One of the editors in the newspaper company I work in is rather someone I take as snobby, and as we always come across the hallway, among my daily routines is deciphering what is going on at the back of his head. Because this guy would, as a matter of habit, stare at me blankly, and, as I would respond with a nod or a “Hello,” he would either shrug it with a provocative sigh or look ahead past my very soul while shaking his head.
If this junkyard bully didn’t look like Super Mario with his pronounced brows, wide-set eyes and a nose that looked as if it has been forced out of his face, I wouldn’t sulk. But here is a man who always reminds you of the background music of the retro video game. “Tenen-ten-tenen-ten!” it said.
“Just who the hell you think you are?” I’d rant as soon as he’s safely out of earshot, whereupon I would grit my teeth, bat at my toes, promising myself that the next time we bump into each other I would not condescend recognizing his presence. But that was a tall order. Truth be told, it was hard taking it sitting down, and so the succeeding encounters went by with each broken promise, until I reached my tipping point and yelled on impulse: “What the fuck is wrong with this guy?”
When finally he decided to open up, we were both settled against the washroom urinals. I didn’t immediately notice, as teleportation somewhat seemed to be this man’s natural talent. When I did, I turned to him astonished and parted my bangs to the left, the way a little girl might. He must have been staring blankly at me for a while. I was three seconds into being confrontational, when, in a drone, he started to confide:
“Anong nangyayari sa’yo, Vernon?”
He zipped his crotch, looked at the mirror and fixed his hair. I cocked my head, but there was no denying my being affected when he forced upon me this sinister sense of neglect.
“Ang guwapo-guwapo mo noon—matinee idol. Ngayon mukha ka nang tatay.”
It took another three seconds before it registered, and he left, as always, without all the worry and guilt in the world. It’s amazing how, in the nick of time, one can twist mockery into concern, which exuded from me a sense of guilt rather than rage. As he walked out of the door and blankly stared at my bod while shaking his head a bit to mean he was sorry for me, I said “Thank you,” whereupon I locked myself in the cubicle and cried.
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