Today is my birthday, and I am out for lunch in Tanjung Bungah with my high school mates. Halfway through our meal, they surprise me with an ice-cream cake, which I wasn’t expecting! It surprises me that people remember my birthday. Even though we have gone separate ways since high school, I am so touched that they remember and care to celebrate it with me. Thank you girls – you know who you are!
Melting ice-cream cake from Baskin Robbins
Happy Birthday Ong Wan Phing
I am no fan of big birthday do’s, because of a certain cake incident at age 5. Since then, I never wanted a birthday party again. Dad took me to a cake shop, which looked so industrial I think it was a cake factory. I was told to choose the cake I wanted by flipping through a photo album, with lots of pictures taken by an analogue camera with flash.
I chose a Strawberry Girl cake and on my big day, we waited excitedly round the table. Dad slowly removes the cake from its pink cardboard box, and my Strawberry Girl cake said, HAPPY BIRTHDAY ONG WAN PHING.
Kids can be stupid and say the darndest things like ‘I thought the bad guy died in that movie, why is he alive in this movie?’ which I asked a lot from all the action films I watched.
But at that age, you won’t take bull from people who don’t get your name right. The adults thought it was funny, but I crumbled inside. I was mortified as the uncles and aunties had a good laugh and made jokes about my name.
My pride was crushed and anger overwhelmed inside my tiny 5-year-old self. I scorned at the stupidity of the person who made that mistake – I was an unforgiving child indeed.
Since then, I preferred to have quiet dinners with family and close friends. As a teenager, they have been at my favourite restaurants year after year, usually Thai or Japanese.
Tonight we pick Azuma, a sushi restaurant in Queensbay. We eat to our hearts’ content. Best friend S and childhood bully M also make an appearance. I thank S for just being there and being who he is, and M for ordering the deep-fried salmon pork belly (yum!)
At the dinner table, Small Sis, S and I talk about love languages.
“What is your love language?” Sis asks me.
“What is that??” I retort.
Sis and S seem to be acquainted with this apparently Christian framework of love.
I discover later that the Five Love Languages is a book by Dr Gary Chapman, a senior pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in North Carolina who is also a marriage counsellor.
He proposes that there are five love languages – Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. People need to identify which one of these ‘languages’ they speak to practically express their love for someone.
“Mine’s definitely quality time and acts of service,” Sis proclaims.
“Mine’s quality time,” S agrees.
“So what happens then?” I ask.
“Then you need to know which language your partner speaks,” Sis teaches me. “In order to have a happy marriage.” She concludes confidently.
“Hmm,” I muse. “It might sound superficial, but it’s probably Receiving Gifts for me,” I say skeptically, hoping to induce them into buying me a gift because it’s my birthday.
After dinner we head home to laze around and S tags along. I open the really long card M wrote for me (probably guilty from all the years of bullying me in the school bus) and also a paper bag with a really nice cream top.
Let her eat cake
Small Sis presents me a surprise birthday cake she baked, and suddenly my eyes light up! The thought of having cake and coffee while flipping TV channels mindlessly with two of my favourite people in the whole wide world is certainly the best way to celebrate a birthday.
So we make coffee, have cake and put on one of Dad’s laser discs (LDs) to watch Death Becomes Her. The three of us are OMG-ing at the 1992 dark comedy, because Bruce Willis and Meryl Streep are so far from their Die Hard and Devil Wears Prada characters.
I think my love language is changing. I like moping about with people, so perhaps it is Quality Time, and not Receiving Gifts after all, because the three of us just get on so well.