Friday, February 01, 2008


Another first for me tonight: the Tết office party. What does a Tết office party look like? There were four large banquet tables, eight-tops, with blue tablecloths and fishbowl centerpieces with floating candles. There were three buffet stations for salads, entrees, and desserts. There were about two hundred people, all but thirty-two of which were wandering around holding their ceramic dinnerware in one hand while eating with the other. People in costume. When I arrived, ABBA's egregious Happy New Year1 was playing on the system, and as the evening went on it continued to play. Sometimes with other songs between repeats, sometimes without. All told, I cannot guess how many times I heard that song over the four-hour party. Hundreds, maybe? Once the buffet line died down a bit, the crowd was entertained by the evening's fairly unrelenting event scheduling. There were lion dances, traditional dances, martial arts dances, and a comedy skit. Many of these were really entertaining, if maybe a little relaxed since most performers were Sunshine's coworkers in disguise. One highlight was the boxing match between outgoing Year of the Pig and incoming Year of the Rat, and after what I've learned about the twelve-year zodiac cycle being tempered by the addition of five elements into a truly sixty-year cycle,2 I'm not surprised this Tết begins the Year of Earth and Rat, supported by some pretty dirty fighting in the ring. The very best thing about this Tết party was that it was also a costume party: employees were encouraged to come in traditional áo dài3 or other Vietnamese cultural dress from north and central highlands ethnic groups. Sunshine spent last week waiting for her blue and gold áo dài to be tailored while others rented. Then there was a fashion show, but everybody won. [Cavin]

Then, a 0 sided conversation ensued...

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