10/19/2005
Fourteen cupcakes for the debutante

I just came home from school last Monday when I realized my cellphone was vibrating in a weird way. If it's three in rapid succession, obviously, there's a phone call, but I didn't know who it is from. Presuming it was from a classmate running out of credit, I answered the call. It was, well, somebody else. Somebody I didn't know.

The first question came in. "Are you a blockmate of Caresse?" she asked.

"Yes," I answered. I wondered, this should be about her birthday, but why me? Earlier we've been greeting her endlessly, putting the fact that she was still seventeen then (well, the last few hours of it).

There was this plan to surprise her for her birthday, with this (what I thought as) extremely complicated plan. I was supposed to send that caller other phone numbers of my other blockmates that are close to her. She, then, is supposed to invite them to this surprise dinner somewhere in Manila, and (I thought) we were supposed to see a puzzled debutant that's either speechless or screaming in surprise. Oh, and the caller? Her mom.

As with other grand plans, I took it to myself to make it swing. In short, kinarir ko ang pagbigay ng business card. I gave only three though (contact details of Ale, Cuyeg and Jackie) since I was later asked to invite my blockmates. Luckily I was going to chat with Ian for our research proposal, due yesterday (yes, we did get to submit that. But this is all about Caresse, so Niko, no deviations, please!), so I decided to chat to those who are online (well, only to Lau, Les and Steph) about the gig. My first dilemma: not everybody is coming, and I thought I was supposed to invite around fifteen people. (At least, that's what I thought.) It's hard to keep a secret, especially when you're getting a bit hyperactive over it. And, yes, the fact that you're dedicating part of your energy (really?) to it.

Even Jackie somehow kept watch over my increasing energy level: "Auntie's not inviting the entire block," she said in a text message. But she doesn't have to panic - I didn't. I knew what to do. Seriously.

The next day, another dilemma: five people attending, and only around ten hours to invite around ten more. I worried, but I didn't have to (since we're keeping the secret). Les suggested that I invite the party animals; admittedly I forgot about them (sorry!) despite Ariane organizing a huge online conference the night before since around fifteen were online, which is rare. After that, they just did their thing and had a lot more coming: aside from me, Jaja, Lau, Cuyeg and Sara, there were Ariane, Martin, Jana, Marcia and Clarence. Kaymee had also confirmed her attendance, so that makes eleven people. At least, I thought, we're going to occupy a full table. I almost didn't make it, though - I felt that I was left behind. (Too much paranoia is the culprit.)

At around six in the evening, the list is finalized: Clarence never got to go, since she was very busy, and a lot more pitched in on the effort (if you should call it as such): Jill and Malia came, as well as Kizia and Jason, who decided at the very last minute. He just appeared in the bus and made the block representatives at around fourteen.

I, weirdly, had fun as we crossed Roxas Boulevard and EDSA on the way to the Heritage Hotel, where the whole thing happened. We got in the lobby, finally, at around 19.00 - a half-hour behind schedule - and after we met Caresse's mom, we settled in the function room and occupied two tables. At the back of my head, since I felt partly responsible for the thing (I was the contact, weirdly), I thought, this is going well. We hid under the tables when we were told she was coming, and then she came.

Speechless.

Or maybe there was this line. "How'd you guys get here?" She was stunned, literally. We just popped up and she was stunned.

After having changed (later I would realize the plan was indeed complicated) to a dress she was supposed to wear at some other occasion, the dinner finally began. I was dead frozen (this is a really complicated story, isn't it, Marcia?) and at the same time overwhelmed. After eating (that was the primary draw, admittedly), and a few others had to leave, so we did the eighteen candles - wait fourteen - earlier than expected. There were eighteen candles on eighteen strawberry cupcakes. All along we thought, "awww, sweet!"

And then came the singing, with Jana being her usual self, and most of the party animals, well, living up to their name. I realized the karaoke is the block's best friend (or at least for the few of them).

The night ended when my parents came to pick me up; Ariane and Martin waited for me to leave since if they did, I would be left alone at the hotel and would really freeze up. After being given two coasters and a mug (and a canister that I'm not giving to my mom, at all costs), we went home, and I decided to bring the two along for the drive home. Our car's been proofed by blockmates, now. I finally got to release my shock (silently, of course) and got home dead tired. I got two hours of sleep before that, working on the research proposal.

After a lot of thank you's from Caresse (and I mean everywhere), I finally found out how her mom found my phone number. It was a leap of faith, it seems - she found my number through the billing statement. I thought - and I agree with her younger brother on this - the debutante is a lucky girl. (Wait - that doesn't sound right, I think.)

So, now, since I haven't given a decent wishlist for the celebrant (who I still greeted today, and that was my twentieth, I think), here it goes, without the cupcakes with a lot of strawberry filling. I wish she does remain in the dean's list, and I wish... uhh... everything else the others have wished. They've taken all of my ideas.

Oh, and I wish she does remain the same. I don't know - I've got nothing else to think. I, as well, am overwhelmed we pulled it off.

And your responses...

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