Chairman of the Bored: The week my girlfriend went away

“I have to go to London for work. But I’ll be back in a week, babe. I won’t be gone for long.”

My girlfriend left on a Saturday night for a business trip and tied in a visit to her best friend who has been living in London for a few years. She often travels for work and while I’ve become accustomed to her absences, I always blow the opportunity to enjoy some productive ‘me time’ by slobbering on the couch in a drunken funk and watching television till 3am before eventually dragging myself off to bed to watch the roof spin sickeningly before I sleep.

“Not this time!” I told myself. “I’m going to seize the day! I’m going to reacquaint myself with Singapore and do some exploring, I’m going to hit the gym, stick to my diet, play some golf, catch up with friends and start blogging again. I’m going to use time, not kill time, damn it! I’m not going to just sit on the couch drinking beer and playing games on my Playstation in my underwear. I am going to carpe the living hell out of every bloody diem!

Day 1 – Sunday

3.04pm: Been drinking beer and playing Playstation in my underwear since I got up four hours ago. I hate the way that toothpaste makes beer taste. Going to have to stop brushing my teeth in the morning.

5.49pm: Killing time by trawling YouTube videos for TV commercials from the 80’s. Saw that old infomercial for spray-on hair-in-a-can. The audiences in those infomercials are awful actors. I could feign surprise and awe far better than any them. Going to practice my affectations then contact my agent to get some acting work.

5.50pm: Remembered that I don’t have an agent.

5.51pm: Remembered that I can’t act.

8.33pm: Closest thing to food in the apartment is that blob of mayonnaise I left on the counter after using the last of the tuna and mayo for a sandwich three hours ago. Went to the 7-11 across the street and got some beer and something akin to dinner yet completely unlike food. Finally bought one of those Ballgus ready-to-eat sausages they always have on the counter. Always wondered if it was beef, pork or chicken. Tastes like eyes, lips and arseholes from a circus animal.

11.58pm: Woke up this morning with a mild tingle in my throat. The tingle has developed into a raspy cough. Was sick last week so I can’t possibly be sick again. Trudge off to my cold, empty bed.

Day 2 – Monday

7.10am: I feel like death but not in a sexy, “I’m a gleaming, glittery vampire who visits a sensual demise upon his adoring victims” kind of way; more in a “I’m about to cough up a gleaming, gelatinous pleura before dying alone in my apartment wearing nothing but old underwear and a three-day growth” kind of way. Drag myself off to work.

11.37am: Went to the office and coughed spasmodically all the way through Monday’s team breakfast. Told my boss that a slow, pneumonic death was imminent. No one likes the sound of a phlegmy cough when they’re trying to eat brekky. He took pity on me (or felt utter disgust – take your pick) and sent me home.

3.49pm: Air conditioner has started leaking very heavily. Water splashing everywhere. Perfect.

3.50pm: Tried logging onto Facebook but internet is down

3.51pm: F#ck.

4.28pm: Remembered that life existed – in some form, at least – before the internet. Decided to immerse myself in the rich literary works of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Pulled out my favourite book, One Hundred Years of Solitude, and settled into the couch for a solid reading session.

4.29pm: Fell asleep.

4.55pm: Woke up. Bent the hell out of the book’s cover after falling asleep on it. Drool stain on page two. Opened my book up again and started in on my reading session.

7.13pm: No food in the house but I need sustenance so I have to get creative. Learned that there is no combination of honey, month-old cheddar cheese and cloves that works in a sandwich, particularly when the only two pieces of bread left in the packet are those unwanted, friendless end pieces. Maybe if I toasted it…

7.15pm: Toasting did not go well. Ring McDonalds home delivery.

9.16pm: Painfully bored. Mind wandered aimlessly until it drifted into that void in man’s collective knowledge, that place where the truly great, timeless questions hover like unexplored worlds over our heads: Why the hell does Donald Duck, who wears no pants, bother to wrap a towel around his waist when he gets out of the shower? Then he puts on a shirt, rips off the towel and struts down the street, sans pants, duck dick waving in the wind. What the hell is that? Someone at Disney really dropped the ball on that one.

11.12pm: Fitful sleep.

Day 3 – Tuesday

7.12am: Got up for work but there’s no way I can go. My cough is making me sound like a dying dog after a botched tracheostomy.

4.39pm: Got up and watched The Dark Knight Rises on DVD. Wondered why the Blu-Ray looked so poor. After having had the Playstation for a year, finally realised that it has a HDMI port (I know, mega-noob). Reacted like Jodie Foster’s Sagan-esque character in Contact after she was transported into space and witnessed the spectacular birth of a galaxy: “It’s a… celestial event… (awe envelopes her) no… no words… (unhinged sob)… poetry… (another wild, joyful sob)… they should have sent a poet!”

