On Friday, I went with my brother to work, and hung out at the Weld (opposite Wisma HLA, where he works) while he slogged at legal matters. I scoured the Shang lobby shop, the shops at Wisma HLA, the Guardian/Times at the Weld (where I bought Carl Sagan's "Contact" and Robert Heinlein's "Starship Troopers", both of which are aeons better than the movie, I might add), and just about every other shop in the area for those blank plastic ID tags with a clip that you can insert a cardboard with your name etc, into. The Guardian at the Weld had about 3 of those tags, and the poor employees thought I was crazy, insisting that I must have 10 of them, and that 3 just wouldn't do, and also for not settling for white Tic Tacs. "Tak boleh, tak boleh, mesti hijau!" (That won't do, it has to be green!) In the end, I had to settle for a drawing block.
Come Saturday night, I realised I had better get working on the tags. After about half an hour, my dad's laptop was online and scouring the 'Net for the USMC logo and rank insignias. I had saved the images in a floppy disk from my home PC in Penang, but the external floppy disk drive went kaput. So I had to improvise.
I did Spar's first, then Garry's, then Per's. After calling Spar to find out if Per minded me shortening her full "Recruiting and Morale Officer" to just "Recruiting", (It turned out Per herself was there!), I started on making the rest of the tags. Then, I unplugged the laptop and carried it to the living room, where the printer was. I cursed silently (cos my mom was there) when I realised it was a black & white printer, but then I didn't have much of a choice, so I just printed out the tags on white A4 paper.
I also printed out directions with S:AAB quotes...Some Starship Troopers and Star Wars quotes got in too! The BM subtitle for the testicle line was there as well...
Well, by then it was about 8.30 pm, and I suddenly panicked, realising I hadn't got the CvRs and Meanies yet. My brother, who was supposed to take me, was dead to the world, so I ran and begged, (and I mean really begged) my parents to go out to Bangsar Shopping Centre to get the stuff. After a confusing (for them) discussion (Why won't Coke do, does it have to be Rootbeer? Why must they be green? What if they don't have Tic Tacs? What d'you mean there's shiny Clorets and matte green Clorets? So if there aren't any Tic Tacs then you want shiny Clorets? 2 packets?), they agreed to go out to BSC.
In the meantime, I looked round the kitchen for LLs and Scotch. Fortunately my brother had had a few friends over a few days back, and he had seriously overestimated on the soft drinks (the whiskey went a lot faster than Coke), there were about 3 unopened bottles left - one Sarsi and 2 Coke. I decided to make labels for the drinks, labelling the Sarsi as scotch, and the Coke as LLs. One phone call to Spar later - actually I spoke to Per cos Spar was in the shower - to confirm the spelling of Lethal Lethe, I made all the labels. I stuck them on, and lined them up near the main door of the apartment in a huge IKEA plastic bag.
My parents returned with 2 bottles of CvR and shiny Clorets (no Tic Tacs) and I promptly labeled the CvRs, and managed to get an empty plastic 'envelope' from my auntie's clinic for the meanies. In the middle of my repackaging, my mom asked me what the "lethal stuff" outside was, and was it for my brother's trip the next day (he was going white water rafting in Port Dickson). I explained that this red haired lawyer had invented this drink called Lethal Lethe, and that it was really Coke in disguise. My mom cracked up.
Meanwhile, my dad was scrutinising the out-tray of the printer. My parents don't know that this is a quasi-military squadron, so I was like "Dad, leave my stuff alone". Well, after that, I stayed online, answering list mails for a while, then went to sleep.
The day itself
I got woken up at about 7.30 am by my mom. I was about to go to sleep when I remembered that I had forgotten to see to the ID tags! "Bloody bleeping hell!" I muttered under my breath, as I got out of bed.
My parents were going to send my brother to meet his friends so they could go white water rafting, and they were gonna be back at 8.45, so I had a little over an hour to get all that done.
I got the sheet of A4 paper that the tags were printed on, a sheet of drawing block paper from the block that I had bought from Guardian, and used it as a hard backing for the paper. I managed to find some UHU stic in my dad's room. Then I cut them up. I also pinched my dad's hole puncher and made 2 holes in every tag, then went to find twine. I only managed to find kite string, which I used to make the 'chain'. Again, I pinched the blank 'name' stickers from my dad's room.
A quick glance at the clock and it was 8.15. I ran into the shower, and was ready by 8.40. I dumped the smaller stuff into this red (Firebird Spirit!) Body Shop bag and put my boots on. My parents got back a little late, and decided to have breakfast, so I only left for the Lake Gardens, via the mosque and Jalan Mahameru at about 9.15.
Getting there proved to be very easy as my mom knew the way. I was there by about 9.40. My dad asked me what time I would be done. He thought that 4 was a bit long and that he should pick me up at 3, but my mom intervened (thanks, mom!) and said to let me enjoy myself with the Firebirds!
Then my dear father wanted to accompany me to meet the red headed lawyer and the black headed lawyer to make sure that I'd be OK. "Is that really them down there?" he asked...I said I was sure it was them. To prove it, I waved like mad to a redheaded someone down there in a red T-shirt, and Spar gamely waved back.
"See, dad. I know them!" I exclaimed triumphantly, leaping out of the car. I wasn't so agile down the steps though - the drinks were heavy!
Spar and Per
When I looked at Spar, frankly, she looked so jolly, that even after dropping the drinks, I could not salute her! Instead I mumbled something like "Bats reporting, sir" and she let it pass. Then I was ordered by royal decree to go uphill with Per to stick my signs and Spar and Per's balloons and orange cardboard arrows.
