HELP? I’m not sure who else saw the post from Facebook last night about the chat feature. I can’t find the instructions for it. It had something to do with Facebook complying with the US gov’t’s data requests thingies (remember the privacy issues? Those.).
Anyway, what I do remember was that it mentioned something about following the instructions (that tied in with Google) or else people won’t be able to chat with you? Something about verification.
Body clock’s still messed up. How long til I finally function normally? On an unrelated note, I’m definitely watching The World’s End again. Great performance from Frost and Pegg, as per usual. Props to the Wright and Pegg for the writing!
Testing out the text post via the Tumblr app because why not.
Glorious day! Great way to celebrate freeeeeeedom and a brief interlude of unemployment. I feel like all the laag adventures were boiled down to a Thursday! Brownout or not, the places were awesome. Check out 30 Kitchen + Bar (at the Gallery, Mabolo), 10 Dove Street (Sto Niño Village, Banilad) and Cafe Noriter. That’s lunch, dessert and snacks. Ended the day with a home-cooked meal and amazing people.
Cebu, you and all your gems - food, places, people! :)
Okay, fine, that was the second. The real first question was where the blazes in Lahug was this magical place called “Big Tom’s Charbroiled Burger.” After about an hour and a half circling Salinas Drive and Wilson Street (roads that previously went unnamed in my head, thank you very much) on a Tuesday night, my friends and I learned to mistrust the blue and green dots on Google Maps. *shakes fist at dots
Big Tom’s, ladies and gentlemen, can be found along the Juana Osmena Extension, just off Escario – past Penong’s parking area.
Trust me on this.
My friends and I were fifty shades of grateful – and hungry and slightly pissed off but the hour or so pays off. My pop culture reference may be stale but the food here is most definitely not. After all, the place boasts of burger patties that are “freshly ground, never frozen and handmade daily”.
Business cards speak the truth.
I’ll get to the point now.
Point A: This is the place. At night, clearly. As photographed by someone too hungry and too in a hurry to care to focus.
Point B: They have great options! I got the classic burger (P140 for a 4 ounce patty and a side of fries) as a benchmark. Will try out their other stuff soon.
Point C: I’m sure there are gourmet fancy-pansy burger places across Cebu and I am ill-equipped to play local food critic. But this is a food post so let me play ball.
The staff was friendly.
The lady in pink even let some random chick bug her for a picture. Repeatedly. Just bugging.
The place looks neat (tidy) and neat (cool). They have mason jar light fixtures! And colored chalk! On a blackboard wall! I am sold.
The portions are perfect. (For me, at least. Plus you’ve got the option to go 6 ounces. Below is one such option. It’s the one with bacon in it. Mmmm. Bacon.)
The burgers were good. A bit salty, then again I did attack the fries first and I was expecting the peppery possible-blandness of Army Navy patties so any actual flavor was a surprise. I loved how the fries were cooked! I’d prefer less salt, though.
The dessert was divine! Monkey Toast, man. “Warm banana walnut bread topped with vanilla ice cream.” Mmmm. Monkey Toast.
Also, it was no wonder we couldn’t get reliable information off the Internet. Big Tom’s just opened Sept 12, 2013 and the soft opening is still in full swing. (A quiet, ninja-like, full swing as soft openings go.)
I’d be more than willing to go back for a sampling of their other burger and non-burger options. Check ‘em out!
Big Tom’s Charbroiled Burger
111 Juana Osmena Street, Cebu City, 6000
(032) 514-7007 for Reservations or Delivery
Burger prices range from P60 to P300. That’s the cheapest to the most expensive. On average, about P140 to P200.
Blast through your pile of nearing-sentient dirty laundry. Burn through your sketchpad with lead and ink. Rip out and chew the rest of that book with your mental chomper. Pay off your sleep debt. Soap up and wring out that welcome mat to find a clean version of your dog. Have real people dinner - no, I’m not talking about cannibalism, you sicko. Sweep your floors and scrub your sink.
