As I crouch over in the carpark looking for the 4 damned dried leaves, a million thoughts run through my head.
I think about:
a) My place in life;
b) The 3 delivery boys in the corner, smoking and judging me at the same time; and
c) What a 31 year old adult male like myself is doing on his hands and knees, sifting through dried leaves in a car park in Kallang.
Of course – the weekend never started out like that – they never do. It started with an invitation to a MacDonald’s birthday party from my friend, Lydia Wong.
Now, mind you, the last time I attended one of these things, I was 9 years old and it was my party. My parents who had never given me so much as a Matchbox toy car for the past 8 birthdays, decided to let loose, throw caution to the wind, and throw me a party under those famous Golden Arches.
These are the 3 specific things I remember of that party:
1) A nice young waitress (MacDonald’s crew member, as they call them these days), teaching me that by sticking my straw into my Fillet-O-Fish patty to make holes in it, it would cool down faster and I would be able to eat it quickly.
2) A cool (okay, not so cool) Ronald MacDonald Birthday Boy cardboard hat that I wore around the house for a month after the party – huge bragging rights!
3) Emptying a coke all over Jing Shen, my then best friend, because he sat next to Wendy, my “girlfriend”, and refused to move. (We have not spoken to this day – Jing Shen, whichever therapist’s chair you’re on right now, I’m sorry.)
Aside from those 3 things, I also remember having a blast – hanging out with my friends, making lots of noise and playing musical chairs – it was a great time.
So, it was with these happy memories that I headed down to the Kallang MacDonald’s Restaurant; naturally, I was quite excited.
Upon arriving, I was struck by how much hadn’t changed since I was 9. The party room had pretty much the same layout, chairs and tables in a U-shape, boom box playing children’s tunes and stickers of Grimace, the Hamburglar, Birdie and Ronald MacDonald all over the walls. It was a blast from the past.
The only difference was that I was bigger – I felt like Gulliver in Liliput. But that was just the physical difference – the mental difference had yet to hit me.
We placed our orders and after some griping about how we’d all essentially paid $15 to eat a $5 MacDonald’s meal, the birthday girl finally arrived. Obviously, she was surprised – it was a surprise party and she’d always wanted a MacDonald’s one since she was a little girl – awww …
So everything was peachy, Lydia was happy and we were satiated with Big Macs and Cokes.
Until Top Cat came out.
And the games started.
(Yes, the games.)
Before we go into all that, I want to talk a bit about Top Cat. Now, this is a woman who’s name escapes me. I know she was Top Cat only because that’s what her nametag said. Being the smarty-pants that I was, I immediately begin quizzing her about how one gets to become Top Cat at MacDonald’s and if it meant that she had authority over Ronald himself.
I genuinely wanted to know.
Top Cat was not amused.
So, off to a rocky start with Top Cat firing MacDaggers into my back, we begin the games. First one was pretty tame – we all had to sing Happy Birthday to Lydia, as loud as we could – simple right? Second one was a slightly more involved version of musical chairs but with hula hoops placed on the floor – a bit like musical chairs meets Twister – we dug it. But the third game … you know how they say “3rd time’s the charm?”
I’d like the knock the teeth out of the guy who coined that phrase.
Top Cat handed us two lists and told us, in no uncertain terms, that we had to get all the objects on the list.
From people and places not involved in the party whatsoever.
Silence blankets the room as we all stare at each other – is she for real?
As if to answer our question, Top Cat chirps irritatingly: “So, what’re you guys waiting for? If you don’t do this, there’ll be no cake!”
So, like good, albeit inordinately large children, we head out of the party room to make complete fools of ourselves. Which is how I found myself on my hands and knees on the floor of the Kallang MacDonald’s carpark, scrounging for Item No. 16: 4 dried leaves.
To add insult to injury, I look up to the sky, as if searching for an answer and see a statue of Ronald MacDonald looking down at me with a big, fat smile.
To cut a long story short, I managed to get my 4 dried leaves, the delivery boys got their laugh at me and with slightly bruised knees and battered ego, I went back into the party room and finished off the game.
The next half an hour came and went with some other peripheral activites like Lydia singing “Baa Baa Black Sheep” in front of bemused MacDonald’s counter staff and us doing an odd conga-line of sorts to a cover version of the Eurhythmics ‘”Sweet Dreams” – quite the surreal experience. To top it all off, we had birthday cake (a cleverly disguised Sara Lee chocolate confection with MacDonald’s characters pasted on the top) and all ate with a sigh of relief when Top Cat finally left the room.
So at the end of it all, did I enjoy myself? Yes.
Would I do it again? Maybe.
Am I Lovin’ It?
Only if Top Cat thinks I should be.
HAPPY(MEAL) BIRTHDAY, LYDIA!