Santa Claus is coming to town
by Kyi Maung
Special thanks and congratulations to Thein Htay and Christina for their wonderful wedding day. And thanks to Aung Kyaw and Aye Aye Myint for joining us from far far away. Finally, much apologies to classmates who might feel my humor is going little too far.
When Aung Kyaw informed me he is coming to LA for Thein Htay’s wedding, I was so excited to meet my old buddy again. Sweet memories of pretending twin brothers during final part one field trip immediately came into my mind. Nothing could replace those golden days. At the same time, some concern came into my mind that he might be that medical officer of Taiwan who was first diagnosed with second returning SARS. I better watch out.
The problem started when Thein Htay could not pick up Aung Kyaw at LAX. He would be out of town in Vegas with his bride on that day. I wondered they were getting HIV test over there before wedding. He asked me help to pick up Aung Kyaw and keep Aung Kyaw a couple of days. I said it is too far from my home to LAX. I suggested him to rent limousine and book 5 stars hotel at Beverly Hills for his special buddy from Taiwan. Or quarantine Aung Kyaw a week for SARS clearance. Then we asked Sayagyi Aung Khine whether he could help. Sayagyi said he would be so busy endoscoping during Christmas time. We wondered why his patients pick Christmas time to get scoped. We also wondered Sayagyi would actually be busy looking for strippers for Thein Htay’s bachelor night. Then I asked Aung Kyaw to redirect his flight to SFO instead of LAX so I could pick up and stay with me before the wedding. Aung Kyaw said he tried but all SFO flights are full and he could only come to LAX that night. I wondered Taiwanese people must love to see Golden Gate Bridge more than Disneyland during holidays. Or he just had bad travel agent.
Then, Aung Kyaw started getting worried no one could pick him up. He asked me is there any payphone at the airport to call help. I answered LAX is very big and he could find phones everywhere. I also told him there are a lot of motels and shuttle buses around the airport since LAX is very big. He asked me how to dial those payphones, with coin or with card. I wondered he was getting panic attack. I told him to calm down. He said he is calm. He also mentioned he would need to go to bookstore in LA. I asked him why he would need to buy Playboy and Penthouse in LA since they are also available in Taiwan. He answered his sex life is fine and he does not need those magazine. He said I should buy them myself. I said, “go to hell”.
So four of us were getting nowhere but just arguing nonsense. One super anxious SARS suspected doctor from Taiwan, one cold feet groom planning pre-wedding honeymoon, one busy endoscopitician, and one somehow depleted sex life guy. Fortunately, May Khalar angel Aye Aye Thant came and rescued. Aye Aye Thant said she and her husband Ko Chit Swe could pick up Aung Kyaw at the airport and keep him. Thanks God! Ko Chit Swe said he would be more than happy to continue unfinished Kung-Fu practice with his childhood Kung-Fu mate Aung Kyaw. I bet it would worth something to watch.
The other day, on my drive way home, I was listening KOIT 96.5 for Christmas non-stop songs. I heard “Santa Claus is coming to town” was playing. “You better watch out, you better not cry, …., Santa Claus is coming to town…” what a good song. That morning, I received email from Yangon that Aye Aye Myint is coming to town. Why that calendar girl is coming to SF that time of year? May be she wants to shoot Golden Gate Bridge photos for next year calendar. Or may be she comes to collect donation for upcoming Arr Sa Yei Ya Pu Zaw Pue in February. I better watch out and I better hide. Or I better cry.
When the calendar girl arrived to SFO safely, she was so happy to know that she could sneak in Thein Htay’s wedding without invitation, surprise all classmates and collect donation. But I wondered Thein Htay would not allow her to enter the door without big wedding present or big check. The calendar girl told me she would go to the wedding with Than Tun Aung’s big family so she could hide among three kids at the entrance. I told her it was a good plan but she would have to suffer Than Tun Aung’s three kids’ concert in crowded van on 8 hours trip from SF to LA.
Aung Kyaw and Aye Aye Myint must have brought what they have from their homelands. The same day Aung Kyaw arrived to LA, the 6.5 magnitude earthquake had struck north of LA. Fortunately, on one was injured. The next day Aye Aye Myint arrived, San Francisco had power black out the whole city. Fortunately, no one was injured. When I showed her around in SF Chinatown, it was all dark and all restaurants were closed. We were so hungry and exhausted so we did not shoot too many photos at Golden Gate Bridge. The calendar girl posted only a couple of shots. Fortunately, no one was injured. The next day both Aung Kyaw and Aye Aye Myint were in the country, the government homeland security raised the terror alert level from yellow to orange. SARS alert was raised too. I better watch out.
Finally, the day had come. It was Saturday evening, December 27, 2003. Thein Htay and Christina chose Sam Woo restaurant at Rowland Heights, east of LA. Food was quite good but the space was crowded. Every time I saw one of my old classmates, I had to step over people to get there to greet. I think the host lady was quite good. She tried to entertain the crowd with bilingual speeches, songs, games, and dances but all were so noisy for us. I could not hear most of classmates’ chatting so I just kept smiling and nodding my head during conversation. The bride and groom both looked very sharp in their wedding dresses. I noticed the bride changed her gown at least 3 times but Thein Htay’s white tuxedo stayed on him the whole evening. So did his big smile on his face. I wondered pre-wedding honeymoon in Vegas and upcoming post-wedding honeymoon in Hawaii must have overjoyed the groom.
