He was the strong, silent type. He sat behind me during Theology class. He was an irreg, just like me, but he preferred to blend in. I, on the other hand, had a hand that kept shooting up whenever there was recitation. He rarely smiled. His longish, disheveled hair, offbeat clothes, and almost permanent scowl gave me the impression that he’d rather be left alone.
It was during one of those dull moments in class when I finally got the chance to talk to him. We finished discussion early and the only topic of debate was who’d get to photocopy the review materials. I turned around and asked him the second-most frequently asked query to schoolmates you barely know, “Anong course mo?” (“Anong name mo” would be the top question.) He answered “Accountancy.” I automatically gave him my follow-up question for Accountancy majors, “Buhay ka pa?“. He smiled and said he was barely making it through. He disclosed that he was a transferee from CEU (nag ober da bakod kumbaga), and he really wanted to study Library Science. My eyes lit up at that. It isn’t everyday that you get to meet people whose true calling is in books. He found it refreshing that I did not roll my eyes when I found out he wanted to get lost in the dusty world of the Dewey Decimal System. Obviously, he liked literature. We swapped favorite titles and I discovered that we actually had a lot in common. We were both Nick Joaquin fans. From there, our conversation moved on to movies (he also liked Y Tu Mama Tambien, YES!) and musicales. I was obsessed with Phantom of the Opera, he adored Rent. We both agreed that Chicago was smashing. Unabashedly, he told me that he found me a very interesting person and I basked in the compliment eagerly. Our classroom relationship improved after that. His scowl would break into a smile whenever I’d wave at him or crack a joke. I did not talk to him frequently, though. I did not want him to think I was coming on to him. He was so careful with his words and I did not want him to get culture shock as I can swear like a drunken sailor. And frankly, I was getting rather confused. I was in a relationship with someone but I was starting to think that I like him. I’ve never felt that at ease with anyone after only five minutes of chit-chat. I found myself admiring his fine manners and his way of texting me in impeccable Filipino without sounding like he was trying to be Balagtas. His aloofness was a challenge. Dare I say it? It was a turn-on, even. I invited him to try out for the school paper and he agreed only if he’d get to write articles and hang out with me all the time. I liked the idea. I looked forward to finding out more about him.The next logical step was to exchange Friendster accounts, we did. Now, my Friendster profile resembles a promotional poster of Laffline Comedy Bar with Paolo Alvarez and I doing every lewd, scandalous, (insert any derogatory adjective here) known to man s0 I was a little wary giving out my e-mail address to people for fear that they might clamor for a membership in my already-full “PAMELA THE SHE-MAN” fans club. Yet I was not the least bit hesitant giving it to him. He declared that he was excited to get to know me more and this prodded me to approve his request immediately. Frankly, I wanted him to know me better too. It was on a Saturday night, September 22nd to be exact, that we were able to undress each other… Figuratively. (What are you thinking you naughty dog you!) We were sending text messages back and forth and he finally commented on my pictures. He found them hilarious but he didn’t think he’d get any satisfaction from teasing me since it seemed as if I enjoyed posing for every humiliating picture taken. I told him this was true and since my cadet training days, I’d outdo my gay co-officers on who gets to look like a drag queen. Then came the message that I wasn’t expecting… “Oo nga eh, patok na patok yung mga pix mo especially yung pa-FHM. Gwapo ba tong bektas (bading in gay lingo) na to? Matagal-tagal na rn kasing tigang ang buhay pag-ibig ko.” I nearly dropped my cell. OMG! He was referring to Paolo, and based on his message, he’s well… ahh… you know…. But i didn’t want to jump into conclusions so I quickly sent him a reply, “Huh? Bakit? Bading ka ba???”
Major DUH! Not only was he gay, but he was also waaaayyyyy out of the closet! He was flattered that (from here onwards, every italicized word is used to indicate terms which he used) he still wasn’t “effem” eventhough amoy na amoy na malansa ang dugo niya. When I told him that I was actually contemplating if I liked him, he answered that he also felt the same and thought that ako na ang babaeng magpapabago sa kanya pero grabedad BLASPHEMY yun at kukulog at kikidlat kapag natuloy yun. It was on this evening that I realized I should have listened closely to the hints that would’ve clued me in on his identity. Lover of books? His library was teeming with gay lit from David Sedaris’ Me Talk Pretty One Day to the Ladlad Anthologies! He has Ladlad 1 and Ladlad 2 by the way! Likes Y Tu Mama Tambien? He was crushing on Gael Garcia Bernal the same way that I was! Muy caliente naman ang hombre! Adores indie films? Mas marami nga namang man-to-man scenes ang Sundance Film Festival entries kaysa Academy Award-winning movies! I should’ve figured out his sexual orientation by the time he told me he knew all the songs of Rent! How did that slip past my gaydar which I’ve always prided myself upon until that fateful night. Then again, how was I to know that the deep, menacing scowl he always sported was an attempt at Angelina Jolie’s pout?! How was I to know that his longish hair was not a sign of rebellion but a sign of wanting to be the next Pantene girl?! How was I to know that he and I had EVERYTHING in common including preference in men?! AAARRRGGGHHHH!!!! ANDREW SALUT! ANDREA KA PALANG BRUHA KA!!!!