02 April 2011

Thank You For Drinking Gasoline With Me

(I wrote this in 2007, as another writing exercise. Having closed the old blog, I thought of publishing the piece here. Don't laugh as hard as I just did!)

Thank you for drinking gasoline with me. May the bartenders of CafĂ© Adriatico never call that a martini ever again. “Oh my god,” you said, smiling, “it does taste like gasoline, with a hint of puttanesca sauce. Or at least that's what you expect gasoline to taste like.” Not tight enough, I was slightly embarrassed by my choice, which does not mean that I wasn’t to blame, since I really ought to have studied the cocktail list more curiously. But there were formidable distractions all around us that evening, weren’t there? From the oval marble fountain on our left side came a childish jingle; we both wondered where the speakers were. A glittered man in a shiny gold intergalactic costume with a sort of antenna on his head was lurking nearby to frighten families promenading along Eastwood City Walk, which never fails to turn into somewhat of a posh carnival during holiday season. The powdered high school students whom father used to mistake as prostitutes for call center employees were there, too, using the word ‘like’ in their sentences to replace the commas, and then pushing each other playfully towards the Central Plaza for the Kuh Ledesma concert. Oh, the concert: we, too, were desperate to catch that. And so, contemplating liqueur amid the fluffy adult wonderland, I inadvertently ordered a glass of unleaded. But thank you all the same; it would have been a very dull birthday.

Thank you for drinking ice-cold bottles of San Miguel with me that velvet midnight. You paid me sweet attention, despite the presence of handsomer men on your periphery, and you promptly let me light your cigarette, despite the health hazards of smoking. And you whispered, whispered despite the surround sound that was blaring all that had gone wrong after the seventies. You kept drinking with me in a charming display of solidarity. Were you aware how unbelievably tired I was? That day, before our little rendezvous, I interviewed a source for a story, typed the transcript afterwards, wrote dozens of letters to friends, scoured the bookstore for a copy of Ethan Frome, played billiards with my holidaying cousins, and promenaded along Manila Bay. I thought that the beer would make me indefatigable—especially when taken in your company. It did not. I excused myself to go to the bathroom. On my way back, the world fluctuated violently and the dark became neon darkness. You witnessed me fall down under the weight of divine intoxication, once, twice, thrice, and I swear I heard you cry, “Mercy!” Mercy, indeed. But would you like to know what I was then about to tell you, if only I didn’t have to leave for the car park and remove myself from the vomit all over my Abercrombie and Fitch cargo pants? I was about to say thank you, thank you kindly for drinking ice-cold San Miguel with me. The year would have been utterly forgettable without tragedy or self-destruction.

Thank you for drinking Merlot with me, and for pleasantly surprising our party host with your mere presence. I forgot to buy him a present, you see, but reckoned that your coming along with me was enough, which in fact proved to be true. The view from the penthouse of the Greenhills condominium was beautiful; it held me in thrall. I gazed quietly at the impressive Manila cityscape right after leaving you at the round table to mingle with mutual friends from the university—artists and bohemians, directors and actors, advertising executives and vacationers from abroad, successful youth, all of them filled with congee calories and the heady goodness of red wine. Then they took photographs, many of which were of themselves with you, whom they might not see again for a long time. “I don’t want to take the spotlight,” you joked before our fashionably late arrival, “but I’m afraid it’s inevitable.” I was afraid, though, of some other inevitability: the usual prolonged exchange of pleasantries, not just with those other guests whom I didn’t recognize but also with people I knew very well. So thank you for doing my share of talking, for thus happily did I bask in my moonlit standoffishness. Thank you very much, even though this year there will decidedly be less to be thankful for, because, according to Jonathan Franzen, “the end of the binge is the beginning of the story,” at writing which I am no good.


  1. So brazenly you say it, Migs dear "at writing which I am no good". Audacious really. A statement for which you certainly deserve a nice ringing, singing smack. [wink - since we're so averse to emoticons].

    But she must be quite the princess to whom you proffer such glorious thanks!

    Wish you a fabulous new year my dear. I hope you fill reams with your 'no-good' verbiage... for I am a connoisseur of such terrifying prose.

  2. "...using the word 'like' in their sentences to replace the commas"---this made me laugh! I sometimes wonder like where did that come from? Same with 'd2 na me wer na u' in text messages.

    Sounds like she's an interesting drinking buddy. Make sure she'll take you home the next time you feel self-destructive.