But steer clear of the Interwebs and all its time-sucking glory.
So no Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, WordPress, Youtube, Blahblah, MoreBlah. No video streaming sites or listening to music through the great network. No food picture posts. Nothing. Nada.
Your one exception: your phone - emergency calls or texts.
I am running on pure force of will - if will were 67% caffeine and 33% sugar. The 400+ ml of coffee is to blame, I’m sure.
On the bright side, I’ve learned how to successfully make a cup of Starbucks liquid last me hours: get a brewed coffee. Good coffee isn’t supposed to be plain bitter but theirs is like a newly-broken-up-with individual scorned on Valentines’ Day. Seven packets of sugar and a third of a cupful of half and half* later, however, and the drink becomes tolerable. Thank goodness for that.
It’s been ages since I’ve sat down to ramble but thanks to an empty stomach and the caffeine/sugar in my system, I’ve managed to finish inking a drawing, pencil something, read a bit, write a bit, make a list (of self-imposed chores for the weekend), and mutter a lot (to myself).
So in keeping with the basic principles of a diary/journal/blog, here’s to an update of my life so far:
January just ended and looking back, I find it surprising how much can happen in the span of four weeks. For one thing, there’s great progress in our** DIY project, the renovation of Mama’s room, now mine. We’re currently working on the floor, tile work.
There’s also my project of de-cluttering the house. Percentage of completion? I have no idea. There’s just so much stuff lying about.
Lastly there’s the new job, new faces, and a new routine which I’m still trying to perfect and get used to.
I won’t lie, though. I still do miss my Manila/Makati/Mandaluyong life not so much for its routine and familiarity but for the people I no longer get to see on a day-to-day basis. In fact, my friends just texted/called me a couple of hours ago, telling me about the dinner gettogether they’re having - all while I was going all “loner artiste” in a cafe (which I swear I was only doing to pass the time as I waited for Friday/Sweldo Day traffic to die down).
That’s about it. I realize that there’s so much more I have to do and missed out on. The goal for February? Get more sociable. Oh! And learn to drive. Aaaaand I think this calls for another list. Oh, joy.
HA! Since the first post, I’ve managed to remove everything from the room - it had been used as a storage place so this task was the most daunting one for starters. I’ve stored/thrown/put the stuff aside and cleaned up the place, including the secret “Harry Potter” room beneath the stairs. The floors have been scrubbed and the furniture inside cleaned. I think I did a fairly good job of the first two-three stages of room cleaning.
It helps that both my sister and father are proud of me. Apparently, Papa couldn’t believe that Mama’s room has finally been cleared up. (Also, I found a lot of things that could have still been used, had we gone through her stuff way back when. Think: boxes of brand new syringes, bottles and packs of medication, and similar medical objects. Oh, well.)
We’ve just put in the single bed frame and I finally finished cleaning the blinds. All my spanking new room needs now is a coat of paint for the walls, new tiles, better placed furniture and foam for my bed. Then I can settle in and happily put everything in order.
Oh and cabinet space! Dang. Still need to sort through the piles and piles of clothing, bedding, and bath towel items and we have a LOT of them - not just in my new room but the entire house. Sigh.
The new year brings with it renewed promises to do better and live fuller. Two days into 2013 and I feel no different than the way I felt the year before. Then again, these things take time.
And I have the luxury of time. The past few days, I’ve been bringing up the job hunt and my father has made no move to hurry me along. In fact, he insists there’s no rush. Just as he does with the plan, rather, my plan to fix the house up (starting with my room). My parents have never been the type to urge, to push, to force things and I am grateful for it. I just hope I don’t end up taking too much time in moving forward.
Years and years ago, I would have abhorred the idea of an 8-5 job. It was synonymous to the concept of being a cogwheel in the grand scheme of economics and industry. I’d have lost my voice, my identity, and turned into another automaton. Life would be centered around money and money was evil. The Job would have spelled routine and routine meant boring, boring, boring.
But here I am, eager to get a regular job - but not too eager, not just yet I mean because I’ve other plans I’d like to see through.
