It was a few minutes before midnight. I had indulged in sisig, stuffed tofu, margaritas, and laugh-out-loud conversations at Greenbelt with my college friend Grich. Walking along Ayala, we were faced with the fact that the underground pedestrian crossings in the business district are already closed by that time. Two girls seemed to have materialized from nowhere and were walking coolly to our side of the street. Okay, where did they come from? We figured we could just cross the street like they did. Desperation makes people crazier, if not braver.
When we reached the other side, we suddenly realized… Oops! Iron fence hugging the sidewalks. We then remembered that these parts of the city are anal-strict about which parts you’re allowed to get on and off the bus, cross the street, etc. We decided to dodge cars (that were driving too close to the sides) and walk along the street until we get to where the fence ends. Dodge. Walk. Piece of cake. There had to be some opening somewhere. Some men crossed the street after us. One by one, they just vaulted over the iron fence as if it was as easy as farting. Geez, girl, can we do this? Laughter. I was in a silk blouse, skinny jeans, and 3-inch wedges. Grich was wearing a striped top with a lacy neckline, denims, and uh, stilettos. Great.
I didn’t know it then, but according to Grich, one of the guys had this smug look on his face as he looked at us from the other side of the fence. He then smirked and said, “You can’t do it. The cops will get you.” That really got to Grich, so she told me that it was okay; she could manage to climb over. I went first. The grillwork was such that the only possible foothold was the same height as my chest. (True, I’m below petite at 5-ft, but hey, I had on 3 inches more, so that was high still.) The top railing was just half a foot above the foothold, so the only way you can hold on to the railing (and climb over at the same time) is to bend over really low in exactly the same fashion you would during an annual physical exam.
Okay. Climbing was the easy part. It was definitely less embarrassing than having the MD check for skin tags down your back door. When I was already up there, though, and in a rather awkward position, I should say, I couldn’t figure out what to do next. The world stopped turning. Time froze. Suddenly, I knew what I had to do. CATWOMAN! Meee-ow. I pushed my body forward, let go of the railing, and the pavement rose up to meet me. I landed—hard—on the ground. Next character. One of the Charlie’s Angels! I rolled over… one more time… and rose to my feet with hands on my hips. The look on Grich’s face was priceless. We broke into laughter right away. Thud! Shoot! Is that my phone? More laughter. Lucky for Grich, though, there was this gentleman just a few meters away from us. Actually, when I was doing my Angel stunt, I saw a vision of him trying to reach out to me, only that he was whirling.
So, in the end, my stiletto-heeled girl gracefully threw one leg after another over the fence, while the guy held her by the arm. Then she slid down over to my side like liquid gold. Witch! We were laughing so hard, I’d say we half-crawled toward the bus stop. (After we splurged at Greenbelt, we were already feeling too cheap to hail a cab.)
We exchanged our “text-text, okay?” and we got on separate rides. As I took my seat, I found out that one of my wedges had a faint scratch on the strap.The memory of how I got it threatened to send me into another laughing fit. Then my phone—it’s still alive!—started beeping with messages. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, RACH!
Four hours before that, we met up at Powerbooks. I was at my favorite spot, facing the Bestseller walls. I told Grich that the book we’re going to write together would be up there someday. But before we could daydream about our book signings, I remembered that I had to find an ATM and get cash. The machine was located in that part of Greenbelt with a bit of dramatic lighting, so I ended up trying to push my card into the receipt slot. “Early signs. Declining eyesight,” Grich chuckled. After I had pocketed my cash, we proceeded to the terrace, where restobars were. “It was right here,” Grich murmured, as she scanned the place where a Chinese restaurant now stood. “Third floor, miss,” a waiter said. Fading memory.
We finally found Krokodile Grill, and as the servers placed our orders on our table, Grich said, “Rache, you pray over the meal.” She was kidding, right? Something in her expression told me she wasn’t. She had sensed my hesitation, so she said, “just the Prayer Before Meals.” Bless this food… Oh, Lord… we pray (long pause)… make it safe by night and day? What? Grich was muffling her laughter, as she took over, “Bless this meal that we partake from Thy bounty, through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.” Oh gosh. I think what I tried to say were words on “God Bless Our Home” signs that people hang on their front doors. I’ve totally forgotten. Usually, when I take my meals, I just say, wow, thank you, Lord. Grich had found a way to make another joke. Then she saw the hot sauce. DEMON brand. “Rache, do you remember the Satan joke?” What? Oh, yeah! Fits of laughter. Sorry, I can’t tell you the joke. It’s a really private one.
As the hours went by fluidly, we had already made up stories about almost every table. Our favorite characters were the rowdy bunch of international school kids right next to us. There’s this pretty girl who’s actually very smart, but she wants to be cool, so she channels Paris Hilton instead. There’s this African-Americankid who was very rude to us, so we made him out to be someone who’s really good deep inside. But then, he thinks that people expect him to be a badass, so he goes out of his way to fit the stereotype. We were close to completing our stories, except for one. There was this Japanese-looking girl, who was so quiet you’d think she was invisible. So we said that she’s a ghost. She had always wanted to be a part of that crowd when she was alive. Her death didn’t matter to those other kids, but she couldn’t care less, because now that she’s dead, she’s finally with them. All the time. Grich started imagining more morbid things, so we stopped. We joked that the two men behind us were novelists and were thinking of turning us into their own characters. Oh, and that they were actually lovers. Nice. Where is Ged? Grich and I agree that we miss Ged in all of these.