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.

Saturday, December 31, 2016


Truthfully most of us hold some unfortunate misconceptions about ourselves; more than a few erroneous shades emerging during our troubled adolescence. It is only with the saner light of older adulthood - and the relentless allusions from mates - that some of these bothersome phantoms are finally laid to rest.

Though I still maintain that I was the diffident wallflower way back when. Really. 

Or at least I thought I was. Apparently everyone I know these days think that was just a fraudulent myth that I dreamt up. Overwhelmed by my relentless browbeating under the interrogation spotlight, a number of my hapless victims find it supremely unlikely that I was in any way introverted in the past. Repeatedly telling them that personalities undergo a mild shift as we all grow older doesn't seem to make a dint in their preconception of me.

Oh yeah I'm helluva intense!

And yes, they do have a catchphrase that they use repeatedly for me.


Quite a couple of times, me - and some of my more forceful friends - find ourselves being spoken of as such. For me, I associate the word with wildly fanatical zealots such as the brooding Heathcliff stalking the moors madly obsessing over a lost love. Seems I was quite mistaken. Generally though, it's being recounted by a much younger millennial sounding mindlessly mellow as if they've just smoked a collective doobie.

Paul : What are you doing in your life? Get out there and so something about it. 
Millennial : Oh man. Wow. 
Paul : What is that? 
Millennial : That's just wow. 
Paul : Huh? 
Millennial : Intense, man. Just intense. 
Paul : Are you high? 
Millennial : Chill, man. 

Perhaps they'd prefer someone unbelievably wishy-washy in their opinions?

In fact I don't take it as a diss. Far from it since I would much prefer to be intense rather than the opposite. Let's face it, the direct antonyms such as bland and blah don't exactly fit into my aspiration in life. Just amusing that someone like me - who I flatter myself to think rather laidback - would be taken as someone unreasonably tenacious. 

Well, maybe when they're really on weed. Everyone else would seem quite intense then. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Memoirs of A Concubine

Surely it was inconceivable that her very own sister, intricately tied to her by heavy bonds of blood and family, could have concocted, compounded and carried out such a malicious scheme solely to sully her reputation in the eyes of the other concubines in the Inner Court. The imperial concubines, supposedly the epitome of courtly elegance, so exquisitely bedecked with silk and pearls - and yet only too quick to abandon all semblance of civilized poise when the slightest opportunity arose to tear down the reputations of their supposed 'sisters' in court. 

Waving away the palace maids that hovered around her anxiously, Concubine Jing paced the floor of her inner chambers while trying to distract herself from her recent troubles. Right on top of her writing desk lay a red lacquered box which she opened to reveal an old letter. Wasn't it only less than a year ago that her kind older sister had written out a perfectly worded invitation begging for her attendance at court? 

Perchance her own star had risen too fast at the unanticipated expense of the other concubines? When it came to the emperor's ever changing affections, there were some who whispered that even the formerly radiant shine of her sister's elaborate Phoenix crown seemed to dim beside her very own lowly concubine tiara. Just a meagre pearl less than the size of her nail adorned that seemingly inconsequential tiara but even that modest gleam seemed to have drawn the lustful eyes of the young emperor - and apparently the jealous wrath of his newly enthroned empress. 

Not the king but hey, a hot prince is always welcome. 

As Concubine Jing unfolded the letter, several dried leaves tumbled out. Rosewood petals. Extremely rare plant indeed - and yet half a leaf was it took to generate an extreme reaction that could lead to death, epecially to someone like her sister who was allergic to it. The germ of a plan immediately came to Concubine Jing.

Was that why she had packed the fairly innocuous leaves along so many months ago when she'd first entered the palace? 

Pardon the wishy-washy pseudo sentimentality but I can't help it especially with Charming Calvin whiling away the afternoons watching what I sneeringly dub Classless Chinese Concubine Catfights.

Unsurprisingly, more than a millenia worth of Imperial China with all the drama, intrigue and scandal contained therein has apparently provided near endless fodder for the Chinese television script writers; even spinning off a particularly trashy genre based purely on the clashes, confrontations and catfights of the imperial harem of the Inner Court. For those unfamiliar with classical Chinese mores, think a purely all-female Game of Thrones with perhaps a dash of Gossip Girl and a dollop of Scream Queens; all dolled up in the lavish intricacies of Imperial Qing Empire concubinage.

Usually with the overarching theme of a good girl gone bad. Way, way bad.

In fact the series called The Empresses in the Palace received such worldwide notoriety that even entertainment giant Netflix has co-opted the hit historical drama - although it was compressed from several dozens of complex episodes to a measly six. Nonetheless the heavily edited version managed to condense most of the pernicious schemes carried out into their pertinent bits without the dull monotonous concubinage chatter.

Simple actually. See wicked concubine. See her plan. See victim drop dead from a myriad of nefariously ingenious ways. See wicked concubine smile.

Apparently quite a few of my friends assume this would be entirely up my alley, not knowing my oft-mentioned preference for sweet, sappy romances with a definite happy ending. Watching the main protagonist - usually innocently pure as driven snow initially - being browbeaten repeatedly by the villainesses before having her abruptly transform into a monstrous bitch simply isn't my kinda show. Usually find such weak-willed doormat characters highly deserving of repeated abuse.

Honestly I like my bitches downright nasty right from the beginning.