You Just Had To Be There

I usually write about my whole week but I’ve just ended it on a particularly high note so let me just tell you about today.

It was a Sunday like any other Sunday. I had proposed to Hui Jie, Ken, Shahirah and May May earlier in the week that we all get dinner at Vientiane this weekend and it just worked out that Sunday dinner fit best in everyone’s schedule. Thankfully, I happened to realize earlier today that Vientiane is closed on Sundays! It’s like on 47th and Baltimore which is quite a walk so I’m glad we didn’t go all the way only to find out it was closed the whole time.

Shahirah and Hui Jie then suggested we stick to somewhere on campus because they have meetings before dinner, but because May May wasn’t feeling well we all just got take out and ate at their house. We had a really nice time! I mean, I talk about these people so often—by now you should know I just love spending time with them so very much. Dinner ended with them fruitlessly trying to suggest boys for me to ~consider~ hahaha. That is, until we all decided we wanted bubble tea. And friends, here is where the night gets interesting.

First, Ken decided to go to Winterfell (which is like right next to their house) to get bubble tea/shaved ice but it was 10.15 and Winterfell had just closed. So he decided to join Hui Jie and me to go to Ochatto, several blocks down. It’s not that much of a walk but I usually have to be particularly motivated to go. As we turned out of their street, I asked Hui Jie, “Are you going to get hot or cold?” “Hot!” “Me too!” “Large?” “Of course!” and it was so funny, it was so quick/rhythmic, like we were so in sync. It was just very… cute.

Anyway, so we get to Ochatto and, you probably guessed it but… it was closed! I saw that the “Open” sign wasn’t lit and my heart just sank. We were so sad, we just stood in front of the store for a while laughing. Hui Jie was like “I can almost taste it!!!” and I understood. I could too. I was already imagining us sipping our identical orders of hot jasmine milk tea :/ we were so in denial.

Laughing in denial

We felt like we had to get something. We considered Kiwi, which is this froyo place next to Ochatto but honestly, it’s just not good and I have made a conscious decision to not go back there since the fall semester of my Sophomore year. We thought about Capogiro for gelato but we just weren’t feeling it (and in fact, I just googled their hours and it was closed by 10 anyway). Insistent that we get bubble tea, I half-jokingly suggested we go to Tea Do in Chinatown.

Tea Do is on 10th St. We were on 36th.

I think Ken didn’t realize how serious I was so he was like “yeah, sure!” even though he has a midterm tomorrow he isn’t totally ready for. Hui Jie, the most reasonable person I know (with the exception of the occasional wild online shopping spree), took the longest to be convinced but eventually she got on board too. It turns out that for some reason, Lyfts were really expensive? It would’ve cost us $15 to get to Chinatown! That would’ve been more expensive than the bubble tea! (I joked that the rational thing to do would be to get 2 bubble teas so it’s “worth it” lol) So yeah, we start rummaging our purses and wallets for cash to take the bus, half a block away from where we were.

I get out $6.75 for the three of us and I just walk over to the bus stop holding it in my hands. Oh (!!!) and at this point I should mention… I was holding this (opened) box of sesame biscuits lovingly the whole time. I bought them on the way to their house and because I thought I was just going to get bubble tea and go back, I was fine with carrying it. Little did I know, I was going to be clutching this yellow box of biscuits with me to Chinatown and back.

Me, clutching my biscuits and the change for the bus fare and Ken… closing his eyes.

So we wait a while for the bus, still laughing from the fact that we’ve just decided to go to Chinatown when we realize that it’s like 10.45 and the bus wouldn’t arrive until 11:06 and Tea Do closes at midnight! We laughed for a good minute about going all the way to Tea Do only to have it be closed, but then we hurriedly made our way to the 34th St train station because it’s always quicker.

This, I should say, also caused a lot of laughter to ensue because Ken and Hui Jie’s house is literally one very short block away from the 40th St station but here we were,  6 blocks away, taking the train from 34th St!!!

So anyway, we make our way to the train station and I was still clutching my biscuit box and (don’t forget!) my $6.75 innocently in hand. Basically, I just looked downright silly. We got to the station and wow, look at that, they now have ticket machines that take cards…… so I stuffed my cash back in, bought tickets and went to the platform.

We get to the platform and for whatever reason, there were just 3 boxes of cereal waiting on the bench at the bottom of the staircase??? I got a good laugh out of this thinking about how funny it’d be if Ken and Hui Jie took one box each in solidarity with me carrying my box of sesame biscuits (which, by the way, we were all sporadically laughing about the entire night—especially those two, and occasionally me, when I caught my own reflection).

Mysterious cereal boxes?!

