Friday, July 29, 2011

More of the Mumbles

Remember when I mentioned my Maid Mumbles who garbles everything she says?

Well ironically it turns out some of my younger nurses feel the same way when I speak. To them, I'm quite the incoherent bedlamite myself! What a sad blow to my esteem!

Paul : Callthenextcase.
Junior Nurse : Umm yes?
Paul : Callthenextcase.
Junior Nurse : Could you repeat that?
Paul : Sigh. Callthenextcase.
Junior Nurse : What did he say?
Senior Nurse : The doctor said to call the next case.
Paul : Grr. Wasitthathardtounderstand?
Senior Nurse : Perhaps a few breaths in between the lines?

Miscommunication at work.

What did he say?

In case you're wondering, I wasn't muffled by a mask. The first few times I wondered whether they'd actually heard me right. After I'd made the order - and repeated it multiple times, the junior nurses just stood there agog staring at me. For all the response I got, I might as well have said it in Swahili. Almost felt like resorting to basic hand signals.

Seems the standard Queen's English isn't quite understood here in the tropical island of Borneo - where I presume they speak a native speech derived from Brooke's county of Devon. Or else ( more likely I think ) I actually speak like a livestock auctioneer. The Mouth of the South... much too fast in a lightning speed that the newer nurses find impossible to comprehend.

Though over here they are far more used to a slow-as-molasses lilting speech, the senior nurses here have gotten quite used to my brisk, clipped cadence. They speak my language. So much so that they have taken to acting as self-appointed interpreters for me to the junior staff. Easy enough since my work orders are quite similar.

I know I walk and talk damned fast. But I am slowing down. Seriously. Maybe I should start making little signs to carry at work.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Love Demonstration

If I am undemonstrative in affection, at least I can claim I come by it quite naturally - especially since my own brother seems far from the lovestruck Robert Browning himself.

These days summer holidays seem to herald a brief separation between my brother and sister-in-law Sassy Sue. With the kids back holidaying here while my brother returns to work by the sandy shores, Sue doesn't have much choice but to chaperon the juveniles. Of course with the availability of the internet everywhere, Sue was hoping for a more personal touch from my brother to keep the embers of their romance burning.

The tried and true bouquet of flowers perhaps or even a singing telegram? Maybe a sudden appearance at the balcony armed with a guitar and a trio of balladeers?

Yes, call me by that name,--and I, in truth,
With the same heart, will answer and not wait.

Brother : What? I'm paying bills and you want me to write you a sonnet?
Sue : Oh yes! In fourteen lines please.

Lo and behold, my brother suddenly sent an urgent message adjuring her to check her e-mail. Surely such a pressing matter at midnight could only mean an affirmation of their decade-long marriage!

Seems my sister-in-law Sassy Sue leapt out of bed in her nightgown and rushed to the computer hoping for an impassioned letter vowing neverending love and commitment - only to be confronted disappointingly with a list of instructions written in point form.

Sue : The letter was written in point form!
Paul : Look closer, the message might have been encoded into the words. Maybe encrypted. Read every fourth word of every third line or something.
Sue : I tried it already.
Paul : Maybe he typed the sweet nothings in white text. Highlight the whole email and the code could be broken.
Sue : It wasn't even signed XOXO at the bottom!
Paul : Accept the bullet points as a sign of love! Count each and every one!

With my eminently pragmatic brother, I seriously doubt it though. Think a practical list of things-to-do would be closer to what he intended.

Obviously a man who proves his love through his actions. Not through words.

And I think I'd appreciate that even more. Like I said before, endless prose can just be a bunch of pretty saccharine-sweet words strung together without much meaning behind them. Adoring sonnets from the portuguese are all fine and good but surely that can't compare with the warm sweater when you shiver, that piping bowl of chicken soup when you're under the weather...

I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints,—I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life!—and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Perhaps Eliza Doolittle could have said it better.

That said however, my brother could have just easily inserted an XOXO at the end :)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

All About Urinals

Let's get the anecdotal stuff out of the way first. Fellas, you know what urinals are, and exactly what they are for. Chances are you probably just saw one a couple of hours ago.

