Being a Filipino girl, having an 18th birthday was a big deal. To be honest, I never really how big of a deal it was until I was invited to be one of the cotillion dancers for a friend’s 18th. I learned that during an 18th debut, 18 boys with roses and 18 girls with candles would pair up and dance the cotillion with each boy dancing with the debutante. The girls would then give a dedication/wish while giving her the candle. Since PNG was a small place and you were apparently made to invite your close friends as part of the cotillion, Jacque, my friend ended up just having 9 of each gender.
I followed suit 3 years later when my mum decided I too should have an extravagant 18th birthday.
Mr. Hansen was one of the roses. That’s how special he was to me.
He didn’t end up giving this speech because my mum’s partner at the time was arguing with her on who was going to host the party and forgot about the speeches. He ended up giving his speech to me and I was able to type it all out:
Ladies & Gentleman, both younger and older, Good Evening. And to the most special person in the room tonight, Aubrey, a very good evening to you as well. I can’t believe that I have been given this opportunity to speak publicly about Aubrey, without even asking for it. I mean, what a chance this is…for revenge…for allowing the truth to be finally told… and the students of pomis present will agree with me, for allowing others to see her as we have to, everyday. she’s not even sick much – she insists on coming to school everyday. we never get the chance to talk about her. Until now.
At the start of this speech, I said, “Good Evening” to her. So she understands, I probably should revise that. I don’t know whether it was the Sydney Olympics last year, or the trip to Sydney that some of us did earlier this year, which got her started, but she learned the typical Australian greeting from somewhere. And we were all highly embarassed by her insisting on practising it while we were in Sydney, everywhere, no mater what! Darling Harbour, Circular Quay, George Street, the Power House Museum, the Art Gallery (where there are people of rank and class), she was unstoppable, insatiable. She would simplay walk up to ANYONE in a mildly flirtatious way and say, “GIIDAY!”
Our bus driver didn’t know what to make of her. They all asked me, “What is it with that one?” I just had to shake my head and mutter an inadequate apology. And now she does it to us all, DAILY.
So Aubrey, “G’day”
She does numerous of other things in our daily lives…
– It’s not pleasant to be near earshot of her when she’s been drinking coke, she belches at the top of her lungs!;
– offers me chocolate bars that have nothing more than the wrappers blown up to look like the real thing;
– leaves her stuff lying all over the english office, and then blames the rest of us when it gets lost.
But we (well most us) still love her, and now I need to be serious for a moment, because there’s got to be SOME good things to say about her as well.
…but I can’t think of anything, so with that I’ll sit down…
Aubrey, I know I speak for everyone here when I say “Thank You” for being our friend…speaking personally, I want to say that I feel very privileged to have been invited to your party tonight, I mean who, in their right mind, asks their English teacher to one of the most important events of their life?!
But speaking of being “in her right mind”, in the most charming and interesting way possible, Aubrey often isn’t.
Aubrey dares to be different, and is. She is alert, perceptive and highly creative. As such she will always be a confounded pest, a most disamring, fascinating “pest”. Aubrey will go far in whatever direction she chooses, and I’m looking forward to seeing that as the years go by, even when I get a bit old!!
And last Wednesday, and so today, is the official start of that journey. Heave forbid, Aubrey is a legal adult!! She’s now allowed to DO things!! Aubrey, I end by saying, on behalf of everyone here, but especially on my behalf “Congratulations! And a very Happy Birthday to you” your future is wonderful, I just hope the world is ready for you.