Routine is now something I want established, job or none. I’d like to find a process that works and have it up and running, whether it’s a commute route or weekly chores. I’d like my routine to include work, something that lets me earn because money isn’t the center of life but all evidence points to how it fuels life. It would be naive to think that I could get through a day without the barter of things of worth - for example, money for food.
Earning money meant I had the ability to do work, do something I’m good at, good enough for people to pay me to do what I do. In an ideal world, it would be synonymous to capacity and ability and talent, and I’d be putting theories into practice, theories learned through academics and life, in general. I would be empowering myself, the client or company I’d be working with and for, and whoever else I affect in the long run. In the grand scheme of things, I would be a cogwheel that would help keep the train moving forward, and I’d be moving forward just as well.
It just goes to show how different one’s perceptions are in the course of time. Also, thirteen year old me had way too much time, thinking angst-y, rebellious, kid thoughts.
But no matter the age, at the end of the day and the beginning of a year, we all still make our resolutions and our promises. Here’s to having some follow-through!
Since my relocation to Home, I’ve done four things: take extensive naps, eat or “party” hard (which means eating in a company of five or more people), and turn my brain to mush (in areas including but not limited to mathematics, as this sentence proves). I have, however a mini goal I’ve been meaning to accomplish, well, not so much a mini goal as a large possibly overwhelming one which I’ve dubbed “Project 813”.
The house is - to overdramatize reality - in ruins, or at the very least, it’s dusty and messy. Over the past years, it’s shied away from the lime light and backed itself in the corner of the unloved and the forgotten. Poor house.
Voila! Here I am to save the day!
(GIF image. Not mine.)
Seriously, though, that’s the plan. I’m going to tackle mama’s room first, the Room with the Orange Door. Slowly but surely. After all, it’s going to be my room.
Current obstacles include:
- two cabinets
- a drawer
- huge desk
- long side table
- dust and stuff meant for storage
I’ve just started. Here’s to goals and not waiting for the New Year to get cracking!
Today’s my last “real” day in Makati/Manda. I say “real” because I’ll be going about my day in the office, amongst my office mates.
Manila is made unforgettable not by its sky rise buildings or the fast paced living. It is made real by its people, who breathe life into every day. So it is with great pleasure that I spend my last day amidst friends, the best persons I know here.
Yes, I realize it’s past midnight but hey a promise is a promise, even if I never promised myself that I’d see this countdown thing through. It just grew on me, I guess. It’s been a long day. If there’s one thing I won’t miss, it’s the extreme cab hunting. My feet hurt like nobody’s business.
The highlights of today include:
The impromptu shopping/”malling” with two amazing friends, Monica and Hydra
Omakase dinner with Mudra Monica! (I’ve noticed that I’ve been hitting the usual places we eat at in the past few days. Yey for me! I have Muds to thank for the wonderful gift to the world, the gift that is seafood crepe salad.)
Lunch and coffee with a good high school friend, Mars
And the cab driver home who creeped me out since he kept muttering to himself. I had Hyds aka Cookie drop me off at the corner instead of drive me to the apartment. There was something about how he laughed…
The last one isn’t so much a highlight as it is evidence of how I won’t miss cab hunting at 11-ish in Makati on a Tuesday night after having walked around for the past three-four hours. So, there.
I’d like to wax poetic about some things but I still have this shirt I have to rinse and dry. Oh and there’s still sleep. Yes, sleep. How I’ve missed all eight hours of you.
Okay, one learning/realization/thought:
Cookie and I were quiet the entire ride home. This could partially be because the driver was creepy, and we were exhausted. But despite that I felt no need to fill in the silence. It was the calming kind of silence. There were moments when we’d share looks. I found it funny, actually - perfect moments when we’d turn and widen our eyes. I ended the day with awesome people, and I comfortably hanged out with Cookie the entire ride home, quiet and all.