4.41pm: Played my new Playstation game, The Last Of Us, in HD for the first time. If I had found the HDMI port and this game before meeting my girlfriend, I might’ve still been single and living like Howard Hughes: never leaving my room, peeing into bottles and beyond any and all personal grooming. Hopelessly addicted.

10.33pm: Still playing the Playstation. Can’t stop coughing. Nose is running like a Kenyan Olympian.

11.01am: Sleep. I hate crashing in an empty bed.

Day 4 – Wednesday

7.01am: Not sure if I’m hot or cold but I can definitely say, without doubt, that I’m hot and cold. Cough and phlegm are worse. Each guttural hack sounds like a rusty chainsaw being started in a bucket of yoghurt.

10.42am: So hungry. Ate what can only be described as cardboard-based, flavour-free, party-in-your-mouth-and-no-one’s-invited bran flakes that my girlfriend bought when we started dieting. No milk, mind you. So low on energy, feeling so sleepyyyyyyyaasdfassdds[[asdayyyyyyyyyyyyya;'[==-oiko211rewsdfjjj

11.13am: Woke up on top of the laptop.

2.03pm: Went to see my GP. Doc says I have a chest infection. Impossible, I tell him. I was sick last week, I explain to him, and there is no way I could have fallen ill for a second time in two weeks. Doctor’s retort: “You haven’t been sick twice in two weeks. You’ve been sick once for an entire fortnight, you daft Australian dingo-herder. Take some antibiotics and get the hell out of my office.” (Gross liberties taken while paraphrasing).

7.56pm: Reading a book I bought recently by a hilarious writer who’s begun playing golf again after a couple of decades away from the game. It’s easy to believe you’re the worst golfer in the world when your swing resembles a man trying to hold onto a greased broomstick as he’s falling down a flight of stairs. Reading about his struggles made me feel like I’m not alone.

10.05pm: Bed time. I’m over sleeping alone.

Day 5: Thursday

7.01am: Woke up feeling pretty shady but I can’t have another day off. Drag myself off to work.

8.45am: My desk is right under an air con vent that could stop the polar ice caps from melting. I’m sick as a dog and I’m freezing. Now is the winter of my discontent and I don’t even have a scarf.

8.46am: Check my inbox and the pile of work I have to catch up on.

8.47am: F#ck.

6.00pm: Finally heading home. Boarded a packed MRT train. People kept their distance from me as I coughed wildly. Couldn’t help but play up to it. Leaned in and told a stranger “…and that’s all it took, six months in a Turkish gulag and BANG! Tuberculosis. What are the chances…” People reel away from me in barely-disguised horror. The upside to being sick has revealed itself on the train as I enjoy some rare peak-hour elbow room.

10.02pm: Reluctantly head off to bed. Not reluctantly because I’m not tired but because I never miss my girlfriend as much as I do when I’m lying alone in our bed.

Day 6 – Friday

7.01am: Not feeling 100% but I’m better. Remembered that today is payday. Started making plans to enjoy a few beers tonight before I’d even brushed my teeth.

6.00pm: Friday afternoon. Pay day. Just left the office. This is as close to heaven as you’ll ever get in Changi Business Park (otherwise known as The Place Where Naughty Singaporean Corporate Citizens Go To Die).

7.13pm: Hit the bar downstairs from our condo. Haven’t had a scotch in weeks. Love my single malt so ordered a double. I drink it like it was the cure to my life’s ills.

7.28pm: One more scotch for the road.

7.39pm: One more scotch for the road just down the road.

7.53pm: Roads seem to be wobbling a little.

7.54pm: Walk to Gerry’s to pick up a South Western feast: a full slab of juicy, saucy, waist-line-destroying ribs with potato salad on the side.

9.11pm: On the couch. Barbecue sauce smeared on my fingers and face. Empty beer cans crowd around my feet. A plastic bag full of clean rib bones is resting next to the couch. Stupid grin on my face. This feeling is the reason the word ‘satisfied’ was invented. Best time I’ve had all week.

10.49pm: I feel a little like one of those pitiful kids in the movies who’s sitting alone, in front of a birthday cake with a blower in this mouth and a party hat on his head, to whose birthday party not one person has come. But those kids can’t drink. I can. Burn, pitiful kids. Burn.

