Preparing for old age

The days of my hamsters are numbered.

I’ve had them for 20 months now, which means they are apparently 60 to 70 years old in terms of hamster age. Poor doddering oldies.

I have two of them – one male and one female. The male is a gray long-haired Syrian and he goes by Very Gray (เทาจัง). His better half is a brown and white short-haired Syrian which answers to Brownie. As you can guess by now, I exhibit profound creativity when it comes to naming my unfortunate pets.

Very Gray, like a typical man, is balding. But unlike homo sapiens who thin at the head, Very Gray is losing fur around his butt and the lower back. I sometimes wonder if it’s got to do with his sedentary lifestyle of just sitting and eating. I’m trying to imagine what he will look like when he loses all his fur. Perhaps he’ll look like one of those wizened, shrunken old men.

Brownie, whom my friends call Xena (certainly a more fitting moniker), can hardly eat. I don’t think her appetite’s gone down but her teeth have gone crooked and she can’t handle hard food anymore. And she also can’t crack open her favourite melon seeds too. So I have to feed her steamed corn, egg and veggies.

Watching them, I just felt a prayer welling up from inside of me:

Father God, thank you for my hamsters and for the good times I’ve had with them. It was 20 months of cleaning hamster pee and poop but it was also 20 months of watching them grow from babies to oldies. Thank you for their company – which was often accompanied by their smell. But as they age now, Father, I pray that You’ll have mercy on them and spare them of illness and pain. And when it’s time for them to go to hamster heaven, I pray that You’ll take them there peacefully and painlessly. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Excuse me, how do I date correctly?

One of the most common questions that I get asked all the time (like i’m so obviously the expert) by younger single Christian girls is: What is the correct way to date?

I’d hem and haw, uhm and ah, and after much fudging and looking wise, I’d say: I dunno. (If I’d known, I wouldn’t be single, right?)

And that’s the truth, because after trying to do all the “correct” things according to various Christian fads in the last 15 years – think X meets Y and the popular “kissed… goodbye” books – I’m more clueless and confused than ever.

Some Christians say I haven’t prayed hard enough and I needed to make a list down to very specific items like height and hair colour. 1.8m and natural hair colour please. Still no avail.

Then other well-meaning Christian friends say I need to have a sign – a secret sign that only God and I knew – to figure out which guy is the One. So I went through a phase of “if this guy sings Billy Joel’s Just The Way You Are to me without me telling him, he must be the One that God has prepared for me.” The only guy whom I’ve heard sung it so far is the lounge singer. Or maybe I should have chosen a “holier” song, maybe a hymn like Just As I Am.

I’m not dissing couples who met each other based on a specs list or on blueberry-cheese-cake signs. God in His infinite mercies does answer our quirky prayers. But what comes true for some might not be the same for others. So if you’re wondering why, despite praying your List to tatters, your knight is still not appearing, you might need a rethink. Maybe that’s just not the way for you.

But whatever it is, don’t ask me for any dating advice. You’d be better off asking those who have dated… and succeeded.

This post was inspired by a brilliant piece of writing by Gina R. Dalfonzo called “The Good Christian Girl: A Fable”. Recommended reading for anyone who’s dated in the last 15 years – you’ll see a lot of yourself in it.

No country for old maids

Singles, as I’ve been told, have two big fears — the fear of loneliness and the fear of what other people think.

The first is understandable enough but the second may actually be the bigger motivator to find one’s missing half. It’s perhaps easier to endure lonely nights than the knowing looks from friends and relatives whom we think are secretly pitying us for our status of one.

And it doesn’t help that stereotypes abound of the typical career woman who works 16-hour days, has a screaming fit at the slightest provocation and eats every incompetent imbecile for breakfast. So you secretly stress over whether you’re turning into this scary old maid that you used to make fun of and never thought you’d one day become.

As your childhood friends celebrate their ninth wedding anniversary and blog about their third child’s first day at school, you become even more convinced that there must be something wrong with you. Except that you don’t really know what.

Society, by and large, favours the family unit. Take Singapore for example, young married couples get massive rebates on public housing while the single has to wait until he/she is 35 to buy a resale flat at much higher market rates. While it makes sense to give preferential treatment to the married (especially to keep the birth rate in the black), the single is sometimes caught out in no man’s land.

And as your circle of single friends get smaller, you start to feel even more displaced. That’s why I started this blog, so that perchance you might find this a safe place where you belong, and who knows, perhaps even get to know other like-minded people.

As with every good sermon, I’m ending this post with a call to action. The next time you start wondering if there’s something wrong with you for being single, look in the mirror and say, “I’m fearfully and wonderfully made, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with me (at least nothing more wrong than someone who’s married!).” Repeat that at least a hundred times and you should begin to believe it eventually.