In the quiet of my room, my feelings tossed and turned. Stared at a blank page, trying to fill in words in a way that tried to explain my predicament best. And all I could see is a blank wall ahead of me.
[So, quit trying to write it. Is it that important to have it all out?
I don't know exactly why, but I want to. I want to capture what and how I felt before it fades with forgetfulness. I want to lay it out so that I myself could understand it better, due to my 'OH-SHINY-THINGS' brain. I feel like the person I was is still here, and yet different in finding my way, myself. Where I had been laying clouds, I am more or less, using something of a more solid material now.]
A couple of years ago, along with my friends, we went to this restaurant for supper. Ate snacks and had a jolly time. I thought the desserts were quite decent. Fast forward a few weeks later, my lunch buddies at work were wondering where to eat and excitedly I told them about this place. So off we went.
It did not go well. It's horrible enough that they didn't like the food, I kept getting snide remarks about how bad it was and being jokers, the jokes built up like a crescendo. I could take some butt kicking, but a prolonged one is just, quite simply, tiring and my smile muscles seem rather frozen in place. I paid for everyone, partly from embarrassment and feeling bad about the food. It was an office joke for quite a bit.
From then on, I am wary of giving out new eatery suggestions. I'm not stupid enough to be burnt twice, and boy, did that burn me bad. My lips kept shut, unless I had to suggest one, and even so, with much reluctance. Perhaps food isn't my forte, I thought, and I refuse to take responsibility for something which I don't know if it's good-good.
But that was my first foray into the thoughts... what IS the standard of good? I'm sure there's a collective standard of bad, say, extra meat in your dish (specifically, cockroach) or a mee goreng that overly reeks of chemicals or not-fresh ingredients. But how about good? I've tasted good curry noodle soups (by my standards) in different places and sometimes I do enjoy each of them in the sense that they give me different kicks. Could be the herb that they use, or the balance of santan, or how the spiciness plays on my tongue or throat, the texture of the soup and so on.
I've seen different people pooh-pooh and waxed lyrical over the same dish. Sometimes the reasons could be similar on both sides; eg - It's too salty! It's well salted.
Or what makes a pan mee a Pan Mee? I know the general look of it, but the taste... hmmm.
I felt exasperated. This doesn't help me at ALL to find that general good-good, and I started dreaming of a world where there is a Master Pan Mee or Master Curry Noodle. I could have it side-by-side with my current favourite pan mee/curry noodle, and then I could be, Ahh, the one I like is actually not spicy enough and they could lay off on santan a bit more.
See? Won't life be much easier that way? Harrumph.
For a while, I forgot these questions. I don't know if my taste has evolved or that I've just kept myself out of the line of fire. Might be the latter. Google helps too :). And then something popped up again, caused me unease and thus, heralded the return of the old questions, though in a different form.
A childhood friend of mine invited me to his play, and along with two of my colleagues, we attended the show. During the intermission, a small discussion took place with the three of us... and I felt out of place as I had not noticed what they both noticed and I felt alone in what I noticed. I mean, I could feign to opine the same as them, but what I truly think of it is what I will stand by, even if it makes me look like a fool or an outsider. Oh, it's not as bad as it sounds. Just being melodramatic; there were no stark contrast of views; simply a different point of observation.
But it did bring up my old insecurities; that I'm being weird again, that I fit in like a square peg in a round hole; that perhaps I should try to learn to be a little more rounder.
Is my view a refreshing take from another angle or am I simply odd? Or abnormal? Or simply unexposed and uncultured? (As an extension - what is culture? Is it set in stone, while malleable, it still follows the fact that it is a stone?) Perhaps, as opposed to people who have seen theatre, and most probably better ones, I AM unexposed to what one ought (ought?) to judge in a theatre play.
I was a little stuck on trying to think about it, and kept hitting the blank wall. Often, I keep it all in my head, but somehow while pondering on it, I was in the kitchen helping my mom with something. And I shared my old questions with her. It definitely helped.
In short, she spoke about how one must taste a lot of char kuey teows to know the difference; not to stick to one stall, because once you've tasted a better one, the lesser one won't cut it anymore. But what she said next is interesting; that it's all about expectations. Perhaps, one place may serve better char kuey teows, but a person would insist that the previous one is better. Some people may like a dish so much from one stall, that that's what they expect, and the others fall short of that expectation. It may extend to subjective liking of the place or the people who run the stall. (In hindsight, I also filtered the plays through my own experiences, so one had been a hit with me while it was a miss with the others. Another had a bigger impact on me because of that as well.)
Or like in the theatre scenario; what do each of us expect out of a play? To watch the acting and lines delivered amazingly that brings the script justice or to watch how human nature is explored through the story? Different expectations yield different opinions.
As any mom would, she gave me a little non-literal pat on my head and said, And so, while you should catch more plays for experience, don't be silly and fret that you're odd... you simply had a different expectation.
After it turned into another topic, I smiled to myself inwardly. It was a really nice casual chat, when I don't dismiss my mom's views like I used to. I don't know when did the transition happen, but somehow along the way, I accepted that I AM a kid and my mom do actually know more.
Hear that, teenage Gianne?