For ValentiMes, my choice of drink was red wine… with ice. I don’t care, I like it really cold and diluted, with a side dish of 1 piece of Hershey’s chocolate kiss. It’s my favorite combination, for now. Last year my favorite combination was chilled red wine and a bowl of Piknik White Cheddar cheese chips. But these chips are super addictive, so even if I had committed to only eating 10 pieces of chips I ended up eating almost half the pack.

February 14 used to be an important event, not really for lining up in Sogo Hotel, but because the UP Fair was scheduled around it. My first ever UP Fair in Diliman was in 1998, with my college besties Groin, Chel, Kaka, and Joni. Along the periphery of the sunken garden were tiny stalls selling cheap colorful alcoholic drinks. It was so dark we couldn’t see what we were buying, and after a few minutes of going around and drinking whatever we could afford we were down on the grassy field, sufficiently smashed, laughing over something that wasn’t particularly funny. While Groin and I were puking on the grass and regretting our youthful folly, Chel was uprooting huge clumps of grass. I think Joni disappeared, he was staying in a dormitory nearby (Molave) and could have easily escaped. I was renting a room in UP Bliss in Philcoa, which was a jeepney ride away, and I wasn’t sure I could make it on my own so I called my friend Payton (who, you might remember from a previous entry, had died last September). He was also staying in UP Bliss in a different unit, so I asked him if he could fetch me. He said he couldn’t, and I told him in drunken annoyance that I would never forgive him for choosing to have sex instead of helping his friend. I just assumed he was having sex, for all I know he could just be studying (or having sex!).

When I went to med school it became harder to attend the fair, but we were able to attend one February 14 when we were in 4th year med in 2004. I was room mates with my friend Joey, and one night I saw him ironing his clothes and preparing for a date. I asked him who his date would be, and he said it was a girl his sister had introduced to him, aka Goth Girl because she was into goth fashion. “Why would you go on a date with her?” I asked, rather impetuously. “I would go on a date with anyone as long she doesn’t look like Hippura!” he laughed. Hippura was our classmate and a dear friend. Of course, on Valentine’s day, in the middle of Pharmacology class, I gleefully told Hippura what Joey had said without using any euphemisms or any attempt to soften the blow. It was like that scene in Ally McBeal where her foot was rammed into her own mouth. Hippura was shocked and terribly hurt, and gave me the silent treatment the whole day.

That night we rode the LRT, then the MRT, then two jeepneys, from PGH to the UP Fair in Diliman. Joey couldn’t come, he was on a date with Goth Girl, but with us were Thines, Ardee, Pauline, and Hippura. That same night Hippura forgave me for my tactlessness. To this day I don’t think I had ever been as tactless with anybody as I had been with Hippura. Knowing my own terrible guilt complex I would still be beating myself for it, 18 years hence, had Hippura and Joey not ended up together. They got married in 2014. I failed to come to the wedding in Pangasinan. But had I not missed it, I would have probably said something stupid on the microphone in a drunken haze, so it was all for the best.

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