The Call

The call came a few days ago. From Dearest Mum, her voice breathless and sweet: “Hi, Bachy” (which, for those of you dear blog readers not in the know, is an abbreviated form of a word that in Tagalog means “Fatty”, my appellation all through grade school, high school, college in the Philippines) “just calling to find out how you are.”

Self thought back to the last time Dearest Mum called to find out how self was doing. She decides it must have been over a decade ago.

Self thought, not too charitably: she probably just wants to find out if I already picked up the package she sent with her friend. And since self already had her hands full with playing the role of gracious host to ex-classmates from Assumption Convent, she was in no mood to add further to her “To Do” list.

But question of when to return Dearest Mum’s call stayed at the back of self’s mind all week, and so finally this evening, self screwed up her courage, picked up the phone and dialed her Dearest Mum’s number in the Philippines. The phone rang and rang, and self was on the point of hanging up when she heard Dearest Mum’s breathless voice: Hello? Hello?

There followed self’s usual lame greeting: “Oh, hi, Mom, it’s me.” Then, stumbling explanation (incredible, dear blog readers: self is so articulate in class, on podiums, at readings, but when listener is Dearest Mum, self finds herself uttering inanities): “I’m just returning your call, the one of a few days ago? Sorry it took a while for me to get back to you, but Connie and Lucy are visiting and I’m driving them around.”

Dearest Mum responds: “Is Connie staying with YOU? I thought I told you to bring her to Tito Mike’s.”

Self replied that Connie was fine. (Perhaps self should explain, dear blog reader. From time to time, people from out of town will call and ask to stay with self, and self is particularly nervous when caller is one from her past. Because she lived in a huge house in Manila, and here she lives in a teensy weensy house, so teensy that Dearest Mum refuses to stay there)

Then, subject turns to Dearest Mum’s Bank of America problem. Has self solved it already?

Then self has to explain that she teaches everyday, she had to pick up ex-classmate from the airport, and has been driving to the City to meet the other classmates, etc. etc. But even while self is enumerating all the reasons why she has not as yet solved Dearest Mum’s bank problem, self knows, deep down in her heart, that none of this really matters. Not, at any rate, to Dearest Mum.

Dearest Mum says: Bring the papers to Tito Mike. HE’LL do it for me, if you won’t.

At which point, self tunes out completely, starts humming under her breath, and says uh-huh to everything. Eventually, Dearest Mum says, “Do it!” and says she really can’t talk further, she has to be elsewhere. Self wonders whether it’s a bridge game, or a luncheon, or perhaps a reception for some visiting dignitary. Self hangs up so fast she wonders if Dearest Mum has actually finished speaking.

Then, self collapses on the couch. She tells hubby: “I think I’ll go to sleep already.”

“What?” hubby exclaims. “But it’s only 7:30!”

Oh — ha ha ha ha! It is? Why does it feel to self as if it is late, and why is she so tired? After all, all she did today was bring Connie back to SFO, meet Lucy and Bob and Calista at Peet’s on Broadway in Redwood City, take them on a quickie tour of downtown Redwood City, then follow up with another quickie tour, this one of downtown Palo Alto. After all that, self drove Lucy et. al. to house of ex-classmate in Saratoga. That was all self did.

Suppose she should try forcing her eyes open for another two or three hours. That way, she won’t find herself awake, staring into the 2 A. M. darkness. Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.


  1. Kathleen said,

    October 14, 2007 at 4:03 pm

    When you are driving your visitors around, do you feel that they really APPRECIATE all you do for them? When one has lived here in the land without maids and drivers for a long time, it seems an insurmountable obstacle to host people as though we were back in Manila with the whole “at your service” infrastructure in place. I hope they appreciate your efforts!

    My experience is a mixed bag. Some do, some don’t.

  2. October 15, 2007 at 3:19 am


    I’m so bad, I made my ex-classmate take the Caltrain to the city yesterday! I spent half an hour prepping her about schedules, how to buy a ticket, etc. I think she *survived* 🙂

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