Our ‘Teen’ years are gone

PURPLE SHADES - Letty Jacinto-Lopez (The Philippine Star) - January 14, 2020 - 12:00am

Shortly before we welcomed the New Year, my friend Baby A. sent me a greeting card celebrating the tail end of 2019, “Enjoy the last few days of 2019, it’s going to be the last 'teen' of our lives.”

Oh, my! She’s right. For the next 80 years remaining in this millennium until the beginning of another millennium, there’ll be no more teen years for us.

The years flashed before my eyes and suddenly, I heard an electric guitar being plucked, giving it the impulse to vibrate. I recognized the tune immediately. It was country singer Carl Perkins, singing Honey Don’t.  My brother, at 74, extended his hand and asked, “May I have this dance?”  I jumped to my feet; no coyness displayed here, and eagerly took his hand. The tempo was perfect for a mean boogie without embarrassing myself on the dance floor. It was a Throwback Thursday moment.

In our teens, the best way to socialize, i.e., meet boys, was to be invited to a barn dance or a jam session. “Don’t forget to bring a fan,” whispered another friend. That’s because a fan will serve as a graceful ornament to save you from the humiliation of being left alone in a row of empty seats. You “pretend” to be fanning yourself so hard, feigning exhaustion, that you had passed off this dance for the next one. I would have wanted the floor to break open and swallow me whole. This was when chaperones came in handy; a necessity, in fact. This crazy bunch made up of siblings, cousins, playmates and neighbors were given the task to guard you like a hawk and at times, play lifesavers, rescuing you from the embarrassment of turning into a wall flower — unplucked, unpicked – for a dance. In Tagalog, na-bangkô (stuck in a chair).

Monsignor Sabino A. Vengco Jr. humorously asked, “Do you remember what it was like in your courtship years? You were in a dance party when his eyes caught yours. Your heart quivered. He approached you gingerly and asked for your name. If you had given your name, he would have had access to your heart, which you would have willingly opened to allow him in.”

“But Monsignor,” I protested. “I wasn’t particularly attracted to this young man so I gave a false name – Torkuata — and quickly doused any resonance of romance.”

And then, the tempo switched to a truly, truly, old dance medley arranged by Glenn Miller and his American swing band, “I stand and I wait for the touch of your hand in the June night, the roses are sighing a Moonlight Serenade.”

I vehemently refused to leave my seat: “I don’t like slow drag.” This was a dance described as hanging on to each other and barely moving. “Only those in a special relationship can dance the slow drag,” agreed another friend. This kind of music was strictly reserved for lovers who have an “understanding” or are “going steady.