Monday, July 23, 2012

A love story - Part 7

Writing about my life brings up an interesting observation about the way memory works. It is not sequential. Often what is remembered vividly are stuff that carry strong emotional links. From there, related memories slowly trickle back.

So yes, I missed out on something that chronologically speaking should belong to Part 6. I will share it here instead.


Part 7 - Mr SMS intervenes

Some background information: This is the same Mr SMS whom I mentioned on LIFT's blog entry "Jessica's story". First off, let's drop off the honorific and call him SMS. We call each other by first name. Despite the differences in our background, I consider SMS my peer -- i.e. my equal. I got to know SMS through my 2nd job, he was based in Europe, working with the vendor managing/monitoring networks, while I was based in Singapore as the second-level regional technical support. Whenever there is a issue with a bank (our clients) in Singapore (and sometimes in the region), I would get a page from SMS or his colleagues to attend to the issue. [Yeah, those were the days when paging was commonplace, only big bosses like Directors or Chief-whatever-Officer would carry mobile phones.]

In late 1990's, after my final work-trip to Hong Kong, not long after his marriage, AL came to Singapore on a short work-trip. He contacted me and we met up for dinner after work. As before when we were office buddies, we had so much to share and talk about that we continued on past midnight without realizing the elapsed time (I think it was around 1+am). Then AL suggested that I stay over at his hotel room -- we were chatting over drinks at one of the hotel's restaurants -- instead of heading home.

When we got to his hotel room, we started were kissing and caressing each other, but this time AL paused and did not undress either of us. I was disappointed, things have changed, we could not go on as before. Thus, I went out to the balcony to have a breath of air, to break away from his presence for a while to cool down. I sat on the balcony looking down at the tiny cars running around in the night below -- that's how I take my mind off things; don't think, just switch to "observation" mode. AL watched over me from inside the room. After a while, he repeatedly persuaded me to get away from the cold night air and return to the room. He even came to the balcony to get me. I thought (and still think) that he was worried that I would jump -- and what an awful mess that would be. Anyway, I suggested that perhaps I should call for a taxi and head home, but AL persuaded me to stay for the night. We slept on the double bed. Nothing happened between us.

The next day was a weekend. I was about to leave for home when suddenly AL decided to make out again. Given my disappointment the night before, I resisted somewhat initially, but he was determined. His eyes betrayed his desire as he kissed and caressed me with fervour. Then I thought, "This might be the last time that we ever meet, so what the heck, let's go all the way." I proceeded to take off his top and he took off mine. We were about to proceed further when suddenly my work pager beeped.

I put on my clothes, checked with AL, and returned the page by calling the network monitoring centre. SMS was on-duty. Instead of coming straight to the point about what was to be done, SMS chatted with me over nothing of consequence -- about his growing up experiences, his swimming abilities and medals, etc. I found it awkward to interrupt him or to hang up since he sounded so happy and excited reminiscing his experiences, so I listened for about 5-10 minutes before asking, "So SMS, why did you page me? Is there a problem at any bank?"

SMS replied negative, he just called to chat. At which point, I told him abruptly, "I have to go, I have something to attend to" and hung up.

I turned my attention back to AL. He was fully dressed again. He had changed his mind.


Years later, when SMS and I were dating, I asked him about that page and phone call. Why did he page me out of the blue? SMS told me that he was bored as he was the only one on-duty for that graveyard shift. He decided to chat with someone in Asia (since it was daytime in Asia) and our international calls were toll-free given the company's leased line subscription. There were 2 persons from Asia that SMS especially enjoyed chatting with -- I was one, and the other was a lady at the Call Centre Help-desk (i.e. 1st-level support). Since the Help-desk was not working on a weekend, whereas the 2nd-level support was on-call 24x7, he decided to page me for a chat.

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