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!



Friday, July 21, 2017

Past & Present Friends

It's hard not to compare what we had in the past when we're reluctantly faced with contrasting individuals in the present. Sometimes it's like comparing the sharks to the sheep.

Hard to explain why but the people I hang around with seem almost impossibly discreet, not only with their secrets, which can be almost understandable, but also with their more mundane day-to-day pursuits such as work and play, which I find absolutely baffling. Playing their cards close to the chest would be an understatement. At times it's like heading out for supper with a mysterious group of covert operatives on a clandestine mission, all on a calculating bid to see who can reveal less about what happened during their day. Not only do they mention little of what they do away from the rest which makes it ever more perplexing, their social media presence can be even more inscrutable. 

Perfectly curated with little or no pertinent information on their lives.  

Wait, that's the deep dark secret? Gosh,  after all that overblown hype, I would have expected a dead body at the very least. 

Little knowing that presenting a totally blank profile to the world only makes it even more suspicious. If not for several unexpected misadventures, I probably would not have uncovered many of their secrets. Not that they were exactly earth-shattering illuminations that would change civilization as we know it, truly far from it. 

So why the secrecy? Withholding information and deliberately screening confidences is hardly the way to make friends which is where my friendzone draws the line. Sadly, second-tier acquaintances they shall remain whom I shall keep at arms' length forever which is a sobering thought that does leave me a little wistful.

How much easier it all used to be! Whereas in the past I used to have really sharp, direct, extremely plainspoken friends who rarely hold back with their opinions. Almost everything is right there upfront practically in your face so there's little to guess what they are feeling or thinking. #nothingtohide

Shalom : I can't stand it anymore!
Paul : What's happening over there? 
Shalom : Not at work. I mean on Facebook and Twitter, what's with the cryptic comments? 
Paul : I hate them too. 
Shalom : Why can't they just spell it out? 
Paul : I think straight-talking shooters like us are a dying breed. 
Shalom : It's like they want people to know and yet don't want to. They want their privacy and yet want to tell the world. What's with putting up a confusing status and then not explaining it! 
Paul : I've gotten inured to their antics. These days I just zen out and ignore them. 

Think the bland regular sheep these days would dub us all as intense


Monday, July 17, 2017

Headphones

Even with the recent uncalled for changes in our medical career that does naught but complicate our daily lives, there are days that I am still glad I heeded my parents' repeated warnings and headed down the path towards medicine rather than turning towards the other default careers of nerdy Chinese boys in our country such as engineering and accountancy. From what I hear of what goes down in those chilly air-conditioned cubicles filled with automated drones, I wouldn't fare very well there.

Think unprecedented mass murder.

Since let's face it, being perfectly courteous and sweetly politically correct would only edge me inexorably towards madness. Not to mention the endless well-meaning but sadly futile proposals by Human Resource to build a better work environment - I mean come on, haven't we already debunked the moronic idea of hot desking?

In medicine, we do have a saying for such harebrained schemes - If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Though even I would begrudgingly admit our abrasive work culture needs to be toned down a tad since most days, our ghastly consultants resemble more closely the devilish Miranda Priestley than the politically correct namby pambies championed these days.

So you're the feeble little weenie who thinks I don't look approachable? 

For instance, we had this interesting anecdote just the other day when a friend of mine found herself mildly censured for wearing over-ear headphones at work. Such seemingly innocuous conduct and yet some of her meddling colleagues had apparently deemed it unacceptable.

Carenina : Usually I wear them so that I can focus on the work. 
Paul : As usual. 
Carenina : Apparently though, wearing headphones makes me seem unapproachable. 
Paul : Why should you be approachable? Are you a hooker on the streets looking for a john? 
Carenina : No!
Paul : Tell your subordinates to find some balls if they want to ask you something. Gosh. 

Seriously. Much ado about nothing?

Of course in the wishy-washy land of the cubicles, such strident rejoinders would probably earn a horrified gasp, several fainting swoons and possibly an urgent letter requesting an explanation of the unintended work aggression. No doubt Kitty Kat could recall the heady days of working with the overly politically correct Kumbayas.

So let me rephrase my previous plans about regulating the tension in the medical workplace. I would much rather have our pithy honesty rather than the overly correct communiques preferred by most multinational corporations where treachery is concealed by sweetness.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Back to School

Thankfully not for me since the idea of prepping for examinations again gives me the hives.

A bit unsettled since the recent recession inconveniently rightsized a large number of the lucrative careers in oil and gas here, Charming Calvin has been filling his time with educating our mostly apathetic adolescents in mathematics and science. Surprisingly a childhood dream of his brought forward by a series of unfortunate events. Despite the tedious mental chore of refreshing one's memory with such complex calculus equations, Calvin seems quite up to the task of teaching a dozen or so disinterested teenagers in the classroom.

Me, I've always balked at the idea of teaching. Having both parents as teachers have taught me that despite what the erroneous detractors say, education isn't something as simple as scratching words on a blackboard for the students to magically grasp. Takes so much more than that which is why I always imagined my pitiful efforts at teaching would literally be the disoriented one-eyed man misleading the blind!

Not so for Calvin!

Hot for teacher indeed!
Going back to school however has turned out to be quite an inspiration. In fact teaching the young and far from willing minds on the manifold virtues of trigonometry has spurred his very own need for self improvement which is how he one day came up with the idea of continuing his academic scholarship.

Calvin : What do you think of further education? 
Paul : Do it. 
Calvin : Would it be good to continue..?
Paul : Do it. 
Calvin : Should I take up my masters? 
Paul : Do it. 
Calvin : That was a quick response!
Paul : Do it. You'll pass with flying colours for sure. 
Calvin : You're already giving me stress and I haven't even signed up for the course yet! 
Paul : Would you rather me say you'll flunk out? 