A urinal is a specialized toilet for urinating into, basically a container or simply a wall, with drainage and automatic / manual flushing. Initially intended - and obviously commonly placed in the gents for men to use. So no matter how drunk a fellow might be, one look at a toilet without a row of anonymous urinals usually rings an alarm. Whether the urinal comes in individual sets or in a row trough, it usually signifies an area solely set aside for men.

Oddly comforting actually.

Urinal indecision?

But what I have noticed amongst my gay brethren is a peculiar reluctance to approach a urinal. Rather than head for the easier, more practical, far more efficient solution presented by the urinals, they usually saunter towards the stalls. Only when faced with no other choice - for instance with the entire bar of stalls occupied, would they take take that final step towards the row of urinals. Even then you'd think they were marching to their deaths.

Since I am an advocate of the urinals, their reasons for avoiding them I have yet to fathom myself. Fear of inadvertently spraying everyone in sight? Fear of being inadequately judged by their peers? Fear of being outed after inadvertently eyeing the fellow in the adjacent urinal?

Or perhaps they find themselves unable to comprehend the unspoken Code of Men's Rooms Etiquette? Do some of the gay boys miss out on that particular chapter in their schooling?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Latent Homophobia

When it comes to homophobic taunts, where do you draw the line?

With the more hostile reactions such as harsh contempt and outright violence, such obvious homophobia is easier to recognize and therefore much easier dealt with. The line can be drawn in the sand with the haters on the far end.

But what if the homophobia is expressed in a far subtler manner?

Case in point would be Piratin Patty's new beau. Oh yes, she has a new beau. And Harry fulfils possibly every nit-picking criteria she has - shaggy, scruffy, sweaty, filled to the brim with indefinable machismo - and in every possible way, one of the nicest fellows around.

And Harry Huevos cooks up a mean pork adobo.

Harry comes knocking

Since like any situation rom-com, we all hang out together in almost every possible situation, it would be impossible for Harry not to know that both Fabulous Felix and I are gay. Hell, with Felix around, the beautiful life's pretty much a rainbow-flag waving, disco-dancing Queen Mary floating in a tub of lube.

Me, he thought I was dating Patty till I handed him my pink passport denying me access to Labialand.

Felix : I think Harry's homophobic.
Paul : That was quick judgement! But how?
Felix : Just from the way he reacts when we talk about gay stuff.
Paul : He does?
Felix : He scrunches up his face.
Paul : Hmm. I think I have seen that too. Think he also says yuck.
Felix : Homophobe.
Paul : Surely you don't expect him to embrace such a lifestyle - and us - in a day. It took some of us years to work out our own internalized homophobia.
Felix : Pfft. Homophobe.

Think one morning Harry even squealed like a horrified Victorian debutante and drowned himself in a duvet when Felix inadvertently walked in on him changing.

A latent homophobe?

Possibly. And I didn't even realize it till both Felix and Patty pointed it out to me. Have I grown inured to such slings and arrows? Obviously with the years of endless homophobic taunts in school, I've developed such a thick impenetrable hide that small insignificant slights just roll off my back.

No burning crosses. No raised fists. No nasty epithets.

Just the occasional twinge of discomfort when he talks to guys who likes guys. I would have dismissed it as the usual straight-boy discomfort when it comes to everything homosexual. That kinda behaviour I think we can all work with. Give it time, we'll have Harry marching together in the gay parade in solidarity one day.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Outrageous Overtures

Assuming that ten percent of the population would be card-carrying homosexuals, you'd expect quite a fair number here in the city. In truth however - with societal repression forcing the majority into discreet closets - the number of fags seen sashaying down the main thoroughfare wouldn't be enough to fill even a glee club.

And seriously, the ones that we have met here would fit in more readily in a rough-and-tumble fight club - rather than a genteel garden party.

