Tuesday, August 22, 2006

@ The Party

July 17, 2006, later that afternoon.

The good news is somehow we managed to survive the interrogation although we knew that admitting to whatever it is we have is inevitable.

The bad news is everyone at the party has their radar on us. Everytime I tried to talk to Emma while she was playing mahjong, dozens of pairs of eyes look up at us.

I tried standing behind Emma while she played, but I was becoming a distraction to the other people at the terrace. I was under surveillance, and my slightest move was monitored and recorded. I realized that Emma's family is very protective of her, and after Pat's stunt, standing beside Emma drew too much attention.

To avoid further questioning, I thought it was best to put some distance between me and Emma. I spent time with Apple, who I later learned was the daughter of one of Emma's cousins. I can tell the Apple is spending too much time in front of the TV. She opened the TV and manipulated the remote control with much versatility. She even knows the channels for Cartoon Network, Nick Jr., Hero Tv, and Animax.

I think she's seen all of the episodes of The Last Avatar, The Legend of Ang because she likes to tell what happens in the story before it actually happens. She is very... atriculate for her age- which is good, unless you have very sensitive ears (she talks like she's in the question and answer portion of Little Miss Philippines).

Apple and I were arguing over our favorite Powerpuff girl when Pat sddenly came and passed her baby/cousin/brother/neighbor's kid to me. She was in a bit of a hurry and before she bolted out of the door, she said something about someone waiting at their gate.

Fact: I don't know how to take care of infants, but I at least know how to carry a baby.

Rule #1: Don't drop the baby.
Rule #2: Always support the back and the nape.
Rule #3: If the baby needs a diaper change, see Rule #1.

So I'm carrying a baby. Its not a big deal right? Its not like its the first I held a stranger's baby (The last time was when we went to an orphanage as a Christmas outreach project for my org in college) Call it a learning experience. I didn't mind really.

Unfortunately someone else did.

The moment I stepped out to the terrace to check on Pat, someone revolted to the idea of me carrying the baby.

"Bat naman ikaw pa pinagkarga? Baka malaglag mo pa yan," Emma complained.

"Di naman," I replied. "Kung ikaw nga nabubuhat ko eh..."

Syet. I saw Emma's eyes widen. That sounded so wrong in so many levels. I can almost hear her shouting "OMG what the hell are you saying!?". Worse, my words attracted the attention of Emma's relatives again. Everything stopped. Everyone was waiting for me to explain what I meant.

"uuuyyy... ba't mo sya binubuhat ha?" Pat teasingly asked. This girl can suddenly appear out of nowhere at the most opportune moment to poke at us.

"...nung baby ka pa," I quickly added. I paused for a while to think if there ware other ways to say that without sounding too... erm... old. Wala yata. Moreover, I hoped that it was enough to save me from being grilled.

"ahhhh" Pat nodded her head with a silly smile. "Kuya Aldrin, linawin mo kasi".

"hehe..." I laughed in hopes that the grinning blog reader in front of me would not reveal more of what she knows. She is evil, I tell you. Evil. Her eyes told me she wanted to say something else. I pretended to rock the baby in my arms, but the truth is I just wanted to get some distance and turn away from Pat.

This was unnecessary though, because I found out that Pat has her own personal distraction as well. Her boyfriend, Erick, arrived. I can tell from what he was wearing, He came straight from ROTC training. I took his arrival as a cue to disappear and return to the TV with Apple.

As we continued to watch TV, I asked Apple for the name of the kid I was carrying. She said she didn't know so I decided to give him a name, just for the sake of having a name. It has to be a strong name. A manly name. A name that befits his stature. A name that will not be forgotten and will forever be remembered in the archives as the greatest name a guy could ever have.

A couple of commercials and an episode of Dextar's Lab later, Bob began to cry.

"Bakit sya umiiyak?"

"Hindi ko alam eh," I said. "Kilala mo ba nanay ni Bob?"

Apple just shrugged.

"Apple, pakihanap naman si Ate Pat mo. Umiiyak si Bob eh"

"Sige po," followed Apple. Polite, obedient, witty... Apple reminds me of her ninang in a way. I stood up and looked through the window to see where Apple went. From outside the door, she headed straight to the table where Emma and I had our lunch. Erick was eating and Pat was keeping him company.

"Umiiyak si Bob," Apple told Pat.

"Ano?"

"Umiiyak si Bob"

"Sinong Bob?"

"Si Bob!"

I was trying to make the baby stop crying, but I couldn't help but laugh while listening to the little girl confuse the hell out of Pat.

