Saturday, November 14, 2009

Ang Dura at Ako

Recently while in a café, I found myself bowing and shaking in front of my laptop screen. I was smothering my laughter. It started really random. Sick of my solitude, I decided to chat with a friend also in another café on the other side of town, taking a break from the office. After the usual pleasantries, both our bodies started quaking as the conversation unfolded. We stifled our laughter, afraid that we get kicked out of our respective cafés if we let go. Here’s the semi-edited transcript:

JM: bonbon, question lang… about ships…

Bonbon: ships?!

JM: pano naliligo ang mga tao pag-nakasay ng barko? As in, may tubig na tap water?

Bonbon: LOL

JM: Haha! Naisip ko lang kagabi…

Bonbon: They rappel down a rope and dip themselves in the sea.

JM: Haha! Hindi nga. Paano ‘yun, e andami-daming tao… May dala silang sangkaterbang tubig?

Bonbon: It depends on the boat, I guess. If it were a cruise liner, rooms are equipped with showers. That’s why it’s important that boats have docking stations so that they can refill their water reservoir. Just like planes, they also need to refuel.

JM: so… may mga drum sila sa loob?

Bonbon: uhmmm… siguro, may mga boats din na may drum at tabo.

JM: Haha! So, may-estimate sila kung ilang beses maliligo ang mga tao? Wala lang… balang araw, tatanungin ko sa boat people ‘yun.

I guess so. ‘Yung cruise that I got to ride once had hot water pa nga, but the shower stalls were really small. Pero I remember when I took the Super Ferry to Manila in high school, wala nang ligo-ligo. We stayed in an open area, where there were bunker beds; ‘yung tipong kailangan mong matulog with one eye open lest manakawan ka.

JM: Ilang araw ‘yun? So, pag ‘di ka first class, wala nang ligo-ligo?

Bonbon: It takes a day. I guess may banyo sila, pero baka may bayad. Or there’s a common bath, where you take turns and all.

JM: Common water din? Haha! So, wish mo na sana first batch ka palagi… Haha!

Bonbon: Ooh, did I tell you about an experience I had with that trip?

JM: Hindi pa.

Bonbon: It was night, so I went over to the veranda to enjoy the lovely breeze; to make muni-muni.

JM: Hehe… tapos?

Bonbon: Then I felt some droplets hit my face; and I was like, ‘Oooh… refreshing!!” Then, I began to wonder why the sea spray smelled and tasted minty. Pagtingin ko sa taas… May nag-totoothbrush! LOL!!!!

JM: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Yuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuccccckkkk!!!!!

Bonbon: I’m chuckling now!!!!! AHAHAHAHAHA… gusto ko tumawa ng malakas!

JM: Hindi mo ba nahalata na may bula-bula??? Hahahaha!

Bonbon: AHAHAHAHAHA… hinde. Another similar experience was when I was younger, we slept with mosquito nets.

JM: Tapos?

Bonbon: So, my bed was right beside the window. Each night, I would be lulled to sleep by the wind and the rustling leaves of the nearby mango tree. There were nights when I’d feel some droplets touch my face…

JM: Yesss… Calming… Tapos? Hahahaha! Ano na naman ‘yan?!

It made me feel nice, thinking na I could feel the evening dew touch my face. Kaya pala… tinataihan ako ng hinayupak na butiki every night! LOL!


Bonbon: Shet… gusto ko tumawa!!! AHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

JM: Kadiri, Bonbon!!! Nakakahiya, naka-smile ako mag-isa… hahaha! Hindi ako pwede tumawa…. Hahaha! Sa umaga, walang kulay tae or something???

Bonbon: Siempre, hindi ko malaman na tae kase gabi. Atsaka, the tiny tae gets caught on the net; so, yung liquid lang ang napi-feel ko!

JM: Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaakkkkkkkkkk!!!!! Hahahahahaha!!!! Kadireeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!! Ano ba yan, Bonbon!!!!!