Seriously, he's a bright young fellow and I'm sure he could manage the relatively straightforward course hobbled on one leg with one hand tied to his back. Even then, I'm pretty sure he'll easily wipe the floor with the rest of his loser classmates with the exams and the coursework.

Yes, that's the kiasu lil me coming out again. Turns out that's not exactly the supportive encouragement he needs - says I'm giving him undue stress over performance anxiety - but I doubt I could provide any other. Maybe a bit of playacting as teacher and student?

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Best Foot Forward

Paul : Oh let's take a group picture. 
Aaron : Oh no, I'm not ready. My hair is in a mess. I'm not dressed. 
Paul : That would teach you not to go out looking like a rumpled hobo out of a dumpster. 
Aaron : Don't tag me yeah. 

Which has become almost his vaunted catch-phrase.

These days apart from the hipster millennial eschewing modernity by shunning the internet, even that reclusive mountain hermit probably has a Facebook account. Or a Twitter account. And that Instagram account. No doubt all perfectly curated to exhibit their best online presence for their selected audience.

Their best foot forward since God forbid someone actually catches them looking less than what they are supposed to be.

Which is why Ambiguous Aaron religious untags himself from photos he finds himself looking so much less than presentable. Unsurprisingly often though since he strangely adopts a sloppy hobo beachwear look whenever we all have dinners out. Really boggles my mind sometimes since why would you knowingly want to look terrible? Doesn't stop his need from wanting to eradicate the picture unsuitables that's just shy of fleek since everything else on his album is perfectly crafted to present a rigidly professional, suave appearance more suited for LinkedIn.

Perfectly packaged for your consumption. 

He's not the only culprit afraid of being caught out looking absolutely disastrous. That I can at least vaguely understand.

But these days I even have Miz Grundys who are afraid of having fun. Or at least terrified by the idea that someone out there might actually catch them in the unforgivable act of having a lil bit of fun.

Grundy : Not too many pictures yeah. 
Paul : Afraid of overexposure? 
Grundy : Not really. Just can't be having too much fun. 
Paul : Too. Much. Fun. 

Really. What is that? We're out having a civilized dinner. Not downing tequila shots and smoking marijuana at an underground midnight rave - which I would honestly rather be doing. Not my friends though. Apparently there are freakish oddities who would prefer to be seen as desperately diligent drudges with their noses permanently stuck to the grindstone.

Or at least to have their Facebook appear that way.

Fuss much? Don't think I've ever put that much thought into what I'm placing up online. As long as I don't have disgusting crud hanging off my face, I'll post it up.


Wednesday, July 05, 2017

The One Where Everyone's Gay : The Raya Edition

Dinner with the parents is always fraught with danger.

Even more so when the parents are devout God-fearing Muslims and you just invited a gaggle of flaming gay men over for nasi kerabu dinner.

Rather than the hilarious opening act of a heady CW sitcom, this actually took place last weekend for the recent Raya celebrations. Ever the eternal optimist, Kitty Kat ignored the religious condemnation concern and bravely welcomed the deviant lot of us to her open house. Already apprised of her parents' increasingly orthodox leanings, we all promised to be on our best #masc #butch behaviour.

Of course our ever welcoming hostess told us to ignore all that and just be ourselves but hey, we obviously aim to pass. Feather boas, high-pitched squeals and limp wrists all packed away into the proverbial closets. Practicing our high fives and fist bumps several days beforehand, Fabulous Felix and I were already all ready to bro it out.

At the most we would have gotten a diverted chortle from her husband.

Gay? We're not gay. Who's gay? 

Turns out there was hardly any mention of it during dinner where we wined and dined on the most delicious raya spread ever, with hardly any burning pitchforks or conscientious sermons! I was hoping for at least one impassioned  'Return to the godly path, my son' but nothing was said apart from repeated entreaties to enjoy ourselves.

Or at least that was what we thought till much later in the evening when we'd all made our way home. And we were all ready to clap ourselves on the backs for being able to successfully pass for straight! Apparently Kat's mother had already known that at least one of us was the dreaded homosexual which is how Kitty Kat and Sober Sam soon found themselves cornered with dozens of urgently curious queries.

Mother : So which one was the gay one, my dear? 
Kat : All of them. 
Mother : Oh my God, I was feeding all the gays? 
Sam : Did you intend to starve out the gays? 
Father : But they didn't look like gays!
Kat : What kinda look is that? 
Father : The gay look!
Kat : Anyway not all of them are out yet. At least one still in the closet but he hangs around with the other boys so surely everyone knows. 
Father : But you guys hang around them too! People probably think you're gay!
Sam : But we have a child now!
Father : The lengths you guys go to keep it a secret.

Absolutely hilarious. I couldn't have written it better!

Wouldn't surprise me if the indignant father spent the entire weekend eyeing Sober Sam askance.

It did however explain why the parents spent the most part of the evening hiding from the heathen lot since as we all know, homosexuality is highly contagious. Fortunately for gay tolerance, the parents did however acknowledge that we were all nice boys - even better since we cleaned up after ourselves - so there's a high chance we would have favourable prayers said in our names!



Sunday, July 02, 2017

Clandestine Coupling

When I first fell in love way back when, like those wacky kids in musicals I felt like shamelessly dancing and singing it out from the highest rooftops. Though those warm fuzzy feelings had actually crept on me unknowingly, the final realization dropped suddenly like a literal bomb. It was simply exhilarating. Despite the fact that I was unorthodoxly in love with a boy, that didn't stop me from wanting to yell it out loud and proud.



Those irritating Facebook posts that you see coming up from lovey-dovey couples who have just committed into a relationship, yeah that would have been me several years back.

