Friday, November 25, 2016

Birthday Surprise part 2

After my birthday date dinner, I wanted to take a walk on the beach. The restaurant is very close to one of the cleaner beaches in Hong Kong, depending on water quality on any given week. Mthandeni had other plans. He was in a hurry to get somewhere after dinner.

A walk along the beach could have been a romantic first date. It's a great place to talk, which I consider an essential first date activity. He took me ice skating instead. That was a surprise. Ice skating isn't the most popular activity in Hong Kong, but there are a few rinks spread out around the city. When he brought up the subject during dinner, I mentioned that as a Minnesotan, I had plenty of experience. In Hong Kong, you have to skate inside a heavily air conditioned building. In Minnesota, practically any winter lake or river will do. Mthandeni grew up in a place where it snows about once every hundred years. Ice skating wasn't his thing, but he wanted to go anyway. I thought that was a nice change of pace. Not every guy is willing to do something new where he will most likely fall flat on his butt a few times on a first date.

When we got laced up and went out to the ice, I understood why he was in such a hurry to get me there. About 25 close friends, acquaintances and people I vaguely recognized yelled out, “Surprise.” And it was. I thought I was on a first date with a new guy. I was, but he and Lily worked out a way to get me to a surprise birthday party. I never suspected anything. Partly because it wasn't my birthday yet and partly because I had no idea that Lily and Mthandeni knew each other existed. They met at the same party where he met me and worked out their plan soon afterward.

Not surprisingly, Mthandeni fell flat on his butt a few times while skating. Thankfully, he took it in stride and didn't let embarrassment get in the way. People were falling like sacks of potatoes on the ice, so he wasn't alone. Hong Kong is to winter sports what Los Angeles is to public transportation. Those of us from colder climates spent more time vertically.

The good news was that Mthandeni was definitely not expecting to get some action on the first date. That wasn't going to happen anyway, but when your date ends at an ice skating rink with about 25 close friends, acquaintances and people you vaguely recognize, it's not especially romantic. No matter what happens in the future, this is one first date I'll definitely remember.

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