Let me relive now how I came to know the girl who made me chase her, guitar-swinging, in the rain.
Love may come to us when we’re half asleep and about to hit the ground snoring. I know, because in my case, it lightly sat beside me on a broken bench one drunken night in Tagaytay.
April 5, 2008. I’ve been with the Blue Waffle Company for only about two months. I was my usual dark and shy self, still quite fresh from my recent stint as a broadcast transcriptionist in a cold, square building in Makati. I was so grateful for the friendliness of the people and the nature of my job as a writer however, that I agreed to go with the Cool Team to Tagaytay. I considered the trip as just part of my work (even though the purpose of the trip was precisely for everyone to forget about work for two days).
The reason I went was because I didn’t want my officemates to think that I was a loser. At the very least, I wanted them to know my name and remember my face ‘cause I think many of them still weren’t aware of my existence at the time. I think they knew someone named “Marvin” who sat in the office somewhere, who worked with them, helped them accomplish goals and stuff, but they really didn’t know his face – like what his nose looked like or if his voice was shrill or deep. But by going on this trip, I could establish a more solid professional connection with my colleagues. They won’t be surprised, for example, if I suddenly send a message to them over YM saying that I needed help for an article. I thought to myself, “I’m gonna go, talk a little, eat a little, sleep a little, and be back home then back to the office in a jiffy.”
Unfortunately for the antisocial in me, the trip was so fun that I ended up drunk on a broken bench. Staci was hilarious with his jokes and the card game with Tony, Jie, and the others brought out the competitive kid in me. Back then, I thought the trip turned out way better than expected. Call it pathetic, but I was extremely glad of the simple fact that there were conversational exchanges between me and the others. I was able to accomplish so much work by having fun and my career was bound to get better. I was ready to go home. What happened was enough.
At night, bottles of beer were opened to begin the real “adult” fun. I used to revile such moments in parties. It’s the time when kids, nerds, losers, novices, noobs, the inexperienced, the hopelessly unattractive, the vomit machines, and basically, the Marvins, were supposed to go back to their rooms and sleep. It’s the time when the big guys and the loud girls exercised their flirting powers and let the cool juice of sex and popularity flood the tables.
All the time she was there. She probably didn’t notice my look of hesitation as the drinking session began. But that’s already too much to ask of her. She admitted later that she was looking at someone else – which is , of course, understandable to the whole universe.
But I didn’t budge. I knew they were going to talk about sex and more sex but I didn’t budge. I think I was trapped in the nipa hut since it was difficult to get out without people noticing. If I got out too early, they’d surely think the topic bothered me. The ground will shake open, thunder will strike and burn all the trees, and my life would be analyzed, resulting in the destruction of my professional plan. But I didn’t budge. I’ll drink a little, wait a little, then be back in the room upstairs in a jiffy.
For some strange reason, I was quite lucky that night. I drank a few glasses of beer without anyone questioning my sex life personally. Staci was virtually shoving everyone’s face to the realities of the homosexual life and others were talking about pubic hair and other tangled and chaotic things, but the drunken sex talk never focused on me — until she asked.
“Ikaw, anong ikukwento mo?”
“Wala. Wala ‘kong alam sa mga ganyan.”
“O, virgin ka?”
I was so disturbed that I probably didn’t answer her question. Minutes later, I climbed out of the nipa hut while everyone was busy continuing the sex talk.
I left her there, the girl who I was to go and chase after, guitar-swinging, in the rain months later.
Fresh air. Cool night. My vision was blurry, speech slurry, and my steps on automatic. Some of the girls were splashing in the pool. I went upstairs to take a pee but someone was in the bathroom, so I went downstairs again, wanting to hug the floor, drool dripping. I found a bench in front of the house and waited there. Debbie showed up. I knew she won something big in a poetry writing contest, so I congratulated her. Ah, my audacity! Like comic book artists, poets are dear to me. I got up, walked up to her swaying, held out my hand and kinda shouted, “Congrats, Debbie!” Debbie was shocked, so were the girls in the pool. They were laughing and someone said, “Aww, ang sweet naman ni Marvin!” I was just smiling my drunken smile.
After that, I collapsed on the bench, alcohol pumping empty thoughts to max speed. As I remember, part of the bench suddenly crashed. I couldn’t give a damn. A broken bench was nothing compared to my floating head. Half asleep and about to hit the ground snoring, I felt someone sit lightly beside me on the broken bench. Opening my eyes, it was her again – the girl who mercilessly assaulted me back in the nipa hut.
“Uy, na-offend ka ba sa tanong ko kanina?” she quietly said.
“Conservative ka noh? Conservative ka pala.”
“Hindi ako conservative. Hindi lang ako komportable na pag usapan yung mga ganun.”
I remember I argued that I was a liberal of a different sort. I think I said you don’t have to talk about things like that to be liberal. Somehow, though she offended me as she correctly guessed, I felt kinda relieved talking to her.
RJ, jolly as always, found us sitting together on the broken bench. Laughing, he asked, “Kayo na?”
She suddenly took my arms, wrapped it around her waist and said, “Oo, kami na. Chos.” Needless to say, all my red blood cells erupted and my soul revolted at the suddenness of it all. RJ though didn’t seem to notice the Third World War that broke out in me. He just laughed with the girl.
When she left and the drinking group transferred inside the house, my mind was still secretly in shock. I kept glancing at her. How crazy, what happened, but it was nothing to her. Who is she? What is she?
Her brown skin seemed to glisten under the light. Her hair was short and braided. Her eyes were penetratingly big but her voice was soft. She wore a white UP shirt which probably hinted at her carefree personality.
All night, I would be pondering while gulping down more beer. I needed the stuff.
I’d look at her when she finally rested on the rocking chair.
The next morning, she’ll be puffing a cigarette stick on the terrace.
I’d be riding home with a smile on my face, thinking of her name, “Chemae.”
This three-part blog is written in celebration of a year of having a huge crush, then falling in love with the girl who sat with me on the broken bench. 🙂