Wednesday, April 20, 2005

that's that

it's official: i am not going to have a column. not soon, anyway.

so i've decided to post what was supposed to be the first article in the columnthatdidnotcometopass. considering how the whole column scenario turned out, this piece is eerily spot on.

the good news is i meant every word. life is still sickeningly wonderful to me.


By Orange de Guzman

Is it becoming increasingly harder to have happy endings?

Just recently, I was watching the Discovery channel with Juancho, my 2-year-old nephew and his father. Since Juancho was old enough to see, his parents have been trying to protect him from inappropriate TV shows. After all, he still has the rest of his life to watch "The World’s Most Dangerous Animals Volume II." Anyway, that day, we chanced upon some feature on underwater creatures (or so we thought) and Juancho was beside himself with excitement when a clown fish showed up on screen.

“Look everybody! It’s Nemo!” (I have come to terms with the fact that my nephew talks like a cartoon character or, worse, one of those Barney kids.)

My brother-in-law and I happily agreed and we continued to watch the other ocean creatures with him. Without warning (or maybe the narrator was leading to it, but Juancho’s commentary was more interesting), the documentary showed black and white footages of warships in active battle.

“What’s happening?” my nephew asked, quite alarmed. The two adults in the room simultaneously let out a shout of horror and scrambled to change the channel. YOU try explaining the concept of war to a toddler.

Fortunately, the National Geographic channel had a special on reptiles. We were all intently watching some kind of lizard balancing on a narrow tree branch, when we heard the voiceover calmly saying: “. . . and the home of a tribe of CANNIBALS” and the video shifted to a group of half-naked men shrieking and dancing wildly around a fire. What next!? Can’t a 2-year-old safely watch adult documentaries without being interrupted by carnage anymore? We resignedly put the overused "Barney Live in New York!" CD in the player. I had a sinking feeling Barney was behind the documentary conspiracy.

It’s not just a TV phenomenon, unfortunately. Many real-life stories, no matter how trivial or significant, seem to go downhill.

Sam, one of my girlfriends, thought she was having the best day ever. She had to go to the Makati LTO office to retrieve her driver’s license, which was confiscated after she absentmindedly took an illegal U-turn while having a riveting chat with an interesting person (me).

As she was wearing her best corporate attire, accessorized with Oakley sunglasses on her head and a dazzling smile on her face, it was no surprise that she made a distinctive entrance. All eyes were on her and every one seemed to be giving her the red-carpet treatment.

“Miss, pasok na kayo dito! Papasukin nyo na si miss!”

“Saang commercial ka lumabas?”

“Kawawa ka naman. Mga pulis talaga, o! Tawagin nyo nga ang bisor!”

After much adulation and commiseration, someone finally retrieved her license. Much to Sam’s surprise, they didn’t give it to her straight away.

The person in charge stared at her license picture for what seemed like forever. “Nasaan ang authorization letter mo?”

A bit startled, Sam asked why she needed one when it was her own license.

“Sino ba itong nasa license?”

“Ako po!”

“Hindi,” the puzzled officer insisted, “kapatid mo ba ‘to?”

“Ako nga yan!”

A police officer then intervened: “Paki-check nga yan.”

Eventually, Sam’s license was passed from person to person, and each one painstakingly looked at the photo then back at the live Sam. Finally, after much discussion and careful consideration, the LTO gang reached a conclusion:

“Ahh. Hindi siya PHOTOGENIC!!!”

To Sam’s dismay, this proclamation was repeated thrice. Loudly. She sheepishly got her license back, dismounted from cloud nine, and dejectedly returned to her non-supermodel-ish office job.

Surprisingly though, I believe in good endings. I used to be a miserable, cynical person myself because . . . well maybe I just needed a hobby. I should’ve known though that I was going to snap out of that dark phase when I got to adulthood. Although I never admitted it, I probably had a strange inner upbeat person waiting to burst out (to the curious: no, that’s not my euphemism for pregnancy).

To prove that suspicion, I have to share one particularly regrettable adolescent experience reeking of (misdirected) positivism.

When I was 12 or 13, I had the chance to run for chairman of our grade school student council. We had three existing political parties, the names of which I have conveniently forgotten, to lessen the impact of the stupidity I will reveal shortly. In a flash of (totally absurd) inspiration, I proclaimed during one party meeting that I wanted to change our otherwise boring and meaningless party name. I wanted to be different – a real pacesetter and innovator! I wanted to infect people with my healthy, out-of-the-box attitude towards life and school government! So I changed our party name to: The Optimistic Party.

Let me pause a while to let you digest that and let the raucous laughter subside a bit.

I wish there were some excuse I could give for poor word choice, but honestly, I was too old to blame naïveté and too young to blame alcohol or a neurodegenerative disease. Looking back, my only culprit was a temporary departure from reality, making me believe that it was a clever move to change an established, nondescript party name. To add to my shame, I had to go to every classroom explaining the change of name and what the four-syllable adjective meant, as though my young listeners were interested in anything other than our homemade bookmark giveaways with optimistic bee drawings.

Needless to say, our party lost the election. On the bright side – and there’s always one – my family has a backup story to bring up when they feel the need to humiliate me. The point is it’s not beyond me to be a silver-lining kind of person (another important point I have to stress here is that nothing rhymes with “silver” or “orange”).

Let’s face it: sometimes having a perennially cheerful outlook is a waste of energy. You just don’t know when life decides to turn around and spit at your smiling face. Here’s the thing though: it’s ultimately better to be (dare I say it?) happy because – say it with me – life is just too (insert optional expletive here) short. It’s perfectly alright to laugh now and hope for brighter days ahead. Maybe, just maybe, the purple dinosaur with the psychotic frozen smile is on to something.

Oh and “purple” doesn’t rhyme with anything either. Just so you know.


Kwis said...

I luv it!!!

Anonymous said...

Now that's something to be happy about. As always your stories make me feel good and cheerful. :D

Anonymous said...

Tell your friend, Sam, that I've had a similar experience - this was on the way out at the NAIA after my first trip in Manila in 18 years. After one ID and "pat" check after another, I had one more to go through before I went to the boarding area. A woman inspector looked at my passport. That passport was nearing it's 10 year lifespan and I was using it for the last time before I renewed it. A lot can happen in 10 years. She suddenly made the comment, "Sir, anong nangyari sa inyo? Ang guwapo mo dito sa picture mo at ngayon ang taba mo na!" If it wasn't for the fact that she is part of the "security" personnel at the airport, my fist was at the firing position with the safety off. But I held back, smiled, and swipped my passport out from her paws. As if she was cure herself ... bitch ...

Jess said...

... by the way, that was me who made the last comment ... UGH! That security bitch still boils me ... never mind, I've already lost 40 pounds and ready to go 15 rounds against her ...