Tuesday, July 24, 2012

About Men

Before we get to the men, I want to say that I had a birthday recently. My favorite part of birthdays is when people take me out for meals, especially if the people in question are the ones I usually cook for.

But there are other perks to birthdays, like gifts. I bought myself a brand new vacuum cleaner, for instance. I might get thrown rancid fruit at for this but, unlike cooking, I really, really like vacuuming. It's extremely therapeutic to hear the "tck tck tck" sounds of dessicated cheerios (or whatever snacks the kids eat these days) ricocheting off the innards of the Hoover as it runs over the carpet. The new vacuum cleaner arrived from amazon by Brown Truck on my actual birthday and I spent a very happy half-hour vacuuming the house. Bliss.

Obviously not all the gifts I received were from amazon (or the US, for that matter). Here is fabric from my lovely friend Eunice in Singapore. It's the same piece of fabric, in five panels. So fun.

And along with the fabric, she sent me buttons, trim and sweets (we call them candy in the US!) from our childhood.

I don't imagine you'd remember Eunice, but she's the one who used to exclusively love cows, and then developed an adulterous affinity for hedgehogs and owls, which I encouraged by making her the first Lunch Bucket ever to grace the pages of this blog. Anyway, Eunice and I go way back to when we were, like three years old in Sunday School. And we went to high school (we call it Junior College in Singapore) together, and then shared some English classes in the university. There were many evenings when we'd end the day with the same class and catch the same bus home. It was a long journey - about an hour - for as small a country as Singapore, and often bumpy, so we usually had a good supply of sweets to keep the nausea at bay.

Now, on one fateful bus ride, I found, to my consternation, that I'd run out of sweets. Eunice, however, hadn't. So I begged her for one. Wretched opportunist that she was, she offered me a deal. It was life-changing, that deal. Oh, I will never forget that day (and till now, she hasn't let me). This was it: in exchange for a Hacks honey-lemon sweet, I had to agree to give up my rights to swooning over a particular guy.

!!!!!!!  I ask you!!!!!!

Never mind that this guy was one of our really good friends and neither of us actually had any evil designs on him, particularly since I was also going out with someone else at the time. The only reason we picked him to fight over was because he was the epitome of cool; plus, at age 18, he felled the entire (female) high school population with his onstage solo rendition of U2's The Streets Have No Name. Killer. 

So now that we've established that our taste (if not our morals) was not being called into question, we return to the scandalous deal at hand. I was aghast. How dare she? Did she think I could be so easily bought?

Sadly, yes. 
It was either I agreed or I threw up on the bus. She knew weakness when she saw it. So there, on the top deck of the Number 10 double-decker bus, I sold my swooning rights, for one Hacks honey-lemon sweet. And, boy, did she hold me to our deal - for the next few years, she wouldn't even let me sigh if he so much as sang in church. Dang!

What did he think of the deal when he found out?
"What?" he exclaimed, grinning. "Just one Hacks?"
"Hey!" Eunice and I growled at him (she, triumphant and I, bitter), "It was honey-lemon, okay?"

Ah, those good times. How I adore Eunice - for her unconditional and faithful friendship, her twisted sense of humor that is such good company for mine and her sweet gentle spirit that tells me like it is when I most need it. Incidentally, that cool Hacks guy* is, I am happy to say, happily married with no known damage from our deal. And, at last check (February this year), that deal is still on, as Eunice laughingly reminded me, not that I feel any compulsion to swoon these days ;)

Here's another fabric gift, this time from London:

Have I ever told you about my friend Edwin? He has extremely good taste, and not just in fabric.

We've been friends for years even though we've never -thankfully - struck deals like Eunice and I have. We danced a bit, choreographed a bit, cooked a bit, wrote a bit, traveled a bit, and ate a lot. And watched a lot of movies and performances. And even sort-of-tried-to-stalk Paul Rudd in Manhattan. And he dyed my hair once, if I remember right. And because he's in the perfect job for it, I run a lot of my blog's legal and publishing stuff by him. And he videotaped the entire first season of Project Runway for me, just to make sure I was watching good stuff on TV. And he sews. Check these out:

In the days before he had access to a sewing machine, I altered his pants (trousers! Trousers, UK people!) If you know how I feel about alterations, you'll know this is proof of our deep and enduring friendship - and our mutual dislike of wearing clothes that fit poorly when something can be done about it. 

We haven't seen each other since Emily was a year old, though. It's hard, when we live in different countries. Soon, E!

Anyway, that's my fabric-related birthday update for the year. There is nothing better on one's birthday than to look back over the years and feel richly blessed by the friends one has. Even better than the fabric they sent. 

*The Hacks guy never gave me fabric. Our friendship isn't like that. Ours is the  microplane-zester sort and (in spite of the Hacks deal) one stuffed dinosaur, around whose neck I hung the tag, "I eat students" and which sat on my desk at school all through my teaching career. Take that, Eunice! 


  1. Great stories, thanks for sharing.

  2. Thank you for your great stories, and Happy Birthday!!!

  3. What wonderful friendships to treasure! Thoroughly enjoyed reading this post :)

    Happy Birthday!!!

  4. Who's the hacks guy????


    1. Oh Rach, I can't tell. To protect his identity, you see. But you know him. Clue: U2? Electric guitar? Of course if you guess correctly, I'll have to deny it anyway, so.... ;)

      And are you back home now? You're missing one dastardly heat wave here.... but probably enjoying the one back at the Equator too, huh?

  5. Haw Flakes!!!!! They sent you Haw Flakes! I haven't them in forever. I must go check the Japanese market now...

  6. Thanks for the stories. I love the dinosaur idea!

    re: the vacuum thing - my sister collects vacuums for the same reasons! She likes very particular vacuums for very specific tasks, and loves to vacuum the floors. She wishes somebody would invent a vacuum that does the dishes!

  8. Happy birthday! Thanks for sharing your loot; you have great friends.

  9. Happy Birthday, LiEr! You are a wonderful person, so talented and funny, and your friends sound hilarious and so sweet! I love all that fabric! They know you well, eh?

    And I get the vacuuming thing, too. I love that it's so loud nobody can say, "mommy...mommy..mommy". Overwhelming, drown everything out white noise. Aaah, peace.

    Hope your day was lovely!

  10. OMG. The Hacks Sweet Scandal lives on forever, I see. I miss Cow, too:-(

    Yes, the hair dye incident dates back to our visit to N'Awlins before Katrina demolished large swaths of it. Those obscene beignets! And the neverending supply of pralines! I seem to recall we were so worn out by walking around in the torrential rain that we actually hit the sack at 6pm one evening - good times, sigh. Soon - the pond (and impecuniosity) can't keep us apart forever...

    1. Hey, you!
      Yes, those were good times - when we were in the same country and meeting was just a matter of a short plane ride. Was this the time when we got bumped up to business and we were the only people there? Also, did we ever get round to visiting any of the jazz spots I was obsessing over? And why do I remember eating a large pot of shrimp all by myself - in the middle of the afternoon? Oh all that good food. The gumbo! And the pralines, which I came home and immediately tried to replicate for D. Good thing for the walking, rain or not. That rain! Yes, that rain. Like a very bad movie.


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