When I attended an annual Oncology convention in Singapore in 2018 I got into full on schizoid mode and decided to avoid large groups of people. After listening to some of the most important lectures I quietly slipped out of the Suntec Convention Center and asked the taxi driver to bring me to The Charlie Brown Cafe somewhere along Orchard Road. My first time in Charlie Brown Cafe was in Hongkong back in 2012 with Uni-Horned Beef Jerky Alanis Whore, Jaimz, and Kruskalwalis—the same friends who bore witness to the projectile vaginal juice-coated banana fiasco in Patpong (see previous entry). We found the store totally charming but a bit overpriced, with the quality of the food ranging from nothing particularly special to crap. As with any other themed restaurants (like the DC Superheroes Cafe) it was really a matter of form over substance. Our fascination with the Peanuts characters began when we started playing the popular 2011 app Snoopy’s Street Fair, which was one of the few things that made me happy during the wilderness years of hell-owship. Charlie Brown’s wisdom was such a fresh air of negativity, and my favorite saying in the game was “I will only dread one day at a time”.
“Charlie Brown Cafe? What will you be doing there?” the gregarious Singaporean driver asked.
“Uhmmm…. drink coffee,” I said sheepishly.
“You’re going all the way there to have coffee?” he laughed judgmentally. In my head, Oo bakit ba!
I walked along the perenially overcrowded Orchard road, looking for this tiny cafe which has reportedly been reduced to a nook. I found it on the 4th floor of a building which was being majorly renovated, and by the looks of it this branch seems to be on its last legs as well. I got myself a crepe and a coffee. Sadly, the youthful wide-eyed thrill of 2012 upon seeing the powdered Snoopy art on my food was no longer there. There were only the calories.
Later in the day I met a friend for drinks. I haven’t seen Tim Drake for quite sometime, and I later learned that he has been working in finance and has been doing quite well for himself. According to him he has been living in perpetual stress since he started working in Singapore. The past ten years have been a mixture of being lonely, high-strung, and anxious. We started ordering drinks and talked about the good old days because we would rather discuss anything but the here and now. We were enjoying our nachos and mojito and we were laughing and I was genuinely having a great time talking about our childhood misadventures and then without warning… he started sounding quite sad. In my drunken head I said, “No no no please don’t.. no no…” And then he full on cried.
“Oh my gosh are you OK? What’s happening tell me!” I managed to say, my speech slurred. Tim Drake went on to tell me about the stressful things he had to go through as an OFW, plus some relationship problems, and he just found it wonderful having someone to talk to.
I also got to spend some time with my partner in the trip, the senior oncologist and past president of PSMO Dr. Dennis Tudtud. He was one of the nicest people we know, and always fun to be on trips with. He was quite popular for being a “good shopper”. On our way home he found out that I did not buy any pasalubong, so he grabbed my bag and stashed it with Irvine’s Salted Egg chips which he had bought that morning. “Ipamigay mo,” he said.
While waiting in the airport Dr. Dennis said that I should join him in the lounge using his free passes, which I was thankful for because I would otherwise eat Burger King again. “Make sure you get enough sealed food and drinks to take with you to the plane,” he said, at which point I hoarded all the Coke Lite and cookies I could hoard like a total amateur patay-gutom traveller. I swooned at his very nice Panerai watch. His advice was to get just one good watch and stick with it. Many doctors fall into the trap of buying so many unnecessary pieces of luxury watch as they climb up the ladder and they just end up being clutter, he said.
Over a month ago Dr. Dennis and his wife Dra. Helen fell ill and eventually died from COVID. We are all heartbroken, and can only look back at our moments with him, big and small. He was the president of our society when we started as trainee fellows, and he always made us newbies feel welcome. I will miss him.