“Celebrated” is perhaps the wrong word. It was more like a wake for my lost youth.
As if to rub it in, national swimmer Joseph Schooling’s birthday is on the same day as mine.
He celebrated his by donating $10,000 to charity. I “celebrated” mine by drowning my sorrows in Korean fried chicken wings at Chir Chir Fusion Chicken Factory in 313 Somerset.
Apart from sharing June 16 as our birthday, Schooling and I have little in common.
He has six-pack abs. I eat a lot of Korean fried chicken.
Days before turning 20, Schooling won nine gold medals in the SEA Games.
Last year, I received the finisher medal for completing the Hello Kitty Run on Sentosa.
At least I can brag that my medal is shaped like Hello Kitty whereas Schooling can’t say the same about his boringly round SEA Games medals.
At 20, my greatest achievement was getting a trophy for being on the team that won a tug-of-war competition when I was in polytechnic.
When I was 20, Madonna was singing Papa Don’t Preach.
Today, Madonna has to remind people who she is by singing Bitch I’m Madonna. It’s time someone told her, “Mama, don’t bitch.”
But Schooling isn’t the only one who has made me feel inadequate and that I’ve wasted my life.
At 25, National University of Singapore undergrad Yeo Kim Yeong got into the Guinness World Records by doing 44 pull-ups in a minute.
Sure, it can’t compare with Schooling’s nine gold medals, but at least Mr Yeo didn’t defer his national service (NS) to accomplish his feat.
But why only 44 pull-ups? Would it have killed him to do six more for SG50?
Remember those two guys who ran 50km every day for 50 days for SG50?
Did they stop after running 44km on the 44th day and say, “That’s it. I’m done”?
Not that I could even do 44 pull-ups myself.
When I was 25, I went AWOL in the canteen during my NS, which I mentioned in last week’s column.
Speaking of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), a woman also made me feel emasculated in my birthday month.
At 40, Colonel Gan Siow Huang has broken the camouflaged ceiling by becoming the first woman in the SAF to be promoted to Brigadier-General last week. She will assume her rank on Jul 1.
And I’m still a corporal. Maybe it has something to do with me going AWOL in the canteen when I was 25.
Wait, isn’t SAF celebrating its 50th anniversary this year?
So it took the organisation half a century to give a woman a star on her epaulette?
How come the Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware) didn’t complain about this during those five decades? Was Aware unaware?
Is it because soon-to-be BG Gan couldn’t do 44 pull-ups in a minute?
Pull-ups aren’t even part of the Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) any more.
At 40, I didn’t get a promotion but received a Hamilton watch instead from the SAF and was told to go away.
I was finally done with NS.
Although I’m relieved to no longer have to pass my IPPT, looking back, I sometimes miss those days because they represent a bygone era before I became middle-aged and ate too many Korean fried chicken wings.
But you know what really made me feel old?
After breaking the national 50m freestyle record during the SEA Games, Schooling was quoted as saying: “It’s a huge relief to break Uncle Peng Siong’s record.”
Huh? Who is “Uncle Peng Siong”?
You mean Ang Peng Siong?
Since when did Ang Peng Siong become “Uncle Peng Siong”?
I remember when Ang set the record 33 years ago, he was Schooling’s age.
Ang was the guy every Singaporean guy wanted to be and every Singaporean girl wanted to meet.
He was the guy with the abs then. Now he’s “Uncle Peng Siong”?
Did he eat too many Korean fried chicken wings too?
Ang will be 53 on Oct 27.
Uh... happy birthday?
As for me, all I have to look forward to now is the big Hawaii Five-O next year.
If only I was born a year earlier, I could be celebrating my 50th birthday this year along with SG50. I couldn’t even get that right.
I blame my parents.
But as I embark on the final year of my 40s, I’ve come to terms with all of that.
Just don’t call me “uncle”.
- Published in The New Paper, 28 June 2015
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