Day 7 – Saturday

11.37am: My girlfriend gets home tomorrow so I clean up the house. Spend the rest of the afternoon playing The Last Of Us on the Playstation.

3.17pm: Get a message from some friends inviting me out on a Halloween pub crawl. “We’re going to hit a few pubs. Want to come out drinking with us?” Yes. Yes, I do.

10.29am: My friends were all in costume. I dressed as a drunk expat, I told them, but it was the best costume there because it was the only one that improved organically throughout the night. We’ve hit three pubs and clubs already. Blown about $150 and have had too many drinks to remember.

11.43pm: China One night club. Ordered a double scotch and the bartender leaned in and said “It’s not worth it. You should just order a single.” Incredulity. I work, I thought to myself. I have money and I can blow it however I see fit, even on an extraordinarily expensive drink, if I so feel inclined! “How much is a double?” I asked him, with a derisive “psshhh, give me the double” at the ready. Straight-faced, he tells me that it costs seventy four #$%&ing dollars.

11.44pm: F#ck.

11.45pm: Ordered a single and left the club a few minutes later. Sitting outside having beers and some food.

3.42am: Just got home. Despite Clarke Quay being as packed as I’ve ever seen it, I enjoyed being there more than I have in a long time. I was with some good friends, the atmosphere was fun, swarms of revelers in Halloween costumes were crowding the strip, we were joined by old friend we hadn’t seen in months and we had some laughs and a good chat. It was good to have finally done something fun that week.

Day 8 – Sunday

3.01pm: It’s finally over. I’m at the airport and my girlfriend will be coming through the gates any moment now. I reflected on my week alone. I didn’t get out very much, I hadn’t become any more familiar with Singapore than I was at the start of the week, I didn’t have any really good meals or play golf or start blogging again and I didn’t visit the gym or stick to my diet. I spent the entire week feeling quite ill and still have several more days to go on a course of antibiotics. I didn’t carpe one single bloody diem, I did nothing productive, I probably weigh more now than when my girlfriend left but, quite frankly, none of that matters anymore because I know that the memory of the (almost) entirely dismal week is going to dissolve as soon as she strides through customs.

3.16pm: I saw her and my spirits lifted immeasurably. My best friend is home. She came out, let go of her trolley and gave me a rib-crushing hug. We kissed and I told her how much I had missed her. I grabbed the trolley and started pushing it towards the taxi stand. My love is home, back to normal, back to the way things should be. My heart swells with joy. “How was your trip?” I asked her. “So hectic but got lots of work done, it was really productive. Had lots of fun, too. Caught up with my bestie, we had a big night out. It was great seeing her again. Had such a good week. Oh, by the way, I have to go to on a business trip to Bangkok for five days next week.”

3.17pm: F#ck.

Relationships: Share and put in daily (not ‘Share your pudding, baby’)

Relationships aren’t always easy, especially when the two of you are forging a new life in a new country. Work, money and bills can become an iron-fisted triumvirate that, given the chance, will rule your relationship cruelly and bring it crashing down around you. Communication is the only real key to understanding each other. You have to compromise and meet in the middle sometimes and complete acceptance is crucial. But no matter what happens, no matter how high or low you get, no matter what things promise to bind you forever or threaten to divide you in a flash, you should always – ALWAYS – get your own bloody dessert.

Three facts to get this post rolling:

1. Desserts never look as good to my girlfriend when they’re sitting in a cafe’s counter as they do when they’re sitting in my hand.

2. Being acutely aware of this, I always take preemptive action when we buy dinner by asking her if she would like some dessert, then asking her if she’s sure that she doesn’t want some and by finally telling her that I’m not going to give her half of mine if she changes her mind later.

3. My girlfriend knows that her loving boyfriend is wrapped around her little finger and she isn’t above pulling the ol’ ‘puppy dog eyes’ routine to get at my sweets. Consequently, she doesn’t give a #@&% about anything I’ve said in points one or two.

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“Where’s the other half of my…… BAAAAAABE!!!”

The best part of my working day happens when I get home from the office. My girlfriend and I will sit down to enjoy dinner together. We’ll talk about how our day went, we’ll lift each other up if we’ve had a hard one, we’ll watch some TV together, read on the couch, catch up with our mates back home on Facebook and chat the whole way through.

But something sinister takes place most nights right after dinner. A tension settles over us where many a sideways glance is exchanged. We’ll engage in a saccharine struggle for sweets, a showdown for sugar, a taut battle for torte.

The problem is that it’s always my dessert we’re fighting over.

