3) The Dinner
If there is one thing that I pride myself in, it is this - although I may not be the smartest man in the world, I am pretty good at sensing out surprises, and reading people.
After deep thought and careful consideration, with a crack team of specialists and consultants to dissect what went wrong with hK's iNtuition 2.0, here was why I didn't see it coming:
1) My brother was away in Brisbane. There was no way that he would have made it for my party, I thought.
2) I thought I knew Karen really well, and she was a fairly private person, fond of small parties, and one-on-one catch ups.
3) There was no clue or indication from any of my friends that this was going to happen. No sms went astray, no e-mail accidentally got sent my way.
This was done by professionals.
4) Karen kept telling me that we were going away to a special place for dinner, and whenever I pressed her throughout the whole day she would stonewall and say "I'm not telling" or "Stop guessing already!". She would subtly drop hints that it was a candlelit dinner for two at a fancy restaurant. Cheeky.
5) I didn't think I deserved any of this.
Which explains this:
My name is HK, and I am here today to audition for the role of The Deer in Headlights. Take 1.
It was a glorious surprise birthday party, and one that I completely did not expect.
It was only in that split second, at the top of the stairs in Animal Orchestra as I approached the room when I saw the darkened room did my tiny brain finally compute - Wait there's something wrong here... The lights are off because...
By which time it was too late, of course.
My brother had come all the way from Brisbane for my 30th, and friends from different times and parts of my life showed up as well.
I was really touched. In fact, thinking about it, I still am really touched, and a little unbelieving that so many friends had taken the time to come and celebrate my 30th birthday.
Five minutes later, when they had finally resuscitated me after I had collapsed from overwhelming joy, there were hugs all around, and a good deal of catching up over the great spread that Animal Orchestra had prepared for us.
I got toasted and roasted that night - some people said some very nice, sweet things about me, and reminded me of certain random acts of kindness, but a majority took turns to bag me, telling me I was a bad doctor, a sleepover parasite, a terrible guitarist, a pantry raider (it's pantry, Mum, not panty) and an all around grown-up child.
Thanks, you guys. :)
But the pinnacle of the presentations was one that my brother had painstakingly prepared for weeks in Brisbane, which contained some very revealing childhood pictures courtesy of my Mum and sis.
Now, thanks to them, all my friends have seen the photos of baby hK's tiny kukucheau [err... the Cantonese equivalent of s*h*o*g or p*e*n*i*s (oops, I have to fire my censorship editor)].
Unfortunately, I can't show it to you here on the blog because it's a Powerpoint presentation.
In fact I don't think I want to show it to you here on the blog even if I could, in case your kids are reading this (and laughing at my small kuk... Never mind.)
But even that couldn't stop me from having a good time, to be really thankful for friends who cared, and who showered me with gifts.
Me birthday bounty... arr!(talk like a pirate fail)
Then came the cake - oh the pretty pretty cupcakes! They had thought of everything!
The cupcakes actually say "HUNK" but they didn't have enough space. Haha!
The cupcakes were an elegant masterstroke by Karen - they had the letters 'HK' and '30' on them, and were almost too pretty to eat. But eat them we did, and the sugar high led to a glut of photos being taken as the night dwindled to a close.
I was still buzzing as I left Animal Orchestra that night. Karen laughed as she recounted the amount of lying and sneaking around she had to do in order to get my friend's contacts, and to plan the party. I laughed and I chided her mockingly, but I couldn't have loved her any more than I did right then.
She breathed a sigh of relief that it was finally over, as well, because the preparations had taken its toll on everyone involved in the planning, including my brother, who wanted to make sure that the party was perfect.
Thank you all, for taking the time to share today with me; for a love so richly undeserved, and for friendships and relationships that bring me so much joy just thinking about it.
For someone who thrives on words, none will do justice to how happy you have made me feel as I turned the decade.
And if I haven't said it enough already, I love you all. Truly, I do.