, is it a wonder they have all become tourist hits. Lean muscular bodies I can understand since part of their job would be dragging the rickshaw around, which has to be a great cardiovascular workout if any, but how would that explain the deep all-over tan?

No tanlines I swear, and I really looked hard for them. Or are they all yankiis?


Friday, November 10, 2017

Candy Candy

Candy indeed! Impossible to miss the amount of confections and desserts in Tokyo; quite evident that they actually do have a specific, beautifully made wagashi for every occasion and celebration on the calendar. However despite the many namagashis and higashis waved temptingly in front of me at every confectionery store we walked by - and the numerous attempts at trying, I actually failed to develop a taste for them.



Perhaps it's a fondness that develops only if you've been brought up since childhood with these chewy sweet treats. For me, I found them... not much to my liking. And Charming Calvin, despite desperately wanting a quick bite, had to keep an eye on his precarious sugar levels.

That didn't mean we didn't love everything else since like everyone says, and rightly so, Japan is a food paradise, where it is nigh impossible to find a terrible meal. Even on purpose. In fact I am starting to believe those felons daring to serve a substandard, barely edible meal would probably be crowdforced to seppuku as an example to future restaurateurs.

Over here while Calvin has his tempura obsession, my weakness has to be ramen. Fortunately it's not that hard to find a ramen store just around the corner since they are quite universally ubiquitous here in Tokyo. Found one handily enough right opposite the hotel the moment we arrived.

Yes we did share meals - though in some sushi restaurants, it's definitely frowned upon. An understatement since we feared the stern sushi chef would throw the yanagiba at us.  

Ever the fan of super-maximising space, the closet-sized restaurant had diminutive seats closely spaced together squashed against the opposing walls with just enough manouevring room in between for the averagely slender Japanese gentleman. Fortunately with a bit of squeezing through, I managed to make that special grade.

If our space was uneasily tight, it had to be so much worse for the lady at the counter who had only enough room to stand at attention. If the unfortunate lass gained even half an inch around the waist, they would have to break apart the counter just to remove her.

Figuring that the austere lack of space would probably feel so much cosier with signs and placards, every available inch of the store walls, tables and chairs - heck, all the flat surfaces short of the ceiling - had to be covered with a shockingly wordy notice of some sort advertising the ramens available, the various stores nearby, the coming neighbourhood festivities in store, random sketches of note etc.

They even had a super mini washroom that suffice to say, the counter girl would find it hard to even manouevre in there!

It was fortunate they didn't have more staff since they could barely fit one there! As it was, the ramen shop had only two waitstaff with one cook; but as usual, everyone was hyper-efficient with their hands perpetually busy doing something or other. So even with a shop full of hungry customers outnumbering them by several times, bowls of steaming ramen still came out expeditiously with little commotion. Japanese Efficiency at its best.

Monday, November 06, 2017

Invader Invader

From the severe look on his face, one would have thought that we'd basically broken into his zen space without his express permission; though I could have sworn we had been pleasantly invited in. It was at that very critical moment of invasion that I wondered whether one of the gleaming sushi knives held in his obviously skilful hands would come flying at us.

Perhaps something lost in translation? Despite the overly polite irrashaimases that greeted us at the unobtrusive door - no doubt muttered by his inconspicuous minions, I wasn't quite so easily fooled since his stern combative demeanour spoke a different story and there was certainly no hint of the world-renowned Japanese hospitality in his deliberately precise, economical actions.

More like a certain sense of the haughty noblesse oblige in allowing a random ignorant peasant to stumble into his sushi palace for a meal. Kindly leave as soon as you are fucking done, domo arigatogozaimashita.

Nope, quite clear it wasn't a kaiten belt sushi store. 

Only much later, we came to realize that the majority of revered sushi chefs; quietly reigning in their concealed hideaways - whether buried in some dark sub-basement of a subway station or cleverly sequestered in a surreptitious nook of a nondescript office building, aren't exactly known for their good humour. Guess silently fuming sushi chef bearing knives didn't become a stereotype for no reason.

No doubt omakase actually means 'you'd better like it or otherwise...' In our colloquial Malay, it sounds a tad like Mother Gives so that's about the same meaning.

Quite an experience but one we didn't quite expect strolling through the streets of Japan. It was quite by chance that we happened upon this unassuming sushi bar, apparently a hidden gem judging by my online search later. Like most sushi places here, the seats were few which gave us the time to just relax and watch the world go by. Once seated, drinks were poured and a plain briefly worded menu cunningly placed right in front of us while the suspicious sushi chef watched us askance.

Since the knives seemed menacingly near right behind him, I figured we'd better start ordering quickly.



Remember what I said about omakase? Well it probably also means gulp it down fast too since the sushi rolls came... quite expeditiously. Though I'll admit the speed of delivery didn't exceed the sheer enjoyment of the moment .. and yes, the excellent food. Each sushi piece specially prepared for us, with instructions in case we looked totally lost. Tuna might not be my first choice anywhere else before but my brief time in Tokyo has certainly made me a true blue advocate.

And yes, I was tempted to play about the wasabi and the random soy sauces but a steely, uncompromising glance from the chef immediately halted me. Really, not even the fluttering geishas could stop me in my tracks with a single look but he certainly could.

One note of advice though - never ever, ever not order in a sushi restaurant. Not even if you've stuffed yourself to the gills with a selection of meats at brunch. Unless you'd prefer to be unceremoniously tossed out, you had better order a nigiri.



Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Harajuku Iyahoi

Of course no trip to Tokyo, Japan would be entirely complete without a misjudged acid tumble down Alice's Wonderland; and by that I mean a quick stroll through the wildly bizarre fashion-obsessed youth culture around Harajuku. Turns out every other camera-toting tourist had pretty much the same idea as we battled our way through the sad crush of fuming Goth Lolitas, squealing Japanese tween girls and oddly enough, hyper-aggressive African salespeople as we made our way through the neighbourhood.