SPR MRKT, the cafe across the road, make some fantastic cakes and tarts including a lip-smacking bread pudding with vanilla sauce (free plug, hook me up with a bread pudding, guys!) that I just can’t say no to. My girlfriend doesn’t really have a sweet tooth but I have an entire mouth full of them so when we grab dinner there, I’ll always pick up some dessert and, more often than not, it’s their warm, soft, scrumptious bread pudding.

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“No, I don’t want one. I’ll just have some of yours.” Wrong, my love. Wrong.

My girlfriend often says that she isn’t in the mood but, if experience has taught me anything, it’s that she will suddenly find herself in the mood for dessert the second she sees me about to tuck into mine. For some reason, sweets appeal to her much more when they’re in my hands than when they’re behind a glass counter. For some reason, they suddenly become irresistible.

And, for some reason – largely a lack of testicular fortitude on my part when it comes to her – she’ll always manage to get some.

I’m not saying she can’t have any of my dessert, because love is about sharing. And I’m not saying that I don’t like sharing with her, because love is also about enjoying things together. And I’m not saying that people can’t change their minds because no one’s perfect.

I’m simply saying to the love of my life: Get your own bloody dessert xo

Fine. You can have some.

Bloody testicular fortitude.

The weight is over: time to diet (thanks a lot, Singapore)

I never thought my (previously) scrawny arse would ever have to say this but here goes:

I have to go on a diet.

When I moved to Singapore two years ago, I weighed a mere 66kg. A little on the slim side, perhaps, but I’m not very tall. I need to wear thick-soled shoes if I want to say that I’m 5’7″ and get away with it.

I was unhealthy back in Australia. I skipped lunch at work all the time, ate plenty of junk food, smoked too much and never exercised. Well, I did cycle now and then. But I did it on my motorcycle. That offers about as much physical benefit as a rubber bone offers a starving dog.

Then I moved to Singapore.

I’ve posted about how good the food is here but I probably haven’t made the point that hawker centres aren’t exactly founts of nutrition and good health. Roti prata, kway teow (fried noodles), chilli crab, char siew, and all sorts of mee goreng have made their way into my list of favourite foods but they’re about as healthy as being trampled by a group of drunken soccer hooligans heading home after a heavy loss. I need to drink beer all the time in Singapore (it’s always so hot… that’s my excuse and I’m going with it) which hasn’t exactly helped either. Add to that the fact that we travel a lot and love to try the food wherever we go, what happened is no surprise: slowly but surely, my wardrobe started to strain under the weight of my… uh… weight. So my girlfriend and I joined a gym.

"Please don't eat me!" I'll try, little buddy. I'll try...

“Please don’t eat me!”I’ll try, little buddy. I’ll try…

I worked hard for a few months and toned up a little. The few flabby kilos I’d put on turned to muscle and while images of me in boxer briefs weren’t about to grace packets of underwear, I was healthier than I’d ever been. But, as always happens when you hit the gym, my appetite swelled to insane proportions. I’d go to restaurants and ask if there was a course between the appetizer and the main. Steak became a side dish. I was always hungry but I worked hard and burned all those calories off before they had a chance to congeal into a rotund, pants-splitting arse. Life was good: I was healthy, I felt good and, for the first time in my life, I had biceps (albeit small ones). Then then I used up all the sessions I had with my personal trainer. He was great and I turned up religiously because I’d booked sessions in with him and I felt obliged to go but, once the sessions ran out, I got lazy.

Roti Prata. Ever notice how oily food makes paper wrappers become clear? Rub roti prata on a concrete floor and it will become clear.

Roti Prata. Absolutely delicious, but ever notice how oily food makes paper wrappers become clear? Rub roti prata on a concrete floor and it will become clear.

My workouts stopped but my gargantuan appetite just wouldn’t abate. That’s when I slid very ungracefully from ‘not about to grace packets of underwear’ to Michelin Man tryouts.

Except for socks, I outgrew every single piece of clothing I’d brought over from Australia including the tailored Hugo Boss suit that my girlfriend bought me as a present shortly before she left for Singapore (she got here four months before I did). It was, without question, the best fitting garment I had ever owned. Right now, my thighs can barely fit into the pants, my arms can’t get into the sleeves unless I coat my arms in butter and there is zero chance of buttoning up the jacket without sucking in my gut and holding my breath. If I relax and take a breath, chances are the button will fly off at ballistic speeds and blind someone.

