Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Unwanted Matchmaker

With the annual Spring Festival inching its way around the corner, more than a few of my singleton friends would undoubtedly be arming themselves for the relentless pellets of presumption heading their way from meddling relatives, near and far. Me, I've learned to accept it with grace as part and parcel of the entirely Chinese celebration along with the oranges and the firecrackers - but in these days of easily bruised strawberries, such intrusive interrogations seem to have become entirely taboo.

Even a simple query on the status of their marital relations or lack thereof would earn a whiny blubber. So could this be the end of the ever kaypoh matchmaker?

Which would be quite sad actually. Amongst my friends here, I've understandably earned an unfavourable reputation for being the dreaded matchmaker. In almost every social situation with someone new, the first question I would ask is the dreaded one most Asian kids would already know.

Are you married?

And if they are happily single, then the generic follow-up questions on the reasons thereafter and the ever-ready list of eligible bachelors or bachelorettes available in a ten mile radius with their contactable numbers. How the original Tindr worked before cellphones if you're wondering. Before any singletons start proclaiming their love for a single life, let me say this - there is no need to have an eternal flame in your life but that doesn't mean you have to stop searching for that weird and wonderful spark either.


Pretty sure I've stepped on more than a few toes - and horrified some of the more hypersensitive strawberries around but to that, all I gotta say is toughen up. Seriously. If such teensy inconsequential questions already leave you flailing about in agonizing suspense, you're going to have a lot more troubles in the future. The previous generation - yes those kaypoh aunts and uncles - managed to deal with such unwanted intrusion so why are you so weepy indignant over so little?

Yes, I have little patience with wimps.

But why my peculiar obsession with dating? Simple actually, because we couldn't do it for a really, really long time. All throughout high school, we sat twiddling our thumbs on the sidelines just watching while everyone else - sometimes including the boy we liked - paired off into couples on their first dates. Obviously we all have a tendency to cherish that which we never actually had.

For my single heterosexual friends out there, you really don't know how very lucky you are. No matter how many doubts and worries you might have about the frightful perils of dating, that wouldn't even come close to the mountains we have had to climb as a gay man. Not only do we have to manage all the dating demons that you have, we also have our own peculiarly gay problems to contend with.

Lovey dovey gay couples still aren't all that visible here. 

Such as the fact that despite the strides that have been made in may other places, over here we're still pretty much an ostracized community.

Yes, it's difficult to make that first move. But perhaps you have taken for granted just how easy it is to go over to a bar and slide a drink over to their latest amour. At the very worst, you get a polite rejection. There's no worry that the targeted fellow would send his balled fist across the table instead. There's no worry that the homophobic waitress would dump the tray on the both of you during a date. There's even less worry that all hell will break loose and you'd be attacked by a mob of pitch-fork wielding haters.

Monday, January 23, 2017


Like most lustful gay men out there - and more than a few heterosexual women, I tend to rabidly follow a number of insanely gorgeous Instahotties out there. Why bother with decidedly inaccessible porn these days when you have these furiously fit young men regularly disrobing for the drooling pleasure of their highly appreciative worldwide audience? Hard not to stare at these perfectly sculpted, deeply tanned, rarely shirted beautiful boys out there without feeling more than a harrowing gut-wrenching pang of envy of course.

And the occasional irrational urge to develop instant bulimia.

Damn them for being so genetically gifted of course. However not content with being absolutely breathtaking physically, these boys also hope to be noticed for more than their defined six-pack abs and their shockingly symmetrical faces! Hence the constant bombardment of seemingly profound observations that follow the prerequisite snapshot of their naked torsos.

Or what I call #Instaphilosophy.

Quick snap of them carousing half naked at the beach - followed by an inspirational quote that usually has very little or anything to do with the picture captioned. Presumably sage motivational adages that wouldn't seem out of place in a confused Confucius phrasebook.

Which I find odd. Why not just call a spade a spade?

Have a sexy pic in your underwear? Just caption it honestly! "I worked hard for this awesome body - and man, I look good today!"
Or perhaps with a little bit of tongue-in-cheek humour!

I mean, it's really true, isn't it? I would certainly give that a bold thumbs-up.

Freaking shallow some of the envious detractors might cry but I think I'd prefer the blatant candour rather than some made-up vague, philosophical captions. We already know some of these amazingly pretty boys do have personality and brains to spare - hot math professor anyone? - but that's not what we're looking for in visual-intensive Instagram, is it? Low body fat ratios and chiseled jawlines are what the people want so there's little need to dredge up some inspirational rhetoric to accompany the instapics.

Maybe keep it a little more real? Turns out I'm not the only one who agrees!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

High Snobiety

For those of a certain age fortunate enough to view the sweet romantic comedy Pretty Woman about a down-on-her-luck hooker with a heart of gold who finds love, which subsequently catapulted the then relatively unknown Julia Roberts into international fame, you'd certainly have recalled a particularly memorable scene where she's disdainfully denied service at an upscale atelier due to her tawdry skank-on-the-make attire. Understandably she finds herself quite distraught after receiving such pompous condescension from the snide saleswomen.

