Sunday, September 26, 2010

All The Sad Young Men

Stumbled across this song while looking for some old standards;

Upon hearing it, I was just struck by how the song seemed to speak to gay men in particular, although there is no obvious indication in the lyrics to support this feeling.

At any rate, I came across the video above while looking for a nice version to accompany this post (I first heard Jane Monheit's, then Roberta Flack's, before I thought of looking through YouTube and came upon the male vocalist versions. There are several beautiful renditions - this one is a soulful jazz take on it - but I chose the one above for the video, as well.)

Seems like I wasn't the only one to think it was a ballad.

Anyhow, for a song written in 1958, it's still strangely timeless, and for me, pointedly resonant.

For those of us who seek solace in places filled with bright lights and thundering music. Cold comfort in a bottle. A touch of what feels like love in the arms of strangers.

Or maybe it's just for the weary.

Like me.

Sing a song of sad young men, glasses full of rye
All the news is bad again, kiss your dreams goodbye 
All the sad young men, sitting in the bars 
Knowing neon nights, missing all the stars 

All the sad young men, drifting through the town 
Drinking up the night, trying not to drown 

All the sad young men, singing in the cold 
Trying to forget, that they're growing old 

All the sad young men, choking on their youth 
Trying to be brave, running from the truth 

Autumn turns the leaves to gold, slowly dies the heart 
Sad young men are growing old, that's the cruelest part 

All the sad young men, seek a certain smile 
Someone they can hold, for just a little while 

Tired little girl, does the best she can 
Trying to be gay, for a sad young man 

While a grimy moon, watches from above 
All the sad young men, who play at making love 

Misbegotten moon shine for sad young men 
Let your gentle light guide them home tonight 
All the sad, sad, sad, young men 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Why Is No One Rehhhh-dyyyy?

Oh, and Emily?


That's all.

"Sometimes under-preparation is very good, because it instills fear and fear is galvanising. It makes you break out of yourself. If you're prepared, then you think you're ready, and if you think you're ready, then you're not ready."

- Meryl Streep, from an interview for The Devil Wears Prada.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Long, Lost Weekend


It was a long weekend with - miraculously - no pressing work commitments, so I was determined to make the most out of it. And by that, I meant abusing my liver with extreme prejudice. Santi - a longtime friend and drinking buddy - was predictably at the usual watering hole and we boozed the night away.

"So, did you hear what happened?"


"Someone slapped your best friend in public two weeks ago."

I almost drowned in alcohol gurgling with glee.

"Who? What? Where? How?" I peppered Santi like a Salisbury steak.

Putting his beer down for a moment, Santi regaled me with the tale.

Apparently, Gio - another drinking companion and longtime acquaintance - had gotten into some sort of altercation with another guest at a bar. A guest who was a friend of the bar owner, my so-called "best friend." To make a long story short, in his usual drunken and belligerent state, Gio ended up slapping my "friend" in front of his own bar and his stupefied staff.

"Mmm, tell Gio he's my hero," I told Santi as I downed my beer. "What countless others have only dreamt of doing, he has done."

"Uy, wag ka namang ganyan," protested Santi.

"Oh, you know I'm serious," I rebutted. "And if he does it again, but this time with a crowbar, I shall erect a marble statue in his honor."


After seven beers for me and half a case for Santi, we decided to call it a night. And since lately I haven't been driving if I know I'm going to be out boozing, Santi offered to drive me home. But I got the munchies and asked if he wanted to have a late supper first.

"Let's eat at Silya," I said.

"Do you really want to eat there? Silya?"

"Why? The food's okay, prices are cheap."

"You don't want to eat at Soju, instead?"

I crinkled my nose.

"Their food is good, but their lighting is fluorescent."

So off to Silya we went.

"Sir, did you hear?" asked the waiter as he plunked down the menu.


"Jorel suffered a mild stroke recently," offered Santi helpfully.


Well, that explains his mysterious disappearance from his usual perch at the bar. And the instant disappearance of my beer buzz, as well.

"So, is he better?" I asked. "He's not facially paralyzed or anything, is he?"

