I turned 34 on Tuesday, at 9:19 am.
I wasn’t too sure how my birthday would be celebrated, but if I had it my way, it’d be spent ordering a pizza, playing Persona 5, and potentially making dog videos. Of course, my friends had something else in mind:
At the stroke of midnight on April 25th, my roommate came out of her room and presented to me a slice of birthday cake from Butter & Scotch; a great start, in my opinion. The next day at work, my officemates took me out to lunch at Totto Ramen and were gracious enough to pay for my meal.
As I was slurping down my spicy ramen and drinking half a beer I shared with my supervisor, I kept on getting an unrecognized call from a New York City area code. At first, I thought it was a robo-call (who else has been getting a lot of these lately?), but as I we walked back to our office, I answered it after the 5th attempt: it was a delivery guy from Domino’s. It was hard to understand him at first, and the order initially took me by surprise; I thought it was a mistake. I then realized it was probably Brett Harmon delivering a pizza from his vacation in Hanoi. He confirmed it after sending me a text on a phone number with a bajillion numbers and a “+” sign. It was indeed a surprise pizza attack.
Immediately after work, I met up with Gino at his office. He said he was going to take me out to dinner, but refused to tell me where — yet another surprise. After he put on a classy suit, he lead me out into the rain and onto a train heading uptown. We got off 34th street, passed through Macy’s to avoid the rain, and dragged me to Keen’s Steakhouse: one of the oldest restaurants in NYC and voted one of the top ten steakhouses in the city.
After two glasses of wine, and 45 minutes surpassing our 7:15pm reservation, we were seated in “The Moose Room,” a semi-private dining area whose walls were adorned with century-old photos and a giant moose head. The entire ceiling was covered with fishermen pipes. Seated next to us at adjoining tables were European tourists in fanny packs and what looked like an unmarried couple from Asia who kept on ordering steak and lobster and more steak and more complimentary bread.
Gino took care of the order entirely, so I can’t recall what exactly we had: it was just a slab of steak — perhaps the tenderest, juiciest steak I’ve ever had — french fries, and cauliflower. We ordered an entire bottle of wine and ate like men.
For dessert, he let me choose. I decided to get a Lady M dark chocolate cake, thinking it was one of that restaurant’s famous layered-crepe cake. Now I’ve never seen Gino eat chocolate, so it came as a surprise to see him eat a few bites. I figured that since he was pretty much paying for the entire meal, he’s entitled to eat things he normally doesn’t eat.
After Gino paid the check (still no clue how much it cost), we walked towards the exit and passed Christian Bale. He was a lot shorter than I had imagined and sort of scrawny, so I guess it’s true that the camera adds two inches and 10 pounds. Perhaps he was physically transforming himself for a new role; who knows?
We walked 4 blocks north, in the rain, to The Skylark — a swanky cocktail bar atop a skyscraper overlooking the entire city. I’ve been there before, but with the rainclouds obscuring the even taller buildings, the view looked amazing. The clouds just seemed to devour anything over 20 stories.
Two martinis later, and we called it a night.
All in all, it was a good birthday: small and relatively low-key in the sense that it wasn’t a boozy rager. It made me feel like I can gracefully transition into my mid-3o’s, to an adult. So to quote Blink-182, “Well, I guess this is growing up.”