Friday, April 30, 2010

My Day of Infamy (1)

I recall reading an article where Japanese executives, suffering from highly stressed work load, were encouraged to go to a gym regularly, at least once a week if not more often, to de-stress themselves. The recommended technique was to use a wooden sword, the type favoured by kendo enthusiasts, to thrash the hell out of a straw dummy.

Banzai, Bagero and 擬似 (Bastard) - they hammered away at their respective straw man with their kendo cane swords, no doubt imagining or visualizing the targets as their superiors, who had either demanded some impossible sales quota for the US market, or humiliated them to no ends by sending them home early at 5 pm* wakakaka.

* In Japanese business circle, it’s virtually a scandal (and a great shame) for a white collared bloke to return home earlier than 11 pm.

Well, just imagine some of my former girlfriends as those highly stressed Japanese executives with nasty samurai swords and poor shivering kaytee as the straw dummy - gulp!

Yes, those cruel aggressive
Elizabeth Bathory's somehow saw in me not only a boyfriend but a convenient de-stressing agent. And I have the quals or qualifications to be one (the de-stressing agent, not the boyfriend).

They knew I was pretty timid, passive and under-confident, and had that kind of personality that somehow worked their anger up real fast like a chemical catalyst – see my previous post
Lustful fantasies to understand why I was such a wimp.

Did I say ‘catalyst’? Aha! That immediately transports me back to the days of my school chemistry lessons. Incidentally I was once banned from the school lab for a month after causing an explosion with an unauthorized (private) experiment.

My crime then was not so much in causing the unexpected explosion but failing to provide dear (and come to think of it now, very sexy) Mrs Lim with a detailed record of the process of the experiment, including what lab chemicals I had used, leading to the minor incident.

Being the dedicated teacher, she was not so much angry with the mishap per se but more with my lack of scholarly discipline when I failed to pen down the process that would have permitted a tracing of where I had gone wrong.

I didn’t or more correctly, couldn’t for the simple reason there wasn’t a proper process – I didn't plan (what plan?) any articulated steps nor deliberate what material I used in my private chemistry experiment.

You see, after finishing Mrs Lim's assigned experiment with 10 minutes to spare and feeling mighty bored, I was just mindlessly mixing this and that acids and various unnamed unremembered agents, all temptingly available on the shelves right in front of my bench - yes, a kind of chemical rojak.

It didn't help when I was egged on by my encouraging buddy Michael. He loved to see the mixture in the test tube changed colours as I added on various stuff, until suddenly the mini-explosion occurred.

Fortunately, other than a broken flask and an awful fright, Michael and I weren’t hurt. Now, surely you’d understand why I didn’t write it up for Mrs Lim as:

Aim: To examine what light spectrum and audio frequency would be produced through the interactive process when H2SO4 is brought into contact with HCL (or was it HNO3?) and agent X and Y (and probably Z too).

In less than 10 minutes two bored schoolboys conducted one sweet but unauthorized experiment that brilliantly exceeded the boundaries of chemistry and (light & sound) physics, resulting in an explosion which would have made Alfred Nobel, the inventor of TNT proud. No doubt the experiment was the genesis of a potential Nobel Prize (in Chemistry, Physics or Peace) but I opted for the one-month’s ban as a lesser evil. Bloody Michael got away scot-free as usual.

Ooops, I have digressed from the affairs of the heart. Yes, I was talking about those former girlfriends of mine who saw in my timidity, passiveness and under-confidence, and annoying (catalytic) personality as the ideal combination for them to vent their pent-up frustration on. Yes sir (or yes, ma’am), I wasn’t completely useless.

But as I mentioned in
Right Wing Bitch (2) I did and still do have one non-negotiable principle, my socialist beliefs. My left wing proclivity is wide ranging, covering not only the political aspects but ecological stuff as well, like protecting whales, dolphins and orioles. And it was an issue about those mammals that irked one of them.

Sweetie had gone to Japan for holidays with her parents, and there they partook of whale meat. On returning, after giving me the standard boyfriend present of a little samurai sword (maybe to cut my own throat when she's angry?), she crooned to me how great the whale meat dish was, expecting me to gasp in wonder and envy. But all she obtained from me was a stoic look, kaytee at his most disdainful.