Quite the peculiar combination of people but when it comes to Harajuku, I guess anything goes. And it certainly couldn't be more outlandish than some of the more... avant-garde creations on display in the minuscule boutiques huddled around the hilly steps of Harajuku.

But of course I wasn't there to try on a bedazzled leather jacket with a dozen zippers more suited for a futuristic manga than my day job; I was here purely for one of my guilty pleasures. Ignoring the mindless chatter of the adolescents queuing for a taste of crepes, I made a beeline straight for the mother of 100 yen stores. Daiso.

Really. Everything at the same low, low price. How could I possibly not love such a place?


Apparently every other tourist there had the very same idea since after the usual gawking, gasping and gaping over the beribboned Harajuku dolls doing their weekend stroll, most of them actually congregate in Daiso as well to purchase... well, all of Japan it seems. Judging by the dozens of identical items chucked into their shopping baskets, I assume they all have wildly optimistic plans to stock up their own 100 yen store back home.

For real. A few had cash receipts longer than my arm. And then some.

Can't blame them since we had quite a long list ourselves since hey who can resist? 

Actually though has anyone ever wondered what the Japanese cashiers say nonstop in a rambling monologue whenever they accept a purchase and payment? Since we have little way of knowing apart from picking up the local language in less than a week, we immediately made up several made up situations to explain the unintelligible babble.

Paul : Here are my items. 
Cashier : Fuck you. That's all you're buying? Damned idiot. I'll take your bloody change and stuff it up your face. 
Paul : What?
Cashier : Thank you for coming to Daiso. 

Paul : Here are my items. 
Cashier : I gave up a promising job in banking and finance to do this. Damn that idiot boyfriend of mine. 
Paul : What? 
Cashier : Thank you for coming to Daiso. 

Really, the wholly imaginary conversations that the cashiers might be having with us could be endless. Yes, we do know the entirely logical explanation; no doubt they are diligently telling us that they are gladly accepting the cash in exchange for the items and disclosing the proper change in return.


But fabricating wildly wacky scenarios is just so much more fun.




Friday, October 27, 2017

Ninja Re Bang Bang

The old belltower strikes signalling midnight. 

Outside the gently waxing moon shone bright, with only a short handful of days before the annual Tsukimi celebrations in the ancient city. Inside the room, the rickety wooden blinds were battened down to shut out the coming morning sun which fully signalled the intentions of the occupants who intended to sleep through till later in the day. Only the gentle rhythmic breathing of their sleeping disrupted the relative silence.

It was just a common inn. He was sure there were no nightingale floors to warn the sleeping occupants of the coming danger. All his years of training had let to this and it was time to strike. 

Treading carefully across the smoothened wooden floors, he stealthily headed towards the target. Not a sound was made yet like a silent one handed clap, the steady breathing came to a screeching halt. 

Eyes opened,  dark and serpentine, watching him in the dark. 

It was too late to turn back. 

Ugh. The noise is driving me crazy. Can I kill them all? 

Well at least that's how Charming Calvin would describe it.

Plagued with insomnia, it shouldn't come as any surprise that my sleep patterns can be erratic at best especially so when my unpredictable work life occasionally intrudes. Always filled with exasperated envy for those who can nod off the moment their head touches the pillow. Though it can be a little better during my travels without the crushing stress of work, sleep still comes whimsically in fits and starts. So it should come as no surprise that every small tweak and creak in the room would immediately have me awake in microseconds.

Without doubt a work hazard since we usually need to be perfectly conscious and ready for action in moments after being called, no matter the unseasonable hour of the night.

Which becomes a real problem when Calvin tiptoes to the bathroom occasionally in the dead of night.


Though he tries to keep the noise down as best he can, there's only so much a normal person can do without resorting to supernatural ninja tricks. Not that I truly mind since it's a relaxed carefree holiday after all. Once he's finished, silence quickly returns which does help my ensuing slumber.

Best of all, he doesn't snore much anymore. Or perhaps I've grown accustomed to it.




Monday, October 23, 2017

Fashion Monster

Fishy to Flashy. 
Gritty to Glitzy. 
Raucous to Respectable.

All that within the few interesting miles from the rowdy fish markets of Tsukiji 築地市場 to the more refined temples of commerce at Ginza 銀座.

Like every other visitor to Tokyo, I spent the earlier part of the morning sampling fresh seafood - the half of which I couldn't ever name - while brusquely pushing my way through the ever-growing crowds at the Tsukiji markets just to get that all-important tick on my bucket list. Though Charming Calvin raved about it, I wasn't too impressed with the rolled omelettes on offer but then I've never been a fan of tamago. However being over here in Tokyo has made me a serious fan of the tuna sashimi!

Stuffed to the gills with fish, oysters and other unrecognizable shellfish, we made our slow way towards the glitzier end of the neighbourhood. From Tsukiji where rowdy merchants handed out dried cuttlefish while hollering for a peek at their available wares slowly and inexorably transformed into Ginza with the more stereotypical Japanese salesperson deeply bowing and whispering a clear but muted invitation to their posh ateliers.



Think anyone who has heard of Tokyo would know of the world-renowned shopping of Ginza with its streets lined by department stores, world-class designer boutiques and well-established stores. With Hokōsha Tengoku 歩行者天国 in place leaving the main thoroughfare of Chuo-dori closed to traffic, it was the perfect time for a walkabout around Ginza while people watching.

Not to mention the occasional artist playing on the streets; only here would you have the talented Chie Hanawa in a kimono playing the age-old shamisen while utilizing some of the most cutting edge music technology available.



After a couple of days in Tokyo with an entire day spent just watching the people go by on Chuo-Dori, it would be hard to disagree with the general notion that yes, Asian boys do all look alike. Let's be entirely racist but even I have some difficulty telling the carbon copy hotties apart in a Chinese / Korean television series initially, at least during the first episode. Like the dozen or so male characters appearing simultaneously in the first episode of Nirvana in Fire, I could barely tell them apart.

