Monday, November 08, 2004


So my birthday was last Wednesday. I figured I would call up Asa, maybe ask John out for a quiet dinner sometime the weekend after. But my co-workers had other plans.

The Sunday previous I got a text message from John; it was something along the lines of him knowing of a concert on Tuesday at a bar near work through a former student of his from Hangzhou, and that I should bring my camera because his was acting up. Little did I know that this was pretty much entirely fabricated, although considering I've written before about the "ability to have complete faith in another human being", it shouldn't come as a surprise that I swallowed the story hook, line and sinker.

So on Tuesday after work, all of our co-workers file out of the office. John and I shut the windows, lock the door and punch out. The he takes me on this long walk, pretending to lose his way and then find it again. As we "get close to the place", he mentions that I should check out a certain restaurant around here. In fact, since we are "a little early", why don't we just go up and take a look? Well, the restaurant is called 东北人, Northeasterner, and since I spent a year in Tianjin I thought it would be worth checking it out. We climb the stairs to the second floor (the first floor is a Xinjiang/Western China restaurant), and as we come up to the eating area I follow John to the right and see a table full of Melody teachers. Being both naive and thick-skulled, I still think that this is just a coincidence. That is, until they shout out "Happy Birthday" and I somewhat realize that I've been had. Somehow, I'm not bitter about this at all.

The party was great. We ordered bunches upon bunches of different dishes: noodles, meats, eggplant (of course), multi-colored dumplings, different green veggies, peanuts, some things I didn't recognize... Surprisingly, nobody drank; maybe that's the advantage of working in an office full twenty-something women. But still, they managed to get pretty silly without alcohol, sending everybody around to toast me with tea in the local dialect of their place of origin (about half the girls are from outside Shanghai). Of course, there was some flirting with the waiters ("tell the one 帅哥 come sing to us again!") and plenty of teasing the unattached teachers. At the end, we feasted on birthday cake with cherry tomatoes as one garnish, and I received presents from a few people.

Just as we were about to get up and leave, the waiting staff brought out a bowl of 长寿面, a traditional birthday bowl of noodles—actually, a long single noodle in broth meant to be sucked up in a single piece. I swear I didn't break it; there were two pieces in there!

I'll post some pictures when I get onto the computer tomorrow afternoon. Check back at this post. For now, all I've got is a group shot.


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