Which yet again seems to be wildly nonconformist here.

According to popular opinion here, dating seems to be a dangerously taboo word here with expressly vanilla heterosexual couples, something most of us would assume perfectly apropos with public appearances, preferring to have their clandestine love buried deep underground. Rather than share their feelings with their friends and family to breathlessly await their expected approbation, they prefer covertly whispered confessions behind closed doors away from the prying eyes.

I think this is far enough. No one we know will ever see us date here!

Egregious examples I have aplenty; starting from Pretty Paisley with a bit of a segue to the Dangerously Devout Duennas all the way to the very latest which would be our holy Miz Grundy. Just imagine her unspeakable horror when I accidentally bumped into Grundy during one of her secret dalliances. Her beau was all welcoming smiles of course but Grundy was close to breaking down into a fainting swoon.

Miz Grundy : Umm.. 
Paul : Waitaminute, you're dating him? 
Miz Grundy : Yes. 
Paul : That's great. 
Miz Grundy : But I'm not ready to tell anyone yet. 
Paul : Why? Is he a wanted criminal? 
Miz Grundy : No.
Paul : Is he a troll? 
Miz Grundy : No. 
Paul : Oh dear, is he married? A celibate priest? 
Miz Grundy : No! No!
Paul : Is he into something kinky? Does he beat you? 
Miz Grundy : No!
Paul : So what's the problem? 

Boy meets girl. Boy dates girl. It's not at all complicated.

So really why the secrecy?

Made me curious enough to post it all online! Are we just making our lives ever more complicated by anxiously overthinking? Quite a few claim a crippling fear of the imminent publicity especially with the uncertainty in their budding relationship. All I can say is Pshaw! Come on, all relationships regardless of how committed are still basically uncertain. It will fumble or fly regardless of the spotlight shone on it. Ignore all expectations and enjoy the time together.

And for God's sakes, you're not even gay. Why the heck are you hiding?


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Where Have All The Slutboys Gone

Never could understand slut-shaming.

Till now I find it an awesome, highly complimentary word and if I weren't actively participating in a specifically monogamous partnership, I probably would have a tramp stamp with the perfectly calligraphed word Slut printed across my lower back. After all if all the parties involved are in the know, what's wrong with a gorgeous singleton making the rounds expressing love and desire in the best way he or she knows how?

Forget about even suggesting orgies to them!

But that's me. Lately, I find I'm in a tragically dwindling minority when it comes to sexual liberation. 

From Soho to No Ho. 

Whereas several years in the past, I used to have party gals like Piratin Patty and Fabulous Felix around who had little to no shame when it came to scandalously taboo topics - and even less when it came to expressing themselves, these days I keep bumping into straight-laced Miz Grundys who blush at the mere mention of the word. sex. Really, and I once had dear friends who'd barter trade a quick fuck for a ripe green pomelo.  

And I was the staidly conservative creature!

Not that I could ever bring up such a disreputable topic in our table talks these days! Lawd-a-mercy, what would people say!

Paul : Oh maybe you should ask him out. 
Grundy : Gracious no! How could I?
Paul : Just ask him out. 
Grundy : But I can't. 
Paul : You want me to do it for you? I'm sure he's up for a one-nighter too. 
Grundy : Oh wow. Don't say it so loud. 
Paul : No one's listening. 
Grundy : Anyway there's no sex before marriage. 

Which is all fine and good of course. 

Though I still gaped a little. In this day and age? Haven't we progressed passed that yet? 

Evidently folks here have gone back to the Little House on the Prairie. Our demure lil miss certainly isn't the only one though, even Diffident David has come across just a tad priggish when it comes to such salacious matters. To the people I know now, it's all about love, commitment, sharing similar interests and goals etc. Basically Mills & Boons without the scorching almost-sex on the beach. Some indecently shocking hand-holding at the very most. 

The doe-eyed romantic in me loves all that of course but there's also a pragmatic sexual beast in me. I mean, let's scratch all that, doesn't anyone just want a quick hard fuck anymore? There's a time for chaste hand-holding with momentary pecks on the lip but there are moments when there's the need for a no-holds-barred, no strings-attached orgy, no? 


Seriously, when did we exchange Samantha Jones for Jane the Virgin


Sunday, June 25, 2017

Glass Closets

People in glass closets shouldn't throw stones. 

If that hasn't become a commonly used phrase, it certainly should - especially since it concerns two of my friends currently at loggerheads. Well perhaps that's overstating the facts a tad but they have been covertly sparring on the field of conversation; though they both might deny the outrageous insinuation since the pair are deathly afraid of calumny.

So let's place Diffident David in one corner; bantam chicken tough and defiantly padlocked in the closet regardless of any well-meaning attempts to break him out of it. While on the other side of the ring you have Ambiguous Aaron, someone we've taken to calling the Maybe Gay. Although there have been a lot of hints and suggestions from him - not to mention an almost substantiated rumour, he hasn't as yet confirmed our growing suspicion.

Really, why bother hiding in the closet when everyone can see through it?

Aaron : You're gay!
David : You're gay!
Paul : You're both fucking gay. Get over it. 

Though they are both in equally fragile glass closets, they seem to have no visible qualms over throwing stones at one another.

Even out in the public. One would think being on the downlow themselves it would make them less likely to out someone else instead but they seem to almost enjoy goading each other out of the proverbial closet.

Aaron : Why are you so afraid? 
David : I'm not afraid. You are the one!
Aaron : We are alright with you being gay. 
David : What about you!
Aaron : This isn't about me. 
David : You don't say me ah, you also the same.

So on and on, back and forth it goes. Tiny little pebbles carelessly cast at glass closets causing minute cracks to form. While the rest of us watch eagerly waiting to hear the shatter, smash and splinter of their cowering screens.

