Self’s Insatiable Curiosity

One of the things self made sure to do, right after getting back from Stanford and seeing niece, was call Dearest Mum in Manila. At the top of her agenda was this very important question:

“Mom, how old were you when you met Dad?”

Dearest Mum (who’d waited until about the eighth ring to answer the phone; self was about to give up when she heard the familiar, slightly peevish-sounding voice) thought for a moment, and then said: “18.”

Self’s follow-up question: “And where was your first date?”

Dearest Mum’s answer: “At the Luneta Hotel.” (There was a Luneta Hotel???)

“What?” self exclaims. “I always thought you met in New York. Wasn’t that where you lived?”

Dearest Mum replied: “Well, I used to come home for summer vacations. And, one summer, I met your Dad.” Then she continues, with a tinge of pride: “I’m the reason he decided to apply to Georgetown Law School.”

Ah, you see? Everything just gets curiouser and curiouser. Now self has a completely different picture of her Dad. She always assumed he applied to Georgetown Law because he was smart and ambitious. And that he just happened to bump into Dearest Mum during one of his frequent trips to New York.

But now self realizes that her Dad had a plan. And this plan involved the pursuit of Dearest Mum. So he must have been head-over-heels. And if Dearest Mum hadn’t been living abroad, it would have been extremely unlikely that Dear Departed Dad would have exerted himself to apply to Georgetown. Oh, he would most likely still have studied law, but probably at the Ateneo rather than at Georgetown.

Which brings us to another interesting fact, dear blog readers: Fr. Miguel Bernad, who opened self’s eyes to the glory of Shakespeare when she was still a very green freshman at the Ateneo, was also Dear Departed Dad’s English teacher. Isn’t that a trip?

Brain Cloud, Sunday, 9 March 2008: Drew, “The Blue Afternoon,” Niece G, and the Fifth Most Gorgeous Day

Self and hubby almost never get phone calls, not even from son. So, when the phone rang, around 1 PM today, we both jumped. Self was thinking: It must be son!

But the number had a 212 area code. A publisher? From New York? Could it be–? But why would they call on a Sunday? And how would they have gotten a hold of self’s home number? Self is not even remotely famous, after all (though, let’s not kid ourselves, self for one mad moment thought that she might be!)

The caller turned out to be Drew. The first thing he did was apologize for being so busy last week that he couldn’t call to discuss our grant proposal to the Creative Work Fund.

“It’s OK,” self told him. “I couldn’t get the application together in time.”

“But, don’t we have six more days?” Drew said. “Isn’t it due on the 15th?”

“No,” self said. “It was due on the fifth.”

And there followed a most depressing silence.

Anyhoo, after that, self decided she needed to do something nice to lift her spirits. So she picked up William Boyd’s novel, The Blue Afternoon, which is set in Manila during the Philippine-American War. Only, the novel begins in a very roundabout way and is taking an exceedingly long time to get to Manila. So, after a few pages, self decided she needed to do something else. So she picked up the phone and called niece G.

Niece G said she was in Green Library, cramming.

“Want to take a half hour break and have some gelato at Bravo Fono?” self asked.

But niece demurred. She really had too much work.

So, self thought, she’d call Sandy. But Sandy was painting her house.

Okey-dokey, self asked hubby. But he was doing the taxes.

So self decided to set out by herself. And, halfway to Palo Alto, she called niece G again and said, “Look, I’m going to be in Stanford to do some research at Green. So let’s meet at the coffee shop right outside and have a latte.”

And niece said, All right!

(What a liar you are, self!)

Anyhoo, self found parking about a mile away, and then walked very slowly (as she had decided to tote along, not only the Boyd novel, but also her journal, and various other magazines, and it was a very very hot afternoon). Self arrived at Green all sweaty-faced. She looked closely at the various co-eds reclining around the fountain, and made for a dark-haired woman in shades and a pink tank top. Self had almost reached this woman when her cell phone rang, and it was niece G.

“I’m coming, Tita!” she exclaimed. “I’m with my boyfriend in Meyer. I’ll be right there!”

Whew! That was close! So self sat on a bench and continued reading The Blue Afternoon. Apparently, the protagonist is female (Very clever, Mr. Boyd! Showing the reader how well you are able to get into the point of view of a woman!), 32 years old, and an architect. And, before self can read much further, niece G arrives.

And we line up at the cafe (even though she is already holding an iced moccha), and the line is about 20 people long. Niece says she doesn’t want anything — well, maybe just a bag of chips. And then self orders a banana creme milkshake (Bad, self! Bad!) and we settle down on yet another bench.

And then niece G starts telling self about how stressed she is, that she has to fly to London next week for a job interview.

“With what company?” self inquires.

“Oh, it’s an investment bank,” niece G says. “I’m only doing it because it will look good on my resume.” And then niece G pulls out a cigarette and makes self swear that she will not tell her parents that she smokes. And self is on the point of saying, Well, my husband smokes and I have inhaled second-hand smoke for over 20 years. But she bites her tongue. Instead, she inquires, “Isn’t Stanford a smoke-free zone or something? I wouldn’t like anyone to start yelling at us.”

And niece G says, indicating a very hip-looking young woman seated a few yards away, “That girl was smoking just a few moments ago.”

(She was??? Self’s powers of observation are exceedingly lame today.)

Then, niece realizes she doesn’t have a match. “I know!” she says. “I’ll ask that girl.”

And she walks right over. And the girl (who is very, very hip, with spiky hair standing straight up from her head, and at least three layers of t-shirts, all in different shades of grey) gets up without so much as cracking a smirk and lends niece G a light.

Then, when niece is calmly smoking, self reveals that she didn’t see girls who looked like that (Self meant the spiky-haired girl) when self was at Stanford.

“Oh, there’re lots of girls who look like that now,” niece G said. “She’s probably from the Art Department.”

“Or from the English Department,” self said. “When I was in the English Department, everyone wore black and was seeing a therapist.”

“Oh, Tita, everyone sees a therapist. For stress! The only one who doesn’t seem to suffer from stress is A!” Meaning, of course, the one and only fruit of self’s loins, who is down in San Luis Obispo consorting with the Christians at Cal Poly. Then, niece G goes on to tell self how she went to a counselor at Stanford, and the counselor told self’s niece that she was probably having “issues” from having lost her mother at a very young age (Niece was five).

“G!” self exclaimed. “Stop listening to that woman! She is crazy! You do not have issues over losing your mother! You are a normal Stanford undergrad!”

And niece then asked self if she experienced stress. And self said that she did, indeed. For instance, she had been so stressed that she totally fell apart and couldn’t complete a grant application. And she had received about 40 rejections in the last four months.

So, then, niece said she felt better. Then her cell phone rang and it was her boyfriend, wondering what was taking her so long. So we said good-bye, and self went into Green and pretended to do research, though all she actually did was stare at all the students and try to figure out how she herself looked when she was 22.

Then, self went home. And did a heroic job digging a hole that was at least two feet deep, all in order to accommodate her newest rose, a Blanc Double de Courbet (and hubby better not forget to water it while self is in Tel Aviv, because it took self a full two hours to dig that damn hole!)

Then, self, like the good little wife-y she is, commenced to cook dinner (lamb chops). And she snipped some rosemary from her garden (like Martha Stewart) and then had the wild idea of pouring Christian Brothers brandy over the chops, just to see what they would taste like. And self is really, really excited to eat now, but she has to wait for hubby to get back from walking the dogs.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

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