Some thoughts last December 12, 2013. A few have been changed. I am a frustrated writer.
“What to do next?” I ask myself after strolling around Greenbelt 3. With a pretzel on my hand, I keep on walking without a destination in mind, then I halt when a sign catches my attention. “Php 50 on all drinks! The Longest Happy Hour!”, I look up to check the name of the resto-bar- Spicy Fingers-then I smile.
“Not bad.” I muse. I go straight inside, and choose a table located at the inconspicuous part of the bar. A waiter comes by, and gives me the menu.
“How long does this happy hour last?” ask, tilting my head to look at his face.
“Until 8 pm, ma’am.” He answers curtly.
I check my watch, it says 6:30 pm, “Can I have…… Vodka 7?”
“Ofcourse.” he smiles.
“Can I have your meal menu?” I ask. “I’m not starving but I need something to munch” I think out loud.
“Here it is ma’am.” he hands the meal menu to me.
“Can I have my vodka 7 first-” I check his nameplate subtly, “Jay?”
He chuckles a bit realizing he is still standing in front of me like a faithful butler. “Of-course, Ma’am.”
“Thank you.” I smile at him sweetly. When he is out of my sight, I take out my pack of cigarettes and light one, I take a long drag and exhales dramatically, as if I am seeing my future in the puff of smoke.
“Hakuna Matata.” I say under my breath. I’ve always loved that mantra. “Hakuna Matata.” It means no worries. Childish as it is, but it keeps me going.
It has been crazy the past few days at work, and I need this moment. Getting drunk is not part of the plan, all I fantasize now is to be still and stop thinking about everything. About life, in general.
The alcohol should do the work.
It should be easy.
I look around, the place is still half-full, (I would have said, half empty but I didn’t want to be thought as a pessimist.) There are two pretty ladies in front of me, totally enjoying their conversations, and a group of foreigners with their Filipina girlfriends at the other side of my table. Great. I am the only one who is alone, and I don’t mind.
I love solitude.
I am almost half my cigarette when my drink arrives.
“Do you have peanuts, Jay?” I remember to ask, I can’t decide what to order. I am not that hungry, yet.
“Ofcourse Ma’am, I’ll get a bowl of peanuts, on the house.” he winks.
“On the house, huh?”
“Just don’t tell the other table.” He jokes. “It’s only for special guests.”
I laugh at his wit.
“Well, thank you.” I say, my smile widens. I take a sip of my drink and wince a bit, tasting the strong alcohol. “Not bad for a 50 peso-drink” I brood.
Jay comes back with my bowl of peanuts, I thank him, then he leaves.
There are 3 flat screen televisions inside the resto-bar, the TV in front of me is showing a game of Rugby, and the other two at the wine bar section are airing the local news.
My eyes are focused on the news, there is an update about the typhoon coming. The weather man said, Cebu is already in Signal No.2, and it is slowing down there, taking its time.
Earlier today, my mom told me it wasn’t that strong as they expected, so I am not really that worried, the funny thing about it- it is raining hard in the other part of this country, but here in Manila, it is windy- yes, but there is no sign of typhoon. The weather is too perfect to be true, and I enjoy it.
The Weather news is done and is followed by some showbiz news which clearly I have no interest of, I shift my gaze to the TV in front of me nonchalantly. I’m not familiar with the game of Rugby, and I think it is more interesting to watch girls playing Rugby rather than boys. Boys are boring. Always are, always will.
I take another sip of my drink and starts nibbling the peanuts, while fixing my gaze at the monitor in front of me, trying to understand the game. It is a crazy game, I finally concluded. It feels like there are no rules in this game. There are two teams, The White Team and The Blue Team, my heart goes for The White Team. After minutes of watching it, I still can’t get how it is being played.
I give up when I realize it’s impossible for me to comprehend the rules just by watching it, and finally decided to order something to eat.
I order their Seafood Paella and an additional drink, but this time a mug of draft beer. The place is starting to get crowded, but not too crowded for my taste. I can easily tell the huge similarities and differences between being in the coffee shop and being in the bar.
- – When I am having coffee, all I want to do is read and listen to my playlists, and be carried out somewhere, definitely not where I am.
– but at the bar, all I need to do is be still, and enjoy the present, the place, the stillness, the invisibility. It is impressive to watch people talking animatedly at each other, flirting and maybe some, drowning their sorrows with alcohols.
- – Obviously, both drinks are stimulating, but with different side effects. With coffee, it keeps you awake, with beers/alcohols- they definitely help you fall asleep. Forget- at least for the moment.
- At the coffee shop, everything seems melancholic, but at the bar, feels like everything is alive Everyone’s chattering endlessly.
My list goes on, as I enjoy the last drop of my Vodka 7. I reach for my lighter and light my second cigarette for the night.
I notice someone is staring at me, he smiles when I look at him. I hold the gaze, sizing him up, and look away. One thing I learn from years of being alone at the coffee shop, if you don’t want company, never return a smile from a stranger at the other table, and always bring an extra lighter- it always works. I avoid his gaze and turn my attention back to the Television.
My paella arrives with my beer. I start eating with gusto totally oblivious of the people around me. I am even surprised that I am this hungry, then I remember I have forgotten lunch earlier. I was invited by my colleagues, but I declined, as I was busy finishing a report.
I take a gulp from my beer, and eat in silence. I order another mug of draft beer when something catches my attention.
I notice him when he first arrived, but I chose to ignore him all through out my meal. First- he looks unsociable (which is usually my type!), second- there is something right and wrong about him that until now I can’t decipher, and third, I know him from somewhere. So to make my life easier, I just pretend. But with him glancing at me every time I put the fork in my mouth, it is annoying and at the same time, it is really weird, but he makes my heart beats faster than its normal speed.
Jay turns up with my draft beer, when I see him standing, still his gaze fixed on mine. At that moment, my heart goes haywire. I know he is heading to my table, and I seriously don’t know what to do, by impulse, I took my cigarette out and lit it.
“Is this seat taken?” he asks with confidence only a king can muster.
I can’t find any word to say, I sit there in front of him with my mouth agape, and the cigarette hanging in between lips. He takes the cigarette, lights it, takes a drag, gives it back to me and smiles.
“Are you okay?” he asks, with that evil smile shining in his eyes. I have this feeling he knows his effect on me, and I hate myself for it.
Before I can say anything, he takes the chair and sits in front of me.
“I didn’t say you can sit there.” are my first words, it sounds rude to my, but it seemed the right thing to say. He is just too sure of himself and I hate it- but to my surprise, he laughs- a hearty laugh.
“Oh sorry.” He says and stands up, his eyes still fixed on mine. “I apologize for being rude, may I seat now?”
I watched him getting settled on the chair in front of me, finally meeting his gaze.