I spent today at my grandma’s house watching Taiwanese dramas on cable. Yes, the one that the long-running 愛 is categorised under, the one we always lament about, about its length, its lame-ness, its bizarre comedic effects and how they do not get tired of their own cliches. The only thing that kept me watching was the fact that they were shown in their original dubbing in Taiwanese Hokkien, which is really the bulk of the fun because some things just sound so much funnier expressed in Hokkien, which sadly is something our local free-to-air TV channels are deprived of. (It is the reason why many kids now can’t even have a proper chat with their grandparents about topics more profound than their current state of hunger.)
Let me get back to the point. The point of today’s post is: cliches are necessary. As stupid as some might appear to be, they are essential because they keep us in check. It’s like deviancy. Without the presence of deviant behavior, it would be difficult to tell what is not.
This evening, my sister left to attend her friend’s wedding. I think this is her 5983749587345th friend who’s getting hitched and I think she doesn’t have any more unhitched friends left. Cue strong waves of social pressure and awkward glances from friends who already have two kids in tow.
Some of my friends know that I do not approve of her current boyfriend, for reasons that are at times too infuriating to even try to describe or think about. But if you trust me as a person with sensible judgment, you’ll agree with me that her boyfriend is not approvable. A huge flat-out no. Not with someone like my sister. Not that my sister has great character traits or an amazing personality or a lot of money or talent, but some people, you can just know, with one look or after five minutes, what kind of person they are, and that person is one of the worst I’ve ever come to know.
Now, before you think my sister is plain stupid, because if her sister (that is me) can see all sorts of faults with that person, why can’t she? Well, I was previously puzzled about that too, but I’ve come to realize that the reason that she can’t is because she can’t. Simply put, when it comes to that person, she is, from the perspective of someone who is not her, seemingly stupid. You can think of it as the old adage that goes, “Love is blind”, but honestly I don’t think so. I don’t think she’s blind; I think she chooses to not see.
Sometimes I don’t know if she’s still with that person because she’s afraid she’s not going to have enough time to find another one, a better one, which I must add is not very difficult, because a better one will just have to be 10% less idiotic than an average being. But I think the fear is more daunting when you’re the one searching. I think I’ve no right to judge the fear and the (lack of) attempts to surmount it.
Sometimes I don’t know if she’s just throwing it all away because she’s tired of the search, the perennial search for the one person who will understand what you like, what you are talking about and are passionate about and what you are looking for in life. I grew up listening to her answer, in response to my aunts’ questions about when she is going to get married, that she’ll stay single her whole life and open an old folk’s home (where she will presumably reside towards the end of life). She doesn’t say that anymore now (it’s just awkward smiles now) but I’m not sure when my aunts will be able to stop asking.
I suppose the TV shows with their sappy happy endings all strive to do one thing: reinforce our belief that one day perhaps it will happen to us too. We reasonably know in our logical minds that we don’t all get happy endings at every stage of our lives and not all of us will get a good-looking and understanding other half who owns wads of cash for us to spend, but it is difficult to deny that indulging in happy sappy what-ifs feels good. And we watch TV to feel good, right?
I think a companion true to ourselves for life is substantial. For some people, maybe that companion is just our own selves. And for some people, maybe that companion is a decent man or woman who they are friendly with and spend a lot of good times together, but their relationships don’t ever go past into marriage and that is okay with them and their relationships remain uncomplicated from legal matrimony issues, real-life logistic issues (housing, money matters) and human drama (family, relatives, children). For some other people, that companion drives them up the wall sometimes and other times make them feel so happy that they remember less vividly the times they were driven up the wall.
Whatever you want, man. Whatever you want.
See how much rumination watching cliche TV has induced in me? Maybe that is why they are necessary. I’m not sure. I have a feeling that cliches being necessary is a cliche too.