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


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. 

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Push and Pull

First-time crushes are always a bit hard to deal with. 

Perhaps a little different for me since I've always favoured the ... let's call it the Attila the Hun Method of Courtship; that full- on rampaging barbaric assault with lots of wanton pillaging and ravishment after. Simply put, it's all about 'You're hot. Let's fuck.'

Definitely very little time left for coy sophomoric mating games which I find a bloody waste of time. And if the unfortunate object of my affection doesn't share my lustful feelings, then it's just a quick farewell handshake with no harm and no foul on either side. Life's far too short, no? 

More tapping, less talking!

Don't worry if you're feeling terrified and ready to run for the hills. Obviously I'm in the sad minority when it comes to my tempestuous courtship style; undoubtedly quite a handful of well-favoured yet painfully meek villagers have already been scared off into said hills by my overly aggressive approach. Sad lack of cojones that. 

Of late though I've had more of a chance to observe some of my other friends at work, even a few who lean towards a more unusual method of courtship. Perhaps what I'm starting to term the passive-aggressive style started by the acne-riddled freshman boys back in high school; you know the brash unthinking sort who reach out to tug on that special girl's braid hoping to get noticed?

Tim : Oh man, she's so pretty, I can't believe she isn't the prom queen. Just look at her. 

Then the very next instant when his dream girl finally arrives, our friend here abruptly makes an about-face and does quite the opposite.

Tim : Gosh she's so vain. Always all about her looks. Though there's not much there to work with. 

Like what the hell, man.

Though the inherent drama of the persistent push and pull does provide quite a lot of script fodder for Hollywood rom-coms, it doesn't translate all that well into real life. On the big screen, there's the sizzle of a well-written repartee between the warring couple but in reality, it's just insults and abuse hurled both ways which does little to promote any sort of lasting relationship.

Hair pulling? Rock tossing? Name calling?

Really, how does that schizophrenic love-hate personality work on that dream girl? Short of being a freaking narcissistic queen, she's quite obviously going to think he dislikes her immensely. Perhaps it's time to lay off the sophomoric push and pull for something a little more traditionally adult? Flowers and chocolates maybe?

Monday, April 03, 2017

Comfortable Enough?

'You can never be overdressed or overeducated.'
                                       Oscar Wilde

Time and again, I've harped about the importance of dressing well, though obviously to apparently deaf ears. Tragically, the immortal words of Oscar Wilde seem to have conveniently slipped their collective minds since even my own friends, who really should know better, habitually schlep their way to dinner in flip flops and ratty shorts.

Or even worse, the ever ubiquitous, sweat-drenched active wear. Before you even need to ask, no, you can't wear musky sweat-drenched gym tees and stained sweatpants to dinner either! Is it so terribly hard to ask for a quick shower and change? Quite a few times we've caught our own Mad Madison committing just such a sartorial sin.

Even our perennial transgressor,  Diffident David, begrudgingly admits dressing well does make everyone look just a tad better, which only leaves me ever more puzzled by his insistence to join the devil-may-care tatterdemalion movement.

Paul : So you're saying you prefer to look terrible? 
David : No. 
Paul : Then what could possibly be the reason? 
David : Sometimes you just don't want everyone else at the table to feel uncomfortable because they are underdressed. 
Paul : Perhaps they should have thought better then. 

Flabbergasted I was.

Admittedly it was quite an epiphany on how the rest of the world thought - nevertheless it did little to change my general outlook on looking presentable. Dress way down just to fit in?  Really? Though it is generally important to have all your friends and guests feeling utterly comfortable at the dinner table, I certainly wouldn't advocate dressing down just to suit them. So if they were to make their attendance in generic garbage bags, should we all hurry off to change into similarly disastrous ensembles to match?

Perhaps they should have thought harder instead on their unfortunate accoutrements.

These days you can't even try blaming economical constraints. With industrialization and mass marketing making readymade clothes easily available to all, what cheap excuse is there to be bundled up in a raggedy tee-shirt and rattier shorts out in public?

When you could be dressed like the gentleman below!

Dress badly? How is that even a thing?

