Come Back, Marcus!

Aurelius Lucius, my barber, had abandoned me and transferred to another branch of Bruno’s last year after 6 years of cutting my hair. Since then the valiant Marcus Cornelius took over, and he does such a fantastic job of making me look human and disentangling the knots on my back for two hours every month, that I was able to quickly move on from grief and vindictiveness when Aurelius Lucius ran away. But for the past two months Marcus Cornelius, for one reason or another, had been unavailable, and I had to go with the only available barber, the veteran Sir George.

While cutting my hair Sir George told me about his son, Matthew Dominic, who is a Grade 10 student in Philippine Science High School. He likes reading a lot, he said. Ever since he was a kid he has always been interested in microbiology, marine life, and botany, so he is planning to take Biology in UPLB. But is not planning on going into med, George is quick to clarify, because Dominic wants to go into research or possibly the academe. Last week, after their family trip to Baguio, where they went through all the requisite tourist spots (Lion Head, The Mansion, Burnham Park, etc), Dominic then went on a field trip with his Pisay batchmates to the different laboratories in UP Manila and UP Diliman, where he was shown the RT PCR machines used in diagnosing COVID. Dominic is one smart kid, George beams.

And then, in the middle of all these arguably mundane stories, something totally unexpected happened: tears started to fall from my eyes. WHAT THE HELL! AHAHAHAHAHAHAH. Must be the time of the month. Oh… you mean I can’t have those!? George didn’t say anything dramatic or something, and I don’t even find pronouncements of love between family members too compelling. Loving one’s family should be the default, in my opinion, and should not necessarily be seen as, I don’t know, too impressive, so I don’t know what the hell has gotten me all damn misty. Luckily I’ve been yawning a lot, and the N95 was compressing my face, so George didn’t notice the embarrassing tears.

I then remembered a somewhat related incident over ten years ago. I was still in fellowship training then, and at the time my mother would regularly bring me food to my boarding house (aka The Coffin) while my father was buying merchandise in Binondo for his tiny hardware store. A few months after my father died in 2012, my mother took it upon herself to go to Binondo to tell the suppliers that he had died, and that she would be the one hauling the merchandise from now on. One of the elderly Chinese businessmen told her with fondness that my father used to regale him with stories upon stories about my exploits in med school, residency, and fellowship. About how he was proud and excited for me to start private practice and all that. Of course, I bawled my eyes out when she told me this. Oh, menstruation.

Which makes me realize, that in George’s story, I AM the elderly Chinese businessman. Heartwarming, but you know what, I can’t have any more of this month per month! I can’t! I need you back Marcus! Come back!!

As the trashcan said, CHEERS!


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