Saturday 11 August, Smarty Pants attended two wedding receptions—one a luncheon and another a dinner. He caught up with several old friends—and that is a literal “old”.

‘Interesting,’ said Smarty Pants. ‘With every passing year we meet more and more at weddings and funerals. Weddings of our children and funerals of our friends.’

In Asian culture, whether Chinese, Indian, or extra-terrestrial—take your pick—one does not mention “funeral” in a wedding reception. But his remark elicited a chorus of empathetic responses, with one old fellah saying that he scanned the obituary section of the newspapers every day and without fail.

‘Let me know if you see my name listed,’ said Smarty Pants, reminding everyone how that name came about.

Talk gravitated to one’s age, and everyone called out their ages. The unwritten rule was, the older the better because in Asian culture old age is often related to dentures, incontinence, and wisdom. It demands a special diet, adult diapers, and respect.

Mr Obituary Man grandstanded and announced he was seventy–six years old. That put everyone, including Smarty Pants who was in his sixties, in their places. But Smarty Pants had a comeback. He was slower now and it was all the fault of his brain cells. But he always had a comeback. He said,

‘You people can be old and wise. I’m quite happy to remain young and good looking.’

Fortunately, in Asian culture one does not drench wise guys with beer. They rather laugh and pee in their pants.

But Smarty spoke only the truth. He started jogging about a year ago. To keep healthy, live long, and drive the rest of his friends nuts. New to jogging, he saw himself as young in the sport. That made him young, he argued. Yes, go figure.

(You’re welcome to use this spin if anyone asks your age.)

As for the “good looking” part, one has to only ask his mother. He already bribed her for such eventualities. And she took the money and went to the happy hunting grounds to harangue her 13th husband. No one told him 13 was an unlucky number. Poor fellow.

Smarty Pants, ever the man who loved having the last word, said,

‘Guess what, today’s my birthday and thank you all for taking the trouble to attend.’

Again, Asian culture saved his day. One does not jeer and boo at wedding receptions. Unless it was your favourite politician taking his seventh wife—another intern, and for good measure this time a guy. No #metoo issues here.

No one believed it was Smarty’s birthday. The Boss—a.k.a. the wife—was summoned from another corner of the reception hall where she and her clackitty friends (they clack like chicken but continued to consider themselves kittens) were deciding the fate of the world. Just so you know, Smarty has forgotten to bribe his boss.

Did Smarty Pants speak the truth? Was 11th August really his birthday? Will the Boss spill the beans? Did Leonid Brezhnev suffer from incontinence?

(Sneaked in that last question to see whether you were paying attention.)

Join Smarty Pants next Monday for the second and concluding episode.

*** Copyright @ Eric Alagan, 2018 ***


    1. Hello Lauren,

      You’re welcome, and don’t stress yourself. Read as and when you are free – or not at all. No harm in taking a break now and then 🙂


      1. Thanks, Eric, and I’m not even taking a break. Just trying to work on other things around the house and the blog notifications don’t understand at all. 🙂 But, I especially don’t like missing your posts.

  1. Wedding receptions especially the Chinese ten-course type dinner usually needs a Smarty Pants to liven things up, otherwise most guests will put on plastic smiles, keep eating, wait for the next dish and can’t wait for party to end. Let’s see what more Smarty Pants comes up with.

    1. LOL! You’re right Windy,

      Many times Lisa and I found ourselves sharing a table with strangers – singles and couples meet this fate at most wedding dinners.

      Usually a man takes it upon himself to play “host” at the table. Bless the guy. On rare occasions, I too have stepped up 🙂


  2. The wife isn’t always “the boss” and she certainly wasn’t a hundred years ago. I must say that I’m proud that my sex has managed to effect this transformation. Is it linked to a difference, especially as they grow older, of the two partner’s attitude to sex as in the proverbial “headache”?

  3. Thanks for the cultural slant on birthday celebrations. A couple of weeks ago I attended the 95th birthday celebration of a friend, and two days later a lunch to honor her birthday. Maybe they forgot about the previous party.

  4. I think as we age, we become less afraid of convention – which can loosen our tongues, Eric, and we end up like smarty-pants and don’t even know it. That’s why
    it’s always important to have a good “boss” ! I know I do.

    1. Hello Bill,

      I believe you’re right. The older we grow, the more “real” we become. And we appreciate a good boss more, I agree.

      Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

  5. Haha, funny. Oh the intricacies of culture. Something like building a hotel in HK with a fourth floor that only foreigners were permitted to stay in. Every floor being number 4. I think you get the drift. A little like me on my first trip on the Star Ferry there. A man approached me asking if I’d like him to make me a “chop” quickly. Why not? I could have my own Chinese character chop to impress with a quick stamp on every document. He asked my name, nodded and proceeded to manufacture at supersonic speed. I had my chop! Never used it though, and why? Because I was told they have a standard chop for foreigners. Big nosed horse faced foreign devil. Imagine the hilarity if I stamped an official document with that. 🙂

    1. Hello Ian,

      Now you gave me a chuckle with that “chop” story of yours.

      “And yes, the Hong Kongers especially come across as even more superstitious than the average Singaporean Chinese,” said the Singaporean guy who was wearing a t-shirt with an italicized 13 emblazoned on his back, as he carried a black cat and walked under the ladder along the footpath 🙂

      Little did he know that his plus-sized mother-in-law who had been perched on the window sill cleaning the window on her 4th floor apartment had slipped and was barreling down on him.

      I don’t know what got into me to write that?!


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