Not that they aren't all equally attractive.

It is however entirely possible to tell apart those with looks more stereotypical of different regions in East Asia, such as me since I'm clearly from Southern China with my flatter nose and rounder face. Yes, yes there are wide variations of course but even the soldiers in the Terracotta Army can be differentiated by their faces to tell where they originally came from.

Quite a few of the boys could have come out of the many yaoi bara titles around!

One surprisingly easy way to differentiate the Japanese boys would be their distinctive hairstyles. Rather than slicked back up like me, most of them have their perfectly mussed hair hair flopping down meticulously over their foreheads.



Thursday, October 19, 2017

Tsukematsukeru

Has it really been two decades since I left school?

Seems like it must have been since the last time I saw Skinny Stacey, we were taking our last steps out of high school after our exam results. Or wait, it could have been a week later when we were slightly tipsy after downing drinks at our last school party. Though we hardly spent any time apart during Form Six, we drifted apart after that as we went our separate ways. Cellphones were still bulky extravagances, social media was still in its relative infancy back then and ICQ was a pain to use.


It was only relatively recently that we pinged each other again on Facebook and started chatting briefly about what had been going on in our lives. Sheer coincidence indeed that we both happened to be in Tokyo at about the same time; seemed like fate was telling us to finally meet up.

Which we did.

Though for a while there it seemed like it might not happen since a sad lack of roaming data and miscommunication had us both waiting at opposite ends of the renowned Senso-Ji Temple in Asakusa. BTW when I say Kaminarimon, I obviously mean the Kaminarimon 雷門 otherwise known as the Thunder Gate. Fortuitously the gods of fortune seemed to smile upon us that day since after a frustrating hair-pulling hour of pacing around the temple gate searching for the hitherto familiar face of Skinny Stacey, I saw the even more recognizable mermaid insignia of Starbucks.

And reasonably stable wi-fi.

Amazing what they can do with woodblock prints these days! A memento of our trip there!

So it was that I spent an amazing day tour strolling around the ancient temple of Senso-Ji and the surrounding shopping streets of Asakusa - with Charming Calvin and Skinny Stacey. Can say without a doubt that she has changed but little since I could recognise her slender frame from a mile off. Did the conventional touristy prerequisite of cleansing rituals, soaking incense smoke and dedicating solemn prayers at the temple while leaving the bad luck tied up in knots behind.

Then it was time for a bit of reminiscing.

As much as I found the final years of high school utterly exhausting trying to catch up with endless revisions that never seemed to suffice, I still found it a time for slowly discovering the kind of person I would be; and yes, also tentatively exploring what it meant to be a sexually active gay man. Even then with all that near negligible homosexual angst, I found it an excellent experience to finally leave behind the macho all boys' experience and to finally have some feminine mystique around.

Hey I finally had girl friends. And I wasn't exactly unpopular.

Stacey : It wasn't that fun a time for us. 
Paul : Us? 
Stacey : I knew you were doing great in Form Six but not the rest of us. 
Paul : What? 

However it turns out Stacey - and quite a few of my classmates weren't having such a positive experience back then. An understatement if there ever was one. Unquestionably an epiphany for me since I unwisely figured that the rest couldn't possibly be undergoing as radical a change as I was. Happens that they just weren't dealing with it as smoothly as I was.

All behind us though so we can joke and laugh about it now. Still, has it really been two decades?



Monday, October 16, 2017

Kira Kira Killer

After the initial arrival misery and malaise, I usually bounce back from the terrible ordeal pretty rapidly. Not only do our travels not last very many days, we also usually have a really full schedule to cover.

And let's face it, once I'm signed on for a holiday I'm usually pretty much indefatigable for the entire length of the trip, barring the occasional unforeseen affliction. Unlike the more sedentary Charming Calvin who prefers a more leisurely vacation of course.

Therein lies the problem which is easily encapsulated by our vacation photos after. In the early mornings, he's usually the chipper robin while I'm disembowelling morons before my wake-up coffee; by evenings after our endless walks however it's usually the opposite with him looking like an extra from The Walking Dead while I'm bouncing off the rafters.

Sometimes literally.

And we walk and we walk and we walk all night.... 

Though I usually have a certain itinerary planned for the entire time we're there, it's usually entirely flexible depending on our whims and fancies. After all it's truly a free and easy experience. So I usually walkabout aimlessly with only a couple of must-see sights on the map that I want to cover. Hardly any outlined treks to religiously follow since I love the occasional stroll into the unexpected alley or dori as the case may be in Japan.


Of course that makes me cover a really large amount of mileage, which is alright by me since I tend to walk really, really fast. Spurred on even more by more travelling adrenaline, and maybe a lil bit of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. Not the case for our slow and steady Charming Calvin so that leaves him utterly grouchy by the end of the day.

So you can imagine how grumpy he was when I abruptly made a plan to find a handicraft centre in Aoyama late at night on our first day there.

Poor fellow. Unlike the near unforgivable time I made him trudge through a chilly autumn night through the Quai Anatole France by the Seine, this time he found it a tad more tolerable though he still did give me the cold shoulder for at least half a mile down Aoyama Dori. Just about the distance between us when we're walking since his speed is perhaps half of mine which leaves me standing around waiting for him to finally catch up. Fortunately a plate of really excellent tuna sashimi perked Calvin right up.

Which gave me time to really ponder over the truly baffling maps of Tokyo, and we're not talking about the serpentine subway maps yet.



Friday, October 13, 2017

Yumeno Hajima Ring Ring

Charmed by Kyoto the last time we went, it wasn't hard to decide that our next trip would lead us to the other end of the renowned Tokaido road which is Edo. Otherwise better known as Tokyo 東京都 these days. A brand name known the entire world for that captivating mix of the ultramodern to the traditional, from neon-lit skyscrapers and futuristic androids to age-old ryokans and ancient temples.

