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.

In your finest shirt & Thai: Destination wedding in Phuket

For the second time in a month, we went to Phuket, this time to celebrate our friends’ wedding. The couple live in Singapore with us. She’s Thai, he’s French and their kids will undoubtedly be gorgeous.

We stayed at the Pullman Arcadia on Naithon Beach. It’s a pretty stretch of beach with a few bar/restaurants scattered along it. The Pullman is relatively new and while it’s still receiving a few finishing touches, it’s a very nice place to stay.

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My Thai friend, Chayada, married her French partner Olivier. The ceremony, evening cocktails and the reception had more colour than a bucket of fruit salad.

The ceremony itself began at 9.09am. In Thai culture, the number nine is auspicious and considered lucky. In the small but classy space where the ceremony was held, five Buddhist monks swathed in bright orange sat waiting for proceedings to begin. Any sense of tranquility that they had bestowed upon the place quickly evaporated as the bridal party made its way in, preceded by a vibrant, noisy display of customary local dancers accompanied by equally raucous Thai music. It was lively and fun, a refreshing change from the usual sound of a pipe organ echoing throughout a church as the bride walks in alone and solemnly (which I also enjoy and am not diminishing in any way, it was just a nice change).

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The ceremony took about half an hour. Blessings were bestowed upon the couple by the monks as they paid tribute to them with traditional offerings of food and respect. The monks chanted prayers for them in return. It was a simple yet beautiful ceremony: strict and austere at its core and bookended by colour and fanfare.

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We then moved to another salon where ornate, golden stools were set up along with flower arrangements and traditional Thai garlands. The happy coupled filed in through the crowd, welcomed by their friends and the music of a khim.

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After some brief words explaining this part of the ceremony, the bride and groom’s parents poured water from a silver conch over their hands and made a wish for them. The rest of us followed, pouring water over their hands and wishing them all the best. Both the bride and groom are golfers so I wished them a lifetime of low handicaps and happiness. The former will almost certainly facilitate the latter. Deep down, I’m a romantic (way, way, waaaay deep down, it seems).

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“May your tee shots have plenty of spin on them…”

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Photos and hugs followed before we broke off and waited for cocktails to start at 6pm. It was a great ceremony. I had never been to a Thai wedding before. It was a lively experience.

We had some hours to kill so group of us went to one of the restaurants on the beach for some lunch. Great Thai food, cheap beers, the sun on our shoulders and the sand between our toes. We were even joined by the bride and groom as they took a break from the festivities.

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Relaxing at the beach during the day.

It was a great day and I love weddings. Friends marry their best friends, they’re as happy as they’ve ever been, the alcohol flows freely, everyone’s dressed to the nines, everyone’s in a fantastic mood and the alcohol flows freely. And the alcohol is flowing freely which is always a nice touch. The day was shaping up nicely.

At 6pm we gathered at a deck near the resort’s pool.

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The backdrop was stunning

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As the sun set over the ocean – talk about a back drop – the bride and groom posed for photos with their guests for an hour or so and made the obligatory rounds before we moved into the reception hall. That’s where the fun really started.

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The lobster was fantastic. Sweet satay with a big wallop of hell-fire chili.

Grace, colour and energy, all at the same time.

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The reception was a little more on the Western side except for three things. One, we were served tasty Thai fare (fusion, really) served up in a very chic way. The main featured a delicious satay lobster with enough chili to burn your taste buds off. Two, a troupe of Thai dancers performed for us twice as we ate. The way that such grace and tradition can come together with such energy and vigor is beautiful. Third (and certainly not least) was the ladyboy show. Forget nudity and ping pong balls. I’m talking a rollicking stage show with three performances of lip-syncing magnificence. At this point, my camera’s battery went flat. I really need to start learning to shoot one good shot instead of rapid-firing a couple of dozen photos to find that one shot that I think is best.

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Grace, colour and energy, all at the same time.

First was a live version of Minnie Ripperton’s classic Loving You, performed in such a perfect way that at one point I actually wondered if it was being sung or mimed. A hilarious slapstick duo followed, one of whom looked like a slim Aretha Franklin. As they sashayed through the crowd, my enthralled girlfriend told one of them how beautiful she thought they were. Without hesitation, one of the performers grabbed my girlfriend by the hand and led her to the centre of the room where the three of them danced to a disco tune. After so many glasses of champagne and wine, you can imagine how loud I was cheering. The third performer was a Beyonce look alike. She danced with such energy that her surgically-formed bosom threatened to spill out of her top at any second. The crowd loved it. It added so much fun to what was already an incredible day.

We spent the rest of the night dancing wildly (I never dance), drinking champagne like it was water (I never drink champagne) and partying like it was 1999 (I was 23 in 1999  and I haven’t partied like that since then). We had such a great night. It was my first destination wedding and it was so much fun.

A warm congratulations goes to my good friend Khun Chayada and her husband Olivier. May your life be happy, may your love grow ever deeper and may your handicaps fall ever lower!

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Can’t wait for the next Thai wedding to roll around.

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.

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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.

Love, living together and hiding the remote

When you move in with someone, you uncover things about them that you may not have been privy to before, things that you may have only glimpsed before you shared a mailbox and electricity bills, things that may even shock you a little (pun completely unintended). Moving in together after relocating to Singapore has hammered home a reality that I must face every time my girlfriend grabs the TV remote: her TV viewing habits are just awful. To be fair to her, she thinks my viewing habits are pretty bad too. To be fair to myself, she’s wrong.

