Having decided on Skol rather than Tiger, the flirtatious waitress asks our Kiwi friend what he would be happy with – how many bottles to begin the night with – was what she meant to ask. Our Kiwi friend replied “sex”. Sorry sir, we do not offer sex at the table, later perhaps. Somehow the Kiwis insist on pronouncing sex instead of six. How often have you returned to Penang? Sex times. What time should we pick you up from your hotel? Sex tonight. How much is a schooner of beer in Christchurch? Sex dollars. How old are you? A sexy Sexty
So, sex was in our conversation all night. When we were teens, we were engrossed in the opposite sex. We brashly claimed to be virile even though we were untested and our focus was mainly on football and sex. Now that we are in our early sixties, many still find sex titillating, bragging about being virile and their focus is still on football and sex. Nothing has changed. We are born in the year of the Dog, so we call ourselves the Top Dogs in our school. We have maybe three or four alpha dogs in our year. Dinner with these alpha dogs can only mean one thing, it’s purely a liquid dinner and the discussion will center on “sex” matters. Philosophy, Religion, Politics, school fights, girls who broke our hearts, and sex. When we were young teens we had much time for one another, we cycled everywhere, we were free and easy, life wasn’t complicated, our first courtships were with the bicycle. Back then we didn’t have pocket money to spend. A street-wise friend showed me how he collected beautiful tropical fish for his aquarium. He would eye carefully the fish he prizes and then scoop it out of the shop’s aquarium without the shopkeeper noticing, before casually releasing it into the drain that runs along the shop’s perimeter fence out to the public drain outside the shop. He would then calmly and nonchalantly leave the shop before hurrying to the drain outlet with his own fish net and plastic bag and wait for the eventual arrival of “his” fish. How many did he catch that day? Sex.
But, of course much has changed. Amongst us, very few still retain a youthful look. Many are perfect candidates to commence on a strict regime of IF, Intermittent Fasting. Those that loudly counter IF stands for Incessant Feasting are the ones most eligible to fast, they tend to be rotund and sweaty. Those who heckle and say IF means Interesting F..ks are likely the most inactive when it comes to sex. They look desperately out of shape and out of puff. Seriously, I haven’t spent so much time bantering and drinking with old men before. They are old folks who qualify for senior citizens benefits such as free bus rides. They are either overweight and balding or overweight and grey-haired. A handful of them are slim enough though but they are the boring ones. The reason is they practise IF and they don’t join us for early breakfasts or late liquid dinners. Anyway, they are all grey, balding or bald, no matter fat or slim, all have a full waistline. It suddenly hit me hard. I’m uncertain if the Skols woke me up or I was slightly inebriated, but the sudden realisation that I am actually one of them was so sobering I couldn’t get drunk no matter how much was poured into my bottomless glass. This morning, the bitter truth was confirmed, one of them told me his younger daughter could not recognise me at all, and the awful fact is she only saw me three years ago. Urghhling, why did I have to be told this?
Even Penang, my birthplace has changed. It never looked or felt wintry when I was growing up here. I guess it’s only right we have to accept that everything and everyone changes. Ageing is a fact of life until the scientists find a breakthrough in preventing our telomeres from shortening as our cells divide. Maybe one day soon, before it is too late for the Top Dogs of my school, a telomerase can be manufactured for our daily consumption. A telomerase is an enzyme that adds bases to the ends of telomeres. In young cells, telomerase keeps telomeres from wearing down too much. But as cells divide repeatedly, there is not enough telomerase, so the telomeres grow shorter and the cells age. In the meantime, let’s all age gracefully. After all, one could say that the correlation between telomere length and youthfulness is still not proven.