Thursday, January 04, 2007

The 20+ mind-over-matter guy

I was hesitant at first. I have never experienced a wholesome eyeball since . . . . like never. For people who are not familiar with the "eyeball" thingie, it would be my deepest pleasure to enlighten you on the matter. It is somewhat a jargon nowadays that is used when two people who were corresponding through text, internet (email, online community or chat) or like in the dark ages snail mail (penpal, as if it still exists), decided to meet after a certain amount of time. Well, it is really supposed to be wholesome, though in our world, there’s this thing that is called "S.E.B" or "Sex Eye Ball". This is usually applicable through chat . . . you enter a chatroom, which is more of like a meatshop (bagsakan ng karne) where you post an ad . . . . you state the things that you are looking for for a possible "hook-up" (this can be instant or scheduled). . . tall, short . . . lean, chub . . . goodlooking, average . . . . TOP or BOTTOM, etc. Or you can just browse through the main chatroom and fish while reading the ads . . . if you feel that you fall to that certain category that a certain chatter is looking for . . . you engage him in a privy . . . then you chat . . exchange pictures . . . sometimes talk dirty . . . and if you come to the point of mutual attraction . . exchange phone numbers . . . . and after 30 minutes . . . you are already having sex in a cheap motel room in Cubao or probably meet after two days or so depending on your availability.

Another reason why I'm hesitant is the fact that this meet-up was initiated by an online bond, which I find, more often than not, pretty much fragile and unrealistic. In the cyberworld, there are a lot of things that can be said . . . . and there's no way of telling if such things are true or just a product of a disturbed person's mind who created an alternate identity in the internet just to escape from reality - and why would someone want to escape something pleasant? You do the math!

After a couple of self-consultations, I finally made up my mind.

I will meet him.


We decided to have an early dinner at Italliani's in Gateway. Since he's from the North, it would just be fair for the both of us to meet there.

I thought I would be late, coming from Ortigas to Cubao. The traffic was grueling. I thought that traffic was always grueling, even if the heavens would open up and a storm of brim and stone would not make the traffic more comfortable. But the worst thing that could happen when you are stuck in traffic in a box-type taxi-cab with an aircon barely spitting "conditioned" air and you couldn't smell anything but diesel is when you are on your way on your first date and you are anticipating or rather expecting someone who would actually meet (or exceed) your standards. And while thinking about these things . . . the "what-ifs" arise from your polluted mind . . . What if I wouldn't like him? What if he looks different from the pictures you saw, as if he just went through a major surgical operation gone totally wrong? What if he couldn't talk about anything because he doesn't make any sense at all? What if he is a total psycho that would just tear your clothes apart in the middle of the restaurant and make love to you in front of all the people???? (uhmmmm . . . . that one can fall under the expectations list).

The thought of backing-out crossed my mind a couple of times but before I could really finally decide on what to do, I was already in Cubao.

There were no another choices but to get that night over with.

I arrived at Itallianni's ten minutes earlier and helped myself with the freebie bread that goes with the balsamic vinegar. They give you these things so that, as a customer, you wouldn't be able to stomach to change your mind and move to a cheaper restaurant once you realized that Cafe Bola is cheaper.

I was so overwhelmed with the bread and the fact that I would spend almost 300 pesos for pasta, I didn't see him enter and approached my table.

"Bernard?", he said trying to sound confident though the trembling of his voice is pretty much obvious.

I raised my head from the "golden" menu and stared at him for a second until I nodded my head and asked him to take a seat.

For a moment, I was relieved . . . . there were no signs of any major surgical operations gone wrong . . . he looks pretty much the same with his pictures, if not better.

His face was thin, and edgy, the nose and chin too sharply pointed for ordinary handsomeness, though his color was fair and his eyes were as innocent as a child's. His was the sort of face that, given a proneness to vanity, could be agonized over in a mirror - a face that could switch from beauty to plainness and back again. I've seen a lot of faces like that, the not-quite-handsome faces of young men and women who have been fussed over by their mothers and who believe, with rigorous if slightly apologetic hopefulness, that they can make a future with their looks.

And there we were, star-crossed voyagers sitting across one another hoping that that night would be the night that we were waiting for since the Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks tandem spurred the word "Hopeless Romantic".

We were silent, nobody spoke a word. Both of us tried hard to conceal whatever we were thinking and preoccupied ourselves with what to eat.

Until we ordered. Finally, he spoke! Hallelujiah! He can speak!

"How was your day?" he asked. A depth of scrutiny passed briefly behind his pallid eyes. He was trying, without deep conviction or curiosity, to figure me out.

I stopped my mouth from opening. I know myself, if somebody asks me how my day was, I'll go on ranting about sordid stuff, and that might go on forever. I thought that it wouldn't be a very nice impression if I do that at that moment.

So, I just said, "It was fine."

It was followed by a series of questions pitched from my side to his and from his to mine as if we're playing 20 questions.

One question. One answer.

One question. One Answer.

Until, we got the hang of it and we became at ease at each other, we started to expound what we were saying. The conversation went along over the sour pasta. It just went on and went on.

We were talking as if we knew each other for a very long time. We share some thoughts. Words and stories just flowed out of our mouths like the Grand Rapids rushing to get to the vast ocean.

After the dinner, we shared the bill.

On our way out, he asked me if I was already tired.

I looked at my watch, it's only 9. Still early. So, I told him, not really.

He smiled and asked if I want to get a drink.

I looked around. We were in Cubao. Where in the world are we supposed to drink there?

He said he knows a place. Quite shabby and not very fancy.

I said yes, why not.

We walked around Araneta while still making "kuwento", he was telling me about his misadventures about love and relationship. We share the common sentiment . . . . both of us our sour losers when it comes to love. And while walking, I just noticed that his arm is around my shoulder.

I have to admit, there was a blush moment there.

We got to Aurora, near the LRT2 station.

We crossed the street, pass the "bugaws" and "the girls" that would come to you and whisper 'Sir, babae po ?

If only they knew . . . . I thought.

Finally, we got to this place . . . . . PALAWAN.

It looks like an ordinary KTV bar that you would expect to see in places like Cubao. But I never thought that that place was a haven for badinggerzies from all walks of life and appearance.

He asked if I've been to that place.

I said that that was my first time. And I was quite shocked to see that on a Wednesday night and at that time . . . . it’s already packed.

It is a kind of place that really wouldn't matter how it looks like or what you're drinking but rather what matters the most are the people who are going there. The people that you can meet. In short, it is a big fishing ground!

There was this feeling, as we walk through the place, of eyes glaring at you as if scrutinizing every inch of your body.

We occupied a small table in a dark corner. We ordered beers and I told him that the place was nice.

And then, we walked our way again through a conversation talking about the usual things, this time, delivered brief accounts of our origins and ambitions.

Mr. Mind-Over-Matter was all edgy inattention, the sort of a person who shreds napkins and taps his feet and fails to hear fully half of what's said to him.

After what seemed to both of us a decent interval – three beers and casually flirting one another – we decided to check in to the nearest hotel where he introduced his surprise . . . .

2 be continued . . . . . .

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