With my debilitating insomnia coupled with an innate fear of flying metal boxes, the first days are usually miserable experiences for me but this time, a mixture of steroid-powered caffeine and the scent of autumn in the air spurred me out into the bewildering subway system of Tokyo the moment I dropped my bags at the hotel ( ironically called Innsomnia ). In a bid to avoid building train lines under the Imperial Palace, most transportation tracks belonging to two different companies go in tangled circles all around, which in a city touted as the most populous metropolitan areas in the world, leaves a bizarre, mind-boggling spectacle that takes several minutes to sink in.

And a couple of exhausting days to adjust to.

That's not even counting trying to make sense of the kanji, hiragana and katakana script written all over the maps.

Though it's rare to find a train carriage just that empty in Tokyo - well maybe at really unseasonable hours. 

Judging from the endless concrete towers surrounding us threateningly, we were definitely nowhere near provincial Kyoto at all. Even the crowds seem to have quadrupled with masses of suited salarymen pouring out of every nook and cranny of the train stations in perfectly timed intervals.

But I've never been one to hibernate on my travels so it was off to nearby Omotesando with their tree-lined avenue full of branded boutiques for a quick walk and dinner. Charming Calvin wasn't terribly amused to be dragged out of his extensive unpacking rituals but he certainly wasn't going to be left behind so off he went. How were we to know that the Japanese aren't too fond of modern-day conveniences such escalators and elevators? Steps and stairs everywhere we turned with the elevators tucked away in forbiddingly concealed corners.

Apparently the Koreans must have learned this bit from them.

So with our mildly befogged brains, we walked the length of Omotesando gaping at the beautifully dressed Tokyo hipsters in their trendy leather jackets and skintight selvedge denim. Fortunately we'd managed a quick shower and change otherwise we'd probably be hounded out of that posh enclave for dressing like abhorrent hobos.



Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Blowjob

One Blowjob doesn't necessarily turn you gay.

Let's face it, boys are boys and they do love their little scientific experiments especially when it involves the excitable lil fella down below. Even though it was kept clandestinely hush-hush in my all boys's school, most would have noticed the illicit hanky panky going on between some of the more adventurous schoolboys in the secluded corners.

Doubt any of them would even think to consider themselves gay, then and now. Just a bit of handsy sophomoric fun between the boys, especially when opportunities to get off successfully are hard enough to come by at that jailbait age.

Not that I ever did any of that, well apart from some hasty making out sessions in the darker corners of the school chapel. Hardly enough time to progress past a quick handjob, much less giving a proper oral. Just never know who's going to be bursting through the doors! Terrible enough to be breaking dozens of religious doctrines in a day; what more to present such a spectacle of prurience to a man of the cloth.

Maybe a second round? 

But when a friend keeps insisting that the cheap trick he has been seeing is impossibly straight, it does make me wonder.

Friend : Yeah, I actually gave him a blowjob. 
Paul : Well that doesn't necessarily make him gay. 
Friend : He asked me for another. And I did it again. 
Paul : Oh. Twice? 

Well, perhaps one blowjob doesn't turn you homosexual. Fun times for all and all that.

But two consensual blowjobs?

Makes one wonder. Maybe you could chalk up that first blowjob to simple curiosity and fervent desperation - but the second time around does make it a little more suspicious. Moving towards the second has turned it from an experimental try to becoming something almost habitual. A lil crooked perhaps; down the Kinsey spectrum from totally heterosexual?

Surely he didn't hate it all that much if he's begging to come for seconds?


Sunday, September 24, 2017

Beach Wedding Not

Never.
Ever.
Have.
A.
Beach.
Wedding.

I cannot say this more vehemently. Seriously, especially not in a sweltering tropical country melting under an unprecedented heat wave. Perhaps a possible consideration in far more temperate climes but definitely not in our country.

And for once I'm speaking from real life experience. Though Lissome Lorelei did playfully threaten to let us all bake torturously under the midday sun during her seaside wedding ceremony, she thankfully had a near-glacial tearoom waiting for all her guests to simmer down right after. If I recall there was a mad stampede to rush in for that brief respite right after the vows as well leaving several hapless bridesmaids trampled in need of medical attention!

Apparently though that particular bit of advantageous information seems to have slipped out of the many gushing bridal magazines. Ever the island girl with childhood dreams of a beach party, our Pretty Paisley had almost zero qualms over letting her guests spit-roast under the sun.

Which is how Shameless Shalom and I found ourselves literally sweating buckets during the wedding vows. Though it was apparently still a breezy mid-morning at the tropical beach, it truly felt like we'd already trudged through the heated trenches at Iwojima in our bulky combat fatigues. We would have surrendered ourselves just to find ourselves in airconditioned comfort if we could.

Bla bla bla let's get married! And out of this heat!

Though of course I would never be dressed so dreadfully! So there I was, in my new suit, literally broiling on the beach like one of the barbecued seafood snacks on offer by the seaside shacks.

Whereas our more practical Shalom had put on a shorter cocktail dress though from the excessive perspiration streaming down her forehead, it did very little to cool her down. When fanning myself vigorously with the invitation card seemed more thermogenic than cooling, I was already beginning to wish I'd pulled on a skirt myself.

Nonetheless it was wonderful to see Paisley so happily walking down the aisle. Since she had nary a bead of sweat on her, I assume excessive happiness does temporarily disable the sweat glands. At least for a little while.

For the rest of us, it wasn't so which is how I found myself placing a personal ban on beach weddings. At least for myself. Like why would anyone subject themselves to such inhumane suffering?

Shalom : My God, the pictures turned out amazing. 
Paul : Thank goodness. 
Shalom : The colours. The sun. The beach. 
Paul : No.. No... don't say it!
Shalom : I want a beach wedding too. 
Paul : Dammit. 