Case in point, our neighbour Lanky Larry. Surprisingly he displays almost none of the stereotypical qualities you'd associate with an asian homosexual male. Even the niftiest gay-dar wouldn't be able to suss him out from the bland crowd since apart from a shockingly ornate rhinestone-flecked shrine to gay diva Kylie, no one would be able to guess that this hulking tattooed gangsta was a friend of Dorothy's.

Trust me, when faced with the burly, intimidating Larry in a dark alley, even the intrepid Dorothy herself would take to her enchanted ruby heels in fright. The man probably crunches on a couple of Totos for breakfast.

Friends of Larry's?

So you can imagine - much to our surprise - how prudish our friend can be when approached by a date.

Larry : I didn't like the way he came on to me lo.
Paul : There is a proper way?
Larry : Yes, there fucking is!
Paul : What? By sending a messenger dove to carry love letters and roses? By announcing with an entourage to come courting?
Larry : Fuck no!
Paul : So what did he say?
Larry : The asshole said 'He wants to make love to me'.
Paul : Okay, a bit schmaltzy true. I'd prefer just a simple 'Fuck me now'.
Larry : That would be even worse, bloody hell! We barely know each other.
Paul : Wait, exactly which convent were you hiding in, Mother Larry? It's been more than three dates!
Larry : I am not that kinda girl.
Paul : Well he wouldn't know that. How can you blame him for trying his luck?
Larry : I am still insulted.
Paul : That he wants to fuck you? How is that an insult?!
Larry : It just is!

From the way Larry clenched his ham-sized fists, I wondered if the aforementioned offender had gone home with a black eye after his clumsy efforts at courtship.

Despite liberally peppering his everyday speech with shocking profanities, Larry still adheres to the venerable rules of Miss Manners when it comes to dating etiquette! Who knew! Turns out the disappointingly liberal attitudes of gay men when it comes to sexual dalliances actually leaves Larry cold. Even wicked propositions turn him off.

Wait till we introduce Larry to the indiscreet wonders of Grindr.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Women in Arms


To be trusted is a greater compliment than to be loved.

Like all wise old sayings, this particular one carries more than a grain of truth. For a long time, I've always associated marriages - seemingly a lifetime commitment - with a higher than normal level of trust. Otherwise why commit to that one person for the span of an entire lifetime if you don't trust him / her?

Unfortunately that doesn't seem to be the case in real life. As usual, bored biddies here are yet again fearful of predatory females out to get their husbands. Banding under the unfortunate moniker of Concerned Respectful Ladies, the desperate housewives ( with a sprinkling of working women ) have launched a campaign against the city council's decision to allow more reflexology centres and spas to open here. Not only are they worried about vice activities that allegedly happen behind closed doors, they also fear foreign female masseurs could lead the men here, particularly their husbands, astray.

Suddenly I have a fleeting image of a wicked predatory arachnid luring naive, unsuspecting flies into her sticky web.

Insulting their husbands much?

Think the overly concerned movement just set women's lib back a thousand years. Ladies, let me reiterate ( possibly for the hundredth time ). If there's so little trust in a relationship, perhaps it's time to reevaluate the very basis of the marriage. Why worry only about female masseurs ... when there are ladies everywhere; in the workplace, in the restaurants, in the bars? If the weak-willed husband wants to stray, he certainly wouldn't be short of opportunity since there are plenty to choose from already.

Even without all the spas and reflexology centres open.

And yes, even without the much maligned China Dolls around to tempt them.

Short of locking up your cheating husbands - or resorting to the demented likes of our Obedient Wives' Club advocating wifely submission, there's really not much you can do except have a little faith.

Who knows exactly what your husband's up to these days!

Would I be worried myself? Even if my husband had dozens of sculpted mainland Chinese hunks fawning on him everyday, I certainly wouldn't incite a crusade to deport them. Perhaps a tinge of worry would crease my brow but I would rub it away. There has to be an element of trust and fidelity in a monogamous relationship. Otherwise it all goes to hell.

Of course if our roles were reversed and I found myself drowning in gorgeous man-meat... :)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Marriage Market

Women always get asked the question first.