At this rate, we won't have to pay for atonement waffles for a really long time.




Monday, June 19, 2017

Take Me To The Movies

Or maybe not as the case may be for Diffident David.

Those who know me well would know that one of the Chinese dialects that I can speak, at least relatively intelligible to most native speakers, would be Hokkien. Commonly spoken up north in Penang, where almost everyone converses in the native speech including the local neighbourhood Indian tradesmen, and also further south amongst certain enclaves like Malacca and Klang. However like many other less crucial dialects such as Hakka and Teochew, the heavyweights of spoken language such as English and Mandarin have threatened to overwhelm their already dwindling significance.

Even my own brother has started speaking the most peculiarly accented Hokkien ever.

Hmm who do I speak to then? 

As a consequence, it's nigh impossible these days to find little children who can actually carry an entire conversation in a local dialect these days. A serious problem faced by the directors of the local film You Mean The World To Me when they searched for child actors who could speak Hokkien dialect competently. Pretty sure most of you would have missed the movie but You Mean The World To Me tells the semi-autobiographical tale about a director who returns to his hometown to shoot a film about his own family.

Ever ready to support a locally made film, even more so that rare Hokkien film, I was one of the first to attend the screenings here and really glad to say that I enjoyed it immensely. Certainly jumpstarted my terribly rusty Hokkien ear since I hardly speak it here these days. A few words I immediately knew the meaning of once I heard it spoken in context but nearly impossible to recall several minutes later.




Even more heartening to the LGBT folks watching, there's a small, almost imperceptible hint of homosexuality that you'd probably miss if you blinked a little too hard. Obvious enough if you'd picked up the hidden cues along the way but sufficiently ambiguous enough to slip past our increasingly bigoted censors. After all there are so many ways one could interpret that revealing little scene.

Though even that insignificant bit seemed worrying enough to cause Diffident David some fright.

Paul : So didn't you bring your parents to the cinema?
David : I kinda changed my mind.
Paul : Why?
David : Umm.. I was worried they might suspect.
Paul : That you speak Hokkien?
David : No. The gay thing.
Paul : The gay thing is so vague I might have dreamt it up.
David : But...
Paul : If your parents picked up on that tiny glimmer of questionable information, they definitely would know you're gay.
David : Umm...

So rather than coax his demurring parents to the cinemas, David tried his best to dissuade them for fear of inadvertently outing himself. Sadly a loss of two seats at the screening.


Friday, June 16, 2017

Better Things

Did things actually get better?

Almost a decade back, I brazenly celebrated a shockingly public Valentine with Charming Calvin right in the centre of a crowded restaurant. Rather than shuffle us off into a darkened corner to hide our shameful existence, the uncanny waitstaff purposely shepherded us straight into the focal point of the entire establishment, even making sure the giant spotlight hit us right so. Not that we needed the limelight since we were painfully the only male couple there.

Still, no one made a fuss. Hardly anyone blinked an eye at the both of us sharing a bowl of pasta or two, though we thankfully refrained from a shamelessly cliched Lady and the Tramp reenactment.

That had to be almost ten years ago.

Most would think with the steady march of time and progress, things would only get better for us all. If that's really true, then I find it really hard to understand why the people I know here - from Jocund Jonah all the way to Ambiguous Aaron - seem to be far more closeted than ever I was. Far be it for me to blithely presume on the complexities and complications in their lives that would prevent them from opening up but it still makes me wonder.

Perhaps I've been living in a liberal humanist rainbow bubble all my life, filled with magical sparkles and flying unicorns!

And the real world is just a sad, sad place.

Nonetheless it was quite disheartening to see a newly met gay brother hiding right there in the open. Not only was he deliberately scrunched into his chair - seriously a hard task to hide his obviously musclebound physique, he also had a suitably shady cap to squash over his military buzzcut possibly hoping to hide at least half his face.

Seriously, you ain't hiding this much handsomeness!

Though God only knows why he has to hide that personable face.

Practically a wanted fugitive literally hanging over the edge of his seat ready to make a hasty escape each time the door bell jangled to signal a new entry into the cafe. Could it perchance be someone he actually knew? Could they tell from our swishy fey presence that it was an all homosexual gathering?

And I didn't even have my pink feather boa with me.


Monday, June 12, 2017

The Spiritual Sheep

It's certainly not fun being the black sheep in the family.

Not that I would know since I'm one of those horrifically accomplished older cousins ( always a benefit being born earlier! ) frequently pointed out as an example to my younger cousins, much to their everlasting dismay. Wouldn't be surprised if I'm quite heartily despised by the lot!

Of course I dislike such odious comparisons as well since it's also downright embarassing. That said, being the putative paragon in the family does however have its little benefits since most of the family gossip ends up coming my way. 

Aunt : Oh no, you're so good. I'm sure you can do no wrong. 
Paul : You must have me confused with Harriet.
Aunt :  You really won't believe what my son has been up to!
Paul : Ooh tell me more. 

With very little persuasion on my part, the story of the black sheep of our family, Richie Runt, came spilling out. Last we all heard of him, Richie had been happily masquerading as a dubious snake oil promoter whilst hiding his true ambition to be an enterpreneurial street tough. Facts a lil hard to swallow since he's a little bit of a runt - think Macho Mike could crush him with a thumb - but odder events have happened, I'm sure. 

Not forgetting the fact that Richie frequently zigs when we expect a zag. 

Which is exactly what our boy did. Though my pragmatic grandparents might be the least superstitious folk around, that doesn't necessarily ring true for Richie's maternal side who dabble in chicken-slaughtering, idol-shaking shamanism. Didn't take long for him to realize that particularly esoteric career path might be more suited to his specific set of skills rather than amateur small town gangsterism. 

