Birthdays


For lunch today I went to Renn Thai in Clark Quay, to celebrate a co-worker’s thirtieth birthday. Conversation moved to discussing how she’d spent her twentieth birthday, and I almost blurted out that I’d spent mine in Oxford, wearing a not-particularly flattering blue dress at a party on Cowley Road. I’m glad I didn’t say that, because on reflection that can’t have been true; I’m pretty sure that was a weekend where I got drunk with my future best man and another friend from college, and ended up reenacting video games in front of my bemused flatmate, before getting hit over the head with a bag of apples and shouting "oh my apricots!" for no reason that could be satisfactorily explained afterwards. It is to my eternal regret that I didn’t use to keep a regular diary, as then I’d be able to tell if the drunken weekend was the same as the apple-bashing weekend, or totally unrelated.

Anyway, Renn Thai is an acceptable Thai restaurant; not particularly authentic, but not particularly expensive, or not expensive for the middle of Singapore, which means it’s still kind of pricey. I had a coconut soup that wasn’t very spicy, and some forgettable white rice (is there a way to make white rice interesting?) and then went back to the office via the Hokkaido ice cream kiosk, which meant I probably had my day’s worth of sugar and fat this lunchtime.

For efficiency, or to save space, or something, there are no toilets at Renn Thai; you have to walk out, go into the labyrinth of Clark Quay and find the toilets near to Senor Taco. When you’re being driven to distraction by a full bladder, it’s aggravating to have to hunt for a carefully camouflaged public convenience, and as I wasn’t paying attention on my way there, it took me ten minutes to retrace my route.

Still, Singapore’s public toilets are at least clean, so I got to see a man washing his entire torso at one of the sinks. If you encounter a man with no shirt in a public toilet in the UK, you wonder if he’s there for social reasons.

Maybe I should have said something to him. I worry that I’m not a very sociable person. Maybe I should have struck up a conversation about what brand of soap he was using, or whether he was a regular there or not. But then I suppose if you’re busy washing yourself in a public lavatory and a stranger tries to strike up a conversation with you, you’d be naturally suspicious.

So instead, I slunk back to Renn Thai and had my not-awful-but-not-inspiring soup, and that was that. I remember my thirtieth birthday: I was very very drunk in New York, with the same guy I was very drunk in Oxford with ten years before, and his future wife, although for my thirtieth birthday nobody hit me on the head with a bag of apples. Then again, three nights later a witch in a bar in Brooklyn threatened to turn me into a frog, so I suppose my birthdays have often been fraught with risk and danger. I wonder if my fortieth will lean more towards fruit-based assault, or supernatural terrors. There’s a while left to plan, either way.


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