When I brush my teeth in the morning, everything below my jawline jiggles like jelly being jack-hammered and it doesn’t stop until a good fifteen seconds after I’ve finished brushing. I went from being able to do fifty push ups with ease to being able to eat fifty of most things with ease. Chairs creak and groan audibly underneath me when I sit. ‘Could it really be that bad?’ you ask…

I weighed 66kg when I got here. I now weigh 84.5 kilograms. I’ve put on 18 kilograms since I got here in September, 2011. That’s 18kgs in 22 months, an increase in body weight of over 25%.

So I’ve had it. I’m going on a *sigh* diet. I’m going to *sigh* cut back on beer, sweets, chocolate and anything else that gives me any sort of *sigh* pleasure when I consume it. I’m going to start exercising and get healthy again. I’ve set myself a goal: I will shed 10kg in the next three months. That will get me to a half-decent weight for healthy guy at my height with my build. I’m yet to lay down a proper fitness regime or choose a specific diet but cutting out the roti prata and getting up off the couch every now and then would be a great place to start. I might even give up cigarettes but one thing at a time. My girlfriend always tells me that she’s worried that I’ll get sick if I keep smoking. Little does she know that it’s already happened: I’m sick of her asking me to stop. Besides, life is short. Why make it even shorter?

I’m going to share my progress with you as the weeks pass, dear reader. If you’re going through the same thing, let me know and share your experiences. I’ll be sharing mine so we can push each other along.

Note to gut: you’re finished. The Battle of the Bulge is on.

"Reckon you can give up my burgers? Good luck, buddy!"

“Reckon you can give up my burgers? Good f#cking luck, buddy!”

The sauce of all happiness: Satay at Lau Pa Sat

Lau Pa Sat Hawker Centre is a five minute walk from our apartment. If I had known this when my girlfriend signed our rental agreement, I wouldn’t have scoffed at the amount of rent we signed up to pay for the next couple of years.

Hawker centres are a huge part of the Singaporean culinary experience. Lau Pa Sat is also a part of its history.

Hawker centres are a huge part of the Singaporean culinary experience. Lau Pa Sat is also a part of its history.

The hawker centrea is actually called Telok Ayer Market but is known colloquially as Lau Pa Sat. There’s a bit of history about the place.

It first opened in 1825. Originally, it sat at the water’s edge but, due to land reclamation, is now a couple of kilometres inland in the middle of Singapore’s busy CBD. Back then, boats would pull up and unload produce directly into the market. Needing a serious upgrade from its weather-battered wooden beginnings, it underwent a drastic overhaul. A cast iron frame was shipped from Glasgow around a hundred and forty years ago, the same frame that holds it up to this day. In the 1970’s, it was converted from a market into a hawker centre.

Telok Ayer Market way back in the day. It's now two kilometres inland thanks to aggressive land reclamation.

Telok Ayer Market way back in the day. It’s now two kilometres inland thanks to aggressive land reclamation.

Lau Pa Sat comes alive at night when a section of road in front of it is closed off and tables are laid out. When the dozen or so stalls that pop up nightly set up their charcoal-fired grills and the smoky smell of barbecue fills the air, locals and tourists alike flock there to enjoy the food and the cool atmosphere.

Eating out on the street is so much fun. It gets smoky sometimes but it is worth it.

I usually can’t breathe properly by the time I leave, probably because of the strain my belly suffers when trying to hold over a dozen satay sticks plus all that beer.

Under the centre’s roof, dozens of stalls sell all manner of Asian food. At the centre of the hawker centre is a large dumpling stall that sells fried and steamed dumplings of all sorts. I often eat nothing but those. No rice, no sides. Just plates of dumplings, char siew bao (steamed pork buns), fried spring rolls and fried prawn dumplings as well as a few other bits and pieces that I don’t know the name of. I usually just point and say “I’ll have two of those, one of these and a plate of those please, auntie” (older people in Singapore are called ‘auntie’ or ‘uncle’ as a sign of respect). The dumpling stall is surrounded by scores of Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Filipino, Malay and Italian eateries as well as places that specialize in BBQ, vegetarian dishes, noodles and anything else you can think of.

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My girlfriend and I had dinner there last night. She felt like some Korean from one of the stalls inside so I grabbed some tasty prawn dumplings. We sat down for what was really just an appetizer for me.

The fun really started when we moved outside a few minutes later and ordered a plate of satay sticks…

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Beef, chicken, mutton, pork and prawn satay are everywhere as well as a handful of other choices. Smoky-flavoured, juicy pieces of meat and prawns are sold at every stall lining the road although, personally, I can’t tell the difference between them.