I think back on all the cab rides home with the Manda girls, Cookie and Sheilala. Taxi hunting may be a pain but riding the cab with these women - Muds, included care of the honorary Manda membership - are worth it a thousand times over.
Three more days and I’ll be flying back to Cebu and staying put (for the meantime, at least).
Although my eyeballs are threatening to roll backwards in search of some comforting darkness, here I am trying to gather my frazzled wits. I’ve been rather grumpy as of late. It’s the lack of sleep, the time spent packing up my life of a year and a half, and the regular denial of reality that there’s the Move in three days.
All this culminated in the snippy little comments I’ve been offhandedly throwing around today. It’s getting tiring, the constant explanation of why I’m moving back - as if I had to champion an unjust cause. There is the niggling consciousness of the fact that every time seemed to be the first time and every time I felt a need for validation. The reasons are clear bullet points in my head but I know each point may not hold up when faced with the black and white of logistics and numbers.
After all, I have never been purely logistics and numbers, no matter how hard I try to be. The truth behind the Move is far more personal and vague and sentimental, and I know that it won’t answer everything and that the reality of the Move will be tough. But I can’t shake off the feeling that I left Cebu with far too many things undone, even if I don’t know what these are exactly.
I can delay them, sure but it would be inevitable that I’d go back. Until then, the idea of the Move would sit at the back of my mind, festering. I’m trying to lessen the weight of my regrets. We all have a few minor ones - that time you should’ve gone out or that moment when you could’ve gotten a freebie - and then there are the ones that hang over your heads, the looming regrets.
I’m trying to right one of the latter ones but I don’t know how. I’ll figure it out. Hopefully.
I’m going to miss the people here, though. There’s a small voice saying this could even turn into one of the looming regrets and would only serve to compound the previous one. But I know it isn’t true because I choose to believe that the time I’ve spent here and the friendships I’ve made here won’t end here and now.
I may miss out on the future dinners, lunches, the nights out, the food, the good times and the bumpy ones. I may never hear about the latest stoner humor video or the crazy lines someone comes up with. But I’ll make damn sure to remember the time we have spent, to stay connected, and to look forward to the future when we do meet up for coffee or bump into each other - wherever and whenever it may be.
We may not have much time now so let’s have hope instead.
We’ve been robbed! I came home to an empty apartment.
"Empty", if you don’t count the bed in the room and my prepared clothes. There wasn’t a robbery exactly. Not at all, in fact. Just me and some over the top initial reaction borne out of forgetfulness and melodrama. All the boxes of our stuff - all, save one - have been shipped to their new homes and my brother has flown back to his side of the country. It’s the fourth day of my last few days’ stay in Manila.
Fine, technically I’m on the third day but what’s 24 minutes past yesterday to a very tired person who must update because hey, it’s a countdown.
Four days left and I was in LB and then later mostly in malls and let’s just say I’m very tired and you guessed it. I’m off to bed.
Quick backwards recap:
- Rurouni Kenshin the movie is a great film translation of the anime series. The fight scenes were particularly superb.
- Saw a friend, classmate and orgmate. Same person. (Read: CamBri)
- Ate food court “Bibimbob” (I prefer calling it “bibimbap” but that was the name on their menu), a Korean dish. Yum and fun except for the part where I had to look for a seat.
- Got stuff at Greenbelt
- Rode the wrong bus but got off near Buendia and went to Greenbelt which was the plan anyway
- Met up with a friend, orgmate and batchmate. Just one person but not the same person previously mentioned. (Read: Enzo)
- Came from overnight - UP SIBOL Christmas party - where my amazing batchmates and I spent quality time! Love you, Bahandi! We were almost complete! I was not expecting it at all. Lovely surprise! <3
This day marks the fifth day before I fly home, leaving good ol’ Manila.
I cheat. I have anticipated this entry and this particular day. If all went according to plan, I won’t be able to do today’s countdown as I will be busy (read: sleeping) over at UP SIBOL’s Christmas party with my awesome Bahandi batchmates (more gorgeous people who have continuously teach me to love fiercely) at some resort in Laguna.