"Sinong Bob nga?"

"Si Bob!". Apple was very cute when she sounded frustrated (which again, reminded me of her ninang).

I wanted to laugh hard. Apple cannot get her pint across, and Pat was stumped on who this "Bob" was. About a minute later, Pat decided to follow Apple inside the house.

I waited at the door so as soon as Pat entered, she saw the crying baby. She realized that she just handed the baby to a total stranger, and forgot about it.

"Ay sorry!" she apologized as she took Bob from me.

"Ok lang," I grinned, not because I was trying to fake a smile, but because I felt I finally found the right moment to express myself in perfect ambiguity. :D

"Bakit Bob? Pat turned to Apple but the little girl didn't pay attention. She returned to her seat at the livingroom sofa and continued watching cartoons. She knew that with Bob on Pat's hands, there will be no more distractions from her late afternoon viewing pleasures.

I thought the same, but as soon as Pat passed Bob to his mom, she returned to the livingroom to ask something from me.

"Kuya, patulong naman gumawa ng drinks".

"Drinks?"

Pat explained the her Titas didn't like beer that much so she "volunteered" me to make one for them. I didn't like the sound of it because of Emma's reminder about her family's sentiments about alcohol during ocassions. Pat showed me a tall bottle of Absolut Vodka and some left over Del Monte Fruit cocktail. I could work with this- although I figured Emma would be my worst critic because she learned a bit of bartending during her stay in Singapore. But since Pat already "volunteered" me to bartend for the ladies, who am I to refuse?

When Pat said na "bitin ang isang bote", I knew that we have to get more. I suggested that we go the nearest mall which is SM Sta. Mesa. We (I, Pat and Erick) had to drive there but Erick was a bit intimidated because he was a bit shy- he didn't want to sit shotgun. Guess what? Both of them ended up seating at the back seat. Oh yeah. Picture that.

Buying alcohol together with 2 minors didn't look good either. Both of them are 17. Pat has already invited me to her debut next year.

Yay, I thought. Another ocassion to spend with Emma's family. Can you sense my excitement?

While at the mall, Pat continued her interview much to the annoyance of Erick who I think felt a bit OPed. I confided to Pat- but only enough to keep her questions answered. Even though Emma talks to her, I didn't want to reveal anything that may further aggrevate Emma. (If anything needs revealing, I think its best that Emma talks to Pat about it :P, the same applies to this blog, btw).

Talking with Pat revealed a lot of things. I learned that relationships its a big deal to the folks. It is imperative for Emma and her cousins and nephews that they tell their parents about their "baon". Apparently, Erick had to go through the same "intimidation" thing- and much worse because he and Pat were a lot younger. It's a bit of a relief knowing this because at least I know that the shock and awe tactics (aka, stare, threaten and intimidate) that was being applied to me isn't personal, but an intricate and elaborate standard operating procedure in their family.

Emphasis on "bit".

It was already dark when we left the mall, but we were able to find everything we needed:

For the Honolulu Cooler: Pineapple and Lime juice, Sprite (or 7-Up), and club soda.

For the Brandy Cobbler: sugar, dalandan slices (we cant find lemons XD), cherried, and more club soda. We substituted the fruit cocktail for orange slices, and we bought a single bottle of emperador (because Pat told me that tito Fred has a couple of bottles of Fundador already.)

Pat took care of the calamansi for the Tequilla shots. (I didn't see Tito Fred bring in the bottles of Cuervo). I had to spend a bit for the drinks, but I didn't mind. emma wanted to be extravagant with the cake so I figured its ok If I kick it up a notch with the drinks. The good thing about cocktails is you can drink more, but compared to drinking straight, you still take a lot less alcohol.

Oh yeah, we also bought ice. And lots of it.

BTW, observe the legal drinking age and drink moderately.

There were already empty beer bottles on the tables when we arrived at Aunty Lo's house. The long table where we had our lunch was already occupied by most of Emma's male relatives, drinking ang laughing loud. On another table were the ladies, equally loud in chatter and laughter. I tried to look for Emma but I couldn't find her there. Erick and Pat setup a smaller table where the mahjong table used to be, and we began preparing drinks for the ladies. I did the mixing while Pat and Erick did the knife work.

The honolulu punch was easy to prepare because it can be made in one large batch, unlike the Brandy cobbler which has to be made individually.

"Wooooow", Tita #1 said. (Seriously, I need to review Emma's family tree.)

"Hoy Emma!" said Tita #2. "Boto ko dito!," she exclaimed, pointing to me.

