The taste

20140323-110655.jpg

You know the feeling. That instance of impact of slightly reheated slimy coffee that has gone untouched for three days (or you don’t know how long it has been standing there, really, breeding colonies of bacteria and fungi), on your unsuspecting tongue, well not exactly unsuspecting as you are still able to keep a semblance of a well-kept apartment, so you have an idea what you will get yourself into and probably how long it has been since the last time you brewed coffee; still you go on as it doesn’t matter now.

You have an interesting idea in mind, something unique, life-altering if only it were given an existence that can be grasped by the senses, your computer is on, Michael Buble is filling the place with his velvety singing.  You just need your cup of coffee to complete the feel, so you can finally see in writing that idea gestating in your mind for the past thirteen minutes and is now ready to be C sectioned or be given birth naturally (This metaphor bothers me, but I think it sounds nice. I’ll wait, fifteen minutes, perhaps. If it still sounds interesting to me after reading my final draft, then the metaphor will stay).

But your cup. It is giving you that gnawing awareness, warning you, of a forthcoming melee. Between your stupid self and the radioactive content of your mug.

But you had it before, back when a 3-in-1 would do, back when you didn’t know the difference in taste between a five-peso-per-sachet mixture of sugar and artificially flavored coffee declaring itself “Italian taste perfected” and the overpriced but definitely more decent tasting signature coffee sold in a nearby coffee shop chain which high school students from an exclusive Catholic school located across, wanting to look cool, sip affectedly with a stick of cigarette in between fingers during breaks from their dull afternoon classes.

You know how it tasted. How evil it tasted. That mixture of 3-in-1 dissolved in tap water heated below boiling point gushing from your dorm’s rusty 1950s lead pipes. You know how it tasted after having stood on your study table for two days undisturbed, ants free diving in it, vacationing while their queen lay waiting for her loyal worker ants to bring back the loot.

But like then, you choose to ignore because there are many things in life that simply can’t wait. A great idea is one of them, unfortunately this time. And so, you sit in front of your ailing computer, ready to tackle the mocking-as-it-has-always-been blank, white space. And you begin typing on. It runs smoothly, your mind, that is; writing never felt this good before. The idea comes out as if it is unencumbered by the circuitous organelle-dotted canal that connects it and the bright and brave world outside.

Then you think, “where’s my mug of coffee?” You extend your arm; take hold of the handle of your favorite mug without looking, your rapt attention on the screen. You bring the mug close to your slightly parted lips. The stench gives you some warning, but you opted not to take heed. Your idea is approaching its most crucial leg, you can almost see the head. Then you take a sip. No, a gulp.

Then you know how stupidity tastes.

Advertisements

The beautiful and brainy Filipina

One runs the risk of being labeled gay if he talks eloquently about beauty pageants. A man, specifically a macho man, in the Filipino society is not supposed to be passionate about 80-plus women strutting in long gowns or skimpy bikinis, unless, of course, this passion is erotic in nature, otherwise he is either automatically categorized a homosexual, which is more likely, or a sociologist, which is not very bad, only a covertly homosexual sociologist, that is.

But labels will remain very practical and utilitarian, and they will remain so no matter how smart or dumb they sound so long as people think these labels function to simplify what could have been things too complicated and complex for them to comprehend, so long as people think that not thinking is the next best thing by letting labels think for them, instead. Stereotypical labels are for the intellectually inelegant.

Now allow me talk unabashedly about our obsession as a nation with beauty pageants. While in some countries these spectacles that ‘celebrate’ the sublime beauty of a woman are shunned for being exploitative, shallow, or vacuous, in the Philippines, these spectacles continue to feed the masses’ quixoticism and give the needed affirmation that they can also be beautiful, especially if a representative of the Philippines reaches the top 15, then the top ten, down to the final five contestants.

Seeing their supposedly beauty-and-brain Miss Universe contestant sauntering, traipsing, and walking like a de-legged praying mantis is like seeing themselves on-stage, surmounting whatever challenge thrown to them — tripping on-stage because a portion of the gown caught in the 9-inch hill of the shoe, donning a 200-kilogram national costume, or answering a question from an obviously racist and unqualified judge — all  in the name of bringing honor to the country. Nothing triggers the Filipinos sense of nationalism other than international beauty contests, boxing fights of Manny Pacquiao come to a close second.

Filipinos define being beautiful as having the features of a mestiza (although this is slowly changing), tall, slender, with a 36 (or even bigger)-24 (or even smaller)-36 (this is usually fixed) body statistics.

And because Filipinos have these delusional tendencies that they are smart, they also expect that their beauty queens to be not only freakishly beautiful but also abnormally smart and articulate.

Being brainy, on the other hand, means being able to speak in English complete with all the trappings of accent and twang of a native speaker. As for the substance of her answer, a beauty contestant can always rely on canned responses prepared for her by her trainers, proven through years of experience to always impress the judges whose tastes on beauty are very discriminating and irrevocable; these judges are the final arbiters of the very philosophical question: who is the most beautiful? and by induction, what is beautiful?. Or who gave the smartest answer? and by induction, what is an intelligent answer?.

Regardless of the flaws in the definition of these abstract concepts, a Filipina sent abroad to compete in a beauty contest must possess these two. It’s beauty-and-brain or nothing. Non-negotiable.

So when their beauty queens choke during question and answer, give downright pathetic responses, or let go of grammatically suspect sentences, the Filipinos back home cringe and cry foul.

My pity goes to these women whose major, major mistake is joining these tired competition.


Mean

Have you experienced this gnashing urge to hurl whatever you are holding, say a padlock or a volume of Encyclopedia Britannica, to somebody whose level of idiocy has reached a point that even the most forgiving of humans cannot tolerate, much less you?

Padlock

You thought such existence of a pea-sized brain is only possible in the realm of science fiction, but you caught yourself aghast after discovering that God has forsaken them and deprived them of a basic human attribute — possession of a brain that is of decent size capable of basic functions and of thinking with a semblance of sense, at least.

Now tell me, who says God is fair?

I just cannot fathom why people like these exist. Diversity makes the world more exciting, I hear somebody reasoning out. These dimwitted, imbecilic, morons have the same right as I have to exist and enjoy this fleeting opportunity to live. If you ask me, however, I’d rather be dead than dumb.

“What are you reading?” He asked in his all too forced American twang.

“Oh, a novel by Joseph Conrad. By the way, I’d rather read than talk about banalities and your problem with that seventeen-year old you impregnated,” said I.

“Interesting. You love reading Pupung?”

“Sure, I also enjoyed reading that when I was in college.”

“I have a complete collection of all the volumes. But my all time favorite is Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown.”

“Really? Please evaporate.”

I went on reading and tried to look as riveted as I possibly could with the story of two men forced by their work and circumstance to live in the Congo Basin. This I hoped would send him a statement that I do not need a brain dead lurking while I am spending my precious time reading. But he is as thick skinned as he is a pudding head.

“Do you want to go out and use the free internet in the other building?”

“No, I’ll just stay here. If you want, you can just go. I’m okay here.”

“You know what, my wife [they’re not married] is giving birth this August.”

“Oh nice, eh di ayos. Leave me alone.”

But he stayed there beside me interrupting my reading every thirty seconds disregarding my almost pleading actions that told him to leave me alone. I was holding a heavy duty padlock that time. Reading the darkness in Conrad’s characters Kayerts and Carlier, I had a hard time holding back my internal need to force the metal lock inside his big mouth.