Bonbon: And I remember, when I discovered it, I had a tantrum and ran to my parents’ room, insisting that I sleep there. But no, pinagalitan ako.

JM: Hahaha! Pa’no mo na-discover?? Ba’t ka pinagalitan??

Bonbon: Feeling ata nila na nag-iinarte lang ako. I kept getting curioser and curioser every night, wondering where it was coming from. Sabi ko… hmmmm… ang layo naman ng mango tree para madapuhan ako ng dew from its leaves.

JM: Hahaha!!!Wala ka ba katabi matulog dati?

Bonbon: My brother slept beside me in another bed, pero may sariling mundo ‘yun e.

JM: Hindi siya natataihan?? Ang malas mo naman! Ahahahaha!


JM: Hahaha! Nakakatawa ka!...

Bonbon: Oh, and another… when I was younger, we always heard mass from outside church kase ang init at punong-puno ang simbahan. I would stand under the balcony, just by the edge where I was shaded by it. I was restless with my hands, so I started fiddling with my shirt, pant pockets…

Ang hilig mo kasi sa shade-shade e!

Bonbon: Then, I discovered something sticky on my clothing… LOL!

JM: Yiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii… Ano ‘yun????

Bonbon: LOL! Dinuraan ako from the balcony!!!!

JM: Ahahahahahahaha!!!! Anong color? May bubbles?

Bonbon: LOL!!... clear lang naman… Ahahaha! I WANNA LAUGH OUT LOUD!!

JM: ME TOO!! Tawang-tawa na ako!... Ang hirap magpigil!!! Ahahahahaha!

Bonbon: Speaking of dura, eto pa isa. Maraming mga aeta sa Iloilo, bumababa galing bundok para manlimos. E, bata pa lang ako, mahilig na ako mag-shorts…

JM: Haha! Tapos?

I was approaching a groupof aetas sitting by the curb. Unbelievably, swak na swak, dumaan ako right in time na dumura yung isang aetang matanda!!

JM: AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! Tumatawa na’ko… I don’t care na!

Bonbon: Natamaan ang legs koh!!! YIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII!!!!!!! Golly, hindi mo na mapinta ang mukha ko as I was shock!

JM: Hahahahaha! Baka may nganga pa ‘yun!

Bonbon: It was as thick as a silver bullet! Ok, I’m bowing and shaking now in laughter!

JM: Ahahahahahaha!!! ANG MALAS MO, GRABE!!!!

Bonbon: I KNOW!!! Huhuhuhu…

JM: Kadireeeeeeeeeeeee Bonbooooooooooooooon!!!!!... Ano ginawa mo???

Bonbon: I remember standing in front of them, desperately trying to wipe the sticky spittle with my hanky, while they looked on, staring at me blankly!... When it did dry up, biglang kumati ang area… LOL!!!


Bonbon: I KNOW! I’m surprised myself na hindi ko ‘to nakuwento pa before!

JM: For someone so… pristine… nakakadiri ang mga experiences mo!!! Hahaha!!

Bonbon: I know… so, I actually get grossed out very rarely! Pweh! LOL!

JM: Pweh!! LOL!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Hair: A History II

By college, my hair began to have a mind of its own. There were days that it simply was stubborn, refusing to be managed or styled. The hair grew coarser, resembling a twisted nest of piano strings. I looked like I wore a black helmet on some days; and on others, it seemed like I propped a mat of dark wire on my head. Some friends even thought I looked like Astro Boy or that cranky cartoon ladybug. I fit the bug role to a tee as I had a lot of grouchy moments, especially defensive when it was about my sexuality.

An annoying period in college was undergoing the required military training. I hated having to sport the 3”x4” hair prerequisite. I hated how it made me look stupid. I hated how it reminded me of how much testosterone was shoved down my throat. I hated how raw my naked scalp felt, relentless in its itch under the cruel afternoon sun.