I'm not saying preen for an hour before the mirror picking the perfect outfit to head out. There's no need to splurge a month's pay on something sinful just to waste it on an evening either. Simply dress to fit the social occasion. Just as I wouldn't jog on a treadmill in my bespoke three-piece, neither should you arrive for dinner in your omnipresent active wear! Or even that rumpled layabout shorts and tee you wear to laze about at home.

Seriously when did it become totally alright to wear the same sloppy togs to work, to the gym, to dinner and to work? Has Casual Friday turned into a Dress Down Week?

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Be Our Guest

Undeniably stereotypical though it is for a gay man, musicals have always been a thing of mine. From the more current favourites such as Hairspray and Book of Mormon to the more relatively obscure ones like Brigadoon and Showboat, I've loved them all equally.

Well... almost. A handful do get a special place in my heart with memorable showtunes that I  know by heart and have sung a dozen or more times all alone to myself and infrequently to quite an unappreciative audience. After all how can you possibly not tag along with the mutinous Sister Maria as she hurries up the oh-so-picturesque hillsides of Salzburg to break into song?

Or even that funny girl Belle as she walztes into the village waking everyone up with a hearty Bonjour?

Though of course our imbecilic censorship board did try their level best to spoil our chances of ever seeing the live-action retelling of the animated classic Beauty and the Beast due to their oddly homophobic stance. Just a little change, small to say the least, a little tweak in the tale that outed our suddenly homo-possible Le Fou - which our censors all feared might tempt the entire gullible audience into a heaving den of orgiastic iniquity. There really was something there that wasn't there before. Kill the Scene, they said! Kill the Scene! Irreparably foolish indeed?

Le Fou : Wait a minute, you didn't know I was gay?
Gaston : Even my horse knew. 

Yes, if only the Enchantress had seen fit to turn the imbeciles into monstrous beasts for their extreme prejudice.

But then as everyone knows - seeing how the news of the hasty, uncalled-for censorship propelled our nation into international disrepute yet again, then somebody bends ... unexpectedly. Almost magical, you would say.

Though I've always been dubious of live-action remakes since it's already been done beautifully before, I found myself immediately moved by the simple scene where Emma Watson wanders through her little village as our Belle to lament over her provincial life. Unfortunately as I realized several moments later, not everyone shares my ardent enthusiasm for the show - and even fewer knew the words to the songs.


Of course that didn't stop me from belting out Be Our Guest with the suave Lumiere - though I sensibly refrained from standing up for an encore. Like she had done more than two decades ago, our brilliant and brave Belle won me over irresistibly. Even better now that she made sure she didn't just stand by while her Beast was taking his undeserved lumps from the resident villain.

And yes just as our homophobic censors feared, the hints that Le Fou is most certainly gay have become far more overt - though still subtle enough that you can blink hard twice and miss it - but hey, we already knew all that even way back in 1991. Took him almost two decades but Le Fou finally realized he deserved much better than the abusive narcissist Gaston, even with his biceps to spare.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Inadvertent Proposition

With gender diversity being hailed everywhere from crusty old firms to the uppity gentlemen's clubs, there are decidedly few places left thoroughly doused with a hearty splash of testosterone. Though the number of females marching in have been steadily ticking higher, they are still an uncommon sight in the open gym environment, probably one of the last heaving bastions of outright machismo.

And still fiercely heterosexual.

Or at least that's what the grunting fist-bumping straight boys tend to think.

Changing times however mean their more astute gay brothers know far better; generally finding each other out in the crowd with even the rustiest of gay-dars followed by those subtle nods of cordial recognition. Generally though the gay gymgoers, perfectly at ease with being discreet, tend to blend in perfectly with the rest of the hetero herd, sending out the occasional high fives and bro roars with the best of them.

So covertly concealed are we that some of the straight boys tend to let their guards down enough to blather on loudly about the nitty gritty details of their lives in the apparently safe sanctum of the weight room. Of course I never actually realized how cheerfully unconcerned they could be till this afternoon when I was assaulted with the most lascivious overture I've had in years.

Unfortunately I doubt Delicious Danish meant a single word. At least not in the way I would prefer. Think I have mentioned before how delightfully tempting this young gentleman could be; from the top of his ruggedly shorn head to his meaty thighs. Quite a few would love a bit of this luscious Danish I'm sure.

