Thursday, 22 November 2007

Al Dante Trattoria: Love for the Lighter Taste of Love

12th October 2007

"Hmm, thanks. Give me a moment, while I go pick up my girlfriend," I told the captain, after browsing through the menu at the front of the restaurant. In actual fact, "girlfriend" might not have really been the right word here, since she and I had agreed on more *ahem* flippant terms.

"Hey darling," I greeted her, as I took her hand and naturally guided her to the restaurant I was at just minutes ago. The captain gave me a look of (obvious) recognition, as he directed us up the stairs. The waitress on the second floor seated us at our table, with a clear view of the city skyline in a distance. Romance was in the air indeed, a semi-breezy night of alfresco dining under the stars, and the skyline made the perfect backdrop for picture *err* perfect, *err* pictures *ahem*.

We took a little longer than necessary browsing through the menu trying to decide what to order for the night, as we were probably a little too preoccupied with absorbing the essence of the ambiance. But after a little deliberation, we finally decided on one appetizer and two main courses.

As we were waiting for the food to arrive, we recounted the past month of our "relationship." Again, "relationship" here was an extremely vague term due to a rather complicated ruling . For starters, we were meant to be "flings" more than anything official, not bounded by the exclusivity of dating, and it was meant to be something somewhat light and somewhat casual, but yet, not really at the same time.

And indeed, light was the order of the day as transcended through the taste of the Garlic Bread that was promptly served shortly after our orders were placed. I am a self-confessed Garlic Bread lover, and for the oddest reason, I tend to use something as simple as Garlic Bread as a benchmark to get a rough footing of an Italian Restaurant's culinary standard. Tonight's Garlic Bread was softly-toasted, with the Garlic Essence deeply and subtly set into the bread, picked up only by the more delicate portions of the taste buds and played more to the olfactory senses than those of the tongue. But yes, there was a beauty in such subtlety, and I was definitely a beholder.

But experience has taught me that subtlety can be a deadly thing as well, and perhaps that was the driving force behind me wanting to shy away from the terms of "boyfriend" and "girlfriend" for us, in the first place. All the subtle and unsaid obligations and expectations, the "supposed tos" and "shoulds" ("should pay," "should fetch," "should send," "should serve," "should spoil") are more than enough to send shivers down my commitment-phobic spine at the very thought of them. I believe in Free Will, where everything in a relationship is done out of one's own willingness rather than the need to meet another's expectations, the things that the other person would want out of you; a belief that Age and Experience have played their roles in sculpting over the years.

But Age has not only proven to sculpt my beliefs, apparently it has a part in shaping my taste-buds as well. The Mudcrab Lasagna served was drenched with a thick and brown gravy, with a richess akin to that found in Lobster Bisques. While I had used to appreciate this particular kind of richness in my food, this time around, my taste-buds and I were left a little disorientated. Perhaps Age is shaping my taste buds to bear a stronger resemblance to that of my father's, with preferences for lighter and more subtle flavours.

But when it comes to flavours, still nothing beats the importance of balance in flavours. The Rucola Pizza, described by the menu to be topped with ham and dressed-salad proved to be the biggest surprise of the night. I thought my "girlfriend" madly experimental when she chose to order the seemingly odd pizza (I mean, a dressed salad on top of a pizza?!), but yet, when it was served, the unlikely combination actually turned out surprisingly well. The thin bread-like crust and base of the pizza splendidly complimented the salad made on top of it (as to how bread crumbs compliment a well-dressed salad), and the well-made ham was icing on the cake. The freshness of the greens with its appropriate dressing, complimented by the subtle taste of the dough in the make of the crust, topped with the saltiness of the ham, totaled into a splendid, well-balanced potpourri of flavours -- hands-down the best dish of the night for me. A point reinforced by my repeated picking of triangular-slice after triangular-slice off the platter.

And perhaps triangles are the best way to explain the somewhat complicated "relationship" that she and I share.

The Triangular Theory of Love factorises love into 3 components:
  • Intimacy - which encompasses the feelings of closeness, connectedness, and bondedness.
  • Passion - which encompasses the drives that lead to romance, physical attraction, and sexual consummation.
  • Commitment - which encompasses, in the short term, the decision that one loves another, and in the long term, the commitment to maintain that love.

Which permutate to form 8 different kinds of love.

1. Nonlove, the absence of all three components of love.

2. Liking, in this case characterizes true friendships, in which a person feels a bondedness, a warmth, and a closeness with another but not intense passion or long-term commitment.

3. Infatuated love is often what is felt as "love at first sight". But without the intimacy and the commitment components of love, infatuated love may disappear suddenly.

4. Empty love: Sometimes, a stronger love deteriorates into empty love, in which the commitment remains, but the intimacy and passion have died (e.g. arranged marriages).

5. Romantic love: Romantic lovers are bonded emotionally and physically through passionate arousal.

6. Companionate love is often found in marriages in which the passion has gone out of the relationship, but a deep affection and commitment remain.

7. Fatuous love can be exemplified by a whirlwind courtship and marriage in which a commitment is motivated largely by passion, without the stabilizing influence of intimacy.

8. Consummate love is the complete form of love, representing the ideal relationship toward which many people strive.

Of course, the “Perfect Love” is the perfectly balanced Consummate Love, but then again, I was never really looking for this brand of “perfection”. Over the years, I've learned to believe in the ephemeral and become an Experiential, living-in and fully relishing the flavour of the moment. So while the rest of society reaches out for the perfect complete Love; as I am right now, Commitment is too rich and heavy flavour for me to bear, and indeed, the lighter flavours of Romantic Love and everything else in-between the axes of Passion and Intimacy are more akin to my tastes.

