Mrs. T celebrated her birthday a few days ago. She has been my blockmate since college, and having the same birthday as Fox Mulder (October 13) I knew it was something I would never forget. We were seat mates in UP Diliman on the first day of college. Being a very awkward boy and not yet trained on the art of small talk, one of the first questions I asked was if she could pee standing up. To her credit she was very earnest in her answer, that doing so would make the pee trickle messily down her legs, so I asked if she could use a makeshift imbudo made of cartolina. She still didn’t slap me, and we became lifelong friends.
I drove to her house in Commonwealth for a mini-celebration and was shooketh to discover that traffic has returned to pre-pandemic levels. Commonwealth would always have a special place in my heart, as it is the place where I almost had my brains splattered on the ground. Or got maimed, but survived. Back in college I was told that after gym class the shortest route going to Philcoa was to walk from the Gym and run across Commonwealth. At one point I almost got hit by a raging truck. It was like inviting yourself to the ICU or to Funeraria Paz.
In pure horrific-ness of the traffic, by the time I got to her house Mrs. T’s Korean noodles was already soggy. Smoketh then arrived with paella and lechon, having just finished her rounds in East Avenue, and she was concerned that she would kill us all by removing her mask. I have finally confirmed to myself how old and senile I was when I summoned one of Mrs. T’s kids in the most geriatric mali-mali way: “Come here Paco, este Pilar, este Pipo, este…”
As per tradition, and also to show off, I quizzed Mrs. T what we did on her birthday in a particular year. This time I asked how we celebrated when she turned 18, which should be an easy one. It was fairly memorable because she was finally getting inducted into adulthood, the celebration was an intimate one with just a few friends, the food was great, but most importantly because that was when I uttered the very classy line, “Ililibre mo kami sa… Starbucks?! Di ba yun daw yung one hundred pesos ang kape?!”
We went to Starbucks in Mother Ignacia and it was the most beautiful place I have ever seen. I couldn’t believe I was drinking coffee with whipped cream drizzled with caramel sauce. I thought we’ve reached the pinnacle of enjoyment that night, when who should walk in but a bunch of celebrities.
“Cast ng Okatokat…” Groin-ielyn whispered. We all gawked at the cast, but Mrs. T turned around, and said she couldn’t look any longer.
“Ang gwapo nya, hindi ko kaya…” she gushed, referring to Jericho Rosales. “Shucks ang gwapo nya….” It took her a while to recover that night.