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?

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Stranger Danger

Periodically in the main headlines we have our ever-efficient authorities trying their best - and tragically failing - to convince the people that our crime rate is at an all-time low. 'It's just your perception, people,' they repeatedly proclaim while desperately waving around dubious statistics to prove their point.

Our presumptuous police officers tend to act as if the perception of crime isn't a credible problem when it really is. It's easy enough to prove how fearful our people have become of our crime-ridden streets with a simple experiment. 

Remember how I mentioned a while ago that I prefer real humans to snap pictures of us rather than utilize the ever ubiquitous selfie stick? How difficult is it to just press a button. Really. Well since I've already made up my mind long ago that Thai and Korean girls are the undisputed world champs at snapping shots on the fly, I decided to try out our own resourceful countrymen this time.

Could you help me take a picture? 

Well, guess what? Our countrymen not only shy away from being asked ( the ever idiotic paiseh syndrome anyone? ), they also literally leap five feet up into the air with a muffled shriek if you even step close enough to ask. Go on, try it. 

If that's not poor perception of crime on our streets, I don't know what is. Stranger danger really. 

Really, darlings. I'm not here to rob you. If I wanted to, you'd already be missing several items. But from the way you present yourself in public, I'd be far more afraid that you'd hurriedly scamper off with my precious cellphone instead. 

Which is far different from how we're treated in other places. Not that you should just hand over your cameras to any random strange freak to snap a shot but if they have a gleaming new Hasselblad hanging around their neck, you can be assured that they won't willingly snatch your crummy equipment. In fact you could get real lucky with some amateur photographers; for instance the ever enthusiastic Thai and Korean girls would actually take several skilful shots from different angles along with masterful suggestions on how to properly pose for that perfect selfie. Somehow they instinctively know what you surreptitiously hope to have in the background and frame it perfectly for you. 

Once we even caught a Thai girl desperately hurrying by a train station who kindly paused to help us. Ever the go-getter, the lil lass didn't even slow down her steps; indeed she barely turned her head to look at the composition before clicking twice - and yet she took the most awesome shots before handing the camera back. 

Truth! Well practiced they are!

So help a stranger today. Take pictures for people if you see them struggling with the admittedly unwieldy selfie stick. It's not that burdensome, is it? 

And let's not go into the sad tale of paiseh folks who are deathly afraid of approaching others to snap a picture. 

Thursday, February 02, 2017


It's taken a while but I think I've finally hit on the reason why there's always been a covert Anti Maid Syndrome on the part of the ladies; whether they be full-time housewives or working women. Whereas men generally don't really care one way or the other as long as the house is cleaned up, somehow many of the women find it quite a bother to have domestic help underfoot in their house, preferring to ferociously micromanage it all on their own. Just count the number of finicky females you know who trail behind their hapless maids painstakingly pointing out even the most minuscule of housekeeping mistakes.

Frequently bedeviled by the oh-so-supportive mass media these days, modern day women apparently believe they can, and should want to do it all.

Really. As if they have something to prove to the rest of the world. Which they don't. However such a heavy burden of having to do it all generally leaves them feeling overwhelmed by all their responsibilities.

Even my sister-in-law Sassy Sue has always had a beef with having domestic help around for some inexplicable reason. I'm entirely the opposite; even better if I could afford an entire coterie of servants worthy of Downton Abbey from the butler all the way down to the scullery maid.

Or maybe a hot houseboy like this.  

In our increasingly equitable world where a misplaced social conscience practically disallows the hiring of domestics, turns out I might be part of a oft-condemned minority which is why I still get pointed conversations like this every once in a while.

Paul : I don't mind being a stay-at-home dad. But I'd need a maid of course. 
Girl : But why? 
Paul : For the domestic work of course. 
Girl : But can't you cook and clean? 
Paul : I can. But why should I when I can get the maid to do it? 

Leaving them agog as usual.

I mean I can certainly cook - a quick stirfry or parboil - but I'd leave the tedious preparatory work to the maid along with the even more exacting cleaning up afterward. Chopping up onions and garlic certainly isn't what I signed up for.

Really, why should there be this desperate need to rationalize having a maid? It's time we stopped having such incomprehensibly egalitarian guilt over hiring people to take over menial jobs that we just don't want to do. Toilet cleaning, mopping and sweeping etc. Sure I can certainly make do in a pinch but there's no need for me to do so.

And if you think domestic workers like Maid Mumbles are getting the short shrift, you'd be severely underestimating them.