Unsurprisingly it didn't take long for him to conveniently level up on his arcane accomplishments; proficient enough that Richie was quick enough to come to my grandmother's rescue when she heard scratching noises in her bedroom at night. Rather than accept the general family belief that we had monstrous rodents roaming the old coffeeshop walls, he insisted that it had to be restless spirits.  

Grandma, this is all I need to write on the walls!

Obviously my sensible grandmother was unimpressed with such blatant chicanery.

Even less so when Richie took it upon himself to perform a quick exorcism. Have to say with his appropriately sullen expression perpetually shrouded by his Goth black hoodie, our emo boy did look the part. Forget about laying out plans and stratagems for days! Several deftly written sigils on the aged wooden walls followed by a whispered line of sacred mantra was all it took to banish them all!

Efficient indeed! I started wondering whether I should hire our new family Shaman to help the Borgias guard their ancient hell portal instead!


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Sting of Rejection

Boy : Would you like to dance? 
Girl : Nah to the Ah to the No No No. 

Believe me, if you're a hormonal teenage boy, you'll be dealing with exactly this kind of sorry rejections repeatedly in your life from sophomoric high school dances to the more adult rated Tindr dates. That's even if you're the smartest, best-looking boy in the class.


I should know, I spent my entire secondary life eagerly watching such melodramatic CW angst play out in the school hallways and house parties.

Starting out as a closeted gay man certainly helped a lot in dealing with the occasional rejection. Way back then, high school dance parties didn't come with much of a legitimate choice for budding gay boys which is how I'd usually end up begging the standoffish girls for a dance. Really there's always a sad limit to the time you can reasonably stand with your back to the wall by the ubiquitous spiked punch bowl.

Girl : Wait, didn't you ask me for a dance?
Paul : But that hot sweaty boy over there looks like he needs a drink. 

Since there wasn't all that much hormonal desperation on my side - after all if she declined, there's certainly no harm, no foul - I found it easy enough to ask. Simple, straightforward petitions with little of the flirty come-ons that I picked up later. Even if she mumbled a ready refusal with a sarcastic eyeroll, I was always ready to move on to the next. Pretty sure by then the savvier girls in the waiting line would already have latched on to the fact that I was a raging homo.

In hindsight, I probably could have braved the inevitable homophobic punch and propositioned the cute boys as well.

Since the older you get, the more you realize certain small decisions don't really matter. Maybe at that very moment, the terrible pain of rejection might sting. Perhaps till the next day. Maybe even till the next week. But months later, you won't even recall who you asked out to the dance.

Especially if they said no.

Toughened me up with shrewd maxims that I recalled even when I started dating boys for real. So what if they said no? Forget the rejections. Remember the ones who nodded an affirmative even with the poorly worded invitation.

And always try to say yes when politely asked. You never know who you'll meet.



Friday, May 26, 2017

Social Grace

As a child, the infrequent social gathering, so beloved by my surprisingly sociable parents, has always been a source of much anxiety for me. Incipient bashfulness aside, there are always the endless rules and regulations of proper manners set down by the overanxious parents, seemingly obsessed with constructing the impeccable facade of a perfect family for all to gape over.

Or at least that's what I begrudgingly noted as a child.

Appropriate clothes to wear, polite manners in the company of others etc. - basically Cliff's Notes for the aspiring debutante in a select finishing school. Pretentious little precepts of proper behaviour that my inner rebel found absolutely infuriating - though like the perfect little boy I was, I kept my mouth primly shut following the popular maxim of 'Children should be seen not heard.'

And tried my best to bend the rules whenever possible.

It's only with the benefit of age and hindsight that I find what I learned absolutely educational and extremely advantageous in certain social situations. Though it has also become quite clear that the influential Emily Post Rulebook so well loved by my rigorous parents didn't actually make the rounds amongst the other less conversant members during their PTA meetings.

Such as the indifferent preceptors of a certain Silent Sibyl.

Persuaded by another friend to join one of our usual jovial dinner gatherings, this stonefaced sphinx reluctantly mumbled her unintelligible greetings, nodded almost imperceptibly to no one in particular and then brazenly turned her back to the others for a private conversation with her friend. Henceforth not another word from Sibyl apart from bluntly monosyllabic replies when questioned by the others on the table.

Paul : Gracious, where do you find such lowly impudence!

Just. Plain. Rude.

So much for keeping the conversation light and gracious with your dinner partners on your left and right. Getting information from a hardened spy under torture would have been easier.

Perhaps if she were an ignorant child, I would have been far more forgiving. But the ill-bred wench didn't even have youthful naivete to lend her grace. Really there was little expectation on my part for a gregarious barrel of laughs drowning us all in uproarious hilarity but I would have expected at least a modicum of civil conversation to drip from her precious lips.

As the night wore on with her plainly ignoring everyone else on the table - she might as well have stood facing the wall in a timeout - I started to think Sibyl might well have been brought up by vulgar philistines in the lowliest of barns. The others could plainly see my growing consternation and were all ready to hold me back in case I rashly backhanded the crass lil creature off her dining chair. Even her friend who valiantly tried her best to direct her attention back to the rest of us was starting to feel acutely uneasy with the shocking conversational faux pas.

Friend : Maybe she's shy.
Paul : Maybe she's rude.
Friend : Be nice. 
Paul : Perhaps you should tell her that instead.  

Needless to say, I was less than charmed by her insolence.

Manners maketh man. Or woman as this case may be. Apparently Sibyl still has lots to make up for.