While we were waiting for the train, Hui Jie thought for a second to check if we were waiting on the right platform. Ken just bursted into laughter at the thought of taking the train to the wrong direction because we’d end up at 40th St, which is where they live….. and we just couldn’t stop laughing at the thought of coming all the way to 34th St, paying $6.75, not getting bubble tea or any sort of dessert, and ending up back where we started!!!! Hahaha. Thank god we were on the right platform.

*crying*

I don’t really remember what happened next but for whatever reason we all just could not stop laughing about what we were doing. How were we at a train station on a Sunday night? Were we really going all the way to Chinatown just because we were 15 minutes late for bubble tea at Ochatto? It just all felt so crazy… we couldn’t believe what we were doing. But then we laughed about how funny it is that this feels crazy. Like, we’re just such boring people that going to Chinatown on an unplanned excursion for bubble tea feels “crazy”! I’m sure some people at Penn have taken unplanned trips to New York or even Paris but there we were laughing our heads off about an impromptu ride to Chinatown. It was just a little bit, just a very little bit crazy, that it was hilarious.

Me laughing at myself after catching my reflection in the train windows

On the ride there, I see that Ken has crumpled his ticket in his hand and my jaw drops and I look at him and I point to the ticket and I go, “Ken, oh my god… what are you—you’re gonna need that to get out!” Because I guess I thought it’s like Oyster cards in London or Metro cards in New York or Touch n Gos in KL, right. Hui Jie and Ken look at me with the straightest faces ever and they’re like “No…” and I just very quietly said “oh….” and they laughed about that so much. In fact, later, when we were waiting on the platform of the train to go home, Ken calls my name and as I turn around, he looks at me and slowly bends his ticket in front of my face and throws it in the trash. And as I’m laughing he’s like, “now I can’t go out!” HAHA.

So anyway… we get to the 11th St station and as we walk the one block over to Chinatown, there’s a banana on the ground and for what. ever. reason. I say “hey guys! It’s a banana! You can eat it! It’s still intact!” ……. until I realize it’s a just a banana peel that happened to look like it was still whole. Again, we laugh.

We’re almost there. It’s dark and almost everything is closed and the streets smell like fish. But we are so, so, very close to Tea Do.

Then, we pass by Penang, the Malaysian restaurant across the street on our right and Ken says “oh is it open? Oh yeah it is.” and as he turns around to look at me, I’m already crossing the road to go look at the menu because I think: Ochatto will open tomorrow, but we’re only here today and we can get cendol. Ken goes in to ask if they were still open and they were. Before we knew it, we were seated.

I promise you he only looks sad in this picture because we’re so tired from laughing

That’s right, everyone. I didn’t make it to Tea Do. I was so close and I just chose not to go. I was looking forward to getting a hot cup of bubble tea and I got what is essentially shaved ice. Hui Jie, again, the reasonable one, stays focused and she gets the large hot jasmine bubble tea as planned and comes to join us at Penang while we eat our ABC and cendol. We sit there and Ken talks about how easily distracted I am and how insane it is that we’re at Penang eating ABC and cendol when we initially wanted to go to Tea Do, which happened because we initially wanted bubble tea from Ochatto.

It’s true. I guess I can be pretty easily distracted. To be honest, the fact that I even had that box of biscuits today was because when we were buying food for dinner earlier, Ken and I were talking near the cashier and I caught a glimpse of the sesame biscuits at the corner of my eye, paused mid-sentence, gasped and said “oh my god! those biscuits!” and just proceeded to pay for them. But whatever.

The rest of the night was relatively uneventful. We all calmed down from our highs. We talked about Penn, whether we reflect a lot about our lives, whether we were boring people and whether we are relatable etc and as we were talking I couldn’t help saying, “oh my god, phew, thank god our conversation has resumed to normal again.” Hahaha.

So yeah, after we finished our cold desserts, we walked back to the station (I saw that the banana peel I saw earlier on the way to the restaurant had been squashed, RIP) and took the train back to 40th St… box of sesame biscuits still clutched in my arms, stomach and cheeks sore from all the laughing.

I will remember this day for years to come. I haven’t laughed like this—especially not with anyone other than my sisters—in ages. If it wasn’t funny to you, then, well, I guess you just had to be there.

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6 thoughts on “You Just Had To Be There

  1. OMG I totally laughed. Like, really laughed! Weird?? Because I can imagine it’d be something I’d laugh tirelessly about also if I was there hahaha xxx

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  2. Omg Ken!!!!! We went to KY together hahahaha, say hi to him for me!
    And I was like totally laughing throughout the entire post, I didn’t have to be there hahahahahahaha oh my god the box of sesame biscuits just killed me. Thank you for the story, I’m kind of bored studying so this totally perked me up a little. Have a wonderful week ahead!!!

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    • Hehe Ken says hi back!!! Isn’t it really silly? And the part where I say my friends were suggesting boys for me, was mostly Ken suggesting the bunch of Malay guys he knows from KY, LOL. I’m glad it entertained you, haha. Good luck studying!

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