My 23rd

With the freshmen (and one sophomore).

With the seniors.

My last birthday in Michigan came and went about two weeks ago, but not before leaving an indelible watermark in my little blue scrapbook of awesome memories. I foolishly believed having my birthday fall on Thanksgiving itself was the painful crack of bad luck’s whip, but it proved to be a timely double celebration with (proudly) a huge part of the Singaporean population here.

First it was a Freshmen-organized home-cooked dinner —with me as host — where we spent Sunday afternoon making merry foods in the kitchen. At one point it seemed to be all going wrong. My herbal chicken was rock solid frozen, and the Hainanese Chicken Rice (from a Prima pack) didn’t look all too promising either. I chopped up my chicken and tossed it into a slow cooker as a last-ditch maneuver. I don’t know if the angel of culinary arts decided to stop by, but everything got better after that. We had two chickens, bakkuteh, a farm load of vegetables, fried anchovies and white rice.

I knew they were celebrating Samantha‘s birthday (who is lucky to share it with me), but I thought (again) that they had either forgotten about mine or didn’t know about it. Of course, I was proven wrong and we had a cute time posing with balloons and cakes and taking photos. This brings me to another point: I love the freshmen of 2007. They’re fun-loving and we click well. I don’t doubt some question the practicality of getting close to a group so disparate in age, but I don’t regret it, because for one, they are friends to be kept for life.

So the night before my birthday, I organized an intimate dinner outing at Cafe Zola. Nothing fancy, far from grand. But the company made it worthwhile. I miss some who were there at the table last year but for various reasons, aren’t in Michigan this time. But thanks to Jw, Yuhui, Aaron, Wilson, Roy, Lenny and Adhi for dressing up all nice and spanky for a normal dinner.

It actually didn’t end there. The Bradford Boys had organized a Thanksgiving party at their place, open to all Singaporeans. To make a long, wild story short, it was announced that it was my birthday and I stupidly (again) challenged everyone to drinks. In the end it wasn’t a Bacardi or whatever that finished me, but a humble Sprite that caused me to let go of the night’s dinner. No more dancing after that, and spent the night there feeling woozy but strangely elated.

Surprisingly there wasn’t much of a hangover the next morning. Finally my birthday had arrived, in spectacularly embarrassing fashion. Plans were sketchy at the time, but Val invited me to her Thanksgiving cooking party, where most from my batch showed up. For me, it’s rare to be able to see so many of us together under one roof (outside SSA events) so I truly enjoyed their company, while sharing the food, crying out in agony at one man’s $1m loss in Deal Or No Deal, and jamming to worship songs.

Who knew 23 would be the new 21.


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