On the way, I dropped 2 balloons (but found them again on the way back). I picked them up from the muddy ground and merely suggested that some unlucky Private would have to blow that up, when Per burst out with a "That's cruel, Bats!".
We missed out on a lot putting up the signs. Gossy's dad accompanied her and met Spar and Gossy also lined up the drinks in a line, confusing all the joggers passing by.
When Per and I were walking back to the Lake Gardens, Spar met us halfway and said we'd better head up because Falk was lost. So we went to the junction between the main road, the Lake Gardens and the bird park. Gossy stayed behind, so I didn't get to meet her.
Spar's phone suddenly rang. It was Falk, who soon handed it over to his dad, who had everyone ROTFL when he introduced himself as "Old Falk", and insisted that he "might be an old bird but can still fly around looking for the right spot". True to his word, Falk arrived about a minute later.
Spar ordered us to stay put for a while in case another Marine was lost and might go down that same road.
Spar proved that she was indeed related to Yoda when this Paj stopped in front of Spar, Per, and I...
A girl in a (as good as her word) blue T-shirt, jeans and blue and white tudung carrying 2 boxes of Dunkin Donuts in a plastic bag stepped out, stared at us, and said, "Are you?"...but I interrupted by jumping up and down and pointing at her while yelling "That's Garry!".
Then Garry started jumping up and down and yelled "Oh, my God!" in a strong Sabahan accent...<g> It was really weird because Garry writes with impeccable English, and I never really thought that she had an accent! After that Garry, looking at our heads, said "You must be Sparhawk", and shook hands etc.
After dispensing with the handshakes and introductions, we headed back to the gazebo, where Gossy was waiting patiently for us. I ran down the hill yelling "HOOYAH!"...and I guess she guessed from that that I had to be Bats.
We were waiting impatiently for the others to turn up, but there was this vagrant sitting on the other side of the gazebo, and I asked Spar if he was KF, much to everyone's amusement. He was called "the other KF" after that...
After a long long time, we saw a group of people, one in a bright yellow blouse, heading towards us...E, KF, Blacks, and Kes had arrived! Actually the uppermost thought in our minds was "the pizzas are here!"
Then we started eating and chatting...it was really cool! Everyone started discussing Eddings and our CO's callsign, so much so that I ran out and bought the Elenium a few days ago. Falk also suggested an innovative solution to Blacks' 'challenge'...Blacks' showed us his pager, and we hoped and prayed that it wouldn't beep (he was on call).
We were really surprised at how each other looked. Falk imagined me to be 'a tough, muscular lady with a quite ok figure' and I didn't think that KF looked at all like 'a dark Leo di Caprio' as he had described himself. E looked nothing like how I imagined her, Garry said that she was tall, so I expected her to tower over us! Spar and Per looked exactly like I imagined them. Kes looked like a kestrel. I didn't try to imagine Blacks or Falk...they lurked too much. Gossy looked the picture of a typical Boyzone fan.
I knew Falk from ICQ, but the other 2 lurkers, Blacks and Kes, were totally....I dunno, it was hard. I tried to remember their real name's and email addys, but mixed them both up. I really thought that Kes' real name was Nandang! Speaking of Nandang (a really nice name/title) we found out that Blacks was Johor Royalty, but I couldn't rembember anything of the Johor-Riau Sultanate from form 1 history. Then we also found out that my second cousin and cousin were working in the same university as Kes, which is nicknamed "Princeton" - Universiti Putra Malaysia.
I decided to pull a Zim, since Spar said no pushups, so I ordered Falk to run round an imaginary battalion. Lacking a Bronski to keep pace, I had to do it myself. Falk's unique way of running got him dubbed "Forrest Gump" while much to my chagrin, the FBs dubbed that scene the "Hindi movie" instead of running round the battalion.
I learned that Siti Shane does not wear a tudung. According to KF, "she doesn't want to" and he's not about to force her! :)
The food was great...the Chicken Delight was cool, and the potato salad tasted excellent if you close your eyes while eating it. <death wish[tm]> The ants invaded the Dunkin Donuts so I never really got to taste em :( I still remember Spar shouting "DIE, ANTS, DIE!" while stamping on them hard.
Perry turned out to be such a mouse! She didn't say anything at all...poor girl, I get the feeling she didn't really enjoy it :(
Gossy mentioned in her report that E fancies KF. Watch out for Siti Shane, E! I must say I didn't hear E say that.
In all the excitement, my paper plate toppled over, and when I tried to catch it, my LL spilled all over Kes' pants. But being the forgiving little Kestrel she is she said it was totally OK.
I discovered that Hugh the Borg exists...I don't get Metrovision, so I only watch TOS and TNG when I can. Also that Bennie [Gar's note: It was Ray!] looks like a "skinny Walter Skinner", and that Bennie is the hearthrob, but Spar and Per like Ray.[From Due South]
I wanna watch Due South!!!!
I think that the FBs are really cool...I never imagined that I could be so involved and maybe up to a certain point, obsessed with a TV show. But it's more than a TV Show. We don't just talk about S:AAB! We get dates with hot Canadian numbers, we discuss the merits of various boybands, we solve high tech computer problems, and most of all, we have fun!
Even though most of us have only known each other for the last few months, somehow, we've bonded. We're truly a team! Even a family! I come back home at night tired, and what do I look forward to? Not a nice warm bed! FB mails warm me up inside. I think the Gathering also served to bring us closer - I see more mails from Kes and Falk now!
FBs, thank you for being who you are, thank you for being Marines!