Friday, March 27, 2009

love three-logy

id and i were rummaging through storage boxes last night for my copy of the watchmen which she wanted to borrow when i stumbled into this piece i have written decades ago – back when i was still (gasp!) straight. it’s the story of what happened between me, mon and lisa (not their real names) who after all the history, evolved to become two of my closest friends. anyway, this is nostalgia...

i always thought that maintaining a relationship between two people was tough. when i found myself in a three-way set-up, i knew that i was in deep shit.

it all started harmless enough. three friends whose bond was built by common interests. in the beginning all encounters were determined by the fact that we belonged to the same student organisation. back then, lisa and mon never struck me as relationship material. i particularly detested mon. he called me his nemesis.

the nerve.

yet between the three of us, the best idea, plan or endeavour always resulted. with a lot of fuss maybe. but we always felt it was worth it.

for years thee intimacy was deepened by shared experiences – joy, sorrow, and yes, even heartbreaks. for some reason we broke up with our most serious relationships (till then) almost at the same time. we were thankful we were on the same boat. loveless creatures whose consolation was the comforting shoulder of friends.

then the plot thickened. mon started flirting with the idea of courting lisa who, in turn, was too preoccupied with this huge crush on me to notice. i was dating a lot of people and was too busy to care. not an unusual situation and definitely tenable had we kept it to ourselves.

we did not.

it was a night we were marking our formal departure from the organisation where we met and became friends. in drunken camaraderie, we played truth or dare. before we knew it, the cat was out of the bag.

mon proposed to lisa. lisa proposed to me. i was ill-prepared, i was eyeing another girl outside of our small circle. i rejected lisa’s proposal. she cried hard. she cried on mon’s shoulders.

they started dating exclusively and eventually went steady. i went steady with another girl. anyone would have thought this was where the end credits roll for a totally Hollywood-esque ending. and they lived happily ever after.


in less than a year they broke up. it was not long before i also broke up with my girl.

suddenly, we found the joy of each other’s company again. we had wholesome, social dates that were never meant to be complicated. like lost friends, we found we had a lot of catching up to do. we were basking at the maturity the time and distance have lent us. the affection increased with the regularity of these dates. we were never happier.

the closeness started canceling out people outside our unlikely trio. no one else got it. it was just the three of us that really understood.

at one point we watched the movie threesome. it dawned on us that we were starting to act like the confused characters of the movie. while the movie was enlightening, it also scared the living daylights out of us. we were getting too close. the situation was getting more complicated than we wanted it to be.

we tried to define what was between us in a vain effort to clear the air and found ourselves facing a blank wall. call it recklessness of youth, curiosity or just plain stupidity, we carried on. throwing caution to the wind, we continued seeing each other, always pushing the limit of what was acceptable in each rendezvous.

it would be hard to imagine for anyone who hasn’t been refused by a motel how embarrassing a three-way semi-relationship can be. it is trifle superfluous to enumerate similar situations that constantly reminded us our being together can never be. suffice to say, mon’s mother catching us in our underwear, sleeping in his bed, arms around each other – took the cake.

as lara flynn boyle said in the movie, this is not normal.

there was never a conscious decision to quit but we drifted apart a few months after. we were all busy with our work and i was assigned to work in camiguin for a few months. we tried to maintain a facade of normal abnormalcy and tried to see each other when we can. each one was considered the closest friend of the other, after all.

life went on.

one night i was in manila, they came and picked me up from my office to have dinner. i was struck how the same time and distance that once drew us closer at that point set us apart. tactlessly, i remarked on how pathetic the once meaningful ‘friendship’ has been reduced to a series of uncomfortable silences. they looked at me with equal parts of anger and hurt but they knew what i was talking about.

we recognised that we had a relationship. and we decided it was time for it to end.

this is one break up i will always remember. up to that point we were grappling on an appropriate manner to regard what was between us. it was apparent that none of us knew the rules in this game. we all winged in the best of our ability what was acceptable and what was foul. in the end we all lost by default.

looking back, i wonder what would have happened had we been living in a society where mores are not as defined. i flinch at the idea of how good it was, how it felt so right and how hopelessly doomed. it’s a society where things that don’t fall under standard definition are wrong. we were wrong.

but i refuse to stop at that. i don’t want to vindicate ourselves by passing the buck to the ills of society. with the benefit of hindsight, society’s standards weren’t the biggest stumbling blocks. i realise it was our own fear of the unknown that made us give up. the stakes were too high and gambling on emotions at a high risk of losing did not seem a serious and sane option.

in the end, there was nothing but bitter resignation. in the tradition of our generation, we raged against the dying of the light but we found our anger wanting. all i can hope for is that we can melt the chilling drifts, emerge from the darkness and find our way to the warmth of our friendship, that surely must still be there.

maybe someday.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

remembering the tinman, part 5

march 2002, letter to g

dear g

thanks for the advice.

know what? a few days after, i'm totally over M(!). of course, i still remember that fateful night especially when I can still smell him in my bed and my pillow. but given a certain degree of rational perspective, i know that there is no use torturing myself on the why's and the what for's.

