It's almost the end of the year and I realized that I have posted less than half of my total posts in 2006. The quality of the writing rose and ebbed as well, but then again, I did mention sometime during the first half of the year that I found something else with which to express myself --- mainly gouge my eyes out doing work, then finding out it made no sense at all and now I'm on the verge of giving up.
Do I hate myself a little? Yes. But then, now I know I'm hating my job situation, I have to choose the right solution. Put up, or shut up and go man your station.
It's the Yule season again in the Philippines and even here homes have picked up some festive spin. Since winters are cooler here you don't need reminders that it's once again this time of year.
Speaking of which, one of the great stories of December was in 1994 (or for most other Decembers in my life, save for those of my earliest childhood), when most of our people in SHARE were in one way or another connected to the World Youth Day organization. If I were to play my experience in SHARE from start to finish, I think we had peaked right there and then as an organization that could have had national status. We didn't play it the right way then, and being the idealists that we were, many of us thought everyone else was the chump for not being who we were. Yeah, I could have used that memo reminding me otherwise.
The English call it "Boxing Day" - the day after Christmas. Some of our closest friends went out together to get ourselves prepared for the grind. Our group was mostly involved with General Services, which mainly dealt with housing and food services. We had become ingrained in the spirit of the event that we were actually staying over at headquarters in Intramuros. So going out that day was a treat - with about three weeks to go and preparations nowhere near finished. From where we stood, that is.
The core of the original "Bob-Boys" (in tribute to Bob Millanes, our section chair, and a pun on how much we were the pigs that we were) was there - Gerard, Feds, and me. (Robert found the work a little on the side of drudgery, so he dropped out in the work but kept our spirits up just the same.) Our buddy Des, who had just returned from vacation from the States and found no room in GS but joined the Marketing group instead, was also there.
The main players, who were peripheral to the WYD but were our main reason to go out (aside from the usual reason of getting drunk) were Jenny C, who was wrapping up her last few terms with DLSU and volunteered to be at HQ, and Rommel F., who was her steady at the time, who of course had to be there, since he did the driving.
Intramuros is grand in the evenings --- it has both the romance and Old-World charm that was colonial Manila, plus the inexplicable but palapable thrill of the possibility of having oneself witness or directly experience a random mugging. I'm sure you snobs who drool over Hong Kong, London or New York have this, but in different doses.
We didn't do the sights - the guys who were camped out at HQ were tired of Intramuros, but hey, we did want to drink, and the place to be, then as now, was Malate. We all met up and then proceeded to Tia Maria's in Adriatico (I don't know if it's still there ---I haven't been there in almost five years) and proceeded to wolf down the chow and wash it down with some liquor.
I know people have been known to go into heights of ecstasy over rare vintages or choice cuts of meat, but nothing beats the simple pleasure of eating too much food and drinking so much alcohol because you can afford it, and it feels good too, dammit! So it was for us right there and then. At that time, the place had no band, but the house music was pretty good and we were stacking it up there with the fajitas, nachos, and the beer, not to mention our own orders of food.
In his usual funny-scrappy-weasely-but-so-helplessly-hilarious-you-can't-help-but-laugh-or-else-have-an-embolism way, Des took over the conversation. He always had the japes for everyone, but that day, I was his whipping boy. The fact that I couldn't remember what he said meant that it was just one of those days. But I was in too good a mood (or too numb, I can't say which) so we went back-and-forth for most of the meal. He could act drunker than any efficient beer guzzler, but the Des was actually drinking iced tea.
Here comes the kicker - Jenny absolutely loved laughing at our jokes. For once I put up a comment (which until today I still can't remember, though everything else was clear) which cracked everybody up, though Des started the line. We sent ourselves up in stitches, though Jenny was probably shrieking compared to us. It was an effort to stop from breaking out in guffaws, and by the time we stopped Jenny was breathing heavily. Even the group at the other table, who were loud in the first place, looked askance at us -- though there was this guy that laid the Eye on Jenny. Rommel had a semi-stern look by that time (probably because of the guy, though the man on a good day would never run out of jokes) but seeing that Jenny was taking on the color of green carpet I couldn't have blamed him. She warned us too --- to stop.
We went on for a more seconds until Des delivered the super-finish of the blow, and out came the laughs again! But all of this was suddenly erased when Jenny suddenly choked, coughed, and hiccuped (and in that order, too) before she hurled almost everything she had that night! Lucky for us, Rommel was really razor-sharp and got the saucebowl for our fajitas to catch all of her vomit.
Lesson: always have a quick hand to catch your vomit.
The rub to all of this thing was while Jenny hurled in front of our faces, she actually brushed back her hair in a flirtatious-but-conservative-I'm-prim-and-proper manner that was even far funnier than her giving us flashbacks of The Exorcist.
Second lesson: you could still be pretty while disgorging the contents of your stomach.
When we had the stuff all cleared and the service crew helped us with everything (Jenny was pretty neat - everything landed in the bowl. I give that feat 100 points - mainly by giving me a reason to cite something gross and still be complimentary of the one who did it!), Des, still the usual kidder, asked the waiter for another bowl, just in case, well, if she went at it again.
If this were a cartoon world a huge mallet would have come out of Rommel's pocket and he would smashed all of Des' brains. But since he was a doctor, and knew how Des needed his brain, he just forbore on vengeance and just issued stern warnings, while at the same time sucking up to his girlfriend by being solicitous (I didn't find this cheap. It was actually endearing that a couple could still go all saccharine at the notion of vomit).
Well, yeah, she did hurl at least two times more on the way home, but nothing could have beaten what we had just experienced. The night ended semi-badly, but Jenny made the rounds of all our stories for three straight years. If she gives me an excuse nowadays, with all due respect, I'd still make her remember, hehe.
I need more of those days and less of what I'm having right now.
But as the good poet Mick Jagger said, "You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes - well you might find - you get what you need."
Willing Exile: Talking It Up A Little