I want to make something clear from the start. I once read a description of the perfect woman: one who’s smart enough to see through your crap but cool enough to put up with it. I, ladies and gentlemen, am lucky enough to have that. Smart, cool, gorgeous and has a heart the size of a watermelon. I am a lucky, lucky man. Until she grabs the remote, that is.

My dad and I used to love watching boxers test their mettle against each other but good bouts these days are as rare as hen’s teeth. The UFC has filled that void nicely. My girlfriend, though, would rather eat her own head than watch two guys beating each other up. “Babe, he looks hurt…” is a regular, incisive observation that she’ll make whenever a fighter’s face is covered in blood. I’m also a big kid and love a good animated series. Family Guy, Futurama and The Simpsons (before it became a shell of its former, glorious self after season nine) are my favourites. I love all sorts of movies, from art house to action to drama flicks but I really love watching good horror movies. My girlfriend hates horror movies but loves rom coms which I generally can’t stand. Game of Thrones does not interest her in the least, nor does Sons of Anarchy, both of which I view avidly. I can watch nearly any sport on television but putting the golf on is a sure way to put her – and, admittedly, most of the planet – to sleep.There are plenty of other shows I like watching that don’t quite do it for her. Sure, my viewing habits might not be her cup of tea, but that’s only because her taste in television – to put it eloquently and succinctly – sucks.

Whenever she grabs the remote, I make some sacrifices in the name of love that are worthy of the most romantic of Frost’s poetic treasures, the most heart-wrenching of Shakespere’s enduring dramas and the crappiest of the crap-riddled crappy romantic comedies my woman loves so much.

Rather than go on about our differences in taste, I’ll just rag on five shows that she loves that I just cannot watch without harbouring serious concerns for the future of the human race. In no particular order:

1. Glee – Yay! Kids with crippling emotional issues butchering classic and current hits with all the delicacy of a well-swung sledgehammer! Yay! I’d prefer to watch… oh, I don’t know… the ravaging effects of a severe case of frostbite engulfing my entire manhood. In slow motion.

2. The Kardashians – I don’t know about you, but when a woman who makes her millions by having a camera crew following her around every second of the day has a whine about having her privacy respected… I don’t know how to finish that sentence without referring to irony, stupidity and vomit. She’s of that new breed of modern day celebrity: famous simply for being famous.

3. Fashion Police – Kelly Osborne once said “I understand that being judged by others comes with the territory, but it broke my heart and ruined my self-esteem”. She is now a panelist on a show that rips others apart very publicly, simply for wearing things that aren’t ‘cool’ or ‘stylish’ enough. Joan Rivers might be funny but her attacks are scathing and merciless. Ironically, if Osborne wasn’t on the show, her patchwork of shitty tattoos (just get a good sleeve done, woman!) and her geriatric purple ‘do would make her a prime target for Rivers. Kelly, a fashion tip for you: those pale purple rinses are only cute on lovely old grandmother-types who you want to help avoid speeding cars as they cross the street, not spoilt brats who you want to push under speeding cars as they cross the street. Save it for your seventies (if you’re not pushed under a car before then).

4. American Idol/The Voice/X-Factor – I won’t be entirely critical. Some of their contestants are decent performers. Over the years, a few have even been spectacular. What does get under my skin about all of these shows are the sob stories. “A year ago, my dog died after swallowing one of my sexual aids, so I’m doing this for him *wipes tears away* I’ll always miss you, Boner.” My girlfriend has a heart so big that sometimes I wonder how she can fit it into her tiny little rib cage so she is an absolute sucker for their stories. Tears of sympathy well up in her eyes nearly every time she watches one of those programs. Stop making my girlfriend cry, dammit!

5. Miss Advised – A recent addition to my lovely lady’s list of favourite shows and it’s right up there with those shows that steal portions of your life that you’ll never be able to get back. If you’ve never seen it, here’s a brief synopsis: a woman, who runs a dating agency and charges her clients big bucks to help them find the right person, cannot find a date with the right person. Imagine a driving instructor starring in his own reality show about his inability to keep his car on the road. Cringe-worthy stuff.

But we have some common ground, a joyous place where our tastes overlap, where we can both get excited when a particular show or movie is on TV, where we can rave to each other about what we’re watching and quote our favourite lines from the movie or show together. We’re from Sydney so we both love watching the rugby league on TV and when our teams play each other we are louder than a couple of skeletons having furious sex on a tin roof. We both love movies from our younger years like The Karate Kid, Star Wars and The Goonies. Her love of these movies helped move me from the ‘I’m seeing this cool chick’ stage to the ‘I’m saving for a ring’ stage. We both think that the Star Wars series was savaged when episodes I, II and III came out. It was like watching rotten custard being heaped on the perfect meat pie: blech. We both think Tom Cruise is a very strange man but we love The Last Samurai for the sappy, dramatic slop that it is and we both like Ken Watanabe. We both love Amelie, The Bourne movies, The Newsroom, Entourage and anything that comes out of Ari Gold’s mouth. Our common ground extends beyond these productions but they spring to mind immediately.

Besides, we don’t love each other for things that we have in common. We love each other for the complex beings that we are, including the things that make us different. I already knew I’d hit the jackpot years before we moved to Singapore and moving in only confirmed it: I’m a very lucky guy.

Until she gets her hands on the remote.