I can’t say much of what I will think on the fifth day, rather what I have thought of this day.
So I’ll leave the thoughts and glimpses for tomorrow. Today I’m spending the entire time with friends. I hope you did too.
We levelled up! There was a time when the office went out at least once a week to My TeaHouse for lunch and it’s been ages since we’ve been out as a team, the new team. Although we weren’t complete, we had dinner out at Recipes where the food was amazing! And so was the company.
I keep thinking of all the places I have yet to go to, all the food I have yet to try (or at least the ones my gorgeous friends will insist I try), all the laughs and stories yet shared, all the strangers I have yet to turn to friends, all the everything, and this is why the relocation to Cebu isn’t forever, why the parenthetical thought of “for the meantime” stands.
Because I can think of all the possibilities and coming back or going elsewhere will always be in the cards, regardless of how much I may plan my future. And this is a good thing, my acceptance of the constant flux of reality. Palahniuk said it best when he wrote:
"The future you have tomorrow won’t be the same future you had yesterday."
I’ve got a week left in “Manila” - I use the term loosely here to encapsulate the general Luzon area I’m familiar with, which in turn means Mandaluyong, Makati, and Los Banos, as well as some nook in Sta Cruz, Pasay, Calamba, Eastwood, San Pablo, Tagaytay, Baguio, Ilocos, Quezon, and all the other places I’ve been to at least once. Strange how I’ve always tried to note down the grindstone details of my everyday life but I avoid posting about it. I might as well start the public documentation at a clear starting point.
Let me begin with the end.
Okay, not The End, let’s steer clear of the melodramatic. I’ve had my fair share of that via the internal turmoil and the overthought out angst of the decision-making process, believe you me. In seven days, I’ll be flying home to Cebu where family, The Family awaits. At least most of them. Inasmuch as I’d like to explain why I’ve decided to go home and leave dear Manda/Makati, I don’t. It’ll be drawn out and probably whiny and inexcusable but also heart-warming and possibly inspiring and disappointing and on the whole, forgettable because after all, you have your own life to worry about.
So of course, I’ll have to tell you why. Wait, no, I’ll tell you some details, fine.
There was one night when my awesome friend and I were on our way home. We were taking the Rockwell route for some reason and I had hinted at the whole Cebu-Manila, Manila-Cebu dilemma and her answer was simple. It was a matter of growth: where would I grow more? Where would I be able to advance faster? or have better chances? She had a point.
Ever the overachiever, my brain twisted in this knife of a question: growth where? How did I want to grow? More specifically, in what areas did I want to improve in? How exactly did I want to develop? What kind of person do I want to be? (I feel my decision to see this discussion through wane just recounting the deliberation.)
The discussion (which lasted for months) ended with: what kind of person am I?
I went with the choice that I found myself returning to countless times, and I made peace with its consequences. Last week was a jarring wake-up call as to what it would all mean, though. On one hand I’d be leaving the amazing people I’ve gotten to know and care about, and I’ll miss the familiarity of what has become my every day for the past 521 days.
On the other hand, I get the chance to reacquaint myself with the amazing people I’ve left and know them as they are now, not as the mosaic my memory has pieced together. I will find the familiar in the different and I won’t be surprised to find some things entirely new.
Now I have seven more days. Here’s to making the most of them!
Yes, it’s a horrible name but it’s a working title so bear with me. The soup dish is something more along the lines of Mushroom, Olive and Tomato (M.O.T.) Soup with Basil and Stuff.
Remember that time I was starving and blogged about it instead of say, rushing to the nearest fastfood place less than a block away to stave off the hunger? You could check it out but it’s in no way relevant to making the soup. Also, the Hunger Games reference comes from there obviously and before you think I’ve read the books, I have yet to but I plan to.)
chicken bouillon cube
canned stewed tomatoes
some spaghetti noodles (or any dry pasta of your choosing
(Most of the ingredients I used. A: Leftover canned stewed tomatoes but I don’t remember what brand; B: Ignore this; C: Not the whole thing)
Mince the onion and garlic. (Or cut it however you want. I don’t judge. I am however biased towards mincing because I like cutting things.) Chop up - who am I kidding? - mince the basil. I use a lot of basil because it smells awesome and the color makes the soup so much more appetizing. Slice up the mushrooms and olives. Yes, these you don’t mince.
