Sunday, August 13, 2006

That Stalker Song

The more you ignore me the closer I get
You're wasting your time
The more you ignore me the closer I get
You're wasting your time

I will be in the bar
With my head on the bar
I am now a central part
Of your mind's landscape
Whether you care or do not
Yeah, I've made up your mind

The more you ignore me the closer I get
You're wasting your time
The more you ignore me the closer I get
You're wasting your time

Beware! I bear more grudges
Than lonely high court judges
When you sleep I will creep into your thoughts
Like a bad debt that you can't pay
Take the easy way and give in
Yeah, and let me in

Oh, let me in
Oh let me ...
Oh, let me in


Oh, let me in
Ah, the closer I get
Ah, you're asking for it
Ah, the closer I get

* * * * *

We were somewhere in Bicutan, Robert and I, driving around to look for a place that a girl mentioned was her home. I didn't tell her I was going there. I was curious about her, she did send me a JPEG through e-mail. But it wasn't enough. I had to know more about her. I had to see her, even from afar.

We met through a chatroom that year; I was teaching college in Pampanga and had experimented with the use of the Internet as part of my job duties. For about two weeks we had freebies with the service provider. I was introduced to the world of mIRC and it was mind-boggling. I probably made more virtual friends in a day than I did over the previous three years. Not that I had that many friends to begin with, anyhow.

My favorite chatroom was focused on trivia, and apart from a few (fellow) mutants, I had the bragging rights to that room. I wasn’t a frequent visitor then, but I routinely killed at the questions provided by the ‘bot (question generator). It wasn’t too long that I gained notice among the denizens of the place. I’m not sure if there were real geeks (like me) out there (there probably were) but it soon dawned on me that the people who came to the chatroom were simply bored and joined the contests out of sheer boredom.

On the other hand, I had wanted in the games for the games themselves. I loved winning. It showed, eventually, and in the beginning though I spent so little time I became popular with some of the regulars (their handles in italics) --- Holly/holly (a young mother based somewhere in Kentucky), Genevie/genevie (a dentistry student based in Manila), Ria/starplace (she was based in Alabang, that’s all I knew --- she never did let me on what she was doing, I never saw her at any of the EB sessions, but she did have a great voice when she called me once), and a host of others. It’s the girls I remember best, as always. The few dudes who did manage to present a challenge would likely as not ignore me (I guess they hated losing), and the ones who were friendly were practically logged on 24/7 they didn’t have to try to win the games – they’ve practically memorized the questions!

I had three handles --- the first one was althor, based on Robert Jordan’s Rand Al’Thor in his “Wheel of Time” series. With this nick, I quickly became popular, and I identified with it so much I practically used it as my e-mail nick for all of my paid Internet subscriptions --- no matter how many times I switched, I kept the name. It had its variants – I used supporting character names like cauthon and aybara (everyone thought I was a girl, and when I went incognito I used this nick a lot). Then there was, of course, the times when I went by dragon_reborn.

After I became popular and some people didn’t want to play against me, I switched to hardin, based on Salvor Hardin, a prominent character in Isaac Asimov’s “Foundation” series. It was one of my shibboleths, because if someone would comment on my nick with the right kind of familiarity, I knew I was chatting with a kindred soul. In the end, most Filipinos thought of it as “garden,” while most everybody else thought it was sexual in nature (a story for another day). I had the most fun going by this name, for reasons which I’m sure are obvious.

The final one, which was my personal fave when I felt like an “assassin” during the games, was jason_bourne, after Robert Ludlum’s famed hitman and the subject of his own eponymous trilogy. Take note that this was before the travesty of the Matt Damon movies came out and only serious thriller enthusiasts knew of this nick. Almost every Filipino who came into contact with me thought I was a Fil-Am, and with the way I wrote (I could do 65 wpm and I wasn’t into the Internet abbreviations, which I thought were atrocities against the Queen’s English), I guess I pulled it off. One of the younger dudes who sort of idolized me even used one of Bourne’s lines as his tagline for his identity. Yeah, I was a cool dude, in that way.