The ladies at the table laughed, and some even agreed to what Tita#2 said, but I think its just the alcohol talking.

I blushed a little from the embarrassment, or maybe it was the alcohol from the tasting I made while preparing the pitcher of the honolulu punch, or maybe its the fact that I didnt realize that Emma was behind me, watching over what I was doing.

"Are you sure about what you are doing?" Emma asked, ignoring the laughter from the ladies' table. "It looks wrong."

"Hey... I had a good teacher," I replied.

I smiled at Emma, hoping that she would smile back- but she didn't. She just shrugged her shoulder and drank from a glass of Coca Cola. "I wouldn't know," she said.

She would know. She was the one who taught me.

"Pano nga pala kayo uuwi?" Aunty Lo asked. She was seating the near ond of the ladies; table.

"May dala po kaming sasakyan," I answered.

"Naku, magdadrive ka pa? Dito na lang kayo matulog"

"Nye," Emma was quick to counter Aunty Lo's suggestion. "San nyo patutulugin yan?"

"Sa sofa."

"Yan pa? Di makakatulog sa sofa yan," Emma said. "Di sanay sa di malambot yan"

Hey no fair....I have slept in wooden sofas before. And besides, her bed is actually bigger than mine. I was about to comment about that, but when I saw Pat looking at us, I decided to keep my mouth shut. Admiting to this crowd that I have knowledge about Emma's bed would be suicide.

"Sigurado ka? Kung magmamaneho pa kayo, baka mapano pa kayo"

"Ayos lang po yon," Emma assured Aunty Lo "Ako naman po ang magda-drive".

"Oo nga po Tita," I seconded. "Magaling naman pong driver si Emma."

Uh-oh. Big mistake. Emma gave me one of her sinister, angry, wait-til-we-get-home-because-I'm-gonna bury-you-alive look. I should've said "magaling mag drive si Emma," instead of saying "magaling na driver si Emma". I'm gonna be grilled when I get home.

I wanted to whisper an apology, but Emma already moved to the far end of the ladies' table, along with her glass of Coke. Knowing her, I should leave her alone for a while- I decided to approach and apologize later.

I thought things couldn't get worse that night but, again, like the many assumptions I made that day, I was wrong. Tito Fred came over and handed me a glass of Fundador, and invited me to sit at the guys' table, specifically on his left. I can tell by the red tint in his face (and by the smell of his breath) that he has downed enough alcohol to keep him in bed all day tomorrow. I wondered how many days he has skipped work because of hangovers. He reminds me of Marlon Brando from the Godfather. Make that a cheerful, loud-laughing Marlon Brando. Okay, a cheerful, loud-laughing Marlon Brando, with a bit of Max Alvarado thrown in. A grinning Marlon Brando, with the contrabida mustache of Max Alvarado in a peach and green shirt with palm tree prints. O-ha. Bagets.

I was listening to them talk, when suddenly tito Fred put his left arm on me. He was staring at me and in a very intimidating manner, he began to whisper at my ear.

"Nag-iisa lang yang pamangking kong yan na maganda," says Tito Fred whose face can only get redder and redder. "Di ko kayo tututuluan pero kung lolokohin mo lang yan, pauwiin mo na lang dito. May matitirhan yan dito."

"Opo," I replied, eventhough I had a mixed reaction to what Tito Fred just advised me. I didn't know if I should take him seriously because he was drunk, or to be glad that he doesn't have anything against me, or to laugh out loud because he said that Emma is the only one who is beautiful among his nieces.

(PS: Pat, if you are reading this, I know your uncle was drunk at that time and a lot of people talk nonsense what they are under the influence of alcohol, so I really hope that you don't take offense when say: AHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHA! XD)

Above all, I was glad. For the first time since being invited to Aunty Lo's party, nakahanap rin ako ng kakampi. Sure, he was drunk, and He will probably forget everything he said that night, but still- it felt really good that I got his approval. Hehe

"Hoy Emma, Ok pala tong baon mo eh!" shouted Tito Fred, finally releasing his arm from my shoulder. "Masunuring bata!"

"Baka nakatago lang ang kulo, nakabantay kasi si kumander!" some guy from the table shouted. It was then followed by laughter by everyone who heard it.

Great. Now my relationship with Emma is a punchline of jokes. I began to doubt that I was being taken seriously, but I just laughed with the best of them.

I'm a fan of Pol Medina Jr.'s work and I've read that the characters in his famous comicstrip (Pugad Baboy) are inspired by real life personalities- but I can't believe that I'd be in a scene that would look like it was literally taken from one of the daily Pugad Baboy comics.