Sunday, May 21, 2017

Mad Dogs and Gym Boys

With the far from salubrious heatwave relentlessly steamrolling across the entire region this May, it shouldn't come as any surprise that most of the sober minded citizens have elected to remain safely indoors leaving only mad dogs and Englishmen roaming the steaming pavements. Hellish temperatures hitting the mid regions of the thirties shouldn't even be considered safe for any possible outdoor activities; perhaps even time to consider an immediate curfew!

Enough to make me fall into a swoon like the fragile belles of the South.

At least that's what I thought... till this afternoon when I fled desperately into the presumed safety of an indoor gym only to realize that it had been replaced by an overheated oven. Basically from the frying pan of the unwelcome streets into the blazing fire of the ever more hostile gym environment. Lest you ascribe such wantonly primitive practices to the state I'm in, let me remind you that the gym here actually comes wholly equipped with modern air conditioners.

That the hardened gym members are somehow loath to use.

Though I ignored them and wilfully switched them on anyway.

Mad dogs, Englishmen ... and now Gym Boys.

Perhaps in cooler times of the year - that precious sliver of time in January maybe - the thought of possibly eschewing the air-conditioned comforts could be considered. Though I would wonder why not avail yourself of the freely available open-air gym by the park instead. But in the unforgiving burn of May... there would definitely not be any kind of compromise. And before you say anything, no, working out in a hot, humid environment doesn't burn more calories. Being uncomfortably drenched in stinking sweat isn't a proper gauge of the calories burned.

Wait, why did he send me outside again? 

Seriously if you adore the burning temperatures, could I suggest a quick sprint around the parking lot? With the soaring temperatures hitting close to 40 degrees, I'm sure you'll be feeling the cherished burn very, very soon.

If you're not literally fried to a sizzling crisp on the tarred roads of course.

And if that's still not enough to convince you of the sweltering heat, maybe consider locking yourself up in the ubiquitous gym sauna for the perfect simmer, sizzle and stew.

Otherwise just leave the air-conditioning alone.



Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Friendzone

Though not exactly the Friendzone most of you might automatically assume; the conventionally known friendzone where an ineligible someone is unwillingly relegated to the platonic friend dungeons utterly forgotten by the other.

That's not what I mean though. For this, I mean regular friendships - the kind that precludes regular perfunctory sexual intercourse. 

By friendzone, I mean that peculiarly indiscernible line that separates those we count as dear to us, almost like part of the family, to the other less distinguished acquaintances. The significant BFFs from the plain generic Fs. Almost immediately I can feel the rising rancour of those who vehemently insist that all their chummy compatriots lie on the same side of the line with none on the other. Really though, let me ask you a question - who would you call to ask for help if you've inadvertently committed something grossly unpardonable? 

The ones on the short list are the real friends. Everyone else would be ignominiously lumped together on the other side of that invisible line that separates the two.

So are we back in the Friendzone? 

Regrettably also dumped into that inglorious bunch would be the rare few whom you might have tried very, very hard to befriend - and yet inconceivably it just never happens. Sometimes not from a lack of trying but from the bewildering circumstances surrounding that particular person at that very specific moment in time. 

Just no feeling as a friend of ours would say. No matter how hard you try. 

Not only does Diffident David probably not understand this - and disagree wholeheartedly with the theory, he also tends to lump all his friends into one indistinguishable zone, regardless of intimacy. Even his most distant co-workers and random acquaintances begrudgingly trip, tumble and topple into that sadly unworthy crew. 

Something he is trying to change - most probably because of the occasional mockery. 

Paul : Oh so who did you meet up for lunch with? 
David : Just a friend. 
Paul : Oh who's this friend? 
David : Did I say friend? I meant co-worker. 
Paul : Oh who's this co-worker. 
David : Did I say co-worker? I meant a nobody.
Paul : Somebody that you used to know? 

Really. If he backpedaled any faster, he might end up yesterday. 

Saturday, May 06, 2017

13 Reasons

Or maybe not all that many.

Although the oddly ironic paean to self immolation post relentless bullying that is 13 Reasons Why certainly brings back some bittersweet memories of high school. Not that I ever seriously contemplated suicide way back then but I could certainly empathize with the tremendous rush of emotions experienced by the overly hormonal teenagers in the series.

With that heady cocktail of adolescent hormones, is it any wonder that they behave fucking irrationally at times?

Me, I would probably stand out as the least emo kid in the series. Even with that bothersome gay cloud looming thunderously over me as a teenager, I still remained relatively upbeat about most things. Basically threw myself wholeheartedly into extracurricular activities and random tutorial sessions; even managed to meet a few girl friends that I, apparently still in denial, foolishly asked out later. Not that difficult to brave the infrequent rejections when there's not much riding on it. I was hardly the angsty, guilt-ridden gay kid stereotype portrayed by most CW teen dramas.

But then thankfully, I was rarely the target of ceaseless schoolyard bullying.

Bashful school wallflower I may have been but I wouldn't have taken a beating lying down. Literally or figuratively. Never could imagine the role of the cloyingly sweet K-drama heroine being repeatedly set upon by her malicious oppressors. Like why would I? Turns out it was the right move to make since in retrospect, playing the amenable victim ever ready to take a kicking only seems to rile the boneheaded bullies more.

Clearly that's like painting a Kick Me Sign permanently on your back.

Umm why are you taking this lying down? 

Even in 13 Reasons, the hopeful schoolkids seem to think that all that sophomoric name-calling and talking trash would have been left behind in high school but I can certainly assure them that it doesn't magically disappear. It just ups its game. Just picture this; a gang of tense, highstrung personalities tossed together into a stressful work environment - now that's a true breeding ground for the nastiest of monsters.

Though in the more sophisticated workplace, the bullying tends to be a tad more insidious.

