Hazel from high school pops up in my computer via yahoo messenger.
Hazel: Are you dating anyone right now?
Jae: Uuum, I just got out of something.
Hazel: Can I set you up on a blind date?
Jae: Huh? Sino?
Hazel: He’s a photographer.
Jae: (thinks for a while, considers. had been meaning to get all vamped-up and have some artsy semi-nude studio shots taken for years now. maybe she could wangle a discount from his studio or whatever. but then again a blind date sounded like too much work.) I’ll think about it.
Hazel: Hay naku. Bahala ka.
* * *
And that’s when I realized, I’ve never really been out in the dating market in years. By going out on a date, I mean putting on a dress strategically-designed to highlight your best assets but stopping short of making you look like a whore, carrying a bag that fits only your cellphone and a small lip gloss and P500, and then dining in a fancy-schmancy restaurant where you ask each other questions like “what is the book that changed your life?” and you try not to choke on your baked oysters when you get answers like “Tuesdays with Morrie” or even worse “Da Vinci Code”. I haven’t done that in years, preferring instead the comfort of familiar terrain, with people you work with and drink with and forge a better lipunan with (hehe) day in and day out.
I tell people all the time that I need to be with someone who views the world in the way I respect, as a way to explain why the men I’ve been dating for the past few years have all been part of one big expanded network of left-leaning activists. That’s true of course, I once dated someone who told me after three or so dates that he was a rabid Marcos loyalist, and after that big revelation I went home and took a bath for a one full hour. I need to be with someone who believes in the things I do — agrarian reform, due process, and all that jazzy jazz — and will understand why I chose that path I’ve chosen.
But then, sometimes, I wonder if there could be other reasons. Dianne thinks I’m judgmental and narrow-minded. “E pano kung young entrepreneur pero nagvovolunteer sa Habitat for Humanity?” Because we are great friends and love each other to bits, she reminds me often that I’m going to grow old and miserable and lonely and surrounded by cats if I don’t get my act together and fix up my love life.
Joan on other hand thinks Im too protective of my personal space with strangers. Meaning, wala akong landi vibe. “Kung may karinderyang bukas sa lahat, ikaw karinderyang nakapadlock na, nilagyan pa ng bulldog”, she told me, right after watching me converse with two guys striking up a conversation with me at a bar.
But maybe the bottomline is: I’m just scared. It’s both tiring and terrifying, the whole dating exercise. From wondering what to wear, to being charming and witty and smart (but in a non-threatening way), to wondering whether or not he’s going to call (even if you don’t like him, he still HAS to call, for the sake of your ego, hehe).
A friend and I were having some beers a few nights ago away from UP Village (a happy inuman serving as yet another reminder that nothing beats long and rich conversations over beer) and we were wondering how come other people have it so easy. He had no answers and neither did I. We talked about our friends — a married couple na “nagkita lang sa EDSA 2, may isang anak, may laundromat, may pag-ibig na walang hanggan”, a gay couple who met in Philcoa and nested in Krus na Ligas in a house of pink and canary-yellow walls and an aging couple with a love story dating back to their underground years. We talked about the jagged and uneven corners of our lives, and how it looks like they’re going to stay jagged and uneven for quite some time.
In Shrek 3, there’s this dingy hole-in-the-wall bar where all the fairy tale villains converge. The evil stepmother in Snow White was in one corner crooning “I’ve been to Georgia and California..” like some washed-out has-been. Cut to the next scene: Princess Fiona in a pink, sun-filled room with twittering fairy tale heroines throwing her a baby shower.
So I think to myself: where do I fit in? I’m no one’s bruha-kontrabida, and I’m nice by general social standards. I’m not ready to be called a witch or an evil step-sister. But that hole in the wall bar with bad singers and drunk misfits is, at this point in my life, closer to home than pink bridal showers and giggly princesses. So pano yun? Tinkerbell chugging San Mig Light?
Haaay. Shrek-fan-on-Valium. I really do need to get out and get some air.
That blind date with Hazel’s photographer-friend? Right now, I just might.