I’m nineteen now.
I suppose nineteen is still okay. It’s mostly psychological: but being nineteen is still being a teenager. Nineteen has room for mistakes and idealistic adventures and reckless impulses. Nineteen is easy to forgive. Nineteen is the card to pull for anything gone wrong. Nineteen is familiar. It’s not too bad.
This birthday being the last (predicted) birthday I actually still retain anticipation over, I was pressured by the future [predictably depressed not-quite adult version of] me to use this birthday as the ultimate final wild card to do whatever I like.
So the first thing I did was wear my plastic crown that hadn’t seen the light of day since my 18th birthday (during which I wore it around the mall) around school. If I had to go through the pressing averageness of school I’d like to at least break the banality on my birthday by being as obnoxiously in-your-face as was (un)fashionably possible. It being my final birthday also made me nostalgic about my entire decade in general, and I continued where I left off when I was 15 by resuming my medieval royalty roleplay in a new college setting. It felt so natural to be strutting around in a crown despite this roleplay involving a completely new cast of roleplayers who had never seen me at my height of LARP-ing before. It was all fine and dandy until I was referred to as ‘Queen’, which is a foreign concept in my roleplays because I was always King, never Queen. Friends in my old roleplay had grown too accustomed to my assuming of the role of the sovereign to question my gender in the deciding of my title. So anyway that was one significant difference which reminded me that the time for roleplaying old characters is over, and if I wanted to evoke the complete and immersive experience of the past it was only possible by reading our old records. Soon enough even roleplaying itself will become a hobby of the past, which sounds deeply depressing, so I’m not going to talk about it now. Anyway, I knighted Sir Harris in the Physics Lab with a metre rule with Ian and Taliza and Michelle saluting along the aisles by the tables.
Before lunch I wanted to make a human pyramid. With me on top, naturally. I’d already told Sir Harris, Ian, Austin and Gerald about my plans prior to my birthday so they were already mentally prepared (which I am going to be eternally grateful for because where else can you find friends that go along with whatever you want without question because it was your day) to be supporting me. It turned out a lot messier than I thought, as the final member of the pyramid, Danny, was a completely spontaneous thing. The pyramid was wobbling at the second layer and felt like a bad idea when I stepped on Gerald’s back to get propped on Sir Harris & Danny and the whole structure started shaking. Despite which we persisted because we had already endured mosquito bites all over from being in that grassland for too long (especially Taliza whose bites looked like polka-dot leggings).
After school Michelle excitedly ushered me to the Pyramid and I was very careful not to fuel my anticipation and drive my expectations too high. We had coffee while I interrogated Sir Harris about the oncoming birthday surprise while Taliza and Michelle were missing. Halfway through they appeared with a lit birthday cake and an IKEA photoframe, the kind that looks like a roll of film, filled with photographs of all the stories we’d lived in the past semester. It was beautiful until I spotted a completely embarrassing and steam-cutting photo of my head very badly photoshopped onto Marina’s in stills of the How to Be a Heartbreaker video.
I wanted a fancy, special dinner because you know, birthday pressure and stuff, but it’s not like I magically get a birthday allowance for treating everyone, so the rest of us who remained for dinner (Michelle, Ian, Austin and Gerald) were incredibly budget conscious. We went into restaurants suspected of having birthday privileges but decided against them because they either: 1. didn’t care about birthdays or 2. didn’t have a good enough birthday privilege. We wanted to do Japanese buffet because the privilege was pretty good, cutting prices to a reasonable level but even with that some of us wouldn’t have enough to last the week. We lingered outside the buffet restaurant debating whether we should go in or not and finally deciding to come back in three days just before the privilege expires, and when we do that we would fast the entire day to maximize our utility.
So finally I decided that we should cook. In Austin&Gerald’s apartment. But what to cook? Reasoning that we had saved considerably from not dining out, I proposed that we buy imported gourmet stuff to make up for the lack of a fancy dinner. Ten minutes after entering Cold Storage though we went to shop for local stuff instead, and then we drove the bill up to about RM30 per person buying only raw stuff and cutlery (because go big or go home).
An hour from the decision later we were finally in the kitchen, cooking the pasta, making the sauce, arguing about whether or not it required more water (if any), taking selfies and me wondering what the hell I was doing in there. When it came to the lamb shoulders nobody knew what to do but we threw it into the olive oil in the non-stick pan anyway. Ian’s lamb chop dream in IKEA (in which he was making imaginary lamb chops in the kitchen show room for us) came true when he took over Austin’s position and whipped out five lamb chops.
Three hours from the decision later, the food was finally laid out in the makeshift plastic table in Austin&Gerald’s bedroom with the beds pushed to one side of the room. It felt pretty amazing what we’ve made:
Ian’s fresh garden salad with cherry tomatoes and dressing;
Michelle’s tomato soup with lettuce;
Austin’s spaghetti bolognese with minced lamb and grated parmesan cheese;
Grilled lamb chops with BBQ sauce & olive oil.
Gerald was the one washing the plates.
Sitting in the assorted chairs around the table we finally had our fancy meal under fluorescent light, at about 10pm. We barely had enough bowls and plates for five so I had to eat my pasta and soup in the same plate, which was actually so pathetic that it’s funny. The food was just edible, but we were all hungry and this was the product of our labour, so we nearly finished everything. Austin said that if he were eating the lamb chop in a restaurant he would have scolded the chef, but as he helped to grill it, he said it was not too bad.
When we finished feasting we had to move everything back to where they belonged. Michelle and I left just as the guys were mopping the floors and washing the dishes. Which makes me sound like an asshole but hey my birthday wild card, remember?
I was quite relieved to have the day approaching midnight, as it meant that the birthday pressure was almost off my shoulders. A lot of good things had already happened and I was quite pleased with how events unfolded and was ready to blog about them. When I arrived at the door however, I heard very distinct shouts of people getting ready to surprise me. I had my phone at the ready as I opened the door to step into almost-darkness with some candles burning weakly on the table and the curtains billowing and feet under them. Janice was languidly talking to the roommates apparently hiding behind the curtains and doing such a bad job that I offered to help them. Eventually they got the birthday swiss roll lit up and emerged from behind the curtains; quel surprise! By this time I was half-asleep on my feet, sweaty and greasy from the the little kitchen ambition, but managed to summon a last burst of energy to share the sweat and grease and ate both the swiss rolls (all of us, I meant).
When I retired back to my room, it was past midnight, which meant I was finally safe from the birthday pressure. Once the birthday enchantment wore off, some shit happened which impaired my emotional ability to blog. Despite which, it was a pretty awesome birthday.