They’re all fantastic but the sauce is what really keeps me coming back. It is so good that it’s drinkable. Sweet, sticky, spicy, thick and as tasty as food can get. I don’t really dip my sticks in the sauce. Rather, I pretend that my stick is a spoon by trying to scoop up as much sauce as it’s possible for one small piece of meat to hold. Grab a mug or jug of beer with your sticks and you’re set for a fantastic and surprisingly cheap meal. Sticks are sixty cents a pop, cheaper still if you order a set.

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It’s not just that the food is great. I love the lively atmosphere, the mix of tourists and locals (the presence of locals suggests quality!), the history of the place and the fact that it’s a five minute walk from home.

There is a segue into my next post here…

For dinner, I ate three prawn dumplings and – I can’t believe I’m about to admit this – fifteen satay sticks. I couldn’t help myself. They’re just so good! Unsurprisingly, I now weigh far too much. How much, I hear you ask? Since arriving in Singapore nearly two years ago, I’ve put on 18kg.

I’ve posted about my love of the local food and my adoption of Singapore’s passionate approach to all things culinary but things have to change so my next post will be about my effort to shed those kilos. Stay tuned!


Television as a form of torture

I like to keep things fresh and I’m not keen on revisiting topics I’ve posted about in the past but sometimes a good old rant can be more fun than swimming in a pool full of beer. So I’ll reiterate two points that I’ve made before. One: my girlfriend rules. I’m as lucky as a lottery-winning, rabbit-footed leprechaun holding a four leaf clover at the end of a rainbow. Two: the things my lovely woman watches on TV are, at times, just awful.

"Please make it stop!"

“Please make it stop!”

My girlfriend – I feel like I should name her since I mention her so often but I’ll maintain her privacy – works hard as the manager of ‘big stuff’ for ‘big company’ (privacy maintained – real smooth, Christian). She has to work hard because, with her smarts, she’s going to rule the world one day and you have to work your way up to roles like that. That’s why she likes to switch off when she comes home by watching rubbish television.

Please note that I am not taking a swipe at anyone who watches these shows. I couldn’t do that without taking a swipe at my girlfriend and she will forever live without me ever having done such a thing to her, much less publicly and much, much less for the shows she likes to watch. I’m only having a well-deserved whinge about them because I’m forced to give up precious minutes of my finite life to watch them with her.

And that’s why I’m going to vent. I’m sure it’ll make me feel slightly better…

Beauty and the Geek: Even my woman admits that it is “a distilled and pure concentrate of all that is wrong with the world today”. Well, all she really said is “It’s pretty bad” but I’m a fancy-schmacy blogger with a glittering lexicon who is not above inaccurate paraphrasing, gross exaggeration and the occasional lie. I just don’t get it. These guys have sky-high IQs and could do anything they put their minds to.

"See,

“Oh my God, he’s totally right, there are male lady bugs…”

So they portray themselves as needy, socially-stunted dorks for a nationwide TV audience. The beauties are portrayed as stereotypically unintelligent bimbos but, nonetheless, the type of lady that all men should aspire to impress, to mate with and to suffer for the rest of their lives. “I used to think all lady bugs were female.” None of them have actually said that but ten bucks says at least one of them will say it before their time is up. Stupidity seems to be endemic to reality television.

Gallery Girls: If you haven’t seen it, it’s about a group of vapid, well-to-do twenty-somethings from New York who want careers in art galleries because “it seems, like, totally cool and stylish and, like, we can totally make enough money to avoid being dirty, middle-class, off-the-rack plebs, all without having to work, like, totally hard” (inaccurate paraphrasing and gross exaggerations, remember…)

"Does this photo make my ego look big?"

“Does this photo make my ego look big?”

As if the occasional racist quip from one of them isn’t bad enough – “Everyone runs and hides here because everyone’s, like, quiet little Asian people and scared” – the one Asian girl in the group, who should have beaten the racist to a pulp with her own sense of entitlement, comes out with gems like “I feel like I’m a pretty good catch. I don’t know why I’m not having men fall for me, like, on the street or asking me out all the time” and “Who wouldn’t want to sleep with me?” The appropriate response to both those lines is “Standards – some men have them”. Another one of the girls said during an interview “I always get offended when unattractive men hit on me. Stop. Go over there. Go back.” I shudder to think that aliens might one day come to Earth and, before learning anything else about us, will see this show. They will undoubtedly set their phasers to “Burn, motherf#cker! Buuuuurn!” and raze this planet in a celestial second. I’ve considered paying our cable provider extra to ensure the channel they’re on isn’t broadcast to our apartment, just in case I accidentally flick past it and vomit into my own mouth a little.

"What? Ain't nuttin wrong wit it. You just jealous."

“What? Ain’t nuttin wrong wit it. You just jealous.”