It was weird, looking at the people present in that party. It feels like one, big happy, strangely dysfunctional, family- which somehow works out and gets by in the end. I really enjoyed laughing and listening to their stories (and sharing my own). It almost made me forget that Emma is still angry at me.

Almost.

A couple of hours and about 4 bottles of beer later it was time to call it a day. (I could've had more, but I was watching what I drink. I easily got dizzy with all the hard liqour I had earlier that evening)

Aunty Lo has already turned in, and some of the guests have already left. I took my chance to watch Emma at the ladies's table. She was in a giggling session with Pat and another cousin, Gale who was only able to join the party about an hour ago. I could swear I heard her laugh- it was the same as the loud laughter I heard from her earlier that day.

I hoped I could hear more of it but Emma's smile disappeared when I joined them, and this made saying goodbye more difficult. I didn't know if I was able to leave a good impression among her relatives. Moreover, I was concerend if Emma was impressed with the way I bahaved that night. to me, her opinion is more important than what her relatives think of me.

We walked back to the car. I felt relief at the idea that we were going home at last. But as soon as we were in front of the car, where we were too far to be heard by the people at the terrace, Emma complained.

"Katulong na nga, driver pa," she sighed.

My heart sank when I heard that. Part of me wanted to confront her but with all the alcohol I had that night, I don't want to say anything else. I may just offend her more. I just pretended not to hear her and went to the gate to open it.

When I got back to the car, Emma was waiting with her hand open.

Maybe this is a sign. She was trying to discourage me from coming to the party all day yesterday up to earlier this morning. Maybe her attitude towards me all day is a signal that I'm being invasive. Should I "back off" a little? Should I "back off" a lot? Maybe the idea of being a couple isn't such a good idea after all. (or maybe I'm over analyzing the situation again?)

I sighed, but I exhaled softly so she wont notice. I didn't want to argue anymore. I yield. She has treated me so roughly all day, but I'm sure she has some reason for it. She may not reveal it to me right now (or ever), but I trust her.

I just handed her the keys and said the only words I knew that won't make things worse:

"Emma, I'm sorry."

12 Comments:

At 6:23 AM, Anonymous mhuu~ said...

cute... family gathering are really like that. i think Emma's family is a close knit one, and kapag ganun ang family minsan mahirap makapenetrate (based on experience)

well, maybe emma has her reasons kung bakit rough ang treatment niya sa iyo. and im assuming she has explained her side na to you.

^^V

 
At 9:39 AM, Anonymous Yuri said...

all i can sa y is aaahhhhh.. hehe :) emma nagsorry na o! pero okey namn kau dba? hahayz

 
At 2:29 PM, Blogger rehpic said...

Nice article Aldrin. I don't know kung ano nang nangyari sa inyong dalawa, pero yeah, I agree with Emma regarding the title. Parang hindi angkop yung title na "katulong" to describe Emma.

Anyway, I like your posts cause they're honest. I imagine myself in your shoes and some of what you write, I probably can't let others know about it. Keep up the good work!

 
At 8:25 PM, Blogger Anna said...

wow!! cute yung name nung baby ha! "BOB" he he he

 
At 9:29 AM, Blogger zahflo said...

what happened next??? :-)

Abangannn...

 
At 5:49 PM, Blogger Azure Phoenix said...

Kakatakut ah, wehehe... Remind me to be totally on guard if I happen to be in the same situation....

Nice, nice. UPDATES!!!!!

 
At 4:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Err... Hating EMMA and Pat more and more! (>,<)

 
At 9:28 AM, Blogger May said...

WEll you certainly can't blame Emma for being overly sensitive! In that situation, I'd hate to be in your shoes....

Nice update! When's the next one? We wanna know if Emma actually killed you and if we can still make it to yor funeral :P

 
At 10:53 AM, Blogger Aldrin Lew said...

Lol

The funeral...I mean the next update will be up later today.

XD

 
At 12:45 PM, Blogger zahflo said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 5:02 PM, Blogger May said...

Although Emma should give you tad more credit. You handled yourself pretty well at the party. Bob will forever thank you for the strong manly name befitting his stature, harhar.

Now, what's with Emma?

 
At 8:42 PM, Blogger Christianne said...

Maybe Emma can start a blog of her own. Parang he says, she says :)

UPDATES! At this rate pag kasal na kayo at nagdadalang-tao na si Emma, we'll still be reading about your first date :D

 

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