If you’re like me and you hate tomatoes but are hypocritical enough to cook them as part of this soup and possibly even eat them, then you’ll want to cut the whole tomatoes into sizable chunks. Also I don’t know how many tomatoes you’d want to cook. I used what was left from a previous cooking experiment so I had no choice in the matter, and it wasn’t that much, thank goodness.
Also, you’ll notice there aren’t specific amounts because (a) I’m writing this from memory, (b) I was too hungry to bother with specifics, and (c) it’s a free country. The last one could be debatable, depending on who you ask and in what context but that’s too serious a topic to delve into right now.
(Be warned that I’m iffy on the actual order of things and this is no way writ in stone. Feel free to mess around.)
Saute the onions and garlic for a bit. Put in the mushrooms, olives, and chicken cube. Add enough water to dissolve the cube. Add your tomatoes with some of its juice/sauce. Let all the ingredients hang out and get to know each other more. Now it’s time for the party.
Put more water - enough for your noodles. Bring it to a boil. Drop in your pasta and let it cook within an inch of its al dente selves, meaning about a minute away. Check the cooking instructions for the actual time, as well as by manually checking its toughness. This is because I don’t like soggy noodles very much and the fact that the soup will be piping hot after cooking means the noodles will continue to soak up the heat and water, and thus continue to cook itself well past its prime.
Add salt and pepper while your pasta is en route to being cooked. Take it off the fire. Plop that egg into your soup. I let mine sit there for awhile, kind of like I’m poaching it.
It’ll look like this! That’s a lot of onion and garlic, I’ve been told. Like I said I like mincing. Too much, maybe.
Break that egg so that the yellow spreads into the soup. Throw in the minced basil and stand in awe of the prettiness of the yellow soup and the peeking red tomatoes and the vivid green basil.
Yeah, no, this does not do justice to the colors at all. Boo.
Or if you had more foresight than me, you can cook the mushrooms and olives and sprinkle the basil then for better flavor and stuff. That’s a better idea, me thinks. And then still add some of that fresh basil after for the pretty factor.
Enjoy! But not after letting it cool a bit because you don’t want to burn your tongue.
Cooking instructions without all the side comments:
1. Mince onion and garlic.
2. After washing basil leaves, mince and set aside.
3. Slice mushrooms and olives.
4. Cut canned tomatoes into chunks.
5. Saute onions and garlic.
6. Add mushrooms, olives and basil leaves. Add chicken cube and some water to dissolve the cube.
7. Add tomatoes and its sauce from the can. Let this simmer for awhile.
8. Add in enough water to cook your pasta. Bring to a boil and throw in noodles. Cook until almost al dente.
9. While it’s cooking, add salt and pepper to taste. When the noodles are done, take it off the fire and add in egg. Stir.
10. Add basil to garnish. Tada!
So that’s how I dealt with hunger that day. Wonder what happens next time I get hungry. Oh, that reminds me I have to have food items in the fridge and the cupboards before I go experimenting. Hmmm.
Do the fish know they are moving forward? Do they feel the water move with them? Against them? Surely, it must be a constant struggle. But do they know if they’re moving forward or back? I keep thinking about how…
So you’re starving, it’s 5:30 pm, you’re too lazy to go out and down four flights of stairs, and you have a 10-20% stocked kitchen where you find (among other ingredients) some pasta, leftover canned tomatoes, canned sisig, garlic, onion, some mushrooms (not the magical kind, just so you know), black olives, and some bouillon cubes…
What do you do?
Well, if it were up to me - and it is, at the moment - I’d experiment.
Pray I don’t kill myself in the process.
Note: If I don’t, I might tell you how it goes. Or I might never speak of it again. Pray.