So now we know how it all begins.


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Oh My English Again

No, this won't be a rant on how young Chinese Malaysians are deliberately eschewing the English language - and even our national language - for whatever misplaced reasons in their naive lil minds. That impassioned diatribe will come along one fine day when I'm finally rational enough to type one out somewhat legibly.

Mostly this has to do with our Ambiguous Aaron - and his dubious command of the language. One would assume that having English as his first language - mayhap his one and only - would automatically place him in the hallowed ranks of prodigious English scholars! Failing that, at least he would have a somewhat passable standard of English.

At least that's what one would like to think.

Thus far, I've let more than a few of his grammatical faux pas slip by without a word since :-

a) I'm not your fecking teacher and I heartily dislike faultfinders
b) I'm not that great myself so why am I pointing out mistakes
c) It must have been a slip of the tongue

Usually I just shrug dismissively and think, surely no one gets that wrong?

Did he just diss the grammar of Shakespeare?

But then came the day when he then decided to diss the Bard.

Yes, William Shakespeare himself. Though I'm far from ye high-and-mighty literary connoiseur, do not ever, ever critique the grammar of Shakespeare in front of someone who spent part of his high school years going through the various tragedies and comedies. Atrocious, Aaron called it, which obviously put me into a flame.

Don't diss the Bard.


Then lo and behold, Aaron spelt the word chilli wrong.

Aghast. Me. In our food-obsessed nation that's about as simple and elementary a word as apple. Before I could falteringly ask for a repeat, he blithely spells it wrong again. Twice in a row, surely it's not a typo, says I. Ever the skeptic, I immediately question myself. Perhaps I've been wrong my entire life and it's actually spelt that way? To the dictionary I promptly ran to check the word out only to prove myself right.

Dammit, he made me doubt myself!

Perhaps in the upper reaches of the Ganges? In some obscure, forgotten corner of South America? Again I desperately search across the length and breadth of Google to find more information only to reaffirm my earlier understanding of the word. Nope, still spelled chilli. Yep, even in Mexico. Well sometimes it's chili.

But never chilly.


Thursday, September 14, 2017

Deja Vu

Granted in such a small town, the conceivable choices for chow time isn't all that appealing. This ain't cosmopolitan New York with an exciting new bodega opening up down the block every other week. We'd be lucky if that even happened once every six months over here. In fact take another walk around the block and you'd probably find that lovely new eatery closing up for good before you'd even bothered to come around a second time!

So yes, the choices are sadly limited. There's a very short list of usual suspects with acceptable dining options that we frequent; made even shorter due to the finicky appetites of some of my friends. Worse than the proverbial Goldilocks I swear. Even so, with certain establishments taking the day off once a week, there's bound to be a repeat every once in a while.

Much to the everlasting horror of some of my... more persnickety friends. For some obscure reason, repeats are quite the anathema to them!

Paul : How about we go for burgers at Pop's?
Friend : We just went there three days ago. 
Paul : And so? 
Friend : We can't go again. 
Paul : Like ever? 
Friend : Maybe next week. 
Paul : If you went again, your social rating would fall?
Friend : Maybe we go to Mama's? 
Paul : But we were there last year. Is that alright? 
Friend : Should be. 

Who knows. Possibly.

Even ordering an entirely different menu isn't quite acceptable.

No they aren't hip social media influencers trying to increase their online relevance. Hell, these staid creatures barely have a Facebook presence.

Friend : Wait. I can't go there.
Paul : Why?
Friend : I went there last month!

Paul : OMG A repeat! That's like gonna kill you? 

Seriously I cannot fathom this despite deliberately shoving my feet into their shoes multiple times. I don't see how dining at the same place twice in a week would possibly dangerously undermine their entire sense of self, life, humanity etc.  Would their querulous stomachs rail against such repeated ignominy and call out a hunger strike? Would their oh-so-fussy mitochondrias protest by shutting down energy production due to the repeated source of nutrients?

Obviously I have no comprehension so help me out here, guys.

Me, I order the exact same dish with the same drinks at the same spot at the same kopitiam every single day. Usual servers gotten used to the Paul Special, I don't even make orders anymore but just take my seat expecting the same to arrive. Somehow that hasn't left me feeling at all disconsolate. Or feeling like my life isn't worth living.



Monday, September 11, 2017

Straw to Gold

Ensconced in her domestic bliss up north, it's rare indeed to hear from Pretty Panacea other than the occasional housekeeping gripes when her singing birds and butterflies go on strike. Turns out life isn't all that rosy in the fairytale kingdom even after that perfect happy-ever-after since even princesses have to contend with the monstrous in-laws. Though this time it's not a serpent-haired gorgon-in-law that's the problem but a fellow new bride like her.

Panacea : I have a problem. 
Paul : Told you. Feed the birds more if you want them to hang your laundry! 
Panacea : It's not a housekeeping problem. It's my princess-in-law. 
Paul : How is she a problem? 
Panacea : She's imitating the way I dress! Wears the same clothes! Carries the same handbags!
Paul : So? Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. 
Panacea :  I swear she has the same glass slippers that I got!
Paul : I've seen her. 
Panacea : You have? 
Paul : I have a magic mirror. Really, you have nothing to worry about. You're comparing straw to gold. 
Panacea : B-but what do I say when I see her in the same gown!
Paul : Compliment her on her fine taste. 

Perhaps it's a problem only a real princess could comprehend since try as I might, I really couldn't empathize with her. Even freshly woken up from her bedchamber with hardly a brush to her lovely locks and nary a gloss to her luscious lips, Pretty Panacea is undoubtedly the fairest in the land and few princesses, and even fewer peasant girls, could hold a candle to her. 

Even more so the lamentable princess-in-law who's... homely at best. 

Hmm. That's the hapless wench who's earned the ire of Panacea? Of what looks does she speak of? 