Something Curvy Carenina apparently agrees with since she's been on the receiving end of some workplace malice, artfully couched in syrupy political correctness but no less venomous in its painful sting. What puzzles me is the unexpected lack of combative belligerence on her part. Burn me once and I might dismissively shrug it off, but try it again and there'll certainly be hell to pay.

Why play the nobly suffering victim? Doubt they would be handing out prizes for the most deserving underdog.




Wednesday, May 03, 2017

SuperBitch

It's a bird... it's a plane...

Sometimes it can get really hard to tell especially when you're the non-superpowered being being watched from way, way below with crappy nearsighted vision. Some heroes have super strength. Some can fly. Some can walk through walls. It's really enough to make any normal fellow turn utterly green with jealousy.

Fear not though, folks. Every now and then, what we all think is perfectly normal can turn out to be our very own mutant ability instead.



Think it's evident after all this time that I abhor bullshit; which is why ever since high school, I've kept the company of a select coterie of generally sharp, straight-talking mates. Though the preferred members might frequently change with time and place, the conversations we have rarely do; usually shockingly unpolitically correct, no-holds-barred discussions about everything and all under the sun including topics wildly taboo that frequently shocks our gentle listeners.

Intense they call it.

Coupled with the occasional stinging zingers - inadvertent bitchiness really - I can understand why the stunned newbies usually require a sedative or two before returning for the next bracing session. But they all get used to it after all. Being frequently bombarded with such explosive comebacks has certainly toughened our hides, so much so that we do on occasion miss the less imaginative responses.

Carenina : OMG.
Paul : What? 
Carenina : Did you hear what she said? 
Paul : Yeah? 
Carenina : And? 
Paul : You mean that was meant to be bitchy? 
Carenina : Yes!
Paul : She calls that throwing shade? 
Carenina : Yes!
Paul : You call that a bitchy remark? Yeah, she's got a whole lot to learn. 

And that wouldn't be the first time I've found myself puzzled over seemingly catty remarks.

Karenina : I swear she meant it in a bitchy way.
Paul : Still don't see it. Maybe if I heard it in a stern Russian accent? 

Seriously, either I've become quite thankfully zen to dismiss such little affronts - always a nice sign of maturity - or I've become such a raving superbitch that too minor a diss just bounces off. Or perhaps they should have put a lil more intelligent thought to their petty insults?


Friday, April 28, 2017

Step Back In Time

Paul : Hello.
Lady : Good morning, young sir. And how are you doing today? 
Paul : I'm doing quite well. How about you? 
Lady : Not very well, I'm afraid. You see, my dear beloved husband finally went back to the Lord just last night and I'm preparing for his wake. 
Paul : Oh dear. 
Lady : Yes, he caught a terrible fever down in the mining camps and returned home looking quite peaked. Not much the doctor could do unfortunately, not even with all the new remedies and balms that just came by coach from Melbourne. 

Sounds almost like an English primer from school, doesn't it?

Though what is far more remarkable would be the fact that the lady in question finds herself appropriately dressed in severe Victorian mourning clothes with a delicate lacy black veil over her ashen face. After having been vouched earlier for having an irreproachably respectable character by a suitable chaperon, I was admitted to the heretofore sacrosanct ladies' parlour for a brief conversation. Any longer and it would certainly have given rise to gossip in this small town. From what I gleaned from her words, it was no surprise that her husband succumbed to whatever mysterious ailment struck him; given the meagre - and oh so doubtful - medicinal supplies then available in the mid 19th century.

And yes, it was the 19th century.


Or at least everyone there would have you believe it so.

Lest you think I've inadvertently fallen into a bafflingly spooky M. Night Shyamalan thriller, I didn't really buy into their far fetched stories either. After all this was Sovereign Hill in Ballarat, a living museum set on a goldfields town dedicated to life in the 1850s - and frankly one of my favourite places in Victoria. Thoroughly enjoyed myself there the last time I visited and wondered whether I would feel the same two decades later.

With much relish, I can wholeheartedly confirm that I love the place quite as much as I did the last time I was here. Perhaps even more, now that I have the time to explore every nook and cranny of the lil town without being rushed by my friends who had little interest in such make-believe historical proceedings.

Having that extra coin in my pocket helps a bit too since I can finally afford a pie or three rather than the packed sandwich I brought along that last time.


Thankfully the charms of Sovereign Hill seemed to extend to all ages so it didn't take much to persuade Rambling Raoul and Chatty Carmen to go. Ever so kiasu Chinese in search of that treasured nugget of gold, our hellbent Raoul spent half the afternoon earnestly panning for gold in the little creek with yelled instructions from his sister.

I however walked down every alley in Sovereign Hill, chatted to as many costumed townfolk as I could and just enjoyed the life in the 1850s. Wonder if they need an extra hand over there!



Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Loco-Motion

Though plenty of folks, especially here in Borneo, rave endlessly over the spectacular wonders Down Under, I've always found myself a tad underwhelmed. Had my trip there way, way back during my university break years and to me, it's just another extensive Pacific Island - not all that different from the one I'm currently on - with just a little more development, far more Caucasians and lots of scorching desert.

Close enough it should come as no surprise that we have lots of amicable two-way travel between Borneo and Australia; with more than a few proper migrations!

After what amounted to a tedious three month stint over there, I never actually thought of repeating the visit. Hit most of the big cities there from Melbourne to Sydney, checked out the sights from the Great Ocean Road to the Blue Mountains, caught the penguins and the koalas. Didn't really see much point of making a return... till Sassy Sue and the kids finally made their move over there to what's apparently being termed the world's most liveable city.

I beg to differ of course.

Though this hot Aussie bloke could certainly convince me otherwise!

But it's hard to say no to family so I planned the trip to coincide with niece and nephew's Easter break.