So it was one of those early mornings (about 2:30am or thereabouts) I met spicee’gurl. At first we acknowledged each other with a bit of aloof respect --- she was also a keen gamer, and a really intelligent person too, though I found that out much later. However, I was a bit put off by her nick, which I suspected had an airhead personality behind it. People hid behind their own masks with their nicks, and it wasn’t ironic but pretty much du jour that the most interesting people came up with the most interesting nicks. The interesting part is finding out how so way off-base the name was in relation to the real person. Up to now, in the blogosphere, almost every dude wants to be some rockin’-sockin’ sunnavabich or other and almost every dudette, well, wants to be the Biatch that either makes the rockin’-sockin’ sunnsabiches drool or more likely than not, torches them and eats them for breakfast.

The ‘Net was populated with all sorts, freaks or no, and in cyberspace one has to take a few precautions because there were so many risks. For every You’ve Got Mail story there could also be The Net, or worse, Black Widow, Fatal Attraction or some variant of Risky Business (without the happy ending). My own policy was to be honest about everything as to my personhood but never about my own details. Why the hell not? If people didn’t believe you or mocked you behind your back, that’s their own business. It’s not as if I made them part of my life (but inevitably I did, and ah! That’s the essence of this entire story.)

Spicee’gurl? Umm-hmm. Pretty suspicious right there --- as for me, depending on how you interpreted my nick, of course, you could come up with your own conclusions. But she intrigued me --- face it, the prospect of meeting a woman always intrigues me --- eventually after bumping into her a few times I summoned enough courage, or stupidity, or both, to PM her and go for a short chat. I wasn’t sure how exactly I went about it, but she found my job at that time cool. She herself was one of the minor movers and shakers in the entertainment industry, on radio, and on one of my favorite stations at that. To cut through to the chase, we exchanged numbers and I promised to call her as soon as I got back to Manila.

So I did. In an age of pre-text mania, exchanging numbers and calling over the landline still does the trick. Yes I’m old, but I’m not THAT old.

She had the smoky, husky voice which would drive a lot of men crazy. As to the rest of possible reactions, I’ll leave it to your imagination. I had run up a considerable record in terms of telephone conversations, and actually it was rather my M.O. since I also did well whenever I talk with a girl on the phone. Something about my vocal register and how I sound on the phone creates the impression that I am one hunky-dunky fellow. As to the after the phone conversations… well, closing the deal is a whole new ballgame in itself.

It wasn’t long that I wanted to know who she really was --- one could tell a lot of things not only from the things they say on the phone but more importantly, how they said it and what they didn’t say. I could tell that she was a generous, giving, loving person on one hand; on the other I knew she had very special and particular needs.

After a few conversations and several talk-a-thons and sleepless nights (sidebar: I missed some work because of her, but then again, if it weren’t her as the reason, I would have missed work anyway --- I was that bad), I was hooked. Tell you what, we were both hooked, I guess, but if there is a degree to such things, I had it worse. Or better, if you prefer to look at it another way.

In the beginning, it was so intense that I had to say “time out” even to myself, something she didn’t like when she felt I was taking her for granted. It was hard going back and forth to Manila (eventually, she was the one who called me in Pampanga). What added to the tension was that up to a few months (two, three, I no longer recall) we hadn’t even MET. I recall this time when my buddy Des and I were outside our dormitory having a smoke (those were the days when we were nicotine addicts), and the phone rang. No one else was in the house. I ran into the house, and before I knew it, slipped on a floor mat (image: Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern in “Home Alone”) and landed on my phat ass, just in time for Des to see what had happened to me. The phone stopped ringing right after that, of course.

Still we hadn’t met, even though we always had promised that we would, eventually. I couldn’t say that I was in love with her. I wish I could have, really. Something about the way she arranged things where we couldn’t meet was fishy indeed, and it drew a cloud over me.

