That's the name given to the 'platoon' I was attached to during my National Service in 1995. Our unit is a classified one in the Air Force. Straight after our basic military training, we went to the military School of Transport to get our military driving licenses before being permanently assigned to our unit. We were called 'November Team' because our team was formed in, well, the month of November. Military Rocket Science.
Tang was my team mate and we went through our National Service and reservist trainings together. I said 'was' because most of us in November have already completed our reservist cycles and are no longer liable for any more call-ups. Meaning: we have completed everything for good, done our duty to the nation as citizen soldiers and our batch of November Team is almost already as good as disbanded, what with only 2 or 3 guys left who are still serving, but not for long. They themselves have like just a couple of reservist duties left and that's it.
We have already started to fade into military memory lane as remnants from the past. Boy, what a past it was. We were all at the prime of our youths.
And today, Tang tied the wedding knot with his lovely bride Suz. The wedding dinner was at Hotel Royal Plaza and just like the previous wedding dinners I've attended, I was late again for this one. They usually start at 19:30pm but I've been arriving at around 20:30pm and this time was no exception. Has it become a habitual thing? Beats me.
Anyway, when I arrived, the first person I saw was Tang, all dressed up in his bridegroom's outfit and after poking fun at him, I went into the ballroom to look for my team mates since we were assigned the same table. I had to pass by the pool area outside the ballroom and found myself thinking: "what a lovely place." I like the pool area and the fact that it's just outside the ballroom. The whole place kinda gives the impression that tells you to dine & wine and then go take a relaxing dip. Or simultaneously.
I haven't seen the guys for some time already and it was swell to do so again. Not everybody from our team could make it for the wedding and Hong, Tay and Ding brought their spouses along.
When I saw them and their wives, I couldn't help but be reminded again about how far we've come and how advanced in age we are all getting. The guys still look so young to me though. Could have been the food and water they've been feeding us in camp. Time has stood still for the boys. It was awesome seeing everybody still so young looking since that did help me feel better about myself too.
What denial? We all need a reference point to gauge ourselves and what better gauge is there other than the men who have gone through the prime of your youth with you together during your National Service? So if they still look young, it means I ought to look young too even though admittedly, I'm the oldest guy in the team, yes? Let's just leave it at that, tsk.
All those memories - the sleepless nights, the Rock & Roll & Heavy Metal music, the confinements, the defaulters parades, the partying, our haunted bunks, peeing along the drain outside our bunks at night at a certain camp because we were all afraid of the ghost haunting the toilet there, the FOS duties, the guard duties, the 23:59s, the first parade tasks, the exhaust and engine smells of our military vehicles, the bickerings, the military punishments, the mock rapes performed on mostly Lek, the perspiring and sufferings inside our vehicles during our trainings under the bloody hot as hell sun and the National Day parade duties with Tay all came flooding back when I look at their faces.
And oh, there were also the mini sand storms that engulfed us, the grease, the dirt, the dust and the sand that sticks on your skin, gets in your hair and into your mouth that you learn to ignore. Yup, we know how dirt and sand taste like.
It was awesome despite the military kinks and hiccups here and there.
|The lovely couple|
Shortly after dinner started, me & my team mates were invited to join Tang & Suz and their family for a series of toasts to the whole ballroom. I was standing just behind Tang and took a First-Person Shooter view of the scene from the stage.
Hong, who is the wise-cracking funniest guy I know, told us to start with a really low pitch shout of 'Yum' that slowly built up in crescendo and pitch before ending with a mighty 'Seng' to complete each series of toasts. The family members of Hong & Suz turned around, looked at us and chuckled. This was the most fun Yum Seng toast I've participated. Everything always takes a fun twist with Hong around.
So since we haven't had enough of the toasting, we did it again back at our table and again, I took a FPS shot of it. I've been having beer all along but this time round, I was toasting with a glass of Martell Blue Label. This was the first time I've tried it and what an awesome smooth liquor Blue Label is. I'm not a liquor guy but this one was just great.
Later, Tang & his bride got on stage to play a little game where he had to grab grapes with his mouth and transfer them to Suz's mouth without using their hands. Unexpectedly, when Tang grabbed the first couple of grapes, he began chewing on them and nodded to Suz while making thumbs-up signs at her to let her know how great they tasted.
Apparently, weddings are hungry business. That was a LMAO moment. After the grapes, they both had to kneel down to go for a bunch of strawberries strung together below the grapes. Through thick & thin, through grapes & strawberries & through the ups & downs, irregardless of height. Wedding vows are hardcore sweetness.
All these while, I've been fleeting around the stage as if I owned the place; standing and kneeling and angling myself to take shots of the couple with my iPhone's camera and Hipstamaticed them. They were great sport, catering to my requests to pose around for me.
After dinner, we went up to the couple's hotel room and I was finding the rooms quite cozy after using my imagination to zap everyone else inside the room out of existence temporarily and studying the ambience and furnishing. The bed looked pretty comfy too and I had to resist diving onto it.
Then Ding did a hilarious thing: apparently, there is this belief that if a virgin jumps on a newly wed couple's bed before they touch it on the night of their wedding, the newly weds will be blessed with fertility and have timely babies. So Ding whipped out his phone, put a picture of his young son on the screen and jumps his phone all over the bed. I think he did that because he believes that everyone of us present, not counting the bridegroom & his bride, are no longer virgins.. Man, he didn't even ask.
We chatted and drank a bit more before calling it a day and leaving the couple to enjoy the remainder of their wedding night alone.
And I cant resist myself here and so, i'm posting the following pic of what I saw on the table in the hotel room:
That must've been the handiwork of 'Colonel' Hong ✔ November Team, you guys are simply awesome. And delightfully hilarious. God bless every single one of you and may Life always treat you and your loved ones kindly.
Now fall in and have an awesome life, guys. Ode to November and cheers to Tang & Suz.
- De Lion Speaks