Care to join me for a little bit of heat?

Though none would have gotten the oddly lewd solicitation I got as we headed to the showers.

Danish : Done with the day? 
Paul : Heading out for an appointment in a while. 
Danish : Oh, I've started up the heat. 
Paul : What?
Danish : Why not join me in the sauna? 
Paul : Wait. What?

Utterly oblivious to the hidden undertones, the blithely handsome fellow just repeated it with a dead-pan expression. Such a wickedly naughty phrase so dangerously fraught with meaning. Not that he even realized, poor fellow, how close he was to being violently shoved into the confined sauna to contend with the carnal consequences of his inadvertent proposition.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Miss Independents III : D.I.M.

Since I count most of them as my dearest friends, this wouldn't be the first time I've talked about Miss Independents. Not only is there a specific song written only for them, I've also added my two cents on the problem; just take a look at Part I and II. Probably wouldn't be the last post as well since they tend to come up with the most thought-provoking situations.

A crucial theme common amongst them all is the remarkable notion that Miss Independents must do it all on their own. Not only does it feed into the inexplicable Maidophobia that I've also mentioned before, the oft-repeated feminist mantra on self reliance and self sufficiency practically precludes them from asking for help from anyone.

And apparently nixes any shockingly pre-feminist thoughts of accepting it either.

So you can imagine my consternation when I eavesdropped on this curious conversation. Faced with the choice of being given a lovely ride home or blindly groping her way back on her lonesome, our Miz Independent gave an utterly unexpected reply.

Miz Independent : Don't pick me up! I can do it myself! There's no need to drive over to fetch me.

She wailed, 'No. No. No,' while interspersing that by insisting, 'I Can Do It Myself.' Recited it enough that it became almost like a compelling chorus to a song.

Call it the D.I.M. Syndrome - or the Do It Myself Syndrome; 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.

Man, if I offered help, would she automatically react with a slap? 

While I was listening in though, I kept wondering what's wrong with graciously receiving the assistance offered? Does this possibly lead back to the mighty self-sustaining feminists insisting on doing everything on their own?

Don't believe me, try opening a door for them.

Yes, I can certainly do it myself but why would I want to when there's someone else all too willing to do it? Does saying yes mean I'm incapable of ever doing it myself? Does accepting help make me somehow weaker or more submissive?

No, it doesn't.

And if you think it does....  well fortunately, I don't have to articulate myself in all that many ways since the absolutely riveting Matthew Hussey already does it beautifully. And obviously looks quite good doing it too!

I mean, those arms. Seriously. He could pick me up anytime he wanted to.

Friday, March 17, 2017

From BFFs to Strangers

Friendship is an interesting thing. Sometimes it takes just a moment for relative strangers to click into the best of friends. Perhaps something in the air but there's a certain chemistry, maybe even a sense of telepathic simpatico between two that makes them immediately suited to be best friends.

Best friends forever?
Or at least till someone walks by? 

Rare though do we find the opposite happening where erstwhile friends get instantly dropkicked from the shining summit of compadre crag down the frightening slopes of brief transients into the forgotten depths of faceless anonymity. Yet when it comes to closeted individuals, it happens often enough. For them, there are always the so-called 'gay' friends comprising of those flirty fabulous fags and their hag stag dependents. Basically those in the know.

And then there are the supposed those who know not. As in the sadly undiscerning few they blithely assume ( usually erroneously ) have not deciphered the cryptic code of their covert campiness as yet. So obviously the fags must always be screened and hidden from the few for fear of the ship overturning.

David : Oh my friends brought me. 
Paul : Oh who! When do we meet them? 
David : Oh not friends. Colleagues. 
Paul : Oh. 
David : Oh not colleagues. Acquaintances. 
Paul : Oh. 
David : Oh not acquaintances. Strangers. 
Paul : Next stage would be people who don't really exist, right? Imaginary friends? 

Really. Didn't take more than five minutes for best friends to turn into relative strangers that he used to know. At least we know who turned over their friends and family to the Gestapo at the simple snap of a finger.

Just like Gotye said it.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Pecah Tongkang Syndrome II

Pecah Tongkang.