Foster the People: Getting Pumped Up and Kicking Myself
It is a Saturday and I am up before noon. Déjà vu. I think I said something along these lines before… so that post negates me, saying that this isn’t a thing I do, the whole waking up before noon on a weekend thing. Whatever.
As I was saying, me up, before noon, Saturday. This gives me about six hours to learn a song of theirs other than Pumped Up Kicks.
Because yes, my friends (aka my officemates, my fellow “Markies”, the people who have been having a hell of a week) are going to their concert. WHADUP. Our boss gave us tickets. Free tickets! Free tickets are golden when you’re strapped for cash in the miscellaneous-stuff-to-spend-on department. And together with these tickets, in about six hours, we will be at Smart Araneta Coliseum, and despite my preference for non-crowded-areas, I will be in that sea of people.
As soon as I find, err, get my ticket. I didn’t lose it. I just left it in my office drawer because I had forgotten it was a ticket. (It’s an e-ticket, printed out on a bondpaper. It looks like a flyer. I don’t carry around flyers. I blame my brain.)
All I have to do is get the office keys, go to the office, and get my ticket. Assuming the office is open. Damn. Now I want to kick myself.
Aside from that little hiccup, there are the FTP songs I have yet to master, much less listen to. Don’t get me wrong. I like FTP songs (aka Pumped Up Kicks) but I’ve never been keen on learning the lyrics of songs unless they’re played on loop. So yeah. I have about five and a half hours to do just that.
But here I am listening to Adele’s Skyfall - which is awesome.
I am tempted to sleep in. But then again, we all (Bossing, included) have to meet up for dinner after the concert.
I wake before the alarm goes off and in my half-dream, I stretch out on the bed and feel nothing but mattress and blanket and pillows. You are not here. But not to worry, the bathroom’s right down the hall and it won’t take long for you to come back.
I wait for forever.
I wait until I wake up and remember you were never here to begin with.
Somehow we wound up on the couch – but not before I got sidetracked.
My friends and I had left the lady’s room and were heading towards the couch in the middle somewhat of the large room. People were streaming, rather squeezing by and I had my eyes on the seats, barely glancing at anyone else who weren’t either of my friends.
One guy was passing by and leaned a bit closer, saying “Ang sikip, noh?” (which translates as “tight, isn’t it?”). I had thought that it was one of those side comments, little conspiratorial remarks that were anything but and ultimately didn’t matter. He would just move on along.
But he surprised me by staying by my side. By this time, my friends had found the couch and I was blocked by everyone else passing by. The guy introduced himself as Miko or Nico or something. I was in no way impressed or threatened. He was about my height (when I’m in heels as I was then), of Asian features, fairly lean – not muscular, more of skinny, slight build, could pass as a Korean boy-next-door character down to his pink and white striped polo shirt and glasses. He looked gay, as many of the guys were around us. Harmless to me. Small talk ensued. I had thought that he, like I, was waiting for the stream of people to trickle down.
“Can you say apple three times?,” he said.
Odd question. I didn’t understand what was happening exactly. But what the hell, I was curious where this would go.
“Apple. Apple. Apple.”
“You’re not a good kisser.”
“What makes you say that?” I was, if anything, piqued at the blunt declaration from a total stranger.
“Well, when you say apple, you don’t stick your tongue out and do this.” I’m paraphrasing but that’s generally what he said before saying “apple” the way I did with a closed mouth (teeth set) on the second syllable, and then demonstrating the “good kisser” pronunciation of apple by letting the tip of his tongue slip between his teeth.
I got a bit annoyed. (So did one of my friends who thought as I do that the second pronunciation was awkward and just a strange basis for similar declarations.) It was a dumb comment to bother with, and not something I would generally be affronted by. The cocktail I had had obviously loosened me up enough to let this one not slide.
“Maybe I’m just restrained.” It was a lame rebuttal and I realize now, in hindsight, that it could come off as flirtation and maybe it did. Another realization took awhile to sink in. Mr. Total Stranger was (a) being very forward, (b) acting absolutely straight, and (c) demonstrating horrible cheesiness.
