Be True To Yourself
WARNING: NON-FOOD AND BORING POST. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
Things are dire when your gay friends start telling you to date more. My best male friends are usually gay and tend to be a rather protective lot, becoming impregnable human shields when they sense the unwanted attentions of an unsuitable straight male (they have exacting standards - Mr Fashion Disaster, or Bad Hair-Do, or the more common Mr I Wanna Shag Your Friend Rotten and Be Generally Disrespectful Towards Her) who has trained his shagdar on me.
It is amazing how an extremely camp friend can suddenly turn all macho and physically threatening, enclosing you in a tight circle between him and the bar counter when USM (Unsuitable Straight Male) starts zeroing in on you. I would blink rapidly with a stupefied gaping fish look when this happens. Most of the time, I am very grateful for the rescue since I have the unenviable talent and supreme arse luck of attracting real wankers who will piss me off within 3 seconds of their stripping me nekkid with a single glance.
Getting my well-intentioned friends to turn off their protective shields can be a real battle which I have resignedly conceded. Perhaps they just do not want to lose their favourite fag hag. But when they start haranguing you to date, you know there’s something fishy in the land of Singapore. Did the men in Singapore suddenly rise up in estimation of my discerning and extremely fastidious friends? Or am I suddenly aging so badly that they decide I need to get hitched before I lose all physical attraction?
The first conjecture is fairly laughable as we spend so much time eye rolling and shaking our heads at the antics of local straight men. The second is an extremely scary thought which sent me to the mirror for a few minutes.
My Aunt Kris can spend hours in front of the mirror. She would disappear halfway through dinner and would not return for ages just to gaze fondly at herself in the mirror. The first time her boyfriend-then-but-later-to-become-her-husband came to dinner, he very confusedly asked me what the deal was. I told him she had to make her nightly pilgrimage to Land Narcissus to offer the customary dinner time offerings of practiced poses, smiles and facial examinations.
My father could never walk past a mirror or any reflective surface without coming to a standstill to admire his own image. He would always have a comb (oh, to be related to a Westside Story character) in his back pocket which he could withdraw with a flourish to drag through his greased up hair-do. Because of all these embarrassingly vain quirks which run in my family, I developed a slight disdain of mirror time as I grew up.
Despite many people’s common misconception, I spend very little time in front of the mirror. The only time I do is in the mornings when I am doing my morning ablutions to hygiene and put on my face in order not to scare little children and small animals. Other than that I do not look at a mirror except to glance at myself when I go to the loo and at the end of the day when I remove all the makeup.
The longest time I spend in front of the mirror is when I am doing my stage makeup and examining my costumes so I do not have a costume malfunction a la Janet Jackson “accidental” mishap.
Perhaps it is because I am actually embarrassed by my own image. I hate seeing pictures of myself and I can barely watch me on screen. When I see any recordings of my performances, I would watch it only with clinical eyes to dissect my dance and stage techniques. Otherwise, I would cringe and wince in pained embarrassment and wish that I could be swallowed up by the ground.
I think it’s because I do not feel like I look. Apparently, I look sexy and that is a common perception. People take one look at me and peg me as some kind of (gag) walking sex bomb. Therefore, how people respond to me at first encounter is usually very insulting. They either hate me at first sight (usually women) or they imagine me in weird and unpleasant situations with them (usually men with not a chance in hell).
Seldom does anyone look beyond this. And when they find out I seldom go out to clubs, detest pick-ups, am a goofy clown, and would slap anyone silly who even looks at me wrong, there is always a look of great shock and disbelief before they awkwardly and hesitantly readjust their small brains to see beyond their cartoon caricature perception of me.
I always wonder at the great divide between how I see myself and how I come across to people. But apparently, according to my friends who never hesitate to tell it as it is, I come across completely differently and it is only after getting to know me that people realise I am nothing like what I physically appear to be. In the words of a friend, I look “like a porn star” but am the “biggest clown” around. She ended this by saying “It’s always a shock to find out that you are soooo nice when you look like such a bitch.” … Niiiice. Thanks, Sue.
From decades of self reflection and helpful and eager contributions from friends and acquaintances, here’s the current analysis.
My self image is of a rather brooding character who smiles and sparkles because she was trained to but who would rather hide in her little sanctuary alone.
“You are the most bubbly and sociable person I have ever met.”
A definite façade. I have to be in my work but unbeknownst to all but my closest friends, the wider I smile, the more I dislike you. A perpetually wide smile means I think you are an idiot and am contemplating the many ways to disembowel you. Watch the eyes. If they gleam, you are dying a hundred horrible deaths. If they sparkle, worry. If they are soft and really look at you, you are a friend and I am going to ask you soon if we can blow the joint and go somewhere less pretentious and real. Like a food court to eat. Otherwise, I am silently yearning to be home alone.