Flashes of light from our lady classmates’ jewelry made me temporarily blind more than couple of times. I missed Khin Maung Htwe’s presence. He would have analyzed who wore most valuable ones and who wore fake ones. I noticed extra make-up works on Aung Kyaw and Ko Chit Swe (Aye Aye Thant’s) faces to cover bruises from last night Kung-Fu practice. They must have very good practice last night. I wondered if I could promote their Kung-Fu practice tonight, audience might be more delighted than noisy host lady’s entertainment. Aye Aye Myint also arrived with Aye Thant’s family. Not only she survived Than Tun Aung’s 3 kids on 8 hours van’s trip; she also spent yesterday with them in Disneyland Park. I heard Aye Thant’s 3 years old girl also accompanied. Amazing! Than Tun Aung was considering to offer Ma Myint babysitting job pretty soon. When classmates saw the calendar girl, some ran away and some hid under the tables to avoid getting donation collected. But Ma Myint was so quick to tackle and grab them so they had no choice but to cry. Fortunately, no one was injured.
Aung Khine and Khine Khine toured table to table showing their beautiful girl Sandi. So did Aye Thant with her girl Chit Phue Ngon Swe. Ma Khin Hla, Than Tun Aung and me just sat at own tables with our boys and waited for their approach since we were boy’s parents. I wondered that might change twenty years later from now. Sayagyi Aung Khine looked tired that evening. He might be so busy endoscoping the other night. Or it might be unsuccessful search of strippers at Hollywood Boulevard the other night.
Tin May Than and her Dr. Joseph showed up without their four sons. Tin May Than said she could not chase her four sons if they suddenly decide to play soccer during the wedding. I wondered audience would be more thrilled to watch their soccer game instead of noisy host lady’s entertainment. Win Htun with his Shelly, San San with her Robert, and Khin San Yi with her Edward did not bring any kid since they didn’t have any yet. They better hurry up otherwise they might not involve in potential engagement/wedding party twenty years from now. So must Thein Htay and Christina. Ma Nu Khin and Nyun Nyun Soe showed up alone, as they are still single.
Time was around ten. Party was in full swing. Music was louder and louder. Foods were piling up on the tables. Kids spilled drinks all over. Thein Htay kissed Christina every time he heard audiences’ request with glass spanking noises. His smile got bigger and bigger every time. Videos were rolling. Cameras were flashing all over. People switched tables to tables to talk more. Aung Khine’s Sandi was sleeping over his lap. Than Tun Aung’s youngest one was crying. His wife Mi Mi and my wife Thin Thin were talking non-stop. I was chasing my boy who ran and tried to grab 7 layers wedding cake. Tin May Than and Joseph had to run home early as they heard their four sons were out of control at home. Aye Aye Thant was forcing Ko Chit Swe to eat more food. Aung Kyaw decided to practice Kung Fu with my son. Host lady’s entertainment was picking up momentum. Bride and groom obeyed her orders by kissing, hugging, dancing, flower’s tossing, cake cutting, champagne drinking, banana eating, stocking stripping, horse riding, etc. I kept wondering what kind of reasonable entertainment would rescue audience from that misery and suffering? Probably Aung Kyaw and my son Kung Fu fight.
It was time to go home. People said congratulations to bride and groom. People said goodbye each other. People wished each other for upcoming New Year. Some grabbed their coats. Some grabbed their purses. Some grabbed some food. Some picked up their sleepy kids. Some picked up their shoes. Some picked up their pants. My lady classmates group did not get enough talking, so they decided to move their chat room to nearby hotel lobby where I was staying for overnight. Then they continued to talk and talk until 1 AM. Amazing! One bright side in the hotel lobby was they did not need to yell each other to hear over host lady’s entertainment.
We all had to thank Thein Htay and Christina for making everyone one wonderful evening. We all forgot everything of our stressful lives and just enjoyed the moment for one evening. We all felt twenty years younger for a couple of hours. We all had good laugher and joy for a couple of hours. Thanks a lot Thein Htay and Christina. And congratulations too.
Tomorrow, we all will continue our own journeys with uncertain destinations. Some might face flowers. Some might face rocks. Some will see sunshine. Some will see some rains. Some will see some storms. Nobody knows. What I know for sure is some will go to Hawaii for honeymoon. Some will go home to Taiwan. Some will go home to Myanmar. Some will go home to Redding to dig out snow. Some will go to Buddhist temple to pray. Some will go to Vegas to gamble. Some will go to Grand Canyon. Some will stay home. Some will go back to work and endoscope. Some will practice more Kung Fu. Some will need to eat more. Some will need to exercise more. Oh! That reminds me. I have to go to the Gym now to start exercise for my New Year resolution of 20 pounds.