An important decision lies ahead of me on the first day of Chinese New Year, ie, tomorrow: I have to decide whether to wear shorts or long pants.
In previous years, I have always donned shorts to visit relatives. And I mean decent (in my opinion), almost knee-length shorts, not hot pants or Goldlion boxer shorts - which I still wear of course, but on the inside.
And I do try to wear brand new shorts - it's Chinese New Year after all.
My mother has always been slightly embarrassed by her adult son's exposed calves at family gatherings, but is relieved that I've at least stopped wearing berms to wedding dinners.
The simple reason is that most wedding dinner venues are air-conditioned whereas the homes of my relatives are not.
Another critical factor is footwear. Or more specifically, the custom of removing them prior to entering a relative's home.
Which utterly defeats the purpose of dressing up for the new year.
You may be James Bond sporting the finest tuxedo ever made, but once the shoes come off, you can't help but look like James Dork.
However, if you're wearing shorts, somehow your bare feet don't look so incongruous.
That is, assuming you're taking your socks off as well. Or should you? Since you're not sure if your feet smell worse with or without them.
But remember if you do take off your socks, you have to put them back on again along with your shoes after searching through other people's smelly footwear, a process that you would have to repeat if you're visiting more than one relative's home in a single day.
In which case, it's more convenient to keep your socks on no matter how they smell.
As for me, I skip that whole bourgeoisie socks-and-shoes thing altogether - I wear flip-flops for easy removal and re-application.
And what goes with flip-flops? Shorts!
The dilemma I have this year is that for the first time, I have to return to work in the evening after visiting my relatives tomorrow.
My boss has already made some snide comments when he spotted me wearing shorts in the office once one weekend.
HR has e-mailed a reminder that proper office attire is required during business hours, but it's my belief that weekends and the first day of Chinese New Year don't count count as "business hours".
Still, those snide comments can hurt.
Perhaps I could wear shorts to visit my relatives and then change to long pants at the office? But that would mean I'd have to change from flip-flops to socks and shoes too. Way too much hassle.
What the hell, I may just wear long pants all day and not embarrass my mother for a change. Just hope she doesn't start expecting it every year.
- Published in The New Paper, 25 January 2009
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