Makeover shows: I won’t take one nasty swipe at all of them. Sure, it’s nice to get done up if you can’t afford it or if you have some self esteem issues and need a little encouragement to show you that you’re as beautiful as the next person. Sometimes they even go to work on people who need really need some help. One show my girlfriend was watching the other day featured a ‘dancer’ *ahem* who wasn’t sure where the strip club’s runway ended and where the sidewalk began. She was such a bad dresser than she actually chose to wear a tight little dress backwards because the back (which became the front) plunged to her backside. I think she was simply trying to let the people around her know exactly when she was ovulating and what she had for breakfast. She needed help, fair enough. What I really don’t like about these shows are the exaggerated affectations and the tears that pour forth when they finally unveil the ‘new’ person. I’m sure their friends and family are saying nice things but all I ever seem to hear them say is “OH MY GOD! YOU’RE NOT UGLIER THAN AN OYSTER SWIMMING IN A BUCKET OF PHLEGM ANYMORE! WOW, I NEVER THOUGHT YOU COULD ACTUALLY BE ATTRACTIVE! I CAN’T BELIEVE THEY FIXED YOU BECAUSE, HONESTLY, I THOUGHT YOU WERE A COMPLETE WRITE-OFF! AND TO THINK I TOLD ANYONE WHO WOULD LISTEN THAT YOU HAD A HEAD LIKE A SMASHED CRAB! WOW!!” I’m sure they’re just happy for them but the tears suggest that they’re breathing a collective sigh of relief, as if to say “Thank God, they’ve been fixed” which I find a little disturbing.

"Thank God, I can actually look at her without feeling embarrassed now!"

“Thank God, I can actually look at her without feeling embarrassed now!”

I’ve already spoken my mind about the Kardashians but I will make a quick mention of the fact that she’s had a baby. My sincerest wishes for a happy life go out to that child, truly. All babies are gorgeous and I hope she has a fulfilling life. But North West? Poor kid. That name is right up there with the unfortunate moniker foisted upon Aussie real estate agent Dick Payne.

Phwoar. That did make me feel better….

Facepalm: when words just won’t do the trick

Moving in with a partner for the first time when you’ve moved to a new country together can be trickier than tackling a Rubic’s cube blindfolded. If I found out after moving in with my girlfriend that she liked to relax by playing “I’m a barbie girl” at full blast or that she scratched her butt by shoving forks down the back of her jeans and then put them straight back into the kitchen drawer – and I’m not sure which is worse – then I would’ve freaked out, and not just a little.

But I’m lucky. My woman is my best mate and I knew her well before we moved to Singapore. The worst that either of us has put the other through are those moments where the only thing you can do is to put palm to face and shake your head a little.

Gents, feel free to tell me that I’m not the only guy on the wrong end of this conversation:

Me: What do you feel like for dinner?
Her: I’m easy, babe. Whatever you want is cool with me.
Me: Cool, let’s go to that pasta place down the road.
Her: I don’t really feel like pasta tonight, too heavy.
Me: What about that new Thai place that just opened? I wouldn’t mind a nice pad thai.
Her: A bit spicy, babe. I don’t feel like anything too spicy.
Me: Alright… what about a nice, juicy steak?
Her: Nah, I’m not really in a steak mood
Me: Okay, well, what do you feel like then?
Her: I’m easy babe. Whatever you want is cool with me.

But living with me is not exactly a walk in the park. Unless we’re talking about a walk through New York’s Central Park after midnight, in which case living with me is exactly like that:

Her: Babe, Joey just said the funniest thing…
Me: Joey? Jeff’s cousin? He’s on the phone? Say hi for me!
Her: No, Joey on Friends.
Me: Joey Onfrenz? I don’t know anyone named Joey Onfrenz.
Her: No, Joey on the TV show Friends.
Me: Jeff’s cousin was on Friends?
Her: He’s not on Friends, I mean the character Joey!
Me: Yeah, Joey is a bit of a character.
Her: Which Joey? Jeff’s cousin?
Me: (sarcastic voice) Nah, Joey Onfrenz. Of course Jeff’s cousin!
Her: But I’m not talking about him.
Me: Then who the hell are you talking about?!
Her: I’m talking about the character named Joey on the TV showed called Friends!
Me: What about him?
Her: He just said something funny.
Me: What did he say?
Her: He said you’re an idiot.

girl palm

Had your own facepalm moments? Sharing is caring, dear reader, so feel free to comment on your own ‘did-she-really-just-say-that/do-that/use-that-to-scratch-her-butt’ moments!