First of all there's no such colourful phrase even in colloquial Malay so don't bother searching for it. Perhaps the closest I can think of would be pecah tembelang but for such a colossal secret, just a handful of rotten eggs certainly won't do hence we all co-opted the phrase and changed it into a sunken ship instead.

But like any enormous sea vessel traversing the treacherous seas, there are always hidden shoals that no one can possibly predict. Just like in real life, closeted boys delicately pilot their ship of scandalous secrets past a serpentine snarl of shoals, sandbanks and shallows hoping beyond hope it doesn't smash, shatter and sink causing a startlingly shameful scene.

Yet it does happen.

Even with the most cautious, experienced helmsman, accidents do happen unfortunately. With such a rickety old ship, visible chinks tend to manifest regardless of the tender loving care given. After all in any crowd, it's sometimes quite hard to recognize who definitely knows, who has already shrewdly guessed - and who actually doesn't know a whit about the gay elephant in the room.

You. You broke the pact, you owe him a consolation waffle. 

So there's always the inadvertent spoiler.

Sometimes unwittingly from the closeted boy himself. Easy enough to let your guard down when you think you're in safe waters. Those are the times when the biggest gaffes tend to happen. No matter what you do though, little by little, those little chinks tend to grow wide enough to eventually sink the ship.

Honestly you can't hide a secret forever.

Which is why we've offered our friend a consolation prize instead. These days whoever breaks the code has to buy him a consolation waffle. Sometimes a pancake when the waffle isn't available.

I guess it's better than nothing.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Definitely Maybe

With the ever-present, all-ubiquitous cellphone at hand, appointments don't stick as much these days. Granted there doesn't seem to be much need to preplan anything beforehand since it's as simple as typing out a quick message to find someone wherever they are at any time of the day.

Not to mention there's always the even more intrusive GPS tracker for the budding stalker as well.

However for old-timers like me who were brought up in the technological stone age, not setting the time and place does frequently leave me exasperated. Way back, when hardly anyone short of spies and tycoons had box-sized cellphones, we all had to make strict appointments on where and when to meet with perhaps a twenty minutes leeway, give or take. RSVP and make sure you're on time. Sashay over a precious minute later and you'd find the party people utterly gone, leaving dust and glitter in its wake. 

Paul : So are they coming over?
Friend : They said maybe they'll hang here?
Paul : I'll be waiting with bated breath.  

Unlike what I'm starting to find these days where everyone hangs back waiting with their breath bated, utterly loath and unwilling to fully commit till perhaps five seconds before. With everything and everyone within a roaming connected zone, it's easy enough to change your mind even till the last moment. Which reminds me of a certain troublesome wild goose chase I had a few years back. 

Paul : So where are we meeting up with them for dinner? 
Felix : Oh, wait. Think it's at Restaurant A.
Paul : We are about a half hour early but we can always wait there. 
Felix : Sure let's head over. 

Ten minutes later. 

Felix : Wait, they have changed their mind. They are heading to Bistro B. 
Paul : Which is down the road? 
Felix : Maybe a block or two? 
Paul : Let's go. 

Ten minutes later. 

Felix : They don't like the crowd there. Now they're crossing the road to try Cafe C. 
Paul : Let's go then. 

Obviously our search for the missing Carmen Sandiego went on for quite a while. Apparently assuming our cellphones would keep us connected no matter what, the texting generation blithely changed their minds according to whim and fancy - preferring just that little bit of convenient flexibility no doubt - leading us all on a terribly unwelcome fugitive hunt. Near the end I could have gladly shot them.

Evidently the increase in connectedness only leads to people leading a far more noncommittal life. Rather than committing the more common Frequent Freaking Flyer, there's not even a yes or even a no but just that vague maybe... Not even an old-fashioned rain check but just a check. 

So you can imagine my horrified expression when a friendly millennial told his friends this the other day. 

Friend : Not sure about dinner yet. I'll see how it goes. Let's play it by ear. 


RSVP isn't a dirty word. Make the fucking decision and stick with it, dammit.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

The Third Party

Whenever we hear the faint, tantalizing whiff of scandalous adultery, for some unfathomable reason moralizing fingers are quick to point the blame wholly at the third party. Regardless of sexual orientation, that has remained the prevailing thought - that the scheming third party has maliciously slithered over from the foul depths to despoil the sacred sanctity of said marriage.

