Monday, April 10, 2006

Chatty and mellow

Hula and C3 thought that KT's weekend e-mail was promising, ignoring the Amazing Race issue. They thought it would be nice if I could spend some time with him Sunday evening. On the way to my next event, helping to make wedding invitations for a friend, I gave him a call. Unfortunately, he did not answer and I found myself scrambling to construct the right message to leave. (Funny how later that evening there was a rerun of "Seinfeld" playing where George makes a fool of himself leaving a message on a date's answering machine.) Hopefully, I played it off well as a casual call.

Sh and Kata also happened to be at the invitation party. While we waited to start assembling the invites, I asked them if they formed any impression, good or bad, of KT. Neither said they read much from his behavior. I wasn't surprised that he displayed no outward preference towards me.

My cell phone rang and I immediately knew it had to be KT. I ducked into the bathroom to talk to him. He seemed incredibly good spirited. His tone is usually rather flat, so it was refreshing to hear more emotion in his voice. Sunday was a mellow day for him, just taking care of simple things. He said he unexpectedly received calls from two friends he hasn't talked to in some time - one guy living in NY and a woman from residency who had a baby recently. He had been on the phone for hours already, including when I had originally called.

"How's shopping going?"

"Oh, shopping this morning was fun. We spent a lot of time looking at purses. I'm sure you're real interested in that topic..."

Some mumbled comments I can't remember. "Who was there?"

"Oh, some people you haven't met. Now I'm at another gal function. We're helping my friend make her wedding invitations."

"Oh, which friend is this?"

"Another friend you don't know. Not from this morning. My circles of friends overlap but not 100%"

"I see, so they don't all quite know each other."

Maybe he was just being nice, but somehow I just wasn't interested in talking about my friends after what happened Friday. I had my paranoia helmet on with fresh batteries. We chatted maybe a few more minutes before the last person we'd been waiting for arrived.

"The last person just arrived. I should probably go and join everyone. Do you want to talk later?"

"Sure, give me a call."

Ack, I had wanted to actually see him in person. But I lost the desire to follow through. He could have suggested it. I wanted to hear him want to see me.


I called him again just after 8:30pm. I guess he was doing some work when I called because when I mentioned seeing an article about revamping his beloved college band, he tried to look up the article.

He asked me how the invitation party went. I told him that it was fun and that we got kind of silly. We made about 120 invitations that we separated into "boy" and "girl" invitations. I laughed as I explained that the difference was that the "boy" invites will be given to male attendees since they well be less likely to notice the flaws. :) I was giggling too much to remember what KT's reaction was.

I tried describing how the main invitation looked. I told him what a great job Hoku did with the design. I don't know that I'd be creative enough. KT and I kept interrupting each other's during the conversation. He was commenting that the wedding seemed small based on the number of invitations, but I explained that it could be as many as 160 with guests. Then, he started into what he thought was a good size... around 200. (You know, I honestly can't recall the last time I had a conversation about weddings with a guy... . I know it doesn't mean anything, but it was interesting.)

I told him about the Korean wedding my friend had and how she didn't know a third of the people there because they were invited by her father. They didn't follow the seating chart at all and started singing karaoke while the bride was cutting the cake. She had expected to see all her close friends sitting at the front tables, and instead they were scattered about in the back. It was bizarre because it was as if there were two different parties happening in the same room. I mentioned how when he brother got married there were some 600 people invited.

From that topic, KT mentioned how despite the gender equalities we see in America, in Asian families, there will always be an imbalance. I agreed and as an example mentioned how my brother has extra jewelry for his future wife. I understand and accept this as fact. KT then said that since his parents are both at the younger ends of the family, he doesn't expect anything since anything that might have been passed out was probably long ago given to the older grandchildren.

I asked if when his sister got married whether any family came out from the Philippines to attend. He couldn't recall anyone coming for it, not even the family in Virginia. He mentioned again how he didn't even attend those cousins' weddings. Their family, for whatever reason, is very unattached. I joked that the only reason most of my relatives are coming to my brother's wedding is because they want to visit California.

I made some comment about needing to organize my cousins for a Disneyland trip when everyone is here. There was silence on the phone and I asked if he was still there. He said he simply didn't have anything to say to that comment. That led him into this story about a friend's new "tricks" for ending conversations without having to give an excuse. I can't even repeat them because they're just lame ways to get off the phone that I have no intention of encouraging. I can't believe he was telling me because it made me wonder if he'd try it on me someday. I'm pretty sure it was just an interesting story, but it was still an evil thing.

Somehow, I managed to slip in a comment about being stressed about some presentation I needed to have done for Tuesday (procrastinating as I write this). I expressed relief that I'd have the next day off because it's my birthday. KT's reaction was, "ah, I need to put that on my calendar." :) He then said something about knowing a lot of people with birthdays in September, October, and November. I asked him when his is and he said October. I then joked about how confusing it can be to have a birthday so close to tax day because it's easy to date documents wrong. :p We joked about how when you see patterns among children you can't help wonder if some particular occasion brought the adults together 9 months back. ;) (He said it, not me.)

We talked a bit about his work. I explained I try not to ask too much about people's work sometimes because some people don't like to dwell on it all the time. KT said he doesn't mind. I simply explained that I like to hear about what it's like because it's so different from working in a cubicle, typing and making phone calls all day. He sighed and said some days he wish he had that life. So I asked him if he wasn't a doctor what he thinks he'd like to do. He said he'd like to be involved in design, be it as an architect or creating medical tools. He explained that he finds enjoyment in hands-on tasks.

There were a couple pauses. I purposely didn't immediately fill the awkward space to see how KT would handle it. I think only one time was it truly uncomfortable for more than 5 seconds. Finally, he said he needed to get back to his work. (He was working remotely to prepare for being gone for a few days.) Before saying "goodnight," he asked if I was free on Tuesday. I indicated that I would be free of my work and would be happy to do something.

Then he asked something which set off my alert, "what about Amazing Race? Is it still going on?"

I must have held my breath while I paused to think about how to answer this question. I wasn't about to have a discussion about this over the phone. I evaded the question a little bit by saying, "that's usually not planned until the last minute."

For whatever reason, he let it go and proceeded to ask me where I would be okay driving to to meet up. It sounds like I might be going to a nicer restaurant tomorrow. :) KT suggested meeting at the Borders. That way, in case someone (likely him), was running late, the other person could browse the books. I said that was fine but encouraged him to call me if he thought he was going to be late.

Well, I'm happy he took the initiative to ask. If I hadn't called, what do you think would have happened?

I have one exception to my no-hug rule. It's even been approved by C3. If KT happens to miraculously give me a flower or small gift, I'm allowed to give him a "thank you" hug at that moment. :)

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