Raging feminists might weep and wail but it doesn't change the unenviable fact that women, by convention, are usually married at an earlier age than men. Hence they get asked the dreaded question that much earlier.

Of course that doesn't mean the Miss Independents of today are capitulating to fall in line with such outdated notions. When presented with the marriage question by her conservative parents, Kool Kat declined flatly and pushed for a one-year extension.

Paul : Waitaminute, now you don't want to get married?
Kat : At least not for now!
Paul : And you guys say men are complex!

Which I found peculiar.

Paul : They asked you to be married by the end of the year?
Kat: Yes.
Paul : OMG! Yay! Congrats!
Kat : No! I told them no!
Paul : Why not?
Kat : Because!
Paul : You have a boyfriend?
Kat : Yes.
Paul : You love him?
Kat : Yes.
Paul : You want to marry him?
Kat : Yes.
Paul : So?
Kat : You sound like my mother.

Women these days. For all their talk of love and romance, do they actually want to be married? These days it is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune would find it hard to find a woman to marry!

Since Kat already has a committed boyfriend whom she loves and fully intends to marry, I don't see what's the hitch in the wedding plans? If I was told to marry someone I already love, I think I'd already be breaking out the champagne, draping myself in white chiffon and drowning myself in wedding journals.

Grrrr. Maybe I should get married myself.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Inhibitions Be Gone

Damn my inhibitions sometimes.

Apart from the occasional psychotic break, I'm usually a bashful sorta fellow. Seriously, nothing I'm more afraid of than the all-too-public glare of fierce spotlights. Even now the thought of public speaking gets me a little weak in the knees - though I've tried hard to conquer that particular fear.

Damn. Do they really expect me to dance?

An innate trait? A conservative upbringing? A traumatic event in childhood? Who knows where such diffidence springs from but I've always shied away from the public glare.

A troubled insecurity most of the dancers on the floor don't seem to share! Latin Night here seems to draw out the wild revellers from every nook and cranny in the city; with each and every one seemingly eager to dance the night away. From the way some were shaking and jiggling their hips ( and other wobbly bits ) to the salsa music, I doubt even an entire broadcasting crew streaming live would have stopped them. Nothing like the free flow of alcohol to help boost their confidence.

Unfortunately downing an entire row of jello shots didn't seem to help me at all.

Damn. I was jealous.

As it was, I stood watching from the sidelines nursing my glass of wine.

Paul : Wish I could just get out there and dance.
My ISO : Go ahead.
Paul : It's not dark enough! Someone might see me.
My ISO : So what? Getting self-conscious in your dotage?
Paul : Probably yeah. What if I slip and fall?
My ISO : Wouldn't be the first time.
Paul : Gosh I am uptight!
My ISO : You are. Drink more.

Somehow I think I'd need to drown in a sea of tequila shots just to get that free and disinhibited.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Typing With a Sprain


Seriously. Who knew a little wrist sprain could be this painful!

Have no idea how the sprain came about. Didn't stumble and fall on the pavement. Perhaps all that twisting and turning during dance class could have caused the wrist sprain.

Oh woe my poor wrist.

Yes, it's my arm! Ouch.

We never do appreciate what we had till it's gone. Turns out the wrist - such a tiny little joint with dozens of lil tendons - does a lot of heavy-duty work. The most trifling insignificant actions start becoming a major pain in the... wrist. Twisting doorknobs and opening jars? Ouch. Turning the steering wheel isn't exactly smooth either. Wince. Even holding up a coffee mug is a strain! Even typing too fast is painful.

Best I can do with that hand is to roll the optical mouse around. And type with one finger.

I know. Doctors make the wimpiest, whiniest patients around.

For those curious enough, treatment of a sprained wrist - in cases where there is no fracture or significant instability - is the RICE method which stands for Rest Ice Compression Elevation. Resting my hand now of course. To cover the compression bit, also clipped on a slapdash splint made out of sticks and a borrowed glove.

Ouch. At least it's not the hand I wank with.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Swallowing Bitterness

I simply can't decide. Are we, as a whole, getting far too emo or do we just have far too many public spaces to vent our emotional angst on?