"Well, he texted me he's better na raw, konting pahinga muna," answered Santi.


If Jorel can text, then he's going to live.

As to whether he'll be the same barfly who had the dubious distinction of being the only one who could drink two cases of beer all by his lonesome in a single night, only time will tell.


Same time. Same place.

Yes. I have a reptilian complex.

After yet untold bottles of beer, Santi was once again driving me home. As the car turned left onto Orosa, a guy pounded on the hood and waved a gun in front of us.

"Baba!" he yelled as Santi rolled down the window.

"Hello, Kiko," I half-groaned, half-smiled from the passenger seat as Santi dutifully pulled the car over and we resigned ourselves to our fate.

"Long time no seeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!" he shouted as he hugged me, gun still in the air.

"Yes, I have missed people pointing guns at my face in public," I replied.

"Ramon is heeeeeeere!" he cheerfully exclaimed as we walked to the sidewalk bar. "Reunion tayooooooooo!"

Kiko and Ramon are a couple of my longtime straight friends and business partners. And like most of my longtime friends, we barely see each other. They know I like guys, they're not afraid of being seen in Malate hanging out with the homos, and they pretty much know the story of my life so far.

And they really don't give a shit.

"Beer, beer!!!" yelled Ramon as we shook hands and Santi and I sat down. It was a yell that would be repeated many times that night until around 4:30 am.

As the rounds magically appeared and even more magically disappeared, we played catch-up. About career developments. About business. And about monkey business.

We talked about the good old days when the Malate strip cowered whenever Kiko made his iron-fisted entrances. We remembered that early morning in Samowar, when at one point Kiko was engaged in happy banter with some gay guy and then the next time I looked the both of them were rolling in the street in a frenetic fistfight. I remember trying to restrain Edward from joining the fray while trying to enjoy the spectacle, but he escaped my grip and soon the street party was a party of six drunken, angry, wrestling men of various sexual persuasions.

The melee ended only when Kiko and his adversary both ran to their cars to grab their guns, at which point the proverbial cooler heads intervened and we were denied the pleasure of a real-life Tarantino scene - and another morning filling out affidavits at the police station.

"Bro, why don't we open another bar?" asked Ramon, interrupting our reverie, his eyes gleaming with possibilities.

At this point, I'd rather open my veins than get back into the bar business, so I just gave Ramon one of my patented "oh-I-don't-know" looks.

"Sige na!" egged Kiko. "You can run it and we can make more money than you-know-who."

"I love talking shit about people who are just standing behind us pretending to look somewhere else while trying very hard to listen in," I grinned under my breath at Ramon as I espied the person who was the present subject of resentful conversation.

And with that, the object of gossip pretended to have just seen us and sat down, radiating wide, warm smiles as sincerely as Miranda Priestly.

"Joaquin," I acknowledged with a tilt of the head and an arched eyebrow, before plugging my mouth with my beer bottle lest I said something more.

"Oy, musta na, frieeeeeeeeends!" he beamed like some homecoming queen.

And so the talk turned small - basically about nothing at all. We did not talk about how Joaquin turned Cyndi Lauper on us and showed his true colors. Nor did we talk about how we knew that he knew that the jig was up. Neither did we talk about what to do with the current dismal venture shotgunned with everyone's differing agendas.

And that's how you shoot the breeze: light as a feather, unweighed by any substance whatsoever.

Santi, who had been sitting in a corner slowly melting into the furniture, finally stood up on wobbly legs and mumbled that he had to go. And since Ramon, Kiko, and I still had a round between the three of us, we decided to grant him his freedom.

"I guess you're driving me home tonight," I told Ramon.

Joaquin The Unwanted eventually sauntered off, leaving us with the radioactive fallout of his existence, and so after finishing off the remaining beers we decided to call it a night.

"Bro, may E ka ba?" Kiko asked Ramon as walked to the cars.

"Meron yata sa glove compartment," he replied, but an inspection of the car revealed nothing, not even Cortal.

"Why does Kiko want E?" I asked as Ramon and I drove off. "We're already going home."

