Take Me To The Ball Game
We had a ball with Icon. Singapore’s premier Chinese-language society magazine celebrated its 13th anniversary on Friday 13th, April. https://thepeakmagazine.com.sg/events/icon-celebrated-13th-anniversary-annual-grand-ball-themed-future/ Having attended the Icon Ball since its first iteration as a cocktail reception, https://goo.gl/images/NDk6x7 I felt grateful to be invited again. I thought to pay homage to our 13 year relationship with 13 reasons why I enjoyed the ball. But I figured that would be too contrived. Not to mention the fact that it would sound too much like the disappointing Netflix teen drama TH1RTEEN R3ASONS WHY. (Fantastic casting & direction, but failed to address the relevant topic of depression among young people. I’m clearly irked). Instead I have written a shorter listicle featuring just 5 reasons why this year’s ball was iconic for me.
Here it is, in countdown order:
I FELT COMFORTABLE IN MY OWN SKIN.
Fifteen years of shift work and all-nighters (on the backs of all-dayers), do take their toll on one’s health. Just too many A Typical Atypical Day For Our Children’s Emergency Team. Recently I made a pact with a group of like-minded friends to be more intentional about how we managed our health. Starting with mall steps like staying hydrated and having good quality sleep, to more effortful tasks like building an effective exercise plan. I’m also more careful about the facial treatments I go for, choosing only those whose products I believe in from a scientific point of view.
The additive value of these small steps is that I no longer pile on layers of make-up to hide flaws. I choose to go foundation-free on most days. Even for the Icon Ball, my make-up artist used very little make-up to allow me to put my best face forward. As for my hair, after keeping it long for years to allow stylists to pile it high, spray it stiff or curl it with heated tongs, I decided to cut it short. Not for stylists or editors or anyone else’s opinion of what I should look like, for just for myself. The theme of the ball was futuristic so we went with a cute precision cut. I was happy to do so, sans hair-spray.
I OWNED MY OUTFIT; IT DIDN’T OWN ME.
I have attended so many balls where I felt I had to diet to fit a gown, or buy new shoes so I would look taller to give the dress a better silhouette. This time, with the futuristic theme of the ball in mind, I decided that while I wanted silver tones of lace and silk, I didn’t actually want a dress at all. Instead, I ordered a bodysuit and a skirt so that I could get more out of my pieces. Wearing a special dress once and then letting its opulent glory fade in the depths of a closet is not my style.
My designer followed very specific instructions. I wanted to be able to eat and dance comfortably in it. I only went once for a fitting and it was perfect. It even had pockets! Since my outfit was so comfortable, I decided to hike from the boutique in Claymore Drive to the venue in Orange Grove Road. Although I hoovered up some leaves from the ground into my voluminous skirts, I felt positive enough to grin gratefully into the camera as I entered the ballroom.
On account of the good food, I’m always happy to accept invitations at the Shangri-La on. On this night, I enjoyed the crab. It was served on top of a healthy apple sheet and a delectable mojito sphere that burst in my mouth. This was followed by comforting duck consommé with American ginseng, poured over a steamed duck confit dumpling. Finally, I had the hearty beef short rib goulash with sautéed mushrooms. As usual, I declined the sweets, although many in the room enjoyed the impressive dessert buffet.
Sadly I wasn’t able to take too many food shots due to the lighting. Stymied by Riverdale-esque stark neon lighting conditions (again, Netflix, what is with your bigoted views on mental institutions and prisons? Send the right message, media giant!), you’ll just have to take my word for it that dinner was delicious.
FRIENDS WHO DON’T AIR-KISS.
Coming out of clinical shifts touched by tragedy and community projects entangled in red tape, I totally needed this. I genuinely relished the chance to catch up with good friends at the ball. Posing by the photo-wall, I clinked champagne flutes with my tribe of fierce albeit feminine girlfriends. They fight for so many good causes including those upheld by UN Women.
I was also grateful to spend time with encouraging women from the Association of Women Doctors (Singapore), which I currently serve as President. These women doctors have inspired me in many ways, from their commitment to their families to their pursuit of their passions, like travel.
But I was most delighted to run into an old school-friend. He shares many dorky Rafflesian memories with me from over two decades ago. You would never guess as we expertly took a slick selfie in our dapper black-tie outfits. Well, we looked cool until the awkward blue light that flashed over us fixed our image forever in a rather Smurfy hue.
FAMILY, BECAUSE OUR FUTURE IS HERE.
Tonight’s theme, The Future Is Here, was never more relevant since my friends and I brought our children as dates. I was fortunate enough that M1 was able to book out in time to accompany me. This is actually the second time he has attended this ball as my date and I’m ever so grateful. I do enjoy spending time with our kids individually. It can be difficult as M1 is in the army but we put in the effort.
Now it might seem like a very “auntie” thing to say, but I did enjoy seeing my friends’ kids there too. We’ve watched them grow up from cute chubby cubs to (and there is no easy alliteration for this, I tried!) elegant, young people with personalities. How proud we are of them, not because of the grades they get in school but because of the lives they aspire to carve beyond conventional ideas of success.
And so here’s some auntie-ish (aka unsolicited) advice. Our past may have been tense, but that’s because we were growing. Growth is uncomfortable, but is the sum of all the decisions and paths we took. Even to this very present moment that is continuous and even unrelenting. But if we keep on going, just keep on growing, the future isn’t just bright, kids. It’s perfect, for you and in your own time, even if yours isn’t perfect the same way for others. So cheers, to Icon, to staying true to our brand new good ol’ selves, to friends and family. The future is here and you’d better believe it. #pasttensepresentcontinuousfutureperfect