Yes, they’re practically strangers (except for Lee, the fabulous gayfriend that I’ve had since training days) and I’m not comfortable sharing personal matters with people I’ve just met, but something (might be the effect of guzzling alcohol after shift, but it’s just Tanduay Ice and I was not quite buzzed yet) in the air is making such situations bearable with this group so they were able to crack me open in no time.
Boss asked, “Ba’t ayaw mong tinatawag kang Mary? Gusto mo MG lang?”
“Ayoko po, masyadong feminine.” I only use that name on the phone. Oh, and the only person I have quietly given the permission to call me that is my crush from the escalation team. Just a quick story: One night during nesting, I saw him in the locker area. When he saw me he said, “Uy, si Mary.” I greeted him back, “Hello po.” And he said out of the blue, “Ang favorite song mo, Mary, your daughter…” he sang and then we both laughed. Continuation of the story and more encounters shall be narrated next time.
“‘Di ba girl ka naman?”
I nodded a little too eager I suppose.
“Nafi-feel ko naman eh,” he continued but things took an amusing turn and I suddenly heard him ask, “Hindi nga? Baka miyembro ka ng federasyon sa PUP?”
I shook my head and said “Straight po ako, mas straight pa sa ruler.”
And then, Lee countered, “Straight pa nga sa ruler, naging T-square naman.”
We laughed at the overly witty statement and I remarked, “Grabe ka talaga, Lee.”
And then, Lee conceded, “Oo girl ‘yan, andami nga niyang bet sa floor eh.”
At that point, I looked away and smiled. But Lee’s line only prompted them into asking, “Sino, sino?” As much as I would like to be secretive about it, it appeared like there’s no way for me to hide it, since someone from the team saw me swooning after seeing one of my crushes [the one from the escalation team] on our way back to the floor after lunch. So I just said, “Tanungin nyo na lang po si Kuya Ralley, kilala niya po ‘yun.”
“Sabihin ko ba?” Ralley said quizzically. “O sige, phone name na lang. The phone name is Raven.”
“Oh my God, si Marven? (Former) Teammate ko! O, imbitahan na ‘yan!” Then Boss showed me something on his phone—it was Raven’s cellphone number. Of course I didn’t get it and I just laughed. I don’t know what’s going to happen after that revelation but whatever. I got this.
One moment later, one of our girl teammates, who goes by the name of Sam, said, “MG, may tanong ako.”
I motioned for her to go ahead, even though I could already sense that she’s going to ask that question I was kind of, uh, dreading to hear.
“May boyfriend ka na?”
“‘yan din ‘yung gusto kong itanong sa ‘yo dati pa,” Lee said.
I shook my head.
“Bakit?” she forged on. As if it’s unnatural for a girl to be single.
“Hindi ko kailangan nun,” I replied, smiled, and looked away. I didn’t go into details—how I can’t see myself in relationships and how it’s getting harder and harder to break down the walls I’ve built around myself. I figured that the shorter the answer, the better. I didn’t see her reaction, or maybe I forgot to check. Nobody else seemed to react. But shortly before or after I answered, I overheard one of our guy teammates (the one who’s friends with my other crush) ask Sam, “Ano raw, wala raw siyang boyfriend?”
I cringed upon hearing that and I don’t know why. I don’t think I want to know why. Maybe it’s my body’s reaction to letting people know some part of me that I’ve been avoiding to discuss openly.
A moment of uncomfortable silence had passed and we moved on to a different topic altogether. We continued chugging our drinks and watching funny YouTube videos and exchanging call center stories in between. Meanwhile, Haikui’s still giving the Philippines a piece of its inexplicable wrath.
*Coldplay, The Scientist