Judging by the daily status updates left by my tweenage cousins - and some of my much older peers - it has to be a little bit of both. Not a day passes that we are not inundated with some weepy, whiny deluge of emotion. Tearful rages over being sidelined in school to sobbing fests over the inattentive boy who didn't look their way.

Friend : My life is over!
Paul : You got cancer?
Friend : Even worse than that!
Paul : There is worse?
Friend : He doesn't like me!
Paul : So?

Every minuscule molehill of a problem turns into a mammoth mountain before their eyes. Not even talking about sophomoric girls like my cousins but also some of the men that I know - who should obviously know better.

Far be it for me to wish for the stoic, silent Marlboro Man of the past - but surely there can be a surfeit of emotion! Getting in touch with your feelings is one thing, desperately wallowing in a roiling emotional tsunami is quite another.

Feeling all angsty-emo today!

Seriously. Suck it up. Come back to me when you actually have a real problem. Anything short of permanent disability or death isn't something to wail about.

Take a look around. There are folks dealing with natural disasters in horrific succession and you don't see them endlessly bellyaching. There are folks dying of dozens of debilitating diseases and you don't see them pathetically snivelling. And isn't it odd that the ones actually beset with real problems are usually the ones stoically swallowing their pain?

They don't weep, whine or wail; they soldier on.

Yes, I know the emo boys and girls out there are wondering how I can be so unfeeling. Frankly, I've never felt all that emo. Not even when I was a acne-scarred sixteen beset with angsty teenage hormones and battling all those unnatural homosexual urges. I dealt with it. Why? Because there are far bigger problems in the world. People everywhere with much heavier burdens to carry that would make our problems seem so small, trivial and insignificant.

There is a Chinese maxim 吃苦 that essentially means swallowing bitterness meant to signify the act of enduring hardship. Now, where did that particular virtue go?

Friday, July 01, 2011

How I Met My Mother-In-Law


Surely one of the scariest words in the dictionary. Unless you fall heads-over-heels in love with an orphan - or you have the option to call for a hit squad, you'll have to deal with a mother-in-law sooner or later in life.

I find the best way to deal with a crotchety mother-in-law is to suck up to her. Majorly. Cosset, pamper and cater to her every whim and fancy; treat her like a fucking queen even if she's the most ornery shrew around. Though I'm sure my ertswhile mother-in-law would wish me in the deepest bowels of hell, I couldn't be a sweeter son-in-law more solicitous of her needs.

Seriously. Go ask Charming Calvin.

Flowers for the mother-in-law?

Age-old advice I'm sure the independent young ladies these days are loath to take. Just take a look at this recent article where an almost newlywed gets a nasty scold from her admittedly imprudent mother-in-law. No doubt the liberated Miss Independents of today would rail violently against such old-fashioned censure!

Though she could have been more circumspect with her comments, I kinda agree with the mother-in-law. Knowing that she's likely on probation, the aspiring daughter-in-law should have been far more punctilious in her behaviour.

Never believe mi casa es su casa - even if your sweet mother-in-law says so with a winning smile. Even if she treats you like a cherished long-lost daughter, that doesn't mean it's time to kick up your heels, grab a beer and slouch on the couch. Never. Always keep your guard up and be on your best behaviour. Judgemental eyes are always watching.

So why should you sweeten up your mother-in-law anyway?

1) There's the obvious reason that she actually brought up the man you love! You're not only marrying the man, you're getting the family as well. So if you hate her, you hate him. End of story. Hence don't get married then.

2) Miss Manners, people! How you behave with your partner's parents reflects on your own family and upbringing. Act like a sloppy bitch at your in-laws and they would presume you were brought up that way. In the lowest stables. So behave!

Seriously as long as you're not actually living full-time with the in-laws, you can bloody well maintain some decorum for a few days while you're there. Stick that rude, brash attitude in the closet. Swallow some criticism, whether valid or not. How difficult can it be to keep up a sweet, smiling, sunshiney front for a couple of days in front of the critical in-laws!