Wherein I Speak of the Young and Old

Last Saturday I went for the first session of the Kids-Up Reading Programme, a South-West CDC project in which volunteers try to “cultivate the love of reading” in kids from lower-income families. Note the inverted commas denoting sarcasm.

My ward is a little girl named Siti. Siti is two-and-a-half years old and is Malay (as is evident from the name). Social engineering conspired to pair the volunteers up wth kids of different races – the sole Malay volunteer found herself with an ostensibly Hokkien family, and her face fell from inside her tudung as she approached their Chinese-dialect mumblings. Thankfully Siti’s parents are fluent in English, though it turns out that she herself isn’t. Siti can say a few words in English, such as “Hello!” and “Bye bye!” (though never in the course of the session did she utter these courtesies to me) and “Uuuuuummmmm!”, an almost-English sound meaning roughly “Get that ugly mean old man away from me!”.

Ugly and mean I can handle, but Siti’s referrence to my age was a sensitive matter.

I must teach her that racism is a very sensitive issue in Singapore, and ageism should be as well. In any case, I spent over a half hour trying to play peekaboo with that ice-bit*h, only to be rebuffed by her coldness and desperation to run away from me. A little boy a few metres away sucking on a cup in a bored expression held more interest for her than my antics (ageist!).

Never have I been so repulsive to women. Her mother was most amused.

I tried everything, from the cutesy Alex voice (and we all know how cute that is, don’t we!!!???) to making cute little faces (EVEN cuter!!!) and went as far as to *gasp*sing*gasp*. They had given us a little stack of notes with stuff we could do to “cultivate the love of reading”, which included little games and *gasp*singing*gasp* and *vomit*dancing*vomit*, which I will only attempt when Siti tries to break up with me – that and getting on my knees and crying.

Never have I been so dsperate to win a woman over. Her mother was most amused.

I go for official training in two weeks and then will commence the full sessions. How any kind of training can make me more attractive to a female twenty-one years my junior is beyond me, but I’m willing to do almost anything – and given my sexual deviancies that’s saying quite a lot.

Speaking of ageism…

I take a particular bus to my parents’ place whenever the urge to be fillial strikes me (usually coinciding with the urge to beg for money and the urge to fill my stomache with free food). It just so happens that said bus winds a long route past some entertainment complexes that for some reason have the elderly as their mani customer-base. That means that there are usually many elderly people on the bus.

I never take a seat when I board – it’s useless since by the second stop you end up having to give it up to some hobbling old person or have your heart rot from immorality and guilt. I never used to mind, until one day I got on and realized I was the only person below the age of 30 on the bus. Sure, there was the odd youngish-looking forty-plus, but largely the entire bus was crowded with senior citizens. It was a sad site. There weren’t even enough seats to give up.

And it got me to thinking about the aging population in Singapore (I know, I know, it’s old news but this isn’t ground-break centre). A quick check with the Department of Statistics revealed that we had 8.0% of the population above the age of 65 in 2004, up from 6.4% in 1994 and expected to rise even more in future, taking into consideration our declining birth rates (one of the lowest in the world, ranking in at 211/226 countries!). By 2025 we might hit 13.2%. That’s not hot news, they’ve been warning us about the aging population and how the young of tomorrow (that’s me) will have to support more dependants in future.

And, because I am a practical bastard, I started to consider what that meant. Twice as many old people means:

  1. You get seats on public transport only half the time you do now. Or all young people become selfish and we get to sit more often
  2. Television programmes will feature “golden oldies” shows twice as often as they now do. That’s not too bad – only those who watch afternoon television will be affected.
  3. More housing for the aged, as there are more people entering senior citizenry than those coming of age to buy housing. Less options and priority for the young people, especially potential singles such as me (those happily-marrieds always get the best candy)
  4. Tour agencies will organize more elderly-tourist trips, meaning package tours will be even more prevalent than they already are, and will feature exciting activities such as “A slow fifteen minute stroll around Paris” due to the rising needs of the population
  5. MacDonald’s service will slow to a crawl

Any ageist remarks are most regretted, please don’t sue me.

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