having said that, i feel i also owe it to myself to try to explain why i was overreacting. not to justify, for indeed, what's the use? but more to try to get off clean. you know, straighten it out in my mind. maybe because i want you (as my bff) to understand a little what i'm going through. or maybe i want to rehearse what i will say to E once i decide to tell him all about it (which i will in time). either which way let me try to explain.

i think i've already discussed in full what i am going through professionally. what i haven’t explained yet is how this has affected me and the way i interact with people here.

the truth is i can’t explain what is happening to me. except perhaps as any other person who finds himself in the role of a stranger in a foreign land. even my new friends are hours or days away from where i am. at this point, i need to wait for the weekend before i can speak to a friend.

do you know what it’s like to have no one to talk to?

it’s like nothing that is happening to you is real. sometimes i find myself just wanting to scream just because nobody is listening.

and this has such an effect on me as a person. most of the volunteers here think i’m an "introvert". isn’t it funny? introvert! me?! i realised it’s because i have gotten used to not speaking to anyone that even when i am amidst people, i still keep quiet. sometimes i feel suffocated if people speak all at once. all the while, i was thinking, i was once the life of the party, whatever happened to me? weird, right?

you know what? i have been taken to further isolating myself by frequently going to the abandoned train station 30 minutes walk away from where i live. it was built way back when the plantation was a center of commercial and social activity. now the trains don’t even pass by anymore and the station is all vandalised and crumbling. it looks like all the lost hopes and dreams of the community here are captured by the station that has not welcomed a guest for years and the track that forgot the heat of metal running against metal. there i find peace.

in this state of mind, M found me. i guess when M came i was just so hungry for any kind of human contact. and when he showed me tenderness, its like a showing an addict who’s dying for a fix some narc that is for free. no wonder i sounded shrill and out of control.

but i'll be o.k. now that i have been told i will be re-assigned to the city, away from the oppressive silence of the plantation, i can finally see the light. even now i can feel changes in me. it’s good because i already worry about myself sometimes.

i’ll park my pen here.


ps. M called. we agreed to spend some time together in cape town last week of this month. i told him i’d rather discuss things with him when we see each other. don't worry, i'll play it cool. i understood your message loud and clear.

Friday, March 6, 2009

beyond watching the watchmen

last night i embraced my inner straight boy by being a comics dork – lining up for the first night to watch the watchmen (i even considered dressing up as one of the characters), only to be sneakily sabotaged by dr. manhattan’s floppy flaccid blue prick.

ok it’s not comics. it’s even listed as TIME’s best 100 novels of all time. but one look at the yellow & black cover plus the coloured illustrations with conversation balloons inside and my friend id gives me ‘the look’ (the one given to hopeless men) and says, “aren’t you supposed to be old enough to read something without pictures?”

still, watchmen was what got me to graphic novels. now i have a small but quite respectable loot including from hell, superman for all seasons, death of superman, 300, wanted, sin city volumes 1-7 and stardust (although, the last one is an illustrated story – there is a difference.) you may raise your eyebrow to a level higher than bebe gandanghari’s because they now all fall within the ‘tv/movie tie up’ category. but then again i can hardly stop the hollywood agents from transforming art to cheesy money makers, can i?

i digress.

so there i was, braving the long lines in front of the gay’teway cineplex till. shifting my weight from one foot to the other because i was so excited i needed to pee all the time. not because there was so much cruising in the cinema lobby, silly - because the trailers were really good. to get to this point, i left my boss’ mouth hanging open when I said no to his request for me to re-send that one last email (you know, the one he didn’t read and now it’s my fault) and convinced jp it was a cool movie, he had to go. it was going good.

we got the tickets with time to spare for a quick beer at café adriatico downstairs before the show. when we came up for the show, there was time enough to go to the loo for a pee. when we went to our seats i carefully inspected the terrain for toddlers or jologs who might insist on imposing their noise while I was watching my movie. clear. i was on a roll.

all was right in my world (the opening credits was a killer) until dr. manhattan appeared with his swinging blue cock. suddenly, the (straight) couple next to me started sniggering whenever the offending appendage made an appearance (which is – by rough estimate - about a quarter of the movie).

suddenly the movie seemed all too ridiculous.

don’t get me wrong, a built, ripped, buck-naked and shaved billy crudup (or whoever was his body double) in blue is not exactly appalling. and I’ve always found soft cocks endearing in their vulnerability. but how can i take his existential pronouncements seriously when there are people around me who can’t get over his incandescent flopsy?

the movie ended with me feeling cheated.

i had the urge to rummage through my graphic novel collection, looking for clues why i found this one so precious. and there, (edited from the movie) I found my dr. manhattan again when he said…

‘The world is so full of people, so crowded with these miracles that they become commonplace and we forget... I forget. We gaze continually at the world and it grows dull in our perceptions. Yet seen from the another's vantage point. As if new, it may still take our breath away.’

go watch the movie and try not to be distracted by the naked moviestar playing radioactive-nuclear-disaster-survivor-turned-superhero. better yet, read the graphic novel.

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