So it was, finally, that it came to me that I should try to see where she lived. I knew where she worked; although I hadn’t gone to the station myself I knew its general location. In fact, my buddy Robert also had a friend who worked at the same station and said a few things (good and bad) which made me at the very least, all the more curious.

Eventually I twisted Robert’s arm (I had a pathetic set of wheels, and I didn’t trust myself behind the wheel) and got him to drive me to her place.

What did we do? Basically we waited around for a few minutes. All through the trip Robert was going on about how I was such a stalker. He was right. I didn’t even have the guts to tell her I would visit. The thought of me acting at that time makes me cringe right now as I write these words. I was such a wuss.

Later on, I played the innocent when I introduced to her my friend Miggy and his girlfriend at that time because she was one of the talent scouts for a new softdrink commercial. It was actually a legitimate excuse for us to meet, and as I had expected in the back of my mind, no sparks flew.

Can’t say that I wasn’t disappointed, but I was.

Things promptly went downhill after we met; maybe it’s because we had too different expectations to really make it work. I was 25 and in the flush of my youth; I had been grasping for a direction the past few years before that time and a relationship would have been great but the most inappropriate thing for me right then. Especially with her, who was moving into another phase of her life and she had a whole lot of expectations I wasn’t prepared to meet. I stopped calling and gave work (the lack or surfeit of it) as my reason. It didn’t surprise me when I found out, that she had hooked up with someone else just a few weeks later.

It was more fun, in its own twisted and perverse way, when I was daydreaming about her.

Ugh, I’m such a stalker! Can’t say I’m not proud of it, hahahahaha!

* * * * * * * *

And oh, this post is also dedicated to Ferdinand “Ferdie the Birdie”-“Don Johnson”-“God’s gift to women (feeling)”-“nakapagtatakang pinapatulan pa ng various hot chicks” Tarlengco, who once came up, quite triumphantly, with this statement:

Alam ninyo, ang babae, kapag mailap o ‘di kaya’y naiilang sa akin, tiyak, may gusto siya sa akin!

(roughly translates to: “You know, if a girl tries to avoid me or even perhaps if she is uneasy around me, I’m certain that she has a crush on me!”)

The buddies of course laughed with an uproar when we heard that. You’ve got to love the guy for you to swallow it down. Good times all around, of course. But I never did doubt that his belief, which we fittingly named the Tarlengco Theory, worked for him. Even though his luck with the ladies seemed a bit uneven (he always managed to attract the hard-luck ones or the crazies before the “decent” ones, but THAT’s another story in itself), finally he struck gold with God’s grace (yes, he really needed it) and settled down late last year. Here’s to your firstborn, buddy, sana magmana sa ina! (hahahahaha!)

The Tarlengco Theory was one of the high-water marks of our bachelorhood --- we were coming into our own, we were chock-full of great ideas (like the equally-absurd “Santos syndrome,” the “ISK” fraternity and the Tree that Gerard Fertilized With His Piss, “The Vow,” the “I’ll F*ck You- You F*ck Me” concepts of leadership, and all-night driving sprees --- again, stories for another day), and most of all, we loved the ladies and if we were lucky enough, one or two of them would love us back.

Let’s all sing “It’s All Behind Us Now” by Patti Austin (we did, one time, in my house, believe you me, each one taking his turn at the karaoke machine) in fond memory…


eveningdrive said...

Ah yes... you were one sick puppy back then. HAHAHAHA!!!

I remember that night, and most of the details you posted. Though I can proudly say that I was never a member of the ISK fraternity. Being the wheel man, I always found a gas station.

Otep said...

Remember the renewal when Des ran out of the gas station along the Carmona-Tagaytay highway? He did number two, but didn't have any water in the pail to flush down his stuff! I still remember the look in his face when he told us "Bilis, alis na tayo!" HAHAHAHAHA!

BTW, they tore down that gas station.

eveningdrive said...

HAHAHA!!! Yeah, classic yon!!! Naubos nya yung tubig sa hugas and there was none left to flush his... um... brownie.

And there were to girls who were going to use it after him.

Des... nakakahiya ka talaga!