Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Wanderer

Weight lifting activities ended at past midnight. A little less than two hours after I began my routine on a Monday night. With no place to go, and a mind that wanders off course, I thought of making a detour to Cubao and spend the rest of the "night shift" exploring the place on a weekday morning.

I hailed a jeep at V. Mapa still uncertain of pursuing the idea. It was spontaneous, and a little reckless given that everyone at home thought I was at the office. But there are moments like this, when that screw in my head goes a little loose, and so against reason, I indulged in my capriciousness and told myself that I was "soul searching."

But what a soul searching activity that was! My feet lead me to the doors of Starlites. A gay-friendly watering hole where the denizens of Cubao spend the nights belting out on stage. There was a bar stool at the center, a microphone, and two large flat screens flanking the stage. There are KTV rooms around the hall, and a porch that is less lighted next to the bar entrance. The place was not crowded, but it wasn't empty either. A glance at the patrons, and one can fairly assume the bar serves a niche market. The ones who don't mind going to bars wearing rubber slippers and jersey shorts; and the trannies, the boys who dress like women and speak with a falsetto voice.  

It didn't take long for the waiter to notice me sitting alone. When he approached my spot, I promptly asked for the menu. Since I don't drink on weekdays (I try not to), I asked for a can of pineapple juice instead. He returned to my table shortly after with a small bowl of spicy peanuts and an extra can of the juice. 

"Kuya, isang pineapple juice lang order ko." I insisted.

"Ganito po talaga dito, may minumum order." He then charged me 85 pesos for everything. I replaced the extra can of juice with San Miguel Light and my bill leaped ten pesos higher bringing the total to 95 bucks. I didn't complain.

The guests take their places at the middle of the stage, singing their heart out with love songs from past generations. I was talking to Tagay on Twitter about the place - the sullen atmosphere that pervades; the tambays who seem to care less if they have something to eat the next day; that strange feeling of looking like a loser who's out to spy on a lover. My online buddy had only one thing in mind: That I was out on a prowl and I'd most likely end up getting laid.

A lay. Was I pretending not to, and that, it was my motive all along?

I don't think so.

Truth is, I was searching. Searching for Dario, my old friend and ex-colleague who writes about the place. Searching, that I may spot my old self who gamely crashed places like Starlites.

Searching, for direction, for I regard myself as a floater at work, with no clear functions while the project I was asked to lead was put on hold. I was in no mood to get into trouble, and yet, there is no denial that this lack of clear purpose shows the shades I used to wear, when I used to be a chat agent, whose messy episodes at home, and at work afforded a life geared for a tailspin.

Not anymore.

And I guess this is the reason I found myself in Cubao at 1 am on a Tuesday morning: To have a taste of a life - a sordid one that is - should I let myself sink deeper while my career and home life is in suspended animation.

In the end, everything seemed so lucid, that I even deleted some updates on Twitter to keep others from learning where I had been. An hour after I arrived at the bar, and certain that my indulgence has been dealt with, I paid my bill and walked away leaving a half empty beer bottle as a remembrance. 

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