She is very goofy and extremely clumsy, gets lost easily and has many freak accidents because her head is always in a cloud of music or contemplation of what kind of taste combinations would work in a recipe.
“You are so sexy and graceful. You look like sex walking.”
Eeeuuww! Yeah, rrrright. Until I walk right into a mirrored pillar. Or have a scaffolding fall right on top of my head. Or fall down into a manhole. All true stories, people. Sex is definitely the last thing in my head when I am walking around trying to figure out where I am with my phenomenally poor sense of direction. And I walk according to the song I am listening to. Fast song, fast walk. Slow song, slow walk.
She is a real clown who makes many wise cracks and finds way too many things funny.
“You are soooo funny, you kill me! So weird because you look so seriously glam and you turn out to be such a joker!”
Glam? Me? Sure I like to dress up but I think my style is more bohemian and eclectic than glam. I avoid wearing clearly discernable brands because I think it is tacky - why should I model and market for them for free? And I love humour! Without it I would have sliced my wrist ages ago.
She is private and hates being the centre of attention. She is a paradox because she loves performing on stage but hates being watched off it.
“You are so dramatic! You get attention because you crave it! People watch you because you are such a diva and there is a spark about you that people will just notice and watch.”
Drama queen, eh? I only want attention when I am on stage. Off it, it makes me feel like I am being stalked. Creeps me out. Makes me nervous. I start looking over my shoulder to see who is watching me. I get a little nauseous and I want to run home to hide. I admit I am quite dramatic and animated with close friends but it is certainly not to be the centre of attention - it is a genetic thing.
She is klutzy and awkward and has a face only a grandfather can love (her mother considered her the weak link in a family famed for their beauty and her grandmother thinks she should have looked more Chinese and less mixed).
“You are so graceful and sexy. You have a face that is neither here nor there and people do not quite know what to make of you. Exotic and Chinese blokes tend to come on to you because they think mixed girls are easy.”
Gee, thanks. We already covered how graceful I really am. A dancer friend’s mum told me that for such a graceful dancer on stage, I am a bloody disaster off it, as she bandaged my knee after I fell off a chair at her house when I laughed too hard. True story. No, I was not mothered … just clumsy. Can’t help the face. Born with it. Note to self: Avoid Chinese blokes.
She is too gangly and has an unbalanced body.
“You have such long limbs – a real dancer’s body.”
Not true. Double jointed, which spoils the lines. Knobbly elbows. Short waisted which makes me look matronly and top heavy. Boobs too big for a dancer, and legs way longer than body, throwing the balance off. Sigh.
She is shy around people she does not know and gun shy about talking to men in case the first words they say is “Do you know you have nice tits?” or worse, say nothing and start trying the old let-me-put-my-hand-on-the-small-of-your-back-to-guide-you-to-your-seat-and-hope-you-do-not-realise-I-am-coping-a-feel. Pervs.
“You look up for it because you are so friendly and open. The tits thing? What to do, they are so out there. Coping a feel? Hey, they’re guys … what do you expect?”
This is from a gay friend. I am so too shy. Which I cover up by being all sparkly and smiley. I am usually super friendly towards women at first meeting - probably trying to gain their acceptance when I see the instant dislike in their eyes. The goofy humour is to put them off guard. Once they start laughing, they usually start hating me less even though they still harbour a wariness that I will try to steal their men or attention from them. Most times, once they get to know me, they start treating me with a fond condescension as the token “safe” sex symbol in the group.
As for the pervy guys. Avoid, avoid, avoid!!!
Why this long self analysis and narcissistic posting today? Because I spent last night teaching a class and then meeting a gay friend for coffee. As I made my way to meet him, my taxi driver started conversing with me and began the usual line of questioning. What you, ah? You do what, ah? You very beautiful and sexy leh, you married aleady? Why you don’t date one, so pity? You free some night?
Sigh ... bang forehead against keyboard. All I did was tell him where to go. And before you ask, I was wearing a long skirt, a printed top over my sports bra and had my hair in a messy bun. Nothing sexy about it. More like work-out sweaty and messy looking.
Upon meeting A, I complained bitterly and asked him why I was always so arsed luck and it sparked a long debate on what pheromones I may be emitting. He speculated that in my past life I may have been male and a real dog so this life, I am being punished for the transgressions of my past life. Not sure about all that but if it is true, I wanna go back to my past life and beat the shit out of myself.
Should we apologise for how we look and attempt to dress or look how we want to be perceived? In work, we dress for success but are we true to ourselves? I’ve tried to dress down, look demure and blanket any personality I have in order to gain acceptance. But they never do really accept you. How can they when they do not know you?
Much as my physical appearance creates eddies of trouble for me, I do not think I want to change it. My inner self image might not mesh with public perception but at least I can recognise myself.