Monday, February 16, 2009

Days of our Love

This weekend had the distinct pleasure of being both Valentine's Day and the Family Day long weekend. I took the opportunity to go out and play!


After getting out of school on Friday, I rang up some of my friends to see if they wanted to go shopping with me. I needed to pick up Evey's Valentine's-slash-birthday gift. I was not keen to go out by myself, and had more than half-a-mind to include dinner in the itinerary.

Most of my friends politely excused themselves as either being busy or living downtown. This included my friend Mei, who offered some pretext about having to prepare a lesson for the music class she was teaching the next day. About half an hour later...

Mei: Okie, I am getting sleepy. Nap time!

Andy: Oy man, you're sleeping instead of coming out with me?

Mei: Aww... Give me three reasons to come. (Wow... just looking at your blog, you write so much!) [Yes, I do.]

Andy: Geez, you need three reasons to go out with your friend?

Andy: Fine. One. It will be fun.

Mei: Haha...

Andy: Two. You work too much and need to get out.

Andy: Three. I'm driving, which means we can actually go places.

Mei: Wow... so tempting...

The rest, as they say, is history. Mei and I hit up First Markham Place (in... Markham, obviously) to try and find Evey's gift - a Sony Ericsson W200a mobile phone.

I typically don't buy gifts this pricey, but I felt that there was sufficient need to justify this one time splurge. Evey does not have a cell phone. She had a cell phone, but every time she returns to Kingston at the end of the summer, one of her siblings commandeers it for local use. At the same time, Evey studies music, and often feels uncomfortable walking the evening streets to and from practice. I too then feel uneasy knowing that my treasured girlfriend is without a lifeline.

The W200a was an obvious choice for a number of reasons. Firstly, there are only four or five phones to choose from for Pay as You Go service. This was key, because Evey does not use her phone much and saddling her with monthly cell phone plan expenditures would be about as thoughtful as buying a cat. I wanted this phone to be usable out of the box, with no extra cost to her.

Secondly, if I was to get her a cell phone, it ought to be a respectable model. It would be rather ungracious to trap her with a cheap and ugly device to use for the next couple of years. In this regard, the W200a seemed like it was custom-built. It was Sony Ericsson. Evey loves Sony and Sony Ericsson. It was white. Evey loves white phones. And it was orange - a very Evey colour combination. Plus, it was a Walkman phone, and Evey wanted an MP3 player. It was, in a word, sublime.

As it turned out, the Rogers outlet at First Markham Place not only didn't have the phone I wanted, but if they did, wanted to charge me $50 more than it was worth. Pass.

We switched gears to look for part 2 of the gift - matching cell phone dangles. I had been inspired by Mello and Lucky, who have similar accessories. Mello has a little metal dangle that reads "Boy" and Lucky has the corresponding "Girl." I thought they idea of carrying accessories representing each other instead of oneself (as in His and Hers towels) to be particularly cute. At the same time, I wasn't keen getting an accessory that actually looked like a girl; because to strangers who don't suspect that it is part of a pair, it likely appears quite awkward.

It was a challenge. Mei and I looked through tons of accessories ranging from Mario mushrooms, to giant ramen bowls, to Raving Rabbids. Mei advised me that with each subsequent idea, I was drifting farther and farther from romance. I countered that these accessories were cute, and that cute was romantic in its own way. Still, we kept looking.

What we found were little jade Chinese zodiac figurines. When I saw them, I knew instantly. They was cute but serious. They were not too feminine for the man to use. They were not too masculine to turn the girl off. They were, to quote Goldilocks, "Just right."

I had previously informed Mei that to make matching items outstanding, they should not be identical. This means that rather than buying two of the same accessory, there should be two accessories that are clearly distinct but clearly matching. Luckily, Evey's birthday cooperated. Though we are only a couple of months apart in age, differences in the lunar and solar calendars mean that our zodiacs were different. She is born in the year of the Ox; and I, the year of the Tiger.

Our next stop was Future Shop, where I picked up the mobile phone. My thrill at the purchase was only dampened by the store's dismal service. At the cell phone/camera counter, there were four or five employees huddled on the camera side. Twice I made direct eye contact with a salesperson and offered a salutatory, "Hey." Twice the salesperson quickly broke eye contact, turned their back to me, and started talking to the salesperson beside him. None of them were busy. I stood there for two or three minutes waiting in case they were. No dice.

At the time, I figured these innumerable employees were working the camera side rather than the mobile phone side. Even so, purposely avoiding me and instead chatting it up with other salespeople was immensely rude. They should have helped me to find the appropriate salesperson or at least provided a cursory, "Sorry, I don't work the cellular department." What is even more infuriating is that Evey, who once worked at Future Shop for the summer, informed me that the mobile phone and camera sections actually share the same salespeople. The salespeople were likely avoiding me, she said, because nobody wants to sell cellular phones which provide poor commission compared to cameras. /anger

Eventually, however, an employee finally took pity on me helplessly circling the mobile phone counter and asked, "You're doing okay...?" Which, if you've been paying attention, I was not. Take me to your leader!