Domesticating the world’s wildest animal: Man

After eighteen months of sharing a home with my girlfriend, I’ve realized that moving in with someone isn’t always a walk in the park, no matter how much you love the person. Sometimes you have to change a little. Sometimes you have to change a lot. Sometimes you have to compromise. And sometimes, you even have to get up off your arse and do stuff.

My girlfriend and I popped out for some dinner last night. After we got home, I sat down on the couch, grabbed the laptop and surfed the net a little. I kept my shoes on but my girlfriend doesn’t like it when I wear shoes in the house. We have black marble or granite floors, not carpet, so I don’t know what the big deal is but she kept asking me to take them off so I finally did so, moved them to one side next to the couch and continued surfing the net.

My girlfriend stared at the shoes thusly:

We’ve lived together for over a year and a half now so I knew exactly what the problem was. So, obviously, the only thing I could ask was “What’s the problem, babe?”

She responded with a noise that was a little like a “HHMMPPHH!” but had a vowel sandwiched in there somewhere. Knowing full well what the problem was, I decided to confront this situation head on.

“Babe, explain to me what the difference is between having the shoes here and having the shoes over there where you want me to put them.” Cue poorly concealed, sly smirk from me.

At this point I will note that my girlfriend is very intelligent. She is highly articulate, she is sharp as a tack and she is quick. She will rule the world one day, I always tell people. She is capable of absolutely anything. Her response, therefore, surprised me.

She thought about what to say, came up with nothing then went back to watching television (another God-awful show, to be sure – see my previous post about sharing the remote).

That was it. She said nothing. I couldn’t believe it. “I won!” I thought to myself! She didn’t have an answer for me! She was stumped and had no good reason for me to put my shoes with the rest of the shoes over in the ‘shoe corner’. It’s not really a corner, mind you. It’s actually just the entrance to our condo but we once laughed that the shoes are lined up facing the wall like they’ve all been misbehaving and have been sent to the naughty corner, hence the misnomer.

Look, it’s not that I’m lazy. Yes, I am the type to take off my shirt after work and throw it on the bed but only because I might need to put it on later that night and if I put it in the laundry basket, it’ll absorb the odour of dirty socks and wet towels and I’ll have to grab a clean shirt which will just create more washing for us. Whether the shirt is hanging on a chair or lying on the bed makes no difference if we’re both on the couch in the lounge room. And I’ll be putting my shoes on the next day in exactly the same spot where I took them off the previous night so why put them anywhere else? Sheer vanity would be the only reason, I tell you. Vanity. And if there’s only a bit of water left in the bottle, I’ll take the bottle out of the fridge, drink from it and leave it on the floor next to me until I’ve finished whatever water is left. Why dirty a glass or a cup that I’ll need to wash later when I can just drink from the bottle? That’s just crazy. And why not leave the bottle next to me till I’m done? Why open and close the fridge repeatedly, wasting electricity and, consequently, damaging the environment – oh yes, I’m not above playing the old ‘environment’ card – simply to put the drink back in when I’m going to take it back out again when I want another drink a little while later? Is man’s need to control his environment so overpowering that we can’t stand having a single bottle out its of place?

I am not messy, ladies and gentlemen. I am above messiness. I’m a domestic pragmatist, a practitioner of ego-free domiciliary practicality, the proprietor of a nondual awareness that has risen above the base allure of ego and mere possessions and the need for superficial order. I care not for vanity’s desperate whims. I do not acquiesce to man’s narcissistic desire to impress. I do not suffer the modern obsession with keeping all around me in its place and under control within a structured environment. I am beyond society’s need to elevate reputation and status with a glistening living space. I am beyond all of that. I am striving for a higher plane of consciousness, a primordial state of being that exists beyond the superfluous bunk thrust upon us by Martha Stewart, et al.

I, dear reader, am reaching for a domestic manifestation of nirvana.

Alright, fine, I’m lazier than a sleeping sloth enjoying a Sunday siesta on Xanax. But I’m lazy with a purpose, dammit! I am saving the precious time that I’ve been gifted for higher things, things worthy of my life, my consciousness and my intelligence, things that are beyond simple domestic chores, things like blogging about things that are more worthy of my life, my consciousness and my intelligence than simple domestic chores. Things like not doing any domestic chores.

“Okay, fine, babe. I’ll pick up the bloody shoes. Geez.” Our little interaction ended thusly.

As I was putting away the shoes, I’m sure I heard her mutter something under her breath about ‘working with this lump of clay’.

Awesome. Clay. I’ll probably have to clean that up, too.