Imagine spending half a day being sorely mistreated at the aesthetics salon just to come up short against Panacea rushing in for supper with a hasty swipe of a lipstick? No doubt if I were in her princess-in-law's glass slippers, I would heartily dislike Panacea as well. Probably start making deliciously devious deals with the devil to concoct poisonous apples and such. 

Rather than just innocently steal her look. 

The princess-in-law tries. Unfortunately, even lavishly overpriced Birkins dangling from her spindly arm can't compensate for the sad lack of panache to carry it off. Every fairy godfather could easily tell her the ancient adage - You can buy fashion but you can't buy style - but apparently fairy godfathers are in short supply these days. 

So I told Panacea to accept the battle's already long won, not that the final outcome was ever in doubt. Be gracious to the loser at least. That said however, I would still break her glass slippers since there can't be two pairs around!


Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Miri Lieutenant's Man

Afternoon sessions at the gym are becoming quite a routine for me, not that I've actually turned into a man-beast. Sadly not true though I'm starting to fill out that t-shirt which is fine by me. Note to anyone else reading - don't overdo leg day or you'll never wear slim jeans ever again.

Apart from the occasional desperate housewife who sneaks in for a resentful run on the treadmill, I've noticed the afternoon denizens of the gym come from two specific sorts. Since slick professional fellows wouldn't be waltzing into the gym at such unseasonable hours, it's obvious that only those who aren't working would be able to workout then.

So the first group would be the schoolboys and the collegiates; all far too dangerously enticing despite being practically jailbait. It really should be illegal to look so scrumptious at that age dammit. Enthusiastically bounding in, usually in large mate-y groups slapping each other on the back, they scamper and scuttle from machines to the weight rooms with such energetic vivacity that it's almost painfully distracting.

That, and the neverending display of abs of course.

Basically something out of Fitcasting but unfortunately with clothes on.

Could you show me that move again? 

Then there's the more sinister second group.

Burly, dark and tattooed, grunting, cursing and spitting; I dub these the Gangster Ges. So much less appetizing than the former. Quite apparent that early daytime isn't their usual mode since most come with bleary hangover faces that probably haven't seen the morning sun since they were in blue shorts. These ones specifically come in pairs, hardly ever in crowds. What I assume would be the mob boss and his most trusted lieutenant.

No doubt building muscle for their extracurricular activities later in the night.

And this particular Gangster Ge always comes with his faithful sidekick at the very same time. Oddly enough the lieutenant does nothing but just hang around waiting for the boss to finish his routine. Unlike the forlorn girlfriend waiting in the wings, at least he helps out by spotting for his boss, even hurrying over to refill his canister of water. Very little is done otherwise with him literally just twiddling his thumbs watching over the man pump iron.




Monday, August 28, 2017

To Speak or Not To Speak

Whispered secrets are shared mostly in confessional boxes where the sacred seal of confession sufficiently conceals whatever misdeeds and misdemeanours might have been committed before. Outside the hushed sanctity of the church, things get a little bit more complicated especially when unsubstantiated rumours start gaining more traction with mounting visible evidence lending credence to the heretofore questionable fact.

And by that I mean Ambiguous Aaron.

Once upon a time a possibly Maybe Gay, doubtful events of late however seem to have sufficiently confirmed Aaron's deeply closeted status. Not only is there the same ubiquitous 'friend' wherever he travels - which is suspicious enough, validated statements from his hometown have basically settled the case of 'Is He or Isn't He?' for the rest of us. Apparently on some long forgotten occasion, he once professed his sexual proclivities to his inner circle of intimates and that lil nugget of information made its stealthy way across the seas to us.



Didn't even have the need to call in the big guns!

Of course knowing the fact and hearing it straight from the reticent horse's mouth is a far different thing. Till now despite our attempts to present a thoroughly welcoming, supportive front for his much delayed outing, Aaron stubbornly clings to his purported heterosexuality with persistent appeals to recommend him to the eligible bachelorettes in our circle. 

Therein lies the problem. 

A new dillemma? 

Not that any of us would knowingly lead some innocent damsel to her sacrificial doom on the altar as the unfortunate gay bride - or tongqi 同妻! Far from it since we tend to steer the more oblivious fillies in the opposite direction away from him - but apparently we do occasionally lose sight of one or two. Unbeknownst to us, Aaron's buttoned-up conservative demeanour has somehow bespelled someone that we know.

Or at least the devastating charm seems to be taking slow but steady effect.

Paul : This is starting to be a problem. 
Calvin : How so? 
Paul : I think she's starting to like him. Subtle but I think it's there. 
Calvin : Aiyo. 
Paul : Perhaps a hint of warning in her ear? 

So do we tell the friend our growing suspicions about his assumed heterosexual facade? Or do we keep the sacred seal of confession even though he hasn't technically come out to any of us yet?


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Miss Independents Club

Don't get me wrong, self reliance and independence are wonderful traits. Something most of us would do well to inculcate in ourselves.

Only some of the Miss Independents I know seem to go overboard with the virulent D.I.M. Syndrome - and by that it means Do It Myself; a newly discovered infectious disease that seems to affect most young Miss Independents of a certain age rendering them physically and mentally incapable of accepting help. Any offer of aid is immediately repudiated with a vehemently impassioned nay followed by the pridefully repeated 'I Can Do It Myself' mantra.

Miz Independent : What if my car breaks down? What if the car battery dies? 
Paul : You're not living in the jungle. You're basically in a small town where everyone's just a couple of minutes away. 
Miz Independent : How will I get to work? 
Paul : Just tell them the car broke down. Get someone to pick you. Get a cab. Get an Uber. 
Miz Independent : I can't possibly do that! I should be able to do it myself.
Paul : What's wrong with getting help? 
Miz Independent : I must be independent and self reliant!
Paul : And walk to work? 
Miz Independent : Maybe!
Paul : Or how about a car battery charger?
Miz Independent : Yes! I have to depend on me! I want independence!

