This evening, I attended a big dinner party for an old family friend and was ushered to a table of young, beautiful people.
Yes, younger than I, and more beautiful - including the men, and they were straight, too! Mmm. Everyone lived or studied overseas - and in exotic locations, not just the usual *yawn* UK, Australia and US but Spain, Italy, France. Everyone drank wine. The young men didn't gulp it down. No, they swirled it, inhaled the aroma, analysed it - and they didn't look one bit like posers.
I was thinking, 'Oh shoot, why did I choose to join this dinner party... I am going to be so uncool next to them'. Then I thought, hey, I'm supposed to be able to relate to them. I'm still in my twenties! I'm not a country bumpkin either. Hold my ground!
To the left of me was J, an Australian-Chinese babe (aged 21) who is quite literally a citizen of the world, having travelled almost everywhere. She met her French rocker-boyfriend F at his concert. Further left were siblings M (26) and L (22), who studied in Australia and Canada respectively. We learnt that we all spoke only English at home, and can't speak dialects.
To my right were two handsome young brothers - D, studying 3rd-year Medicine in IC, London, and J, about to read Law in LSE. People on both sides asked where I was studying, and that made me feel a little better. When I told them I was working, they assumed I had only just started working - like some of them.
Of course, telling them that I worked for the Dark Side drew some mild recoils. Fortunately, because my role in the Dark Side is fairly benign and altruistic, they did not see me as the Enemy in the end, but as a harbinger of wellbeing.
Interestingly, they found my visits to various parts of China fascinating. The young Aussie wanted to know more about her roots, and asked if I knew anything about World War 2. So I told her the story of how my maternal grandparents met during the war. My grandmother spoke some Japanese so she was made to work in the canteen serving the Kamikaze pilots. My grandfather was a fugitive on the run from the Japanese, who relied on her for protection. (Maybe I will tell my grandmother's story one day on the Yesterday.sg blog...stay tuned)
I also told my new Australian friend of a textbook lesson that has stuck in my memory for over a decade - how 100 Aussie soldiers in Singapore bravely fought the Japanese who greatly outnumbered them, to the very end. The Japanese were so impressed they gave each soldier a proper burial. (someone please give me the name of this battle!)
In any case, it was encouraging that this young generation can still be fascinated by history. Any good story can captivate people. (cf Daniel Pink)
Table-wide, we exchanged anecdotes of classmates who went mad. We heard about a classmate who talked about things that weren't there. I myself had a junior college classmate who wrote fake letters to our form teacher claiming she had leukaemia, then went absent for a long period of time, announced she had died. When she returned to class, she claimed she was actually her twin sister from China, who was raped by her own father. She went to HCJC after the first 3 months, so she probably wanted to pull a fast one on us. Still, it was a rather crazy thing to do.
So in the end, it was a good storytelling session, in between Chinese dishes. I was sad to say goodbye.
How can you tell when young people really like others they meet at parties? They exchange email addresses for instant messaging. They ask to take photos with each other.
So, I hope my photo gets emailed to me. Yeah, baby. *pushing my luck here*