Unhappily the world is still an entirely visual place and almost everyone - yes, even you - judges relative strangers based on their appearance since let's face it, only a select gifted few can read spiritual chakras at first sight. In our dismally futile bid for a more egalitarian society, very few take to heart the old-time adage of putting their best foot forward and instead step out in their crappiest flip flops hoping to make a good first impression.

That doesn't work. Even Julia Roberts couldn't make it work. So dress to impress, people!

But I digress. Back to the snotty salespeople.

Though I've heard secondhand stories about the horrific experiences at some of these uppity boutiques, I've been blessed enough to have had only the nicest sales service at most. Undoubtedly if they'd been able to gauge their customers well enough, they would probably have known from a quick glance that I can be quite the malignant bitch if provoked - hence their apparent good behaviour. In fact, some of the salespeople are so uncommonly attentive that I find myself almost guilt-ridden for not recklessly splurging on their products.

But just when I am starting to think it's pure urban legend, it actually does happen and Diffident David of the tee-shirt, shorts and flip flops fame finds himself at the receiving end of just such bitchy snobbery.

David : I didn't buy anything. 
Paul : Why not? The bags looked terrible like I said? 
David : No, the salespeople looked down on us. 
Paul : Oh dear, one of those snotty stores? Which one? 
David : No, I forgot the name. They make leather bags. 
Paul : Louis Vuitton? Prada? 
David : No!
Paul : Goyard?
David : Think it was Crumpler? 
Paul : Crumpler?! Now I'm judging. 
David : The sales people? 
Paul : No, I'm judging you. 

Let's try our best to ignore the tragic fact that it happened at... of all places, a Crumpler store. Really. Looked down the nose by the salespeople at such a hipster utilitarian store?

Oh dear.

Surely the epitome of luxury and elegance!

Ready to mollify my indignant friend, I said I was of course appalled at the terrible Turkish treatment he had received - and all too ready to enact a vicious Youtube meltdown at said store by toppling down all their sturdy, robust backpacks.

At the same time though, there's no denying this little gleeful voice inside that can't help but be wildly elated. Obviously I didn't need to search for more motivation to dress well. You really can't wear flip flops everywhere, people. Even the Crumpler store wouldn't serve you.

And that's saying something.

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Maybe Gay

These days it's getting harder, and harder, to tell. Wonky gay-dar notwithstanding, we also have to contend with shadily metrosexual David Beckhams multiplying by the dirty dozens in all the big metropolises; making it ever more difficult for a curious gay man to be sure who to hit on.

And who not to get hit by! Quite a crucial distinction if you want to successfully dodge that clenched fist!

So when a new eligible bachelor made his way onto the scene recently, we all immediately started hedging our bets. After all, there was little we knew about Ambiguous Aaron apart from what we could see of this curiously buttoned-up conservative.

Ever keen on the visual clues, some take the occasional conversational lisp and the suppleness of his limp wrist as a definitive sign while others depend very much on the topic of his dialogue which unfortunately ranges from the obscure medical minutiae to the political events of the day - which scarcely tells us anything - since he's quite the garrulous gentleman. The usual social media suspects such as Facebook and Instagram tells us even less since our technophobic Aaron frequently derides such shallow diversions.

Every once in a while though, Aaron does let slip the odd unicorns and rainbows that we wouldn't normally associate with someone so shockingly straight. Though certain terms have become an indistinguishable part of pop culture, only the most sexually confident hetero fellas would casually drop utterly fabulous catchphrases such as Muscle Mary and Potato Queen into their everyday conversation.

When the intermittent gay handbag tumbles out, he does try to catch himself and backtrack from his suggestive comments of course - which makes it ever more suspicious to our discerning eyes. Inevitably the hasty disavowal is followed by a vehement assertion of his rampant heterosexuality with an utterly random salacious comment.

Paul : You simply can't miss Italy. The sights, the food... the men. So effortlessly gorgeous. 
Aaron : Oh yes they certainly are. 
Paul : What? 
Aaron : I meant the Italian people. They look so great. 

Suspicious, no? Eulogize, exalts and extols the pretty boys but the girls not so much unless pointed out decidedly by me; whereupon he would hastily toss a spurious encomium. So much so that we have tagged Aaron as the Maybe Gay.

Of course it would be great to have Pietro Boselli around to prove the point but well... I probably wouldn't share him either. 

Keen-eyed critics would immediately wonder why we haven't gone the easy route by just flat-out asking him under a hrash interrogation lamp. As it turns out we actually have - though his hurried reply, we all found highly unsatisfactory.

Paul : So are you straight? 
Aaron : Uh. Yes, I am! I'm straight. I'm straight. I like girls. I want to date girls. Really. 
Paul : Hmm.
Aaron : I am!
Paul : I so believe you. 

Not even the most rabid straight hound dog we know comes up with such an emphatic response!

Monday, January 09, 2017

Blessings of Bounty

Growing up, it's hard not to get a little envious of the other every once in a while. Think of it as the Greener Grass Syndrome - there will always be that someone smarter, someone taller, someone handsomer, someone richer .. etc. Always that someone with that teensy bit more than what you have; unleashing that green-eyed monster even in the sweetest of souls.