My hair did grow eventually. At this point, I got to go on trips to Europe. I have always loved taking showers no matter how cold it was. I enjoyed how the warm water stripped my skin fresh and new. It was interesting that every time I got back, gone for several months each time, friends would always ask me if I had cancer. Perhaps there was some truth to that myth of avoiding warm showers. It did not help either that my pallor was pale and sickly, telling of late nights studying and cramming papers. Yes, I did look like I had undergone several sessions of chemo.

My mother got concerned that I was starting to look like the man she married. With her and my sister’s help, I got to visit doctors and hair-restoration clinics. I took pills to help my hair grow; religious with the topical solution I had to apply on my scalp, morning and night. It’s interesting that the pill was supposed to suppress my libido, lessening my body’s production of testosterone. The doctors said that the hormone ate up my hair follicles. It’s even more interesting that my libido continued to soar. It’s funny to be considered emasculated but still overflow with manly hormones.

It was only when I was out of college did I begin to shave my hair. There was the cautious 1-inch length, testing the waters if I could pull off the “bad boy” look. I decided to have it shaved at a nearby salon. I knew it would be agonizing, so I looked forward to the good neck, shoulder, and back massage they offered after. I remember how my worry surged as I saw the hair fall frailly with each swipe of the electric razor. Now, I get why models in a certain reality show bawl at sudden makeovers. I would have done the same then.

Stepping out of the salon, I remember feeling a strange mix of worry and delight. I felt exposed and raw, just like a fish out of water. I expected gawking and jeering, even when people actually minded their own business. But there was that delicious freshness I couldn't deny, sensing the breeze glide across my near-naked scalp. Instantly, I felt lighter. It was as if a weight had been lifted. It was liberating to think that I was done with hour-long styling sessions, suitable shampoo shopping, and being consciousness about losing my tresses.

Shaving my hair proved to be a novelty to my friends too. Like a baby, I remember everybody “ooh-ing” and “ahh-ing” over the prickly stubble on my scalp; always touching and petting me, constantly asking what possessed me to shave my mane. Answers varied from the evasive, “I just felt like I needed a change,” to the blunt, “I’m losing hair; so this way, it’s not so obvious.” But nothing beats the time I likened it to a “hed-geh-hog”… But that’s another story.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Hair: A History I

I had hair once. When I was younger, I remember the fringe of hair that hung a little below my lashes. I remember pulling it down whenever I had to sit still. Restless, I would savor how the bristles tickled my cheek. I also remember braiding it, drawing them apart like a curtain, weaving the two bunches into my own version of a French braid. I even grew a tail, a thin cluster of longer hair at the back, considered by many as some paean to rock star glamor. Unfortunately, even that got braided as well. I was adamant that my helper go through the task of twining my tiny tail before I left for afternoon class.

Early on, I already had a penchant for aesthetics. I styled my hair in a one-sided fashion, sporting a long fringe in the front. When I did get to discover gel and its other variants, I tried shaping the fringe like a small cap visor. I remember loving the holding powers of gel, how it kept my hair in place. It annoyed me that each time, post-shampoo, my hair would puff up like a pot of ferns. Gel and pomade made me feel complete, slick and neat.

Then when other hair began sprouting in various nooks and crannies, my voice started to crack and deepen. I remember having the thickest hair on my head. I parted it right in the middle, happy that its ends framed my round face. I was happy that it kept abreast with the current boy band culture; especially that local trio of handsome, scrawny adolescents. But having thick hair had its own share of irritations. I had to contend with the occasional pimple, several bouts of dandruff, and unkempt moments.

The day came when my schoolmates began to notice a faint spot on my crown. It did give me some anxiety as I was aware that thinning hair ran in my genes. But I think I was more worried about the taunting. I was proud of my hair and felt it part of my persona. I refused that it be taken away. My mother began to worry also; and I remember we both tried to remedy that faint crown by adhering to local superstition and other myths. I had to be sure that my hair was not wet before going to bed, stayed away from caps, avoided early afternoon showers lest I wet any roaming entities, shampooed less, and shunned warm showers.

to be continued...