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    Can’t fight fate

    What would you do without your friends, right?

    Yesterday I turned thirty-four. Dinner was arranged by the manager at a favorite bar of mine. I grew up in a religious sect in which you didn’t celebrate people’s birthdays–if we’re not going to celebrate Christ’s, we’re not going to celebrate yours, right?–so I’m always a little uncomfortable with the idea of having attention lavished on me just because I happened to emerge from the womb the same day on the calendar as Taylor Dayne.

    At the same time, you don’t tell people you value that you don’t feel like having the party they want to give you. So we went out for Thai food. Morning glory stems, and chicken satay, and green papaya salad, and chicken green curry, and all that. Yummy as always. Predictably but hilariously bitchy present from my friend A. Some incense–proper incense and no scented candle crapola–and some sweets. Made out like a homosexual bandit.

    And then we went to GB. Cake. For me? Thanks, guys. Really. It’s great. Very prettily covered with strawberries.

    Very prettily.

    You all know I’m allergic to strawberries, right?

    Or I probably am. A few years ago, I ate a fruit salad, and my throat swelled up, and I had to go to the emergency room and they had to shoot me up with adrenaline. The doctors gave me the interrogation about what I’d consumed immediately before getting hives. Judging by what I was used to eating and, I can only assume, by what kinds of fruits tend to be responsible for allergies, the dermatologist on overnight duty told me that it must have been the strawberries or the star fruit. Or it might have been a one-time reaction brought on by stress. I’d lived in Japan for five years by that point, so I was used to hearing doctors make pronouncements along the lines of, “Maybe next time you eat strawberries, you’ll be fine. Or you could go into anaphylactic shock and die. Do you really need to eat strawberries and find out?” Clearly not, especially since the sight of them now makes me vaguely nauseated.

    Pretty much everyone I know knows this. I’m known for it. In fact, I mentioned it again a week or so ago when the guys asked whether I had any of those weirdo foreigner-type food preferences. Then they must have forgotten, which is perfectly understandable.

    So last night the strawberry cake appeared. I smiled (sincerely) in gratitude and cut the cake for everyone (sincerely) and said it looked delicious (sincerely–I mean, they were very ripe, luscious-looking strawberries…that nauseated me, but I was editing that part out). I then, sotto voce, asked my friends sitting next to me to change plates with me and hork my slice so I didn’t look as if I’d not eaten my share. One problem: the guy who’d gotten the cake–I’ve known him for years and he kind of has a soft spot for me–was tending bar right in front of us. Consternation. Pushing cake around on plate a bit, beaming with what I hoped looked like the anticipation of pleasure. Ooh, spied a friend on the opposite side of the bar. It would be rude to eat up my cake before going over and greeting him, especially since he’s making a-toast-to-you-on-your-birthday signals at me. (His version of “Happy birthday!” consisted of “You don’t look a day over thirty-six, baby!” These queers, I tell ya.)

    Finally! An opening. The guy who’d been in charge of getting the cake went to the bathroom.

    It was like one of Lucille Ball’s sitcom machinations, only it actually worked. I shoved my plate in front of Friend 1, who inhaled the strawberries arrayed thereon. Friend 2–A. himself, who comes to my rescue way too often–was on lookout. When the toilet door opened, I was ready: sitting all calm-like with my fork idly mashing the remaining bits of cake. Since we’d all been complaining about how full we were from dinner, I figure it didn’t sound strange for me to say, “Thanks a lot, man–it was beautiful” and push away my not-quite-clean paper plate.

    I wasn’t lying. It had been beautiful.

    Added on 9 March: I seem to have done the forget-how-PowerBlogs-works thing again and revised this post from a window I reached through the Back button and not by choosing the Edit function the right way. I think I’ve caught everything redundant or fragmentary.

    8 Responses to “Can’t fight fate”

    1. Alan says:

      I feel the same way about strawberries.. Nice to see everything worked out.

      Though, at least you still have a ways to go before you top that hill, eh? Happy Birthday!

    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      Thanks, dude. The strawberry thing was a close one; luckily, no one seems to have told my friend Satoru (who ordered the cake) about it after I left last night, so we’re golden.

    3. Zak says:

      Of course, you could have just gone the old “What are you trying to do, kill me?” with a smile route…

    4. Gaijin Biker says:

      And then we went to GB.

      I didn’t even notice you stopped by! Happy birthday anyway.

      Also, have you seen this?

    5. Sean Kinsell says:


      “Of course, you could have just gone the old ‘What are you trying to do, kill me?’ with a smile route…”

      In front of twenty Japanese people? If Satoru had actually insisted on watching me yum-yum my cake down, yes, I would have found a way to laugh it off. And I certainly wouldn’t have lied about it–either by declaring falsely that I’d eaten and enjoyed it or by miming eager chewing and swallowing–but it seemed on the right side of the ethical line just to take the usual don’t-make-a-fuss-when-served-something-you-can’t-eat line.

      Gaijin Biker:

      Thanks. And no, I hadn’t seen that. It sounds like about what you’d expect, though I’m sorry The Sum of Us ranked that low. Russell Crowe used to be a really appealing actor back then.

    6. Hey, You’re a fellow Pisces! I turned thirty-something (older than you!) on the 5th.

    7. Mark Alger says:

      Well! Happy Birthday!

      Now: given the IDL, is this greeting belated, or early? ::g::


    8. Sean Kinsell says:

      Rondi, happy birthday! It’s always fun to look at the Pisces pages because, in my case, everything is either completely on target or completely inaccurate.

      Mark, you’re a little late, but no problem–we were just talking about e-mails that take months to respond to, so a day and a half isn’t anything to complain about, yeah? : )

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