And the best part is... I don't have to dine alone in my beliefs, for she would gladly indulge in the flavours that I so relish.

Holding Happiness

.... to a month of Wining and Dining to the Lighter Flavours of Love

Friday, 9 November 2007

Halloween in the Schizophrenic Mind

???: I know its a little belated, but... Happy Halloween Dr. Jerkyll.

Dr. Jerkyll: A very Happy Halloween to you to Mr. Snyde, But say, I think the belated is a little more that a little, considering Halloween came a little early for us this year.

Mr Snyde: Huh? I'm not THAT late, its only like a week back that I was all dressed-up about town, scary the shit out of innocent kids with nuts for guts.

Dr. Jerkyll: Well, if I remember correctly, Halloween came a little early for us this year, as we were already scaring the, *ahem*, in your words, "shit" out of people in, what was it? August? Remember how the female freshmen this year regarded us as, as much as I hate to say it.... *ahem* "scary".

Mr. Snyde: Oh yeah, I remember that. Being almost unanimously voted the "scariest" in the group by a bunch of straight-out-of-Junior-College 19-year old Chics, That was a blast, I'm sure. Bah! 19-year old chics, what do they know. Besides, it was your fault that we ended up in that debacle.

Dr. Jerkyll: I beg your pardon! My fault?! In what way was it my fault?

Mr. Snyde: Well, it was you, who had to go around spreading your "extreme opinions." So "extreme" that they probably felt mentally imposed upon by your dogmatic beliefs. Couple that with a knack for arguing and debating your way out of things, you probably left them in fear or saying anything that would oppose your opinions.

Dr. Jerkyll: Well, excuse me, Mr. Snyde, I personally don't think there is anything wrong with holding an opinion. I admit that at times, I might be a little opinionated, perhaps to the point that it is a little imposing for the weaker minds of these "sheep." But it is not my fault that they are "sheep" to begin with. If they had any form of an opinion, as in a strong one, they should either be able to silently hold on to it without faltering under the influence of others, or to be able to communicate it, and match it up against mine.

[Mr. Snyde subconsciously nods along]

Dr. Jerkyll: I think the problem lies more with you actually.

Mr. Snyde: Me? How can it be me? Please. I'm the charismatic Mr. Snyde, well-loved by all, especially the ladies. There is nothing scary about me.

Dr. Jerkyll: What about the fabled "shallowness" that you are so notoriously renowned for? The open proclamation of judging the value of girls based on their physical attributes, specifically their countenance and their mammaries? And what about the constant impression that you portray of being out "fishing" for your next potential romantic interest, and seemingly doing everything with an ulterior motive, down to choosing who you talk to? How do you explain that?

Mr. Snyde: Please, I'm a boobs-man, EVERYBODY knows that. You know that I've always been rather open about the things that I like or dislike, and I am not afraid to verbalise or express my said interests.

Dr. Jerkyll: Yes, I know exactly how you feel about the expressing part.

Mr. Snyde: And about the "fishing" part, well, its no secret that I like skirt-chasing, which normal hot-blooded male doesn't? And is it really wrong to wear such intentions on your sleeve? You know that I've always been a player of the open game, and would rather do things in the brash open than covertly in the shadows. It's just my style.

Dr. Jerkyll: And have you not considered the trauma caused by the culture shock of meeting someone like you, of said style, on these innocent young pups the moment that they enter into University, causing them to *ahem* bowl over in fear?

Mr. Snyde: Yeah, maybe, but fuck it, man. Call it whatever you want, this is the real world, and they can't expect to always be meeting people who are so nice, decent and honest, just for the sake of it, or cos "it's the right thing to do." It all comes down to honesty, man.

Dr. Jerkyll: Honesty? How so?

Mr. Snyde: Well, we've been said to be "Brutally Honest" if you recall. And this is on 2 fronts I think, internally and externally. I'm "Brutally Honest" internally, I not only express, but LIVE my inner thoughts and emotions out. I don't really hide the thoughts and feelings that should be hidden by conventional standards, such as my said taste for bigger cup-sizes. And perhaps this form of honesty scares the shit out of people tied down by the web of societal conventions, or those who are just simply not used to it.

Dr. Jerkyll: Then I guess I have to be the external aspect of "Brutal Honesty," outwardly and outspokenly expressing my opinions and thoughts to others in its most raw state, with no regard for the societal tact that normally wraps the communication of such opinions. Perhaps even to the point that these "sheep" so used to the societal standards of tact find it jarring and disorientating when I can project my unadulterated opinions so openly.

Mr. Snyde: Yup, now we're on the same page Dr. J.

Dr. Jerkyll: So, now that we know that our individual defiance of societal norms and standards scares people, it comes down to one final important question then... Would you or would you not, change anything about you at all so that you are less "scary"?

Mr. Snyde: Nope. If being less scary means losing a little of my individuality and my freedom of expression, just so that I can fit in to their standards and expectations, then hell no.

Dr. Jerkyll: Neither will I, Mr. Snyde, neither will I.

Mr. Snyde: Happy Halloween, Dr. Jerkyll.

Dr. Jerkyll: Happy Halloween, Mr. Snyde.