"We're going home. He's off to fuck his girlfriend."

"But E inhibits erections, di ba?"

Ramon pondered the question for a couple of seconds.

"Maybe he meant Viagra."


Yes. You guessed it.

More beer.

If you think people stay home on a Sunday night, think again.

The bar was positively buzzing with revelers, perhaps protesting the end of the long weekend by getting soused one last time.

The notorious Gio was there and I warmly congratulated him for his outstanding service to humanity. He blushed beet-red and stammered protestations about being drunk and not knowing what he was doing before I pressed a beer bottle into his hand and told him to stop being so modest.

Someone hugged me from behind and it was Brandon, a sometime protege whose love life tragically mirrors mine.

"I missed youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu!" he squealed in his inimitable, endearingly boyish way.

"So does my mom," I replied. "At least you don't make me lasagna and charge me P10,000.00 a pan."

He gave me a disbelieving look - the same one people always give when I tell them how my mom wheedles cash out of me.

It's a wonder I still love lasagna. She must bake it with the blood of innocents or something.

"Anyway, how have you been?" I asked Brandon.

"Heto, nananaba," he pouted as he held his 26-inch waistline.

It was my turn to give him a disbelieving look.

"Oh, we also moved to a new place."

"Again? You hiding from the law or something?"

Brandon gave that signature braying laugh of his before he shrugged "Wala lang. We've also segregated expenses. "

Brandon's lover is a good 20 years older than him, and they have been together for a long, long time. As is usual with May-December affairs, the older party normally takes care of the younger one's material needs - until such time that the younger has established himself and can pull his own weight.

Ideally, anyway.

I was happy that Brandon was finally at that stage where he was starting to pay his own way and not having to rely solely on the generosity of his lover.

"So how does it feel?" I asked.

"Hayun," he replied. "I pay for the koryente and the internet, kaya kapag kailangan ko mag-computer, tayo agad siya for me."

I had to laugh.

"Well," I replied. "I'm happy you finally get to exercise The Golden Rule."

"The Golden Rule?"

"He who makes the gold, makes the rules."


Don't judge.

It was Joseph's birthday and I couldn't say no.

Busy week at work but for some insane reason, Joseph wanted to celebrate on the day itself instead of waiting for Friday like a normal person.

And so I found myself at a popular beer joint somewhere near Cash N' Carry.

Boozing for the fifth straight night in a row.

It was one of those "Okay, I'll just stay for a couple of drinks" thingys that end up with someone getting rip-roaringly drunk. Well, I didn't, but I certainly stayed much, much longer than the hour I had initially assured the celebrant.

First time there and it was a pretty nice place. Nice crowd, surprisingly full on a Monday night. We had four tables which quickly filled up with a procession of  ravenous friends and colleagues, all ready and eager to get wasted.

I'd forgotten the simple joys of hanging out with predominantly straight company and discreetly checking out the surroundings for PLUs. Methinks there was a trio of them right at the adjoining table, and one more at another table with his girlfriend, but of course, I couldn't do anything, even if I wanted to. Instead, I was reduced to observing the crew getting steadily drunker and wondering what point of inebriation it would take for them to be seduced.

Ah, memories.

Years before Truth Or Dare, I remember blowjobbing a Super Dry bottle in Penguin in an effort to shock and hopefully, titillate Gabby, our college track star. He met my shit-eating grin with a wide smile and twinkling eyes, but nothing ever happened.

Nor did anything happen when two straight girl friends sat on my lap and another gay friend's in Blue Cafe, as the four of us defied the dictates of nature and lapped away, man to woman, to the strangely-aroused disgust of the other bohemians.

I remember Nadine and her double-Ds. She knew I liked guys and I suppose therein lay the appeal. We necked and petted all over Creation: in the middle of Joy, on the dancefloor of Bed, in Antonio's apartment as the horrified gay guests looked on, aghast.

Our best ever was in a cab, me getting all over her as, in between her moans, she instructed the cabbie. "Ooooohh...mama, kaliwa...ahhhhh...kanan sa pangalawang kantooohhhh...mmmmm...deretso lang po."