Like every doddering elderly person, I gotta say this. It really is amazing how quickly kids grow up. Almost in the blink of an eye, Chatty Carmen has turned into a veritable young lady; though not in ribbons and lace as one would expect. Far more sober than I would have imagined, Carmen's more likely to be found in utilitarian sweatshirts and jeans than flouncy skirts and dresses. However her budding creative side has found life and expression in her artwork which I adore.

Which Carmen loves as well - despite repeatedly denouncing her supposedly astringent art teacher.

Several years junior, Rambling Raoul remains pretty much the same. Such a sweetheart that I'm sure he's the delight of all his classmates and teachers. Though I do wish he would attend to his school lessons just a little more - but then that's the kiasu Asian in all of us.

Dragged them all down to the city for a quick walk down Swanston eventhough I was feeling quite woozy from my usual wretched after-plane effects. Soldiered on I did!


Don't think I can say I've fallen madly in love with Melbourne like so many have but I did find myself reluctantly charmed by the Melbourne style architecture favoured by the inner city suburbs with the delicate lace ironwork applied to the balconies and balustrades. Obviously I was far too involved before with staring at my tourist map to look up at the pretty terrace houses all over Melbourne.

Then again they probably did undergo some gentrification.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Trimming the Teenage Thicket

Times have certainly changed. Coming from an all boys school, I can tell you that the eagerly awaited coming of puberty with the initial first spring of facial hair is greeted with much more than aplomb. Honestly the high school equivalent of a raucous street parade is thrown, along with well-wishing admirers all ready to admire that teeny-tiny sprig of negligible chin fluff.

As all fastidious biology teachers are wont to explain not very long afterward, that brief onset of puberty is later follower by the lightning-quick advancement of hair growth in many other regions, from the armpits to the nether regions. Proud of their hormonal over achievements, more than a few brutish teenagers are all too willing to flash the teeming forest under their armpits with very little persuasion.

Well that was before.

Quite thoroughly unlike the current fashion of going napalm all over.  I've said it before and probably would say it again. Overly precious pruning and manscaping to resemble something close to a hairless prepubescent I find utterly emasculating.

Not what budding teenagers these days are thinking about though. In the quieter moments of his increasingly overcrowded tuition classes, Charming Calvin gets asked the most awkward questions sometimes, fielding the usual complex mathematical conundrums to the more... unusual philosophical examinations of young life.

Seriously when you look this hot, no one cares about the armpits.  

Like whether to shave. And we're not talking about the jawline.

Calvin : My student was wondering whether to shave off his armpit hair.
Paul : Unusual.
Calvin : Thought so too.
Paul : I mean, the child barely has any hair anywhere!
Calvin : True.
Paul : And he's already wanting to shave? What next? A boyzilian

Wow. So these are the things teenage boys these days are preoccupied with?

I gotta say I have to pity them. Not only do they have to contend with their studies, their hormones and the ever-present teenage angst, now they all have to appear on point as well! Guess it's harder to compete with the other gelled, glossed and groomed teen heartthrobs these days - and we're not even counting the amazingly picture-perfect Instagram boys yet. Body image issues much?

What's a boy gotta do!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Bapa Borek Anak Rintik

No doubt that particular Malay proverb would make little sense to some - but the saying translates closely to Like Father Like Son.

Though generally not applicable to my workplace, today it turned out to be surprisingly relevant when it came to my own nurses. Honestly it still surprises me but I've been working in this hospital with the same staff under me for more than five years. Talk about the blink of an eye.

Really small, tight team here in the hospital; so in all those years working together day in, day out ( sometimes even night out ), we have mostly gotten used to each other's little foibles, freaks and frenzies. Basically all the seemingly insignificant idiosyncrasies that make up a person.

And yes, we have learned from each other as well.

Though as it turns out, my own trusty nurses didn't only learn about medical physiology from me. Not content with taking to heart the pharmacological gems I occasionally mutter, their keen observational eye has picked up even more than I could possibly imagine.

Since the expeditious marriage and subsequent exile of Pretty Panacea to the northern wastes, her role in our hospital has only been replaced by someone far inferior that we've taken to calling Reasonable Remedy. Everything about the new girl is just... less.

And that includes her execrable style of dressing.

Nurse : Can you imagine what she wore to our soiree?
Paul : The less said, the better. Maybe she's here as the help. 

For a while though, I imagined I was the only one who noticed - since it's hard to believe anyone else in my workplace could be quite so judgemental. After all, only a handful here would even question the dubious sartorial instincts that would lead our fashion-forward Remedy to don a ratty tee and peasant pants to work, paired with a pair of worn beach sandals.

Perhaps Remedy made a reasonable effort when it came to more formal dinner, I thought to myself trying my best to be wholly magnanimous. Much to my consternation though, she proved me wrong yet again. Although this time, I wasn't the only one laying judgement on her deplorable fashion sense.

There we all were, my nurses and I, in the elevator waiting to head up to the dining room when she came along. Almost on tandem, my nurses turned to stare her down as Remedy waltzed down the hallway in her flip flops. Imagine eight judgemental, supercilious stares suddenly aimed your way. While my nurses were all dressed to the nines with heels, hair and make-up done impeccably, our oh-so-sloppy Reasonable Remedy had just thrown on whatever was closest in her ever-convenient laundry basket, sadly wrinkled and tattered though it may have been.




Then just like any Mean Girls movie, one of my nurses - they vehemently denied doing it after - pressed the elevator button to shut the door on a dumbfounded Remedy.

Nurse : Oh no. She is not sitting with us. 
Nurse #2 : Does she think she's headed to the wet market in that outfit? 
Nurse : Let's not take a selfie with her. 

Couldn't have said it better. I think I had a proud tear in my eye.

Bapa Borek Anak Rintik indeed.