The man with so many other men…who is the real man?

October 10, 2015

You know there is a book, man from Venus and women are from Mars. Or is it the other way round….I can’t remember, but by just reading the heading true to the manifesto of the simple minded who if you really care to notice regularly have absolutely no trouble discovering the secrets of the universe by reading what’s printed at the back of a chewing wrapper….that at least is what regularly ripples thru some part of my brain whenever I met someone for the very first time.

‘I know so little about them….which man am I talking too up there in his head where so many men are running around…which man?’

It’s not hard for people like me to come across as strong willed. I happen to have a square jaw, you know the sort that conveys a certain hardness of character, fortitude and that’s reflected in the way I narrow my eyes when I intone….yes, I understand. My point is most people see what they want to see – the respectable landowner….complete with his old world charm….old money…I wonder did he row for Harrow? He’s shoulders they’re broad…bet he gyms…bet he can play Eaton 5 without even bothering with mittens. Most definitely a third or perhaps second generation planter stock! Barkers…they only wear Dunlop welted laced shoes….he leaves the last button of his bushjacket free, a trait of only a field man.

That’s what other men really see – the impression at least, naturally I am making it easier than it sounds – there is much more to the idea conveying the idea of who one really is – it’s hardly just conversation for the sake of using so many words to say absolutely nothing. Not in my circle of interacting with people at least, bent landowners, parvenus and people who generally have only one thing that unites their crumbly world – the idea that everyone knows himself well enough to do, think and act rightly.

You see that’s really how the game of life is played…it’s like that first moment when you opened a new monopoly set for the very first time in your life and when you saw that tin sport car – you wanted it. As the game goes on…you begin to want other things as well and maybe a get out of jail card just in case the die is loaded against you…..that in a nutshell is how I see the whole idea of business. Everyone is just one perpetual merry go round where with a mix of luck, serendipity and perhaps moments of epiphany – hopefully it ends well…and you don’t lose too much.

But emotions are much complicated…if business is eu de cologne. Then stuff that revolve around the great sun of emotions…hopes…aspirations and dreams all have in them the concerntration of only parfum….where with just the merest drop to the skin, a thousand fields of images fills the senses and somewhere in the mind – the skeleton turns to open a new door that leads to a new stream of consciousness…that’s how complicated emotions are.

And that’s how it is with most people – they’re just don’t realize how so much of how they think…behave….react or choose not to is really the sum that comes from not one man or even one woman….it’s from the many men in this one man and the many women in this one woman that all adds up to who we truly are.

I am NOT saying this is a psychosis or there some malevolent organization bent on ruling the world has added something to the water supply to bend minds – it’s natural…it’s the way things really are to me…at least. The very idea that when we actually see someone and weave them into our lives, all we are doing is bringing into other lives…histories….emotional baggages etc etc as well. I mean if you are speed dating and a girl tells you casually she into cats and when you get to know her better you find that her whole house is filled with ceiling high cages of stray cats and she spends 90% of her salary on cat food and everyone in her estate calls her the mother Teresa of the cat world in Singapore – if it’s like that, then it’s a psychosis and you should be troubled. But the mere suggestion there could be more than one man in a man or more than one woman in a woman doesn’t provoked any negative or positive reaction on my part – I can accept that dichotomy…duality and even live with the whole of the self being appropriated by an alternate self from time to time for all intends and purpose everyone else in the world is content to see as one whole complete and singular person.

Still don’t get what I am trying to say do you? Missed the point somewhere between two lines and now you’re trying to figure out whether it’s worthwhile to re-read this whole entry from the top to try to get a handle on that missing jig saw and makes everything fit. Or should I just pretend to open a copy of remembrance of things past by Marcel Proust because there is a really cute intellectual looking guy sitting directly opposite me in the train…not just cute, Korean haircut cute drop dead Matilah cute!

Now imagine yourself as a stage director watching this scene where this girl who probably has her book upside down and doesn’t even realize it…only because there’s another woman in this woman’s head whose already script written how the rest of the narrative should go on like one of those perpetual Korean love serials.

In this story of a girl whose maybe just turned thirty and whose still single mets the Koreana guy. He’s not my type…she says to herself…or maybe it’s another woman she never once gave a name too who lives in her head. Before that thought can congeal…yet another woman steps in, lifts this girls head…now she’s looking squarely at the man across her…she notices he wears horn rimmed glasses, the sort with specks like amber and can even look good when one wears a N95 mask…he’s got taste she says to herself, not that saccharine laced air of pretension that every guy seems to showcase to the world by just wearing a make belief G2000 off the shelve – I am still in the great corporate fight….I’ve got it all together….just don’t count me out yet. No Mr Koreana is not the sort of a man that radiates that sort of Kistch sense of expectancy, he is the man who once got an idea in his head and just did it, it shows in how he shifts his well gymed panther like body around to try to find a comfortable place on those impossible plastic seats on the MRT. There’s a prosaic languor in the way he moves like the way only fishermen can move deftly to free a stubborn knot. Or the way the expression of a potter when her hands run thru wet clay…the end is always in mind. Mr Koreana continues to look enquiring at the features of this train – it’s not an frozen dolphin mildly interested look like the one fat American tourist usually wear after waiting in line for two hours in the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa only to express it all with that sobriquet terms of nihilism – it’s nice!

