When I lived in Connecticut, and also San Diego, and also Charleston, a disturbing number of people would ask me whether we had Thanksgiving in England. And after I had stared at them incredulously for a few seconds to figure out whether or not they were joking (they never were), I would urge them to think about why we didn't have Thanksgiving in England, WHY THAT MIGHT NOT BE LIKELY, and I'd be met, invariably, with a blank stare. And then after some blinking and nervous giggling and a quick think back to their third grade history lessons, they'd give an "oh!" of recognition and we'd laugh together at their momentary stupidity, and then they'd say something like "and do you have roads in England?" and at that point they'd be dead to me forever.
Suffice to say, we don't have Thanksgiving in Singapore either.
What we do have---or rather, what I have---is an American boyfriend, and so certain concessions must, of course, be made towards this national holiday. As such, my mother bought Sean a large slice of pumpkin cheesecake for Thanksgiving, which came in a fancy bakery box and which he consumed in front of Oprah (the TV show, not Oprah herself, though wouldn't that be something?) We took him out for lunch as well, but since we went to The American Club---I mean, come on, The American Club, could we have tried any harder?---and there was no turkey to be found, he ended up having a traditional Thanksgiving lunch of nachos and chicken Caesar salad. Next year, I will be recreating this exact meal, and you are all welcome to leave behind your yam-marshmallow thingies and your cranberry sauce, and come and join us for some guacamole and croutons. And none of us will argue about who broke that vase in 1987 or why you don't have a real job or whose turn it is to shovel the snow from the driveway.
The day after Thanksgiving, Sean had an interview for a two-week contract design position. I took the subway with him for moral support and also so we could practice asking each other obscure interview questions while squeezed up against a hundred other people in a long metal tube, you know, to maximise that panicky heart-in-your-throat feeling you get when seated opposite somebody who's asking you why you think you should have this job. (True story: my brother's friend once had an interview with a banking firm and the guy said to him "so, I see on your resume that you---WHAT'S TWELVE TIMES NINE?" just to see how quickly he could think on his feet.)
By riding along with Sean to the interview, I had been attempting to play the Supportive Girlfriend role, but what with the rushed pep talks and the large umbrella under my arm and my bag full of healthy low-sugar snacks and hand-sanitizing wipes, I ended up feeling a bit like his agent or manager, or maybe---worse!---a sort of Mary Poppins figure. And so it was with great relief that I abandoned him at the entrance to the building where he was being interviewed and headed off to some posh shops to spend the money I haven't been making lately.
Do you realize how long it's been since I've been shopping? I mean, proper shopping, in a shop where you can try things on and then pay for them with a credit card, as opposed to a market where you grab a bamboo-weave skirt from a wheelbarrow and then bargain it down to thirty five cents while trying to make yourself heard over the clucking of a cage of live chickens? It's been a long time. And so I was feeling rather pleased with myself, swanning through Zara with a clutch of dresses hanging over one arm, thinking my boyfriend is having a job interview and wearing a suit! I have brushed my hair this morning! I am shopping in a store with flattering mirrors and later I will meet my boyfriend for coffee, and I will be just like a girl in a TV commercial, with my brushed hair and my shopping bags and my boyfriend in a suit!
And then I looked down and saw the enormous bright blue umbrella my mother had made me bring in case of rain, and that kind of harshed on my vibe a little, but worse, WORSE, I realized that my arm was bleeding. Heavily. Blood was trickling down my arm, dangerously close to the pretty dresses I was carrying, and so, thinking on my feet (TWELVE TIMES NINE IS A HUNDRED AND EIGHT!), I threw the dresses down onto a nearby ottoman and scrabbled around in my bag for a tissue. Except then I saw that my bag was covered in ANTS. And these ants were crawling everywhere, darting up and down the straps, and freaking me out just a little while I rooted around inside for a dirty Kleenex with which to sop up the blood that was running down my elbow, probably from one of the 859 mosquito bites I'd absent-mindedly scratched while browsing. (That's my explanation for the bleeding, anyway. I have no explanation for the ants. Unless the Singaporean post office has started putting LSD on the backs of its 50-cent stamps.)
And so having gone, in three seconds, from Breezy Girl In A TV Commercial to Crazy Lady With A Bleeding Arm Whose Bag Is Covered With Ants, I hotfooted it out of the store and spent the next hour and a half waiting in the lobby for Sean, whose interview, incidentally, took an hour and a half longer than it was supposed to.
Although he did get the job. And so the next night, at The Dinner Party Of Awkwardness---wherein my brother's ex-girlfriend was introduced to my brother's current girlfriend, and my brother was introduced to his ex-girlfriend's current boyfriend, who looked a lot like Prince William, and, come to think of it, it was actually more like The Dinner Party Of Awesomeness---Sean and I both had actual true things to say in response to the question "and what are you doing out in Singapore?", things like "I'm designing the graphics for a board game!" and "I'm writing the script for a TV commercial!" and so, for once, we didn't feel like purposeless slackers with excellent tans.
Which is, of course, kind of what we still are. Only we don't even have the tans anymore at this point. They've faded by now and the sun hasn't come out for ages.