SANTA CLAUS MUFFS THE DELIVERY
Both the shiny 747 door and my dull senses sprang to life at the jet way in Manila like Chinese synchronized divers leaving a tiny splash upon entry.
What IS this magic, I pondered as the airplane hatch came to rest. It all came back in a flash- the sights, sounds, . the SMELLS. Aha! The smells. At once, I was assaulted with the familiar odors of Manila. Bitter smog, pungent rotting tropical vegetation, rotting garbage…maybe a malfunctioning sewage treatment plant… all the other foul smells. I scrunched up my nose as I realized it was the humidity that intensified the local funk. Leaving the PAL airliner, I stared back at the pretty pinay flight attendant who welcomed me to Manila. Pausing in front of her, I slightly violated her personal space and donned my best crazy-eyed Roupa-gaze. I then summoned my trusty 90 year-old grumpy toothless voice while blurting out the anthem of the American Midwestern elderly:
“It’s not the HEAT, missy. It’s the HUMIDITEEE!”
She battled my loud cliché with the same confused blink that was once wielded by the lead singer of a Filipino bar band after I shouted “Free Bird!!” (hell, nobody really wants to HEAR “Free Bird”, it’s a JOKE, dammit) She was neither amused nor offended. Confused.
Score one for me. (my game. my rules.)
I guess I was just a bit cranky after sitting on the Manila runway for half an hour because the fucking STEERING would not work on the plane’s landing gear upon touchdown. Nice.
“Check the hydraulic maintenance records, Captain!”, I shouted to the PAL 747 pilot with the same old-fart voice I had used on the flight attendant. He mumbled some excuse while smiling like a clumsy Dollhouse waitress sporting spilled SML on her skirt. Then, there was a soft, paternal voice inside my head: “remember where you ARE dude”. This trip was still quite young—many more pilots at whom to yell, more voices inside my head. I had ten days this time. No, not a marathon, but definitely not the four-day puki- sprint of my cherry trip. (relax, bud)
Looking back, now, I really couldn’t have been TOO grumpy that morning, as I was grinning at the nasty north-bound Manila traffic from the back of my Margarita Station car with the same toothy grin that Prince Charles aims at Vortex Vixens still sticky from tequila. My grin was possibly widened slightly by the three ice cold San Miguels, which the brilliant peeps at Marg Station had placed in the back seat knowing full well that 7:30am was exactly beer-thirty for a guy who had just spent a very long night sitting on a plane next to a very big American stranger whose legs were not made for coach. The dull brown morning haze of Manila could not hide the familiar visual chaos of Jeepneys, motorcycles, buses, and those damned pedestrians playing that curiously casual traffic game of Frogger, wherein the loser gets death by vehicle-induced blunt force trauma. Good times.
The stubborn honking of Manila traffic chaos slowly faded to much quieter rich green rice fields peppered with bored looking water buffalo in the bright morning haze. The putrid, polluted rotting city smells gave way to less-offensive rotting country smells. (“It’s the humidity, Missy!”)
Passing the huge new SM Mall construction outside Angeles, I pondered my first challenge: The Bamboo Telegraph. My plan was to meet up with Spinner the NEXT day, giving me one day/night to meet a few AE blokes, deliver a few gifts, and get a good night’s sleep. (well, okay, the FIRST two goals were sincere) I won’t call Spinner my GIRLFRIEND, here… maybe my steady GFE. Sumpin like that. Regardless, I know many of you handle the barhop-without-the-GF situation with honesty, but I wanted one night to myself in AC without even a conversation about it to spoil our trip to Boracay. Oh. Did I mention Boracay? Yes, I was slightly confident that there was maybe ONE maganda girl in AC that would go to Bora with me if the Bamboo Telegraph caused the very maganda Spinner to flip-out about my one-day early covert ingress. Simple supply/demand, diba? Eddie Money had my back here. I had two tickets to paradise in my pocket. They weren’t winning Lotto tickets, but certainly as good as Scratch-and-Win cards with all 777s. I knew I wanted to take Spinner, but if things went South, I was pretty sure Mjibbo could have found me a replacement. (dude has skeels)
After the hotel, my first stop was Shano’s. It was mid-morning, I was sweaty, and I badly needed a Guinness. Actually, I was curious to see the very friendly Shano’s waitresses, especially the one who bruised my pubic bone months earlier. I wasn’t sure what to expect as I entered. I was one of only two thirsty customers at that early hour, and the waitresses flocked to my table with the eagerness of a huge Monitor Lizard attacking a gourmet lunch. (future chapter reference) I didn’t see Pubic-Bone-Bruiser, but several of the other waitresses remembered me and then the fun began. Ladies’ Drinks at 10:30am just seemed natural. The girls were quite spirited, flirty, and again pretended to be infatuated. (Fine by me.) The new beautiful face in the crowd was a cherry girl. A friggin 22 YEAR OLD cherry girl. Whoa. Three Guinness’s later, the flock suddenly ran from my table amid giggles, huddled around the long-in-the-tooth but huge-in-the-eyes cherry girl, and returned with mischievous grins all around. The flock wanted ME to take away the cherry of the cherry girl. My jaw dropped almost as wide as my eyes bulged, focusing on those of the maganda babe in question. She stared back, smiled shyly, and slowly nodded. Her story involved something about a slick Korean dude who offered up a bucket of cash, but wouldn’t be back for many months. I was elected to do the deed with the speed of her need. I think young Louie could possibly explain what was going on here, but I wasn’t destined to meet him until later that night. I was confused. I was torn. (SIC) This young lady had these big brown eyes that just made me melt inside.
