Friday, July 21, 2017

Past & Present Friends

It's hard not to compare what we had in the past when we're reluctantly faced with contrasting individuals in the present. Sometimes it's like comparing the sharks to the sheep.

Hard to explain why but the people I hang around with seem almost impossibly discreet, not only with their secrets, which can be almost understandable, but also with their more mundane day-to-day pursuits such as work and play, which I find absolutely baffling. Playing their cards close to the chest would be an understatement. At times it's like heading out for supper with a mysterious group of covert operatives on a clandestine mission, all on a calculating bid to see who can reveal less about what happened during their day. Not only do they mention little of what they do away from the rest which makes it ever more perplexing, their social media presence can be even more inscrutable. 

Perfectly curated with little or no pertinent information on their lives.  

Wait, that's the deep dark secret? Gosh,  after all that overblown hype, I would have expected a dead body at the very least. 

Little knowing that presenting a totally blank profile to the world only makes it even more suspicious. If not for several unexpected misadventures, I probably would not have uncovered many of their secrets. Not that they were exactly earth-shattering illuminations that would change civilization as we know it, truly far from it. 

So why the secrecy? Withholding information and deliberately screening confidences is hardly the way to make friends which is where my friendzone draws the line. Sadly, second-tier acquaintances they shall remain whom I shall keep at arms' length forever which is a sobering thought that does leave me a little wistful.

How much easier it all used to be! Whereas in the past I used to have really sharp, direct, extremely plainspoken friends who rarely hold back with their opinions. Almost everything is right there upfront practically in your face so there's little to guess what they are feeling or thinking. #nothingtohide

Shalom : I can't stand it anymore!
Paul : What's happening over there? 
Shalom : Not at work. I mean on Facebook and Twitter, what's with the cryptic comments? 
Paul : I hate them too. 
Shalom : Why can't they just spell it out? 
Paul : I think straight-talking shooters like us are a dying breed. 
Shalom : It's like they want people to know and yet don't want to. They want their privacy and yet want to tell the world. What's with putting up a confusing status and then not explaining it! 
Paul : I've gotten inured to their antics. These days I just zen out and ignore them. 

Think the bland regular sheep these days would dub us all as intense

Monday, July 17, 2017


Even with the recent uncalled for changes in our medical career that does naught but complicate our daily lives, there are days that I am still glad I heeded my parents' repeated warnings and headed down the path towards medicine rather than turning towards the other default careers of nerdy Chinese boys in our country such as engineering and accountancy. From what I hear of what goes down in those chilly air-conditioned cubicles filled with automated drones, I wouldn't fare very well there.

Think unprecedented mass murder.

Since let's face it, being perfectly courteous and sweetly politically correct would only edge me inexorably towards madness. Not to mention the endless well-meaning but sadly futile proposals by Human Resource to build a better work environment - I mean come on, haven't we already debunked the moronic idea of hot desking?

In medicine, we do have a saying for such harebrained schemes - If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Though even I would begrudgingly admit our abrasive work culture needs to be toned down a tad since most days, our ghastly consultants resemble more closely the devilish Miranda Priestley than the politically correct namby pambies championed these days.

So you're the feeble little weenie who thinks I don't look approachable? 

For instance, we had this interesting anecdote just the other day when a friend of mine found herself mildly censured for wearing over-ear headphones at work. Such seemingly innocuous conduct and yet some of her meddling colleagues had apparently deemed it unacceptable.

Carenina : Usually I wear them so that I can focus on the work. 
Paul : As usual. 
Carenina : Apparently though, wearing headphones makes me seem unapproachable. 
Paul : Why should you be approachable? Are you a hooker on the streets looking for a john? 
Carenina : No!
Paul : Tell your subordinates to find some balls if they want to ask you something. Gosh. 

Seriously. Much ado about nothing?

Of course in the wishy-washy land of the cubicles, such strident rejoinders would probably earn a horrified gasp, several fainting swoons and possibly an urgent letter requesting an explanation of the unintended work aggression. No doubt Kitty Kat could recall the heady days of working with the overly politically correct Kumbayas.

So let me rephrase my previous plans about regulating the tension in the medical workplace. I would much rather have our pithy honesty rather than the overly correct communiques preferred by most multinational corporations where treachery is concealed by sweetness.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Back to School

Thankfully not for me since the idea of prepping for examinations again gives me the hives.

A bit unsettled since the recent recession inconveniently rightsized a large number of the lucrative careers in oil and gas here, Charming Calvin has been filling his time with educating our mostly apathetic adolescents in mathematics and science. Surprisingly a childhood dream of his brought forward by a series of unfortunate events. Despite the tedious mental chore of refreshing one's memory with such complex calculus equations, Calvin seems quite up to the task of teaching a dozen or so disinterested teenagers in the classroom.

Me, I've always balked at the idea of teaching. Having both parents as teachers have taught me that despite what the erroneous detractors say, education isn't something as simple as scratching words on a blackboard for the students to magically grasp. Takes so much more than that which is why I always imagined my pitiful efforts at teaching would literally be the disoriented one-eyed man misleading the blind!

Not so for Calvin!

Hot for teacher indeed!
Going back to school however has turned out to be quite an inspiration. In fact teaching the young and far from willing minds on the manifold virtues of trigonometry has spurred his very own need for self improvement which is how he one day came up with the idea of continuing his academic scholarship.

