The day started awry and I should have read the signs. I woke up early but refused to leave my bed until I was, yet again, an hour late for my first summer class. My second class fell apart when pangga asked me whether the sentence “my mobile phone and the sim that comes with it is provided by the company” should have the verb “was” to signify that the action was done in the past. I replied that neither was correct, for the compound subject required a plural verb, supplementing a colloquium on tenses—past, present, past perfect and present perfect—to have him decide for himself the ideal time in which the event occurred. Little did I know that he was again in the manner of correcting some person’s grammar and this time, an English major’s ego was bruised in such a manner that would tame the furious hell of a woman scorned. Acting as a flamebaiter, pangga traded my and his call center textmate’s messages. I and pangga were contemptuously told by the agent to review our lesson on subject-verb agreement, to which I reacted that the person was psychologically projecting his own error and that in a derridian deconstruction, he can only tell others to be aware of their grammar if he himself is conscious of it. The pride-wounding issue aggravated to downgrading schools, scoffing at salaries and contracting colonialism, so I told pangga to spare me the distraction from my Shakespearean paper due at 3pm and to tell his textmate to stop his diversionary tactics and face the truth that to err his human. The motif of eluding would repeat itself throughout the day, for when I queued up at the cashier’s office to get my salary, I was informed that I wouldn’t be able to receive it since I have yet to submit my clearance form for the immediate past semester. I went to my superior and told her that without my salary, I wouldn’t be able to report to school next week. Since the salary I lined up for did not include my suspended pay and since I am a part of the institution until next semester, I reasoned that I would not be able to escape from my remaining accountability. It turned out that she had a hand in my withheld pay by scheming that I wouldn’t be compensated for my labor unless my pending requirements of fifteen (!) syllabi were submitted. Never the person to beg to people with the notorious obsession to see rebels being reduced to wimps, I bargained that I would give what she wanted next week if she signed my clearance. I wasted much time engaging in a circuitous argument with her before she acquiesced into signing my paper. That was just the beginning, for I would have to seek nine more signatories—such a complicated process for such a tiny school. Problem 1: the librarian went undertime for a business in Laguna and problem 2: the accounting officer did not report for work. I was thankful that the powers-that-be were miraculously around and that they allowed other signatories to clear me in the two absentees’ behalf. By virtue of adrenaline rush, I fulfilled my clearance requirement in a little more than an hour of shuttling from office to office, ultimately sparing me from being demoted into a lower socio-economic status. While already more than an hour late, I still managed to reach UP just in time before the library doors shut out my application for this semester’s library card and before my professor dismissed the class. Ma’am said I missed seeing powerpoint presentations of Shakespearean actors in the buff so I graciously insisted my usb to her yet she wickedly tantalized me to wait till next meeting. To console myself, I tagged along with my classmate to the shopping center where we indulged in kwek-kwek and sago gulaman “na distilled naman ang water.” I received a text from pangga asking me out on a movie date, to which I agreed but something in me urged me to send him a disclaimer that a sermon was in the offing. I was riding toward mrt when I received his reply that said, “lupasay!” Meeting pangga in megamall, I took a brief trip to the bench store where I looked for a small-sized, yellow-necked purple t-shirt, which had already disappeared ahead of its medium-, large- and extra large-sized kin. I settled for a long-sleeved shirt just so I would spare pangga the embarrassment of my choice of hibiscus-printed beach polo reminiscent of former manila mayor lito atienza’s floral polos. When we went out, a gay guy who saw us looked surprised that it’s the uglier guy who got to be shopped for by the good-looking one, instead of the other way around. At the dining table, I already started my dissertation of how my relationship with pangga turned lackluster, and it’s all because of my trust on him that vanished since he tried to cheat on me. I summoned him why he could not assure me exclusivity in our setup whereas he could choose not to hurt me when he’s unattached and looking. The problem was, he still occasionally acted like he’s single when in fact, we’re together for almost one and a half years. I mentioned his textmates (including the ballistic one earlier in the day) whom he uselessly tried to lie about, meriting me to say, “hindi ako tanga, kaya huwag mo akong gawing spare tire habang naghihintay ka ng perfect mate.” I pointed out that it would be less complicated to dump me altogether so he could look out for other guys his worth without stepping on somebody involved with him. He wouldn’t do that so I accused him of being so guiltlessly insensitive of my human feelings, which caused him to stop making emoticon faces in his desperate effort to calm my rage. My unstoppable stream of angry words in flawless english with ilocano accent so overwhelmed him that he could just whisper, “I do not have the gift of words.” His eyes started to redden as if about to shed copious tears but his question finally broke the camel’s back: “hindi ba tayo manonood ng sine?” He wouldn’t leave even if I insisted on staying so I grabbed my laptop with judy ann santos’ pictures slideshow as screensaver and bolted out in haste. The lovers’ quarrel scene was straight out of melodramatic pinoy pop movies. While I waited for a ride heading for quiapo, it dawned on me that pangga had only promised once since the day we became lovers, assuring me that I am the only one in his life. Given the difficulty of keeping one’s promise, the rapid pace at which people change, the uncommonness of unconventional relationships like ours (much less their success rate) and the rarity of miracles in the world, I should’ve learned to compromise, but only my pride prevented me from hurling myself onto the tracks of speeding vehicles in shaw boulevard. On the way to jangeum’s house, I saw from the open window a couple who appeared to be in a bravura moment, the guy kneeling before the girl, seeming to ask forgiveness. I envied him for being so brave in doing so amid the probing public eyes. I distracted myself by looking at the handsome passengers: a tisoy guy wore a white tank top to show off his gym-built torso while another still looked boyishly fresh from his eight-hour duty from the office. A team of nurses memorized mmda traffic enforcers’ spiels being repeatedly announced on select street corners (“ tumawid sa tamang tawiran…ito po ang mmda…”). I dropped by a pirated video stall whose foul-smelling vendor offered one customer a dvd he called 88 minds, which his fat sister was quick to correct: “baka 88 minutes!” the stall in which I rubbed elbows with fellow pamintas while perusing provocative m2m titles like sikreto ni kuya, salat sa kaligayahan, and the big gangbang had already closed. I could reimagine the owner’s daughter announcing publicly that the porn film whispered by an embarrassed, bayong-wielding discreet gay guy had “nagsasayaw na hubad na mga lalaki!” I picked up a pirated pinoy movie currently shown in theaters, one which pangga and I initially planned to watch if only things went out all right. I thought that I would watch alone if only to escape for the meantime my state of romantic suspension. I paid for my copy of manay po 2: overload before sneaking away from the benighted muslim community.
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