Family Time

May 24, 2010 § 1 Comment

This is my brain on zero sleep

At 9PM on Saturday, I received a text from Mr. Chen, my mom’s college classmate who is now a professor at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. The text contained details about the next day’s boat trip, which apparently required me to meet his family in Lam Tin [a place I had never even heard of] at 830AM.

FML, I thought. I had forgotten about agreeing to this excursion and was planning to have another karaoke-all-night session with some friends. Thinking quickly, I calculated that since I’m already so accustomed to staying up all night, I could probably just skip sleep entirely and count on some Red Bull to get me through the next day.

So that’s exactly what I did.

I got home from karaoke at 630, brushed my teeth, munched some cereal and lay in bed without sleeping until leaving at 730 in the same clothing and makeup from the night before. I forgot my camera, mirror and mosquito ointment…not a good start to the day. It was also raining on and off.

I met Mr. Chen and his 9-year-old son Gilbert in the McDonald’s near their apartment complex. The boy was reading Detective Conan [MY FAVORITE ANIME, still popular after 16 years]. His daughter Grace came after a while, and it took me 40 minutes after meeting her to realize that she was the same age as my brother [she was too tall for 13, and my brain was clearly malfunctioning]. Mr. Chen mistook me for an 18-year-old, while his wife thought I was a masters student. It wasn’t as bad as some of the other people we were with, who thought I was 15 or 16 [both kids AND adults told me this]. Guess the makeup and height and boobs don’t do much…?

The Chen family and I arrived at the pier, and I realized that I was about to spend the day with a gaggle of gangling adolescent girls and their prepubescent brothers. Lovely. They were all gathered around one girl’s music player, and all I heard were the words “Kim Yuna” and “MBLAQ” to know I was in good company. Actually, I had to fight to keep from laughing. But how is a 20-year-old supposed to approach this situation? Hide my fervor or join their clan?

There were a bunch of TALL, good-looking guys 15 feet away…I belonged with them, not this handful of girls singing “NU ABO” to themselves. But the four of them had grown up together as classmates and friends, just like our Square. So blessed.

My sad life

Keeping my private Kpop monster in check was like the Hulk trying not to raise his blood pressure — the more they sang, the more sheer effort I had to put into restraining myself from breaking out in sing and dance. The feeling of finding real-life people who share this passion is rare enough to make my heart rate increase [sad isn’t it?]. They mostly like girl groups [ie. Secret and 2NE1], from what I could tell. “SNSD is kind of slutty,” I heard. Sigh. One day they’ll learn not to judge, right?

At 10AM I cracked open my Red Bull. I needed it. It took all my energy to keep from falling on my face as we wandered across a sandbar embedded with volcanic rocks. I got a fright from almost stepping on a dead fish; it was like being back at Neuqua.

Dead fish #2

For lunch, each table had a huge platter of shrimp, which I have recently learned to peel with my mouth. Very useful. I overdosed on them as a result of practicing this new skill. We also had these seafoody tofu pudding medallions, which were delightful:


People ordered live sea urchins, which were halved and eaten with dainty spoons while the poor creatures were still moving. Can you imagine being cut in half and having your insides dug out while still breathing? Unbelievable:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

As we finished lunch, the girls danced to “Chu” on the side, playing from one of the three iTouches among the group. I remember when we had to provide our OWN music, aka sing Disney songs to ourselves from memory. Kids these days and their gadgets…they make me feel old [and look young?].

Next, our boat stopped by a ghost town of an island where the only notable artifacts were the abandoned church and salt fields. Devoid of most sentient life-forms, it was a bug-eat-bug world with humans occasionally being led in as sacrifices for the mosquitoes. [Why do parents drag their children to these places? Will I be like this in the future too?]

The girls got a hold of my phone [and therefore all my Korean music], and we ended up dancing to f(x) on the top deck of the boat on the way back to the pier. Grace insisted that I go to Megabox with her friends, which sounded like more karaoke to me but turned out to be a huge mall in the same area where I saw 4Minute earlier this semester [bad memories]. I was about to drop dead from exhaustion but agreed anyway.

We got a ride to the mall from one of the other girls’ parents in their Lexus SUV [which I know mostly as my mother’s dream car], and it was my first time riding in non-public transportation in five months. I really miss the little things like that.

I really liked Grace, and couldn’t have met a better playmate for the day; she was friendly, inviting and generous, traits that humbled and amazed me greatly coming from someone her age. She scored some extra cash from her dad, which meant that she paid for everything — my dinner, dessert and even a pair of earrings, as if she were the one older by seven years. I was really floored.

The five of us window shopped, took photobooth pictures and wandered around. Even though my eyes were literally burning from being awake for so long, I had a genuinely good time. It was like being 13 again! Except I don’t remember swearing and making sexual jokes quite so openly back then…kids these days :P



§ One Response to Family Time

  • […] relatives were gathering to celebrate grandma’s birthday (or something like that). I have a somewhat-documented penchant for hanging out with the families of random people (maybe because they usually seem much […]

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