A situation made far worse when you struggle painfully for every meagre ounce of success while the other just coasts by receiving bountiful accolades with minimal effort.

Or at least that's what it seems like. Seriously though, it's with age and experience that you realize that it's the effort that makes it all worth it. Hell yes, it's an onerous task but it builds grit that wouldn't otherwise be there if everything had gotten handed to you on a silver platter.

So why am I talking about this right now? Funny you should ask since amongst my new acquaintances this new year is a girl who seemingly has everything. Looks, wealth, intelligence etc. When God was handing out skills and accomplishments, Barbara Bun was apparently raking it in with spades. Not only did she successfully complete the professional degree required by any kiasu Asian family, she also undertook what was apparently a passion in baking by finishing a course in patisserie.

Paul : So you intend to pursue your passion? 
Barbara : Umm... I'm not sure.  
Paul : Not sure? But this was what you wanted, yes? So you should be out chasing that dream of opening a bakery!
Barbara : Maybe one day ...
Paul : So you're busy selling your cakes in town? Building up a client base? 
Barbara : Not really. Just don't feel like it, I guess. 
Paul : So what do you do now? 
Barbara : Bake every once in a while when I feel like it?

Really. For someone who supposedly professes an undying passion for patisserie, I wasn't feeling the love at all. Even a discussion about cakes and croissants failed to stir up any excitement in her. Pampered by her life of luxury; adored by her friends and family; buoyed by the success she has had till now, Barbara doesn't seem to have any drive to accomplish more than what she already has. Rather than attempt to challenge the likes of famed French pastry chef Pierre Hermé, our Babs is just content to idly peddle her cupcakes whenever she feels like it.

Fresh from the oven!
Which obviously drives me more than a little crazy sometimes. With all her skills and talent ( and yes, her cakes taste amazing which makes it even worse ), Babs could be doing so much more. Yet her disheartening lack of ambition and motivation makes even a complacent soul like me seem like Genghis Khan out to aggressively conquer the known world.

Turns out it's quite important to have grit. Grit - that particular combination of passion and perseverance for a singularly important goal is the hallmark of high achievers in every domain.

Failing that, it's always good to have friends who will continually give you a push. Like I'll be doing to Babs from now on.

Friday, January 06, 2017

Fiddler on the Roof

These days we tend to assume that the readily available treasure trove of information, something we call the internet, right at our fingertips would only make younger people ever more knowledgeable about the world around them. Turns out that's not really true since rather than research whatever random esoteric subject that might interest them, most would rather fiddle their fingers on inconsequential tripe such as Pokemon Go.

Witness Diffident David.

He's readily admitted that half the subject matter we regularly discuss at dinner flies past his oblivious head - and yet I find he has zero interest in finding out more. Even though I routinely bombard him with detailed links and videos on the matter at hand not very long after. No doubt he clicks on the link only to be distracted by the next exhilarating level of Candy Crush.

So when the discussion drifted towards musicals, David found himself at quite a loss. Though for once it wasn't only him at point-non-plus since quite a number had barely heard of the musicals of yore. If the Academy Award winning Fiddler on the Roof doesn't ring much of a bell, I doubt they'd ever have heard of the dazzling Showboat or even the more obscure Brigadoon.

Sadly Tevye, not so much of a tradition these days!

Which is quite a pity if you ask me, since they are missing out on quite a lot. Surely you can't count yourself a true fan of music if you've never even seen Sister Maria come sailing up a mountain top singing to the trees? Or the ravishing Dolly Gallagher Levi charming the men of the band as she greets everyone miraculously by name?

Perhaps I do have a lot to be thankful for in my upbringing and schooling. Not only did my parents inculcate a serious love of old-time MGM movies - which I rabidly devoured every weekend night - but even in school, we received a surprisingly thorough musical education as well.

I must take you away from this place where they know not of Les Miserables!

Back in school, we had an unusual relic left behind from the glorious days when music was still a compulsory subject. Rather than retire as she could easily do - or drift on to other more pertinent subjects, this redoubtable musical madame refused to give in and continued to surreptitiously run music lessons guerrilla-style when no one was watching. Empty classroom periods at the end of the term were the special moments when she would sweep dramatically into the class and shanghai all the reluctant boys into the music room.

And yes, there was a special music room hidden in a corner of the school where there was a raised stage crowded with various musical instruments from the ubiquitous piano to the more unusual bagpipe. There, our formidable matron with her pure high-pitched soprano would try to corral a mismatched group of adolescent boys - with their tweenage voices treacherously breaking - into matching her style of operatic singing.

Not to mention the occasional lessons on deportment, with sitting up ramrod straight without slouching one of the first, since Madame would not brook such loutish behaviour in her music salon.

It was in that sun-dappled music room that we first saw the dashing cowboy Curly McLain greet a beautiful morning with a song. Apparently one of Madame's favourite songs since she made every form start out with that particular refrain.