Oh, and (d) using pick-up lines. Actual pick-up lines. To meet a girl. That girl would be me. What the hell is this, Universe? A test? Of what?
There would be more lines later, but I’m getting to that.
The music was booming and as is customary and necessary in these settings, I had to repeat what I said, almost shouting. This would happen repeatedly.
“Why don’t we find out?,” he said. Oh, dear God, why the hell was this happening? I had said no but perhaps not as straightforward as I thought. I had tried to leave him standing there but the crush of people made it impossible and awkward. He expertly wove us through the line and to the side of the low table where my friends were seated. They saw me and looked a bit perplexed but made nothing of the scene. I found out later that they too thought he was gay and given how we looked that we knew each other.
We were standing closely and he had interlaced our fingers, trying to pull me closer as we continued our little chat.
“I’m a marketing student.” Oh dear God again. What was a kid – all right, fine, I’m not that far away from my college years but still – doing in a place like this for goodness’ sake? And so forward and seemingly gay but acting so daringly and confusingly straight? Where were his parents? And- “What about you?”
“I’m working in Makati.”
“I have a fetish for working girls.”
And I swear that those were his exact words. Verbatim. He had a fetish. I may not remember the exact statements prior and after this one event but I would die by these words. They were out of this world, both crushingly embarrassing and aggressively out there. Who the hell would say that? It was a brave attempt and perhaps the boldness is to be applauded but man, it was a ridiculous line.
“Well, then I’m unemployed.” I shouted over the music. Maybe he thought I was acting coy? If anything, I was trying to easily slip away from him. I now doubt he heard what I said, though.
And then we get to his brilliant move.
“Are you a good liar?” The kid had a lot of questions.
“I think so.”
“Then let’s play a game.”
The rules were that he’d ask three questions and I had to answer opposite of the truth at all times. I have a weakness for these sorts of tricky things, word play or mind games, and I consider myself fairly sharp. Plus I think I pull off looking straight-laced no matter what. And of course, I had to know how this whole ordeal would turn out. It was like a TV show and I was both spectator and actor. Oh, but the thing was that if he won, he got a kiss and if I did, I could just go. Or was it something like I could do whatever I wanted? Either way, I’d be going. He had been persistent about the kiss the entire time. And I was going to win this damn thing.
“Is my name Miguel?”
“Yes.” He praised my quick-wittedness then.
“Are you attracted to me?” At this, I paused and had to make sure I got the answer right and crystal clear.
“Yes.” He didn’t even bat an eyelash and carried on after a beat.
“Was that my second question?”
“Yes.” I blame the expensive cognac.
He smiled then, smug thing and called me out. That was an automatic response, being helpful and whatnot. ‘Whatnot’ meaning I lost the game. He was more than happy to get his prize. He said something about the kiss and had started to close the distance, leaning ever so slightly in. I turned to the side, to his ear.
“Consider it an outstanding debt.” He didn’t hear it the first time. “Think of it as my outstanding balance.” The reference to banking was in no way an attempt at making him think I was in that line of business but I guess it helps to keep me anonymous. Then again, anonymity wasn’t an immediate concern. We were strangers in this crowd.
“When do I collect then?” Or something along those lines.
I shrugged and said something about fate or the universe. (Just to clarify, Universe, that was and is not a challenge. Under no circumstances, should you make us cross paths again. I would die of laughter and he of embarrassment – or not. Meh. Not my concern.)
He finally got the picture then. There was a parting hug, nothing grab-y or inappropriate. Then again we were strangers but you get the idea. Harmless banter. We parted ways and I finally got to sit on the couch with my friends.
I told them all about it the next day. I usually live vicariously through my friends and through strangers’ stories in books or wherever. This doesn’t happen often. Not at all, in fact. Apparently, the whole deal with his moves and the pick-up lines and the forwardness isn’t common at all, either.