Lea's 35th Birthday Party


Under normal circumstances I would write a much more detailed account of the birthday party I attended last night, in this post, but I'm kind of running out of time before Shobhit gets back from work and I want to make chai. And, I just finished captioning all 37 shots I have of the party on Flickr, with quite a lot of detail. In fact, the very first shot, of the ridiculous crowd on our Light Rail train ride down to Columbia City, has a pretty overlong caption with arguably too much detail about how a car accident on the tracks south of Rainier Beach Station delayed all the trains by half an hour. That's why we got to Gabriel and Lea's place at 6:40 instead of 6:10 as originally estimated.

I had kind of hoped to head down there early, as Gabriel even invited me to do when he talked about my coming to the party, but I realized that was particularly unlikely once Shobhit decided he would come. Shobhit should still be given some credit here, though, as it's because of him, actually, that we had a very good reason for not getting there earlier: on Friday night, Shobhit made the shockingly spontaneous decision to make samosas to bring.

This is usually at least a three-day process, but thanks to his decision to scale down how many he would make (we fried up 20 of them; brought 16), we basically barely had enough time between late Friday night after we got home from grocery shopping at the Fremont PCC -- I had bused to meet him at Total Wine & More in Interbay when he got off work at 9 pm -- and the hour or so we spent frying them after he got home from work yesterday at about 3:50. On Friday, once we had all the groceries put away, I helped chop several of the vegetables, and he boiled two potatoes. He made a pretty large batch of potato filling, which I even packed a quart of into a container to put into the freezer so he could use it to make more for guests we're having for dinner on Sunday next weekend.

I also walked downtown while Shobhit was at work yesterday, at Shobhit's request, to get cheese curd at Beecher's at Pike Place Market. I got a pint and that shit is expensive, nearly $11. Half of those will be saved for next weekend as well. Shobhit has taken to using Beecher's cheese curd instead of the paneer he used to use in samosas. Both are perfectly delicious, for the record.

In any case, as I noted to Shobhit once we finally got on a Light Rail train after waiting for 35 minutes, it's just as well we did not get to the station, say, half an hour earlier. We'd just have ended up waiting for an hour. The samosas were worth the effort either way: we were the only people who brought a homemade dish like that, and they were inhaled by the people there. Shobhit and I had both shared two of them before leaving, and we didn't even eat any of the ones we actually took to the party.

For some reason I never took any photos of the samosas.


Lea's Birthday Party Roll Call!

1. Lea
2. Gabriel
3. Tess
4. Julie
5. Ryan
6. Josh
7. Mandy
8. David
9. Landy whose name I never learned by she wore a shirt that read I'M PRETTY COOL, BUT I CRY A LOT
10. Said lady's daughter whose name, I think, was also Lea??
11. Shobhit
12. Matthew

Darren, Josh's partner, was not there apparently due to being away on some kind of business trip. The "I CRY A LOT" T-shirt lady said "Nice to meet you" to me when she left at the end of the party, even though we had never actually been introduced. I just said "You too!" Ryan was the first person to come up to me when I arrived, telling me we had met at the 4th of July party, and it literally took me like two hours before I legitimately remembered him from that party. You'd think I would remember a thirtysomething straight guy who is still so buff he could fill out a form fitting T-shirt like he does.

I did wonder if Tess would be there, as Saturday is usually when she goes back to Stephanie for the next half of the week. Exceptions are made for events like this, of course. Tess seems to have grown visibly every time I see her. Shobhit even commented on it right when we arrived and Tess had to come downstairs like three times looking for us because I had gone around the wrong corner to a side entrance on the wrong building. Tess insisted she hasn't grown but I think she's mistaken. She was wearing platform sandals, to be fair. She also had on a very nice dress.

Anyway! I'm not sure I have ever seen Gabriel put together a party so elaborate for someone. He made reference later to Lea once saying her previous boyfriends had "blown it" with their approaches to her birthday, and he was determinted not to be in that same company. Lea was clearly very happy with the result.

He made it a Nailed It!-themed party, where we all participated in a cake baking competition just like the TV show. In retrospect, I think there are two ways in which it could be argued Shobhit's and my two-person team appeoached the competition more like the actual show than any of the other teams did. First, Gabriel even said he expected "disasters" like the ones that make the show apparently so fun to watch (I have never seen it, although he did play about five minutes of an episode before we all got started) -- and there is no question, Shobhit's and my cake was the only one that was clearly a disaster. We were the only ones who actually followed directions! Second, Shobhit was so bitchy and domineering about the whole endeavor that I found a lot of it genuinely stressful, to the point that a couple of times I wanted to tear is face off. It occurred to me later that this is perhaps also like the show, on which contestants also get really stressed out about their baking.

I think everyone else was pretty much just having fun. Honestly, if I had been partnered with anyone but Shobhit, I probably could have too. Shobhit has a knack for sucking the fun out of things, especially when he decides he has to take them way too seriously. Now, I don't want to misrepresent this either -- I'm talking about comparatively fleeting moments, really, and the rest of it was still fun, even for me. And even for Shobhit, actually. He just had a couple of moments of losing his patience for me because I was not, I don't know, proactive enough with the fallout of his refusal to pay attention to recipes.

In his defense, I suppose, I should have told him before we left what the party theme was going to be. I did not realize how badly Shobhit needs reading glasses now, and he did not bring them. He was even exchanging texts with Sachin at one point and I had to read them to him. (Sachin was apparently asking repeatedly if he could come by the party, by the way. I said I didn't think he should; this was not the kind of party that was ours to invite someone no one else there knows to. I refused even to ask Gabriel about it, as I simply didn't think it was appropriate, and I didn't want Gabriel to have to think about it.)

Gabriel went out for a while as we all did our baking, to pick up takeout pizza to feed us all dinner with. I wonder how much he spent on that party, between dinner and all those cake supplies. I'm certain it was more than I have ever spent on any birthday party for myself. But then, I'm cheap.

And then we all sure had plenty of cake, because we all tasted all five of the cakes that got baked. I still can't get over the fact that Shobhit's and my place did not place last in either the presentation or the taste votes. And indeed, our cake actually did taste pretty good! There was only one cake that tasted better, honestly. And Shobhit didn't even use a recipe! I'm sure he felt some measure of vindication about that. He had a learning curve with baking, as Indians don't really use ovens -- and still, just basically going by feeling and intuition, he managed to conconct something not-terrible. It would have been even better had Shobhit simply made a smaller volume of batter overall, and had I put in only baking soda instead of both baking soda and baking powder.

Go to the full photo album for pictures of all five of the cakes, the other four certainly far prettier than Shobhit's and mine. It was only Lea, Tess and Julie's cake that tasted better than ours, though, which felt doubly like a miracle to me because it was matcha flavored and I usually don't even like matcha. It was still the best cake. And ours was second best!

09072019-34 Money Honey

[posted 9:03 pm]