Had my girl friends been just a tad more aggressive, I'd probably have enough kids by now to rival my brothers'.

But God is infinitely wise, and I am sober.

For now.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Non Compos Mentis

Insanity : Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Albert Einstein (attributed)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Baby Mine

Baby mine/ Don't you cry
Baby mine/Dry your eyes
This is Fritz.

My favorite dog. My baby.

I was instantly smitten with him when I saw him at the breeders'. A chinky-eyed, cat-faced, brindle Chow Chow, neither fully cream nor cinnamon. Imperfect and unacceptable to the discriminating dog lover. But my heart went out even more when I saw that his tail was cut short - an accident, said the breeder. Fritz' mother had bitten off most of his tail trying to keep him from attacking his other littermates.

Rest your head/ Close to my heart
Never to part/ Baby of mine

That was another thing. His temperament left much to be desired. He and another Chow were the only pups left in the brood and he was in a cage because he kept attacking his remaining sibling, who I would also end up bringing home with me. 

I figured Fritz was the runt of the litter and was simply trying very hard to establish his place in the world. And I guess I fell in love with the feisty little bastard not despite – but because of – his many imperfections.

I suppose he acutely felt his shortcomings – at least as much as a dog might – because the need to establish dominance and gain total, undivided attention would turn out to be his primary personality trait. Fritz was fiercely possessive of me and would become insanely jealous if any of my other dogs tried to get a piece of my affection and attention.

Little one/ When you play
Pay no heed/ What they say

For all his aggressiveness, Fritz became very affectionate, loving, and devoted to me. In return for being the most beloved, he defied his breed’s disinclination to please and became the most obedient of all my dogs. He would come to me at a single bidding, blue tongue out, truncated tail wagging. He loved licking my face as he leapt up into my arms each time I came home. He liked to lie flat-out like a furry rug at my feet while I worked, or sit by my side, keeping the other dogs at bay and keeping me all to himself.

Tough as he was with the other dogs, Fritz was the least sturdy of them all. He almost died of blood flukes at one point last year, limp and motionless one morning as I carried him outside to the patio. I stroked his fur and in between his labored breathing I whispered “Baby, don’t die. Daddy loves you.” By some miracle, he rallied later that morning, standing up like some canine Lazarus at the sound of my voice. And after three days’ confinement at the vet and lots of medicines, he made a full recovery.

Let your eyes/ Sparkle and shine
Never a tear/ Baby of mine

Two days ago I knew he was coming down with something again because he looked listless and very sad. I feared a blood fluke relapse, but there had been no symptoms. He had been perfectly fine – turning over to offer his belly for a scratching, wrestling with his brother, and threatening my Sibe. In short, normal Fritz behavior.

The night before we confined him at the vet’s, I reached down and stroked his scruff as he sat quietly by my side while I worked. The way we’d done it countless times before.

If they knew/ All about you
They'd end up/ Loving you too


The thing about the last time is that you don’t always know when it will be the last time.

Fritz died of multiple organ failure at 10:45 a.m. today. He was just a little over 1 year and 4 months in human years.

His yaya went to visit him this morning and she said he took a couple of steps toward her before he collapsed. And then he was gone.

It was quick. He didn't suffer much.

All those same people/ Who scold you
What they'd give/ Just for the right to hold you

If Fritz knew he was dying, then I know he was probably waiting for me to come and get him. But I was at a shoot and although somewhere in the back of my preoccupied mind I vaguely acknowledged the possibility that he might take a turn for the worse, I wasn't expecting it to be so soon.

But then again, it's often like that, isn't it?

My sweet little baby couldn’t wait for me any more, and so his yaya, instead, had the bittersweet privilege of watching him go.

From your head/ Down to your toes
You're not much/ Goodness knows

Had we just a little more time, I would’ve wished he passed away at home.

In my arms. 

Where he belonged.

But you're so/ Precious to me
Sweet as can be/ Baby of mine

Goodnight, Fritzi baby. I’m so sorry I couldn’t be there for you in the end. But I hope you know Daddy loves you very, very, very much.

