Thursday, October 19, 2017


Has it really been two decades since I left school?

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

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

Which we did.

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

And reasonably stable wi-fi.

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

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

Then it was time for a bit of reminiscing.

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

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

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

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

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

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