Today, it is my greatest honour and supremest pleasure to have the privilege of relating to you one of the greatest epics of the modern age: Cats, Starbucks, and Not-Quite-Sweatshirts. (Otherwise known as the sequel to The Quest for the Unlined Notebook, in which I, your humble protagonist, risked life, limb, and possibly my mother's sanity in order to journey into the farthest reaches of my father's study and obtain the mysterious and coveted unlined notebook.) As you all know, I am currently in Palo Alto with the creature known as "father". Having done multitudes of study on this notorious being in the fourteen years I've been living with him, I have only just come to the startling conclusion that really, we are more alike than I had anticipated. It seems that, unlike the companion creature known as "mother", both my father and I have a similar way of accomplishing our missions: wandering around, going with the flow, and poking our heads into whatever really interests us. (This is in contrast to my mother's HERE'S A LIST OF THINGS WE NEED TO GET DONE, PREFERABLY IN AT LEAST 28.54 SECONDS LESS THAN LAST TIME style. You see the difference, no?)
So there I was just yesterday, peacefully burrowed in my bed and minding my own business, when my father shook me into conciousness at the horrendously early hour of 8 in the morning. I muttered something that sounded vaguely like "whatdyawantimtryingtosleepgoaway", which my father, of course, took to mean: "Hi Dad! Of course I don't mind that you woke me up, because in no way, shape, or form am I a cranky teenager who needs eight hours of sleep a night! Get in the car, skip breakfast, and instead take an hour-long drive down to San Francisco?! I love that idea!" (My father's version of reality includes me talking in exclamation points much of the time, as you can tell.)
So we bundled into the car, with me grumbling a multitude of indecipherable threats under my breath... and five minutes into the drive my father announced that we needed to stop and find a clothing store. His explanation? Apparently he was so used to the tropical rainforest that is Singapore that he had conveniently forgotten to bring a sweatshirt, and was therefore deathly afraid of the winds down in San Francisco. (Dad, if you're reading this: AMATEUR.) So, with absolutely no consent on my part - I believe I was sobbing KILL ME NOW and beating at the car windows, actually... but hey, the radio was pretty loud, so maybe he didn't hear me? - we rolled into the parking lot of a completely deserted mall. My father instructed me to sit in the car and listen to the radio (which at this point was blasting so loudly I believe the windows in the car may or may not have shattered, along with my eardrums), and he would run into the mall, buy a sweatshirt, and be back at the car in, AND I QUOTE: "just five minutes! I promise!"
Before I could wedge in my desperate protests, my father had slid out of the car and was striding towards the mall, leaving me stuck inside. Five minutes later, I tried to call him. Nothing.
Ten minutes later, the sun came up.
Twenty minutes later, people started streaming into the mall.
Half an hour later, I considered teaching myself how to drive right then and there and hightailing it back to Singapore.
Forty-five minutes later, I rejected the idea on the basis of no gas money.
Finally, an hour later, my father waltzed out of the mall, no shopping bags in his hands. (As you might imagine, I was bitterly disappointed, considering I had expected that in the time he'd been gone, he would have at least bought an elephant, and possibly the whole circus. My father is the kind of man who would do that.) He insisted that he had only been gone for five minutes - "ten, tops! Honey, I think your watch is broken!" - and told me that he had found the perfect trousers, suit, and shoes, begging me to come see them and help him choose which ones to buy.
At this point I had resigned myself to staying there for the rest of the week at least, so I let myself be dragged into the mall. My father practically sprinted into the nearest department store and led me to where he had laid out an entire semi-formal outfit, right down to the belt, socks, and underwear - no sign of a sweatshirt in sight. He then proceeded to probe me for a list of my favourite clothes, in order of colour, style, cut, price, and probability that our dog would shed on them. By the end of it I was cursing poor Hachii, bemoaning the existence of this mall, and wishing I hadn't woken up in the morning.
But at last, two hours later, my father had made his choices and we walked out of the department store with bags full-to-bursting with clothes... none of them being a sweatshirt, mind you.
And that was when I saw the cat shelter next door.
Fast forward until four in the afternoon, and my father and I had accomplished a surprisingly large amount, all without ever having actually left for San Francisco: we'd bought my father enough clothes to last three and a half years, found a lovely Greek restaurant and eaten lunch, gotten lost within Macy's and consequently made friends with all the sales attendents on the third floor of said Macy's (plus, one of them followed my blog! Hi, Greg!), bought me a sweater (though, still none for my father), and ordered coffees from a handily-placed Starbucks.
Oh, and also we were seriously considering adopting a cat - but that, dear readers, is a tale for another day.
(Addendum: Hachii, if you're reading this, I was joking about that last thing. Probably.)