I’m not sure what Kimchee does to one’s soul (evil fermentation?), but I just COULDN’T take away this beautiful girl’s virginity, and walk away from the emotions.
It just wasn’t in me.
My eyes were still quite wide, but my gaping jaw was cleverly hidden by my quickly-draining Guinness. My eyes softened. “Sorry Thotoy”, I whispered into my beer.
I was at a complete loss to pony up a noble response worthy of the offer on the table. How in the WORLD would I rebuke this beautiful girl’s once-in-a-lifetime request??
Right on cue, my Pubic-Bone-Bruiser horny friend with the tramp-stamp suddenly arrived, saw me, and threw her arms around me while jumping into my lap.
Cherry Girl’s eyes dropped to the floor, witnessing this unexpected display of affection right in front of her. She then turned and walked away. Stuck to my seat, I was at once filled with sweet relief and sour sorrow. I kissed Bone-Bruiser with both the passion of a man saved and that of a man condemned. She sucked my tongue. Painfully. (Damn, I like that.)
Mid afternoon visions of only another sore pubic bone and still no AE introductions led me to say goodbye to the Shano’s bunch. I never saw the cherry girl again, but I have to believe that the fury of that woman scorned is very minor to the turmoil in my own soul that might have followed a bloody afternoon. Brocklanders will now wonder how much Oprah I watch… but it just isn’t in me, boys.
Around nightfall, I found myself standing alone in the middle of the street of the unholy Corner-of-the-Trike-Drivers, my back to the growing Friday night macho mongering meeting at Kokomo’s. My Guinness-blurred stare was fixed upon the interesting door girls at Tender Touch. For the life of me, I couldn’t remember why the name “Tender Touch” fired such a sinful burst of dopamine into my motor cortex, but that’s the door (and the long hallway) that I found next.
I found the famous Louie’s bar by accident or maybe by autopilot. Same same.
Louie’s hospitality instantly gave me the warm grin that I usually only display for my old college buddies. We drank. We ogred. I pulled a funny cord from the ceiling that unleashed a bazillion ping-pong balls from a net-contraption, transporting the normally slow-motion Tender Touch bikini girls into hungry hyper-active piranha fish. Power. Forty bucks commands fourteen girls to get on their knees. Power.
Thotoy drifted through with a female in tow. I wanted to tell the guy that I had whispered his name into a Guinness earlier. Haa.
I had many peeps to meet. Louie led me across the street to Lolipop, where I saw Shagger, Drummer, etc. Bang. I held up one finger (houwd-up) and quickly ran to my hotel to get tequila presents.
I found myself running toward Lolipop, but somehow found Vortex instead, tequila bag in hand, walked up to the manager’s table where Mjibbo was hanging out alone. I smiled. I can appreciate alone. I introduced myself with the stupid look that a disciple might save for Jesus.
I delivered my tequila present, but the booze was secondary to the frenzy that the girls displayed over whom exactly would get to keep the fancy bag CONTAINING the bottle.
Mjibbo pointed at a sexy little pinay thing with shoes that included calf lace-up straps.