Made it sound almost like an energy drink. Wouldn't surprise me if our burly frontierswoman wanted to live a self sustainable life in her own sturdy treehouse - made with repurposed timber chopped with her own fair hands - and grow her own organic food.

D.I.M. Syndrome! It's a real thing, I tell ya!

Honestly though, never have I understood the women of today's single-minded obsession with being independent and self reliant. Since I'm pretty certain none of the boys I knew ever had such frenzied fixations, I can only imagine it is something they all learned back in school! For all I know, perhaps the schoolgirls have been secretly shuffled away to secluded mountaintop convents just to have the oft-repeated mantra on autonomy and independence drilled into their young malleable minds. 

Or perhaps something insidiously mixed in with the rubella vaccines only given to teenage girls? 


Or maybe we have Destiny's Child to blame for it! Obviously the theme song for all the Miss Independents throwing their hands up at them. 

Maybe all my crazed suppositions are wrong but surely there has to be a Miss Independents Club out there with clandestine meetings disguised as book clubs along with regular weekly pamphlets covertly cloaked as frivolous beauty magazines. Otherwise how are they all being plagued with the exact same symptoms of D.I.M. Syndrome? All of them seem to have something to prove... but to whom?

For me, I think I would much prefer to be a lethargic potentate with thousands of slaves at my beck and call. Self reliance? Pshaw! Hell, I wouldn't even lift a finger to feed myself if I could! 



Thursday, August 10, 2017

Diffident Dress

Don't get me wrong. Though I do have certain fastidious scruples about proper attire, I certainly don't contemplate showing up at a summer pool blowout all bedecked in a frilly silk ballgown. Let's not be totally daft. It's all about dressing for the right occasion; which means those stained t-shirts and ratty shorts that you wore while cleaning out the dusty garret last weekend simply shouldn't make an appearance at a dinner party.

And absolutely not to a wedding banquet. Have some respect for your troubled hosts please.

Yes, laugh all you like but I've seen that particularly graceless faux pas take place a couple of times. In fact our very own fashion blunder Reasonable Remedy did it twice, right in front of our very eyes so that my eagle-eyed nurses felt compelled to immediately post up on Instagram for posterity! Terribly judgemental they have become as well though I've tried my best to rein them in.

Or at least prevent them from emphatically pointing out the deplorable flaws in public.

Though sometimes it can be a little bit hard to judge!

However what I didn't expect next was a surprisingly patronizing critique from Diffident David instead. For someone like him - like the ultimate slob Lanky Larry - who obstinately champions the Get Casual Everyday Cause to find someone's attire absolutely execrable, I find myself absolutely flabbergasted. Have I finally successfully converted him?

David : I'm just surprised you didn't make a comment about his dressing!
Paul : Why? 
David : He looks terrible. 
Paul : In t-shirt and shorts with selipar buruk? 
David : Yes!
Paul : You wear the exact same thing all the time. 
David : That's different. I wear better. 
Paul : In t-shirt and shorts with selipar buruk? 
David : Mine is more fitting!
Paul : I hate to break it you but still t-shirt and shorts with selipar buruk. 

Try as he might to convince me, I really couldn't tell the difference. Even with high-definition pictures to prove his point, I couldn't see it. Sure, the t-shirt was a tad less unkempt. Maybe the shorts were a little smoother and newer. But overall let's face it, it's still t-shirt and shorts with selipar buruk.

Selipar buruk just means lousy flip flops over here.

Wait, did that mean he doesn't actually like what he wears himself?

Sunday, August 06, 2017

All By Myself

Certainly not a theme song I'd recommend for anyone other than the eponymous Bridget Jones but these days I think a friend of mine might appreciate it. Remember the taciturn someone I once mentioned who drew the line between her super-tight BFFs and the rest of her ignominious generic Fs?

Well, let's call her Anxious Annie.

Delayed flights are not uncommon, and over here with the tiny runway coupled with the numerous domestic flights, it has become an almost daily event. Almost impossible for anyone to even confirm their flight ETAs, even once already safely boarded on the plane. For Anxious Annie however, the very notion of a flight delayed would certainly spell a catastrophe.

Annie : I realized I was all alone. 
Paul : In the airport? 
Annie : Yes. 
Paul : Aren't there dozens of other passengers around? 
Annie : Yes. They immediately all took out their cellphones to inform someone of their new arrival times. They all had someone. I had no one to call. 
Paul : So? 
Annie : I am all alone. 
Paul : There's no need to call anyone when you're going for a business trip. You could call a taxi. 
Annie : There's no one I could call!
Paul : Uber? 
Annie : Nooo....

Well perhaps my bleak pragmatism wasn't exactly what she needed at the time. Diverted by her disquieting mental ordeal, I might even have chuckled. Probably one of the reasons I've been ingloriously bumped down to her forgotten second tier compatriots.

What? So you were singing All By Myself at the airport? 

Shoulder to try on, I can provide but you'd probably get a painfully realistic dose of tough love first.

Though I found the reasons obviously simple enough, I hesitated to even tell her. There's only so much you can reveal when you're cheerlessly mucking it up with the other shoddy acquaintances beyond the true friendzone, and not living it up with her cozy intimates. Would speaking the truth only leave you even farther in the cold?

So let me tell it plainly enough, Annie. Tragically there's no one to blame but yourself. It's hard to find a friend to call when everyone else has been placed at chilly arms' length, while the ones you count as real BFFs aren't actually that emotionally available. It's all about the science of friendship which means also being a friend, so hiding in seclusion and refusing friendly overtures isn't going to help. Being closed off only denies real intimacy between friends which is why there's hardly anyone around to call when emotional help is needed.

Really... that's the problem. Tough love, like I said.



Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Weird Things with Gay Couples

Haven't gotten around to putting it up but I just have to, even though it's a year late throwback, but hey doesn't mean it rings any less true. Especially since Charming Calvin and I get the first part all the time.

