Food and Leisure

I have (good) skeletons in my cupboard

Mary Ann Quioc Tayag - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - She approaches me while am sipping my civet coffee from my pink cup and feeling the sun’s warmth on our deck for the vitamin D. 

This is my DND (do not disturb) moment; not even hubby and son will dare disturb me unless our house is on fire or the pope is calling on the phone.

No, it’s not always civet coffee.  I love coffee but I have not bought coffee beans in over two years.  Friends and acquaintances always give me.  But it is not the coffee that matters in my precious 20 minutes of coffee time: it’s the coffee mug I choose for that morning. 

With coffee in one hand and the other hand excitedly gesticulating, my unannounced guest described a new acquaintance of mine as a manipulative big bad wolf, blah, blah, blah — someone I must certainly disassociate from.  

“You came all the way from Cavite to say that?” I asked, showing no interest because I believe that people behave differently with different people. It turned out she actually wanted to talk and unload about something else, a messy family matter.  We moved to my room where we could both lie down.  I gave her a robe to change into from her perfectly starched white linen.  She talked and I listened till it was time for lunch.

“You should start charging a shrink fee,” she teased me. 

“You should stop disturbing my precious coffee time,” I teased back..

At Mass three days later, the gospel was about someone knocking in the middle of the night, and borrowing three loaves of bread for his friend who’d come from a journey. The man inside whom he addressed as “friend” said, “Leave me alone. The door is shut now and my children and I are in bed. I cannot get up to look after your needs.”

Maybe the bread in the parable is symbolic of anything a friend needs.  It could be time, an audience, peace of mind, advice, etc., and being in bed is symbolic of any moment or activity we do not want to be disturbed. It could be while working, playing mahjong, eating, resting or even praying. 

I remember the parable quite well because I see myself as the friend inside who will not get up. Hubby says I have Velcro on my back. Once the phone rang and I overheard one helper asking another if she would wake me up.  “Ang pope ba ang tumatawag (Is it the pope calling)?” the other asked seriously.  

When I was young, they woke us up because there was a fire outside our room.  I looked through the window and saw a small fire and went back to bed. I value my sleep; thus, I do not appreciate visitors when am sick. I am also shy about visiting and disturbing the sick unless it is prearranged. But I show I care through text and I send food and sometimes a book. A friend once had his birthday in the hospital and I sent him a big bilao of his favorite kare-kare dagat, enough for their entire family and guests. My sister’s friend Annabelle is unbeatable; she sent us an entire lechon when our mom was in the hospital. 

However, I am very unlikely to be the one knocking and be turned away because I ask favors from friends that I know — without any ounce of doubt — will 101 percent say yes.  They often tease me when I ask for a favor because they are the “chosen ones.”  As Oprah said, “Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.”

At home, I have a small cupboard with special coffee cups.  Each cup has the name of the friend who gave it.  No one can use my cups. It is me who washes and dries them after every use. Unlike hubby, who has many collections, my cups are my only collection. Every morning, I choose a friend to have coffee with. I think of and pray for that friend while we are having coffee.   I very carefully choose the friends I ask cups from.  They are the ones whose door I can knock on in the middle of the night who I am sure will give me coffee, too, even if I only ask for bread. They are perennially on my guest list when I have my “bad me” birthday parties.  

Recently I told hubby, when I go, he can choose any of these “good skeletons” in my cupboard to do a eulogy for me and I would also like them to be my pallbearers.  “Okay,” he said, “but for now, if any one of these good skeletons call in the middle of the night, will I wake you up?” he teased me. 

Hmm, give her bread and Manuka honey and tell her I will call her first thing in the morning.

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