It’s an enquiring look a voice whispers in the mind of the girl. As she watches the man who tracing his eyes along the stretch of alluminium air con ducts…it’s a studied look. Like the expression old sea captains wear whenever they taste that metallic electricity in the air before a storm…the mood is pensive…yet relaxed. Maybe he runs his own business. Makes things that they bubble wrap, put in the a box and ship out. Maybe he’s a businessman. Certainly looks the part..

This is just a byline – never knew taking the crowded trains can be such a drama!

Like I said it’s deep because I am trying to convey to you the idea of how people build a picture of someone in their head. How they might even add other things that may be closer to their hopes and dreams only to end up with an encrusted mass of him and her….it’s just like the way the girl who has always seen herself as different from all other girls see Mr Koreana – how so much of who we really are…what we yearn for…die die must have comes from so many men within just one man. Or so many women in one woman. The very idea must seem some frightening to some people…many just block it out…or filter it out with what they regularly claim to be their shit filter that’s always on full power when reading my blog.

I told you it was deep. But let’s not break the chain of thought…the very idea of making a mental Felini film noir sort. Now most the passengers by now got out somewhere along city hall and Tanah Merah – the carriage is now empty, except for a middle aged uncle whose dozing off as his heads rattlers from time to time against the glass. The scene is hilarious and for the very first time, their eyes lock and they laugh together.

Mind our thirty something isn’t your regular Sengkang Sally admin stuff that usually cram so much magnetic knock knacks in their cubicle. Nope our thirty something is just different from all other girls. Not just different like how some people pretend to be different just to get attention – No! It’s not that cheap narcissistic version of just trying to be different. She’s just different…different because she believes she would be able find someone who she wants to take a chance with in life….that’s why she stayed in her seat even when she was supposed to get out at Bedok. This woman is one a train to destiny….it’s hard you say to be able to make out so much from just the scene of two strangers laughing in an empty carrier with a man who keeps making a Ping pong rattling sound as his head drums the glass….but they weren’t just laughing.

Freeze that frame in your mind eye…you can do it…like I said…you’re the stage director.

Just before the man smiled which eventually gave way to a laugh and they girl followed suit…and their eyes locked momentarily like a streaking meteor across the velvet darkness of infinity. In that one moment, something stirred in the woman…it wasn’t the air or quiet sophistication of the man seated across her. Or even the slight gruff in the way he looked at her just then – the eyes of a Panther.
At that very moment. A new woman who never existed before was born.

She had taken a chance to stay on when her mind told her, this is your stop! Now get out because tomorrow you have to be in your office for a conference call at seven.’ But she stayed on. She’s suddenly filled with a compulsion to know whether perhaps this might be the man – the one line that will intersect hers in that greater universe of every woman’s hopes and aspirations – to just be loved and to be loved in return.

Somewhere in this woman’s head a movie reel had begun to turn on it’s sockets and light is now projecting in full technicolor how it might all turn out – that this man whose seated so near yet so very far could just he…could he be the one? Maybe she should just get up and stand beside the door. After all if he does the same. I happen to know a nasty bump just between three quarters of Tanah Merah and Simei where I might pretend to lose my balance only to fall into his arms.

That siaow mei me it thought quickly evaporated from the woman’s mind only for her to flashing him a look of mischief, it’s not a flirtatious come on look – it more like being caught by the wind – to be just swept away.

It’s easy with Mr Koreana…there’s an ease about him, like his there but not really there. Some men are permeated with that spirit of detachment – they walk around aimlessly most of the time mulling over things like a man marooned in his own head…..like Robinson Crusoe.

See what I mean when I say, there are so men in one man. As there also be so many women in one woman…

So far the narrative is only about the girl. She’s different. But Mr Koreana…let’s call him that even though he actually comes from Singapore because he’s lugging a NTUC plastic bag filled with Maggi Mee…maggi mee is just not instant noddles, not in this movie that is staged in the mind, it’s the equivalent of the Merlion or something so iconic that is the very ambrosia of Singapore.

Sure Mr Koreana is sophisticated, but not like the way some men pay great detail to how they dress along with what accessories to wear to make a good impression – No! Mr Koreeana is not that sort of FHM sophisticated – it’s like that very dark impression some men exude ….could be in a cafe where he’s just all by himself surrounded by a sea of humanity…but nonetheless it’s as if you can feel some residue of sadness in his eyes that’s reflected in the woman eyes as well – that’s what really unites them in that one moment just before they breakout into laughter together…the idea of togetherness in being able to share eyes that see the world as a dark and desolate place where all ever seems to do is search in vain.

Sad laughter. Never heard of it? I bet you just said to yourself. That because it’s like a cocktail two parts bitter sweet with the illicit thrill ridden sensation that comes when one comes across people who seem to share something together…even if it is only for a fleeting moment. But that’a only because both remain unaware within this moment of maybe solidarity (though I don’t think that’s the right word) – there’s an eclair of irony…the very idea that we might not be alone after all…OMG, there are actually people like me…..and I have found one of them!

Or maybe not. Maybe Mr Koreana finally gets off at Simei and just manages a curt friendly nod as he walks back home to cook himself two minute maggi mee and with an egg thrown in for good measure. Maybe the girl who just a moment ago played out their entire life story together complete with even a nice picket home fence, 2.7 kids and monthly visits to ikea for meatballs just continues sitting right there in the empty train that has stopped with it’s doors sprung wide open. Maybe somewhere between the familiar hiss of the doors closing for first time, she realizes the book she had been holding on since Mr Koreana stepped into the carriage was upside down – it was written in an alphabet she could not understand.

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