Later, after divulging my plans for the next day during an on-line chat, the FunnyBunny pointed out a glaring inconsistency in my declaration of misanthropy. The plan was to work half a day before speeding off to a sort-of social event at Ikano's Popular Bookstore, the scene of a previous engagement involving literature.
But when I arrived at the office, my colleagues were a no-show. I should be happy, but I wasn't (because nobody told me of any postponements). After waiting for an hour, I choked down an inferior pasta dish at a food court and left for the venue. I arrived early, so I killed some time by window shopping. A pre-event surprise was bumping into Ruhayat X on the escalator.
It was raining mammoths and sabre-toothed tigers when it was almost time for the launch.
Unlike her previous launch, they made it official by roping in sponsors and a real Member of Parliament. There were door gifts for early birds, courtesy of the sponsors and (gasp) gifts for some (choke) pop-quiz. One notable presence was Advertlets, which was recently embroiled in a minor controversy. And there was the author herself.
I've never seen Yvonne look prettier.
The speeches, while honest and heartfelt, were mostly unscripted. I found myself wincing at certain points due to the loudspeaker. The launch was officiated when the MP and Yvonne signed the poster that commemorated the event.
Among the gifts was a voucher for a free Starbucks beverage. With that in hand, we followed Yvonne down to the Starbucks outlet to pick a drink of our choice after the event was over.
The local representative for Starbucks for the launch was pretty too. We talked briefly about coffee, Yvonne, blogs - and nothing else.
Chats with Yvonne still involved paper and pen; she couldn't equip the implant that allowed her to partially hear sounds. I also had to adjust my font size when she found my awful handwriting too small to read. There was talk about blogs, naturally, and her work. She also expressed admiration for Lillian Chan, saying that she could never find the courage to be so forthright in her own blog.
In reply I wryly scrawled, "Second childhood, maybe?"
It was good to see her again.
I stayed around longer than I should have, and I wondered why until I was asked to help carry stuff from the Popular Bookstore office down to the parking lots - across the street at The Curve (I previously played porter after the end of her charity concert. Coincidence?) With my trembling arms manoeuvring my inhaler after the task was done, I began wondering about other things, like which deity did I unintentionally offend this time; who the heck drinks strawberry-flavoured milk nowadays; and why is Marigold still selling it?
On the other hand, I finally got to see what's behind one of those "For Staff Only" doors, so I'm not complaining. Thank you, Yvonne and Cordelia. You've made my day.
I rounded up the day by going over to the Curve and got a newer, sturdier backpack, plus a nice dinner at Café 1920. The pasta was much better, although their idea of a "main course" portion was my idea of a starter portion. I think I may have spoiled it a bit by adding too much parmesan.
There was some grocery shopping before returning home. Upon entering the house, I spotted the sister and her boyfriend in the midst of wrapping something - a picture frame perhaps? - until I got a closer look.
"Oh no," I said as it dawned on me. "Tell me that's not a-"
"Yes it is," they answered almost in unison.
They were, in the living room, wrapping layers of newspaper around the manhole cover to their new house. Someone suggested they take care of it until they finally moved in.
I suddenly remembered why. "Oh yes," I said, "they used to steal those to sell as scrap."
The sister looked up. "What do you mean, 'used to'?"
"They'd even brave electrocution to steal live copper wires," her boyfriend added. "Lots of them have died."
"Well, if they're so brave maybe they should have a go at Fear Factor," I suggested, placing my shopping on the table.
"Ooh, I see you bought a new bag from TearProof," the sister noted. I should note that all it took was one glance. "Oh look, it's also a High Sierra brand," she told her boyfriend. "XYZ has a bag like this."
The casualness of her observation blindsided me. "How the..."
"Trust me; I recognise all the shopping bags that come out of every shop in MidValley." Yes, there is a TearProof outlet there too, but that's not the point.
"I recognise all the shopping bags that come out of every shop in MidValley."
I found that deeply unsettling. Her boyfriend, however, looked rather amused.
I'll see better days, someone once comforted me. This was definitely one of those.