I however have always thought differently. If it's a consented monogamous relationship, I would censure the partner who strayed instead. Don't be so quick to rain derision and disdain on the femme fatale, or homme fatale as the case may be; we tend to forget the much maligned third party made no sweet promises to anyone involved.

However the unfaithful partner did repeatedly; and subsequently broke that solemn pledge.

So don't give me utter bullshit about being tempted to stray. Never fall on the lame, utterly cliched excuse of not being able to help it. Short of being locked up together in an elevator for days on end, there's always time and reason enough to nip that little illicit crush in the bud before anything wicked blooms.

So who's to blame now?

Turns out I'm in the ostracized minority here though since some of my friends are all too willing to blame an entire host of people before placing the responsibility solely on the two involved in the relationship.

Paul : If I remember correctly, by tradition the person who introduces the happy couple also gets a red packet. 
Barbara : Oh I wouldn't want to bear that responsibility. 
Paul : Responsibility? 
Barbara : Of matching people together? If it doesn't work out, won't they get the blame? 
Paul : For what? It's just telling two people they should meet. If they don't work their relationship out, they should just blame themselves.  

Ouch. When a relationship implodes, even the hapless matchmaker gets shot down in the devastating hail of blame. Who next? The bartender? The work colleague?

So who's to blame? 

Seriously though, where do we get this horrible idea of blaming everyone else for our own foolish mistakes before blaming ourselves first? Man up and take the shot. If we decide the relationship is failing, it's entirely our fault and no one else's. There's no attributing it to the neighbour, denouncing that third party and certainly never crucifying the matchmaker.

Face it, there's only the two of you in that relationship. Flounder or fly, it only depends on the both of you.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Schoolboy Sessions

Perhaps it's senility encroaching again but I'll admit it's not easy to tell the different ages apart anymore. Sure I can tell from an acne-ridden tween from a middle-aged fellow easily enough but in between those two very different variants, the lines can get a tad blurred.

Once or twice, I have misjudged someone's age and naturally assume they are much, much older than I am. Happened often enough that these days I even hesitate to mention the honorific 'Kak', or even worse 'Makcik', since I have been repeatedly proven wrong by the aging effects of disfiguring liver spots and wrinkles that unfortunately tend to put years of mileage on a face. Apparently the Sunscreen song doesn't lie.

It's the boys who tend to leave me a tad befuddled, especially those past their awkwardly gangly teenage years on the verge of virile manhood. Obviously a common sight at all local gyms; the likes of Grunt Graham; sexy tightly muscled fellows with enviable physiques ( and even more enviable small waists ) who all seem to enjoy hypermacho acts of fist bumping, high-fiving and general bro-ing all over the gym space.

To perv or not to perv, that is the question.

How could anyone possibly keep their eyes off that? 

Hamlet certainly didn't have it this bad. Since despite what the homophobes frequently claim about us, very few of us would actually veer into dangerously pedophiliac territory. We prefer men all grown up in every way alright! Thankfully well past that treacherous age of consent, strapping college boys in neon-coloured tank tops and skimpy see-through shorts seem like fair game though.

After all, how could paltry schoolkids afford the extortionate price charged by the gym these days!

How wrong I was. So it was much to my horror when one of the supposed college boys whom I've generally taken as my sweet afternoon eye-candy strutted into the gym all dressed up in a secondary school uniform. Pristine white shirt and olive green slacks. As he raised his hand to offer his usual wave followed by the aggravating fist-bump, I found myself taken aback at the fact that here was genuine jail-bait.

Kid : Hey, how's things?
Paul : You're still in school? 
Kid : Yeah, had extra curricular today so a little late. 

Oh man. Sure he still looked really good with those sculpted biceps and that oh-damn sweet rounded bubble butt but now there also seemed to be a huge red neon warning sign blaring 'CHILD in capital letters right above his innocent lil head. I was about to draw the sign of the cross while screaming 'Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one!'

Miss Grundy, I can't say I'd entirely blame you right now.

Well maybe a tad. He's still a child.