And Daddy always will.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Ghost Whispers


Don't be afraid. I usually just mind my own business. Except it gets lonely sometimes and I wish I could have someone to talk to.

Not blabber with. Talk to.

But everyone's gone and I live alone in this big house. Four bedrooms, three bathrooms, three walk-in closets, two stockrooms, one porch, one terrace, one living room, one dining room, one kitchen, one study.

I mostly stay in the study. That's where you'll find me, sitting by the window, hunched over this flickering screen. Alone.

Well, maybe not totally alone.

I've never actually seen her, but the old lady I fondly call the majordoma stays in the blue bedroom - the one I used to sleep in when Christiane had the master bedroom. The one Louie stayed in after I took over  Christiane's room when she went to the States and never returned. Where he stayed until a bus holdupper  stabbed him in the neck over a cellphone one night as he came home from work.

I knew Louie would be hanging around for a while after what happened. Which is why I wasn't too surprised when the maid said she saw him running down the stairs at 6pm, which was usually the time he left for work. He also bugged Dee for a good while, visiting him in his sleep. But I had a feeling he would leave me alone; he knew how I hated being bothered while working.

Anyway, his mom said she had a dream that his grandfather finally fetched him after the 40th day. So that was the last we heard of Louie.

Nolo briefly stayed in that same room when he was having marital problems, then Louie's brother took over for a few months before we had to kick him out because his drug use was getting in the way of his ability to cover his rent. The majordoma has had that room all to herself since then.

A lot of people have come and gone, but others have stayed. Quietly. They say the old man stays at the bar in the living room, no doubt sipping his phantom brandy as he contemplates his existence. Just as well. The laughter and conversations at that bar have long given way to an echoing silence.

The dwarfs stay in the walk-in closet in my room, and like to keep the door open no matter how often I latch it closed. Oh, well. They don't bother me. Besides, they were never human, unlike some of us.

Wendy said the monster who lived in the linen closet in the upstairs stockroom is gone. That's comforting. But the little girl who weeps for the dolls in the display cabinet is still there. I've never heard her, but Dee said he heard her shuffling around a couple of times. I wish Wendy were still here; I enjoyed her pointing out where everyone else was hanging out.

I do hope the black spiky thing with glittering eyes that followed Dee from one of his provincial sojourns - the thing that used to peek from outside the living room window, or so Miggy's boyfriend said - never made it in. That'd just be creepy.

But they say the majordoma does her job and does it well, which is why no dark entity can stay for very long in the house. Well, I certainly hope so. God knows I have enough demons as it is.

Anyway...I don't see Dee too often these days. Once a week I hear him shuffling around, but it never lasts. I saw him ducking into the bathroom one time, but I was half-asleep. Sometimes I wonder when his mom will collect his things, just like Christiane's and Louie's mothers did when they left. But then I remember she's dead.

Be that as it may, he has another life now. I do wish we'd have some sort of closure, though. The dead do tend to haunt you when you don't bury them properly.

As for me, I said, I pretty much live alone in this big old house. And it just gets lonely sometimes. But then again, I'm used to being alone. Every so often, though, there's a dark night of the soul and it helps when you can talk to someone. Over coffee. Over cigs. Over alcohol.

The trouble is, it can't just be anyone. It has to be someone who knew me and whose life intertwined with mine. Anyone else might listen, but they would never understand the way someone who knew me, who knew who I was and where it all began, how we lived and what happened and when things began to change and why we came to this pass would.

But there's the rub. Everyone's gone, and it's just me now. The last man standing.

I would talk to my invisible housemates but I never wanted that dark gift. Besides, I have enough problems with the living. And anyway, this is a cozy arrangement. No one bothers anyone. And everyone just minds their own business.

We all just co-exist, until someone else moves on. Or doesn't. And it doesn't matter if you believe in ghosts or not. Our existence does not rely on your beliefs; only on our own.

I lived in the past.

I exist in the present.

But I can't see round the bend.

That's the trouble with the future.