Calvin : What do you think of further education? 
Paul : Do it. 
Calvin : Would it be good to continue..?
Paul : Do it. 
Calvin : Should I take up my masters? 
Paul : Do it. 
Calvin : That was a quick response!
Paul : Do it. You'll pass with flying colours for sure. 
Calvin : You're already giving me stress and I haven't even signed up for the course yet! 
Paul : Would you rather me say you'll flunk out? 

Seriously, he's a bright young fellow and I'm sure he could manage the relatively straightforward course hobbled on one leg with one hand tied to his back. Even then, I'm pretty sure he'll easily wipe the floor with the rest of his loser classmates with the exams and the coursework.

Yes, that's the kiasu lil me coming out again. Turns out that's not exactly the supportive encouragement he needs - says I'm giving him undue stress over performance anxiety - but I doubt I could provide any other. Maybe a bit of playacting as teacher and student?

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Best Foot Forward

Paul : Oh let's take a group picture. 
Aaron : Oh no, I'm not ready. My hair is in a mess. I'm not dressed. 
Paul : That would teach you not to go out looking like a rumpled hobo out of a dumpster. 
Aaron : Don't tag me yeah. 

Which has become almost his vaunted catch-phrase.

These days apart from the hipster millennial eschewing modernity by shunning the internet, even that reclusive mountain hermit probably has a Facebook account. Or a Twitter account. And that Instagram account. No doubt all perfectly curated to exhibit their best online presence for their selected audience.

Their best foot forward since God forbid someone actually catches them looking less than what they are supposed to be.

Which is why Ambiguous Aaron religious untags himself from photos he finds himself looking so much less than presentable. Unsurprisingly often though since he strangely adopts a sloppy hobo beachwear look whenever we all have dinners out. Really boggles my mind sometimes since why would you knowingly want to look terrible? Doesn't stop his need from wanting to eradicate the picture unsuitables that's just shy of fleek since everything else on his album is perfectly crafted to present a rigidly professional, suave appearance more suited for LinkedIn.

Perfectly packaged for your consumption. 

He's not the only culprit afraid of being caught out looking absolutely disastrous. That I can at least vaguely understand.

But these days I even have Miz Grundys who are afraid of having fun. Or at least terrified by the idea that someone out there might actually catch them in the unforgivable act of having a lil bit of fun.

Grundy : Not too many pictures yeah. 
Paul : Afraid of overexposure? 
Grundy : Not really. Just can't be having too much fun. 
Paul : Too. Much. Fun. 

Really. What is that? We're out having a civilized dinner. Not downing tequila shots and smoking marijuana at an underground midnight rave - which I would honestly rather be doing. Not my friends though. Apparently there are freakish oddities who would prefer to be seen as desperately diligent drudges with their noses permanently stuck to the grindstone.

Or at least to have their Facebook appear that way.

Fuss much? Don't think I've ever put that much thought into what I'm placing up online. As long as I don't have disgusting crud hanging off my face, I'll post it up.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

The One Where Everyone's Gay : The Raya Edition

Dinner with the parents is always fraught with danger.

Even more so when the parents are devout God-fearing Muslims and you just invited a gaggle of flaming gay men over for nasi kerabu dinner.

Rather than the hilarious opening act of a heady CW sitcom, this actually took place last weekend for the recent Raya celebrations. Ever the eternal optimist, Kitty Kat ignored the religious condemnation concern and bravely welcomed the deviant lot of us to her open house. Already apprised of her parents' increasingly orthodox leanings, we all promised to be on our best #masc #butch behaviour.

Of course our ever welcoming hostess told us to ignore all that and just be ourselves but hey, we obviously aim to pass. Feather boas, high-pitched squeals and limp wrists all packed away into the proverbial closets. Practicing our high fives and fist bumps several days beforehand, Fabulous Felix and I were already all ready to bro it out.

At the most we would have gotten a diverted chortle from her husband.

Gay? We're not gay. Who's gay? 

Turns out there was hardly any mention of it during dinner where we wined and dined on the most delicious raya spread ever, with hardly any burning pitchforks or conscientious sermons! I was hoping for at least one impassioned  'Return to the godly path, my son' but nothing was said apart from repeated entreaties to enjoy ourselves.

Or at least that was what we thought till much later in the evening when we'd all made our way home. And we were all ready to clap ourselves on the backs for being able to successfully pass for straight! Apparently Kat's mother had already known that at least one of us was the dreaded homosexual which is how Kitty Kat and Sober Sam soon found themselves cornered with dozens of urgently curious queries.

Mother : So which one was the gay one, my dear? 
Kat : All of them. 
Mother : Oh my God, I was feeding all the gays? 
Sam : Did you intend to starve out the gays? 
Father : But they didn't look like gays!
Kat : What kinda look is that? 
Father : The gay look!
Kat : Anyway not all of them are out yet. At least one still in the closet but he hangs around with the other boys so surely everyone knows. 
Father : But you guys hang around them too! People probably think you're gay!
Sam : But we have a child now!
Father : The lengths you guys go to keep it a secret.

Absolutely hilarious. I couldn't have written it better!

Wouldn't surprise me if the indignant father spent the entire weekend eyeing Sober Sam askance.

It did however explain why the parents spent the most part of the evening hiding from the heathen lot since as we all know, homosexuality is highly contagious. Fortunately for gay tolerance, the parents did however acknowledge that we were all nice boys - even better since we cleaned up after ourselves - so there's a high chance we would have favourable prayers said in our names!