Monday, February 20, 2017

The B Side

Coming from a smaller school like I did, the disparity between the classes didn't seem quite as apparent as it was in comparison to the immense institutions like Charming Calvin's where each form has dozens of classes. Last I heard they even had classes from A all the way to N- whish sounds astoundingly large when compared to my own schooling experience with only four classes per form. So even though we did have academic streaming once we reached secondary, it wasn't as if we didn't know about the boys in the other classes since there were only so many of us.

Despite our different classes, we generally mixed around on the playing field and during recess - certainly no spiteful Mean Girls social stratification going on there.

As the years passed though, I realized that very few boys from the B class ever made it to our class - almost as if an invisible hurdle had been drawn across the length of the hall that they simply couldn't leap over. Puzzled me always. It wasn't as if any of them were lacking in academic prowess since quite a few appeared to be extremely intelligent.

Honestly we weren't all that smart either.

No, you can't sit with us.

Just that as the years went by, the class hurdle seemed to get so high above their reach that most seemed to have given up on the jump. As vicious cycles go, their pessimistic lack of drive dampened their will to study which only widened the span needed to make that miraculous leap.

It's only now that Charming Calvin has taken up the job of teaching some of these boys that I finally hear their dismal cries of despondency.

Paul : There's nothing stopping you from doing better. You just need to put in that little bit of effort. 
Student : Not really. They are just better, those boys in the A class. 
Paul : Trust me, they aren't any different from you. 
Student : They are clever.
Paul : So are you. 
Student : But they are different. They just like to study. 
Paul : No one likes studying. 
Student : They seem to. 
Paul : That's because they have to. 

Obviously I wasn't going anywhere with him.

Without even making any plausible effort, he has already given up on doing any better. Basically he made it sound like the grandest impossible task, almost like the proverbial carp leaping over the dragon's gate. 鲤鱼跳龙门.

Friday, February 17, 2017

It's My Wedding And I'll Elope If I Want To

Wouldn't be the first bride and groom I'd have heard it from actually. Though the feeling doesn't come as naturally to me since I've always adored weddings, I can somewhat understand the preposterous urge to flee the annoyingly rigid ceremony of marriage. At least for some.

These days, I think almost everyone I know would have been involved in just such a conversation.

Bride : Gosh, it's just such a bother. I think I'll just have a destination wedding far, far away.
Groom : Yeah, a small wedding is what I'd want. 
Paul : And your parents are alright with that? You're both having the first weddings in your families right? 
Bride : Oh they don't really have say in it. 
Groom : Yeah, but why should that matter? It's our wedding.
Paul : Yeah kids, I have to correct you both there. 

No, it's not.

Perhaps I'm the only old-fashioned fuddy-duddy left around but there actually are times when you have to think less of yourself. Unlike modern Western-influenced values where there's an overemphasis on me-me-me individualism rather than the collective, I gotta say this. It's not just you. Yes, you're the ones getting married but there are certain social and familial obligations that you cannot simply dismiss.

And this I learned while observing my brother's own wedding so many years back - and several friends' weddings thereafter. Time and again I've seen folks get married with little or simply no contribution from the parents - in fact it's sometimes belligerently unwelcome.

Come on, unfilial much?

Yes, no doubt the doting mom and pop would agree it's perfectly alright to have a small wedding with a precious handful of your guests. Go ahead and fly off to some uninhabited little island miles away from anyone. Beloved child after all and they would be ecstatically happy regardless. Never you worry your lil head about their own unwieldy list of friends, they'll just cancel whatever hypothetical preparations they have been making for the past two to three decades.

Babe, remember your dream of a small intimate wedding party? Yeah, that's gonna remain just a dream. 

Don't kid yourself, they have always been planning your wedding regardless of what they've been telling you. With every random wedding dinner they are forced to attend, they've been chalking up their own obligatory guests with red packets to pay.

And then there are the close friends who tend to meander off along the way.

After all, there'll always be that sudden impromptu weekend barbecue your parents would be able to arm-twist force their friends from way back in high school to attend. Perhaps even that long-ago childhood best friend who moved to Iceland several decades back. Maybe he'd enjoy just flying several thousand miles over to have that roasted chicken wing.


Really. It is your wedding. But is it so hard to share that little piece with your parents?