Friday, February 17, 2012

Birthday Week

We celebrate birthdays in a big way in this family, especially for the three of us with February birthdays. Joanna starts with her Valentine's Day birthday. This year she marked it with 18 of her closest friends in a Manchurian restaurant down the street. I'm not sure what kind of cuisine Manchurian is, but I think it means: only-half-the-menu-is-available-and-then-only-until-the-gas-for-cooking-runs-out. But they still had a great time.

For my b'day I celebrated with two friends (hey, I'm not Joanna) who took me shopping and out to lunch. Shopping involved going to a kind of speakeasy place behind the pearl market, an unmarked metal door that mysteriously opened as we approached: they were watching us on the security camera. Inside was a market with rock-bottom prices, no negotiating. That was fun. Lunch afterwards was 110 RMB for four big dishes. Later that day Bob, Joanna and I went to a documentary about Nixon's visit to China in 1972, because nothing says birthday like a little Nixon in China. After the movie, I craved anything but Chinese food. Down the street was a TGI Friday's. Yes, we did. And yes, it was a mistake.

First, the cosmo I ordered, had NO booze whatsoever, just pink liquid with a lemon twist. The burger and fries were passable. Joanna noticed that the place offered a free dessert for anyone celebrating a birthday. I should have been nervous when the waitress asked us if we wanted our dessert first or later. What I know now is that we should have had it brought out right that moment, because after dinner, when the so-called mudpie came out, it was a rock-solid chocolate cube, so hard that we couldn't even piece it with a fork. Bob kept trying, though, nearly sending the chocolate cube skittering across the table.

So even with that ignoble ending, it was a fun, oddball birthday. Sunday we celebrate all three birthdays with a visit to Maison Bouloud, near Tiannanmen. Now if we get a frozen chocolate cube for dessert there, there will be hell to pay, in three languages.

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