Stranger : Wait, are you two a couple? 
Paul : Yes. 
Stranger : I thought you two were brothers. 
Paul : I introduced him as my boyfriend. 
Stranger : Are you sure you're not brothers? 
Paul : Yes. 
Stranger : Stranger things have happened. 
Paul : Stranger than brothers saying they are together? 

Really. Not the first time we've gotten the baffled look since appallingly, Chinese fellas with square faces and dark-rimmed spectacles frequently get mistaken for one another. Usually to cover up their obvious gaffe, they follow it up with the common Chinese phrase 夫妻相 to mollify us after so it's all good.



Fortunately some of the gay stereotypes are actually true when it comes to me so the nagging questions on fashion and interiors are all fine since hell yes, I do have vehement opinions on that. Not too sure how Charming Calvin feels about it but busily snacking on the party hors d'ouevres usually saves him from answering.

And hey, if you're almost the same size are your man, it basically doubles your wardrobe. Isn't that the best part about being in a gay relationship? Never actually tried on his shirts since I actually have an embarassing number untested and unworn in my closet but I've definitely pulled on his shorts before. Way back when we were first dating. Having to dash off for work emergencies doesn't leave me much choice unless I carry spare clothes to change everywhere I go.

Which I do these days of course.

When we travel, I have to admit there are times when our clothes strikingly match, though never ever on purpose, but we still draw the line at getting couple t-shirts.



Saturday, July 29, 2017

The Boy with the Beanie

Men are visual creatures. Let's not deny the fact that the majority, even those happily involved in serious monogamous relationships, do spend a lot of our time scoping out the scrumptious eye candy around us. Certainly no serious intentions to buy to bring home but it's always fun to blithely window shop every once in a while.

Of course, plain gawking all by itself wouldn't be half as fun without the recurring conversation that crops up every once in a while in my circle. Hard not to when it's a gaggle of appreciative gay men downing expresso shots at a cafe whilst lustfully appraising the hot virile fashionistos who saunter by.

Friend : I should try a beanie. Makes a man look real good. 
Paul : No it doesn't. 
Friend : What do you mean? Just look at the hottie that just went by. 
Paul : He's a gorgeous attractive young man. He makes the beanie look good, not the other way around. 
Friend : What? 
Paul : Look at it this way, if a portly unsightly fellow were to wear a beanie, would you think he looks good? 
Friend : Not really. 
Paul : Then the beanie doesn't work. However put any man in a suit and they generally look better. 
Friend : Never thought of it that way. 

Of course several weeks later, he'll cheerfully forget and drool over a sexy hunk with a painfully hip man-bun; all the while imagining that a man-bun makes everyone look good.

No, it doesn't.

Usually it's the beauty of the man that makes the dress look good so don't be fooled by the art of marketing. There is a reason the wily advertising gods utilize impossibly attractive, genetically gifted models to deceptively fool us into believing that particular brand would make the homeliest of us look quite as mesmerizing.

The chiseled cheekbones and the body makes him look good. Not the beanie. Really. 

Man-buns? Beanies? Backward baseball caps? Cargo shorts? Three quarter pants? Rompers? Sure, they are all comfortable but trust me, they won't make you look good. Not unless you resemble the godly Chris Evans. If that's the case, even a misshapen gunny sack would be highly flattering.

Same goes for tattoos, permanent or otherwise.

Serious. If the item of clothing or accessory really can aesthetically improve someone's looks, it would work on most anyone. Even the plainest bridge troll around, and I do mean me. Till now, I find only a handful of accoutrements singularly successful in that sartorial endeavour, and that's a beautifully tailored fitted suit. Anything else, you better don't believe it.


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Pitch Perfect

Though there will always be the occasional eccentric such as Ambiguous Aaron who shudders at the very thought of karaoke and made a solemn vow never to step into such a den of iniquity, I think it's safe to say that most other regular folk do enjoy the occasional turn with the karaoke microphone. Hands up if you're Asian of course. And yes, by karaoke, I mean the Asian styled karaoke boxes with the private rooms and booths for the self-effacing shower sopranos to step out into the limelight.

Unlike the ones more prevalent in Western countries where wannabe stars sing publicly on a stage only to be jeered or booed off if the singing is off pitch. With crazed caterwauling masquerading as a tune, I wouldn't blame the unfortunate audience for targeting them viciously with broken bottles.


Generally from all the times we've headed for karaoke, friends I know here seem to fall into two categories!

The first whom I call the serious karaoke persona preparing to audition for the coming season of The Voice. Bet you'd all have seen this dogmatic fanatic rifling through the exhaustive song list searching for their one and only torch song - no, they won't try a new unversed song! - while professionally adapting the pitch and tone of the melody to their own voice. Then they stand up to ceremoniously switch off the vocal track, the better to listen to their own special delivery of the song of course.

Mind you, they invariably sing alone - so don't even dream of butting in when they're belting out their oh-so-precious theme songs unless you want a microphone tossed at your ear. It's their fucking moment and you'd better know it.

Seriously, the stage was made for them so I don't know why they aren't all getting on it.

Especially if you looked like this, I guess.

I come in the second category. Always think karaoke should be a fun event just having a group of like-minded friends to gather around. Honestly the worse you are as a singer, the better so there's nothing to be embarassed about. Isn't that the very reason we all booked a private room rather than yodel mortifyingly in public?

And come on, no way any of us could sing better than the original! If I did, I would have already cut my own album for sale. Or at least have a dedicated Youtube channel to peddle my croons.

These days I also find karaoke boxes a good place to pick up catchy new hits that you've never heard of since there's always a ready set list of popular hits played by the other customers there. And really, short of having gratuitous shots of half-naked hunks gyrating throughout, when else would I ever willingly sit through the entire music video?


Then again, maybe this is the way to get Ambiguous Aaron to come over!