I was absolutely certain I didn’t curl my lips into a sneer, but somehow my expressionless face and silence sent her into a conniption fit of tearful ravings and ranting, at me of course.

Poor me – I could only protest (feebly I have to admit) I didn’t and haven’t uttered a single word. But she sobbingly cried out, crushing my heart like a concertina: “You don’t have to. Your face told me you disapprove of me. You look at me like dirt”, and then she gravitated into self-pity.

Before she could accuse me of not wanting to kiss her anymore (well, certainly not if there was still whale meat, or any meat in her teeth) I ended up apologizing for something I didn’t do. What a wimp I had been, so utterly devoid of self esteem and confidence.

Oh no, she wasn’t going to let me get away so easily as that – besides, moi, not unlike the Japanese straw man, was providing for her a great therapeutic de-stressing session to ameliorate her post-holiday downs. She accused me of pretentious portrayal of myself as above her moral/intellectual standards.

Intellectual standards? It was obvious by then she had escalated from self-pity to carpet bombing.

Don’t ask me how I ended up that way with each (succeeding) girlfriend. Years later, I had the nagging suspicion those babes, most of whom knew each other because Penang was (still is) a small island and they were generally from the same Convent school, were passing me from one to another. Each successive one was more aggressive and demanding than her predecessor, making me believe the word must have gotten around (among them) that kaytee was an easy … no, not an easy lay, though I wasn’t as principled in this department as I was in my socialist beliefs … boyfriend to boss around.

The same old accusation from each of them was that I had put on high moral airs, even though they knew on occasions I could be highly immoral (sorry, Privacy Act legislation prevents me from expanding on this).

But it was my left wing principles that got their goat. They would exclaim, individually and on separate occasions of course: “Oh, kaytee, you just have to be always morally right, pristinely pure without a single fault or ever committing an act of shame”
(and they had daggers in their beautiful eyes when they said all these).

Leaving aside the provocative issue of whale meat cuisine, they blasted those accusations at poor olde me whenever they became bloody mad over some petty points over which I got the better of them – you know, sore losers, made worse for them by losing to a wimp like kaytee.

Now, I had to accept that part of the fault was my character. Though I knew ... in general ... their accusations were neither true nor correct I was usually too passive or just lacked the will or energy to fight it out with them, especially when they were angry or tearful or both. Perhaps that encouraged them on, like sharks sensing blood in the water.

Incidentally, when I write ‘they’ or ‘them’, I must clarify that they were never simultaneously mad at me, for the obvious reason I didn’t possess the luck to have more than one girlfriend at any one time, unlike some more daring blokes like my best mate Michael. Guess I was not only timid but lacking in multi-dimensional management competency. So do treat those plural 3rd person pronouns as a generalization of the behaviour and conduct of each individual girlfriend at different stages in my pathetic love life.

Yup, those sweetie sharks would crowd me menacingly and ignore my efforts to mollify or placate them. And precisely because of my meek self, I usually ended up nodding my head to their acerbic criticism and crooning pathetically “Yes dear, I am sorry.”

Somehow my admittance of error (more to placate them than a true confessional) seemed to agitate them even more, leading them to scream at me “You think you’re bloody perfect, don’t you?”

And when I repeat my apology (just in case they didn’t hear me correctly the first time) “Yes, dear, I am sorry”, it would without fail sent them into a frenzy. Most would throw both their hands up in sheer exasperation, as if beseeching the heavens for help or perhaps querying why the gods had allowed me to be born to torment them so, and screamed-sighed
“Aiyaaah kaytee, you’re driving me crazy!”

But one day one of them didn’t – she merely walked out in silence and refused to talk to me for 3 days, until her dad told her a lie that I was completely and devastatingly broken-hearted, which I actually wasn’t (I even went fishing during that 3 days) but alas, a lie to which I had to admit as genuine (to her immense delight), to protect her dad’s integrity – Aiyaaah, the things I did for that old man - but that’s another story.

However, they were very wrong in saying I was perfect or that I hadn’t ever commit an act of shame. I remember one shameful occasion, and I cringed whenever I do, that day ... my day of infamy.

To be continued ........