Phone? Check. Pay as You Go minutes? Check. Matching accessories? Check.

With the shopping done, Mei and I caught dinner at Go For Tea. We had some excellent conversation, which I think was rather cathartic for both of us. I took a picture of the sexy Lamborghini parked outside.

I spent the rest of the evening working on my Valentine's Day card, which sported a particularly cherubic looking moogle. Kupo!


Saturday was the main event. We had decided to make Valentine's a classic date. While that might sound boring to the more creative and adventurous among you, it's something we don't get to do often enough these days.

We began with lunch. Originally, we headed for Ten Ren's - my typical lunch default for all occasions. However, we made a last minute change of plans, opting instead for the Thai restaurant hidden at the corner of the same plaza: The Chef - Thai Fusion.

I opted for the Thai Coconut and Evey ordered a Pineapple Fried Rice. It was quite tasty. I particularly enjoyed the mango salad, which included real mango slices. Evey did take issue, however, with the fact that the mangoes were rather unripe (and hence, stiffer and more sour than one might want).

Evey: Your curry is not spicy enough.

Andy: Why would I want my curry to be spicy?

Evey: Curry is supposed to be spicy.

Andy: Nah, that's crazy-talk.

Hot food is one domain in which Evey's Korean and my Cantonese upbringing come into conflict.

After lunch, we exchanged gifts. Evey got me a trendy looking black and white tie. I love ties. In fact, people sometimes find it strange they I cling to the vaguely anachronistic practice of wearing ties to the hospital.

We took the afternoon to activate Evey's phone (which was a challenge because we made the mistake of attempting to do so online first) and play Rock Band. Our black and white phones match my black and white tie. Ebony and ivory. Monochromatic. Just the way I like it.

The only downer was that Rogers' version of the W200a was white and blue rather than the typical white and orange. Still, it's a pretty phone, and Evey seemed very happy with the gift.

We had an early dinner at Daikoku, a favourite of ours introduced to me in high school by my friend Brutus. At that time, it was a little restaurant called Yokozuna at Commerce Gate, which served that best sweet-curry-pork-chop ramen for just $4.99. It subsequently moved to a much less auspicious location off Woodbine. The prices went slightly up, the quality went slightly down, and the number of customers dropped off dramatically. Still, we love it, and it has a special place in our hearts. The restaurant tends to be rather empty, so I'm always scared that it will go out of business. I did see it advertising on Fairchild TV though, which is a good strategy.

As usual, I got the curry pork chop and Evey got the fried chicken. I think everybody should visit as part of Andy's unofficial Save Daikoku campaign.

After dinner, we headed over to a local AMC to watch Coraline in glorious 3D. To be honest though, wearing glasses over glasses kind of hurts my eyes. AMC Theatres are great date locations because of the "love seats" (i.e. the armrest between seats can be folded up). This makes things like holding hands and hugging much more feasible - just for future reference to you guys.

Coraline is a children's horror movie, following the exploits of the titular protagonist. Coraline is a little girl with busy parents and a boring life, who finds a secret doorway leading to an extraordinary new dimension. However, not everything is as it seems, as something sinister lies behind the wonder...

I have to admit, I was rather excited for this movie. The review in the Toronto Star made it sound genuinely terrifying. Because of the raving review, which described the movie as perhaps too scary for many children, I went in with rather high expectations for the level of drama and was thoroughly disappointed. It was legitimately a children's movie, with what Evey describes as "typical children's scary movie" level of fright... which by 22, doesn't quite cut it.

However, other than dashing my high hopes regarding fear factor, the movie was actually quite well done. It crafted a beautiful and compelling fantasy world with plenty of eye candy, excellent voice acting, and an interesting story. It was fun to watch from beginning to end. Evey did admit, however, to being distracted by Teri Hatcher's casting as the main villain. Teri Hatcher plays Evey's most loathed Susan Mayer in Desperate Housewives, and that association kept her from being properly immersed in the setting.

After the movie, we were both tired. We took some time to just relax and chat. Then, getting hungry again, we ran by a McDonald's Drive Thru for some McNuggets before I whisked Evey back home for the night.

Date accomplished!


sandlot said...

so coraline was a bit disappointing? have you read the book? if you haven't you should. i'm watching the film on friday, hopefully i won't find it as disappointing as you. i'm actually quite excited to watch it in 3D!!!

oh.. and your girlfriend should use walkhome at night. best service ever. hahaaha.

and good job on ending the night off with mcdonalds. excellent choice.

a_ndy said...

Yeah, I was a bit disappointed by Coraline... but I think that may simply be due to my inflated expectations. It was generally well done. Nothing too spectacular though. I've never read the book - not sure if that would have made me enjoy it more or less. 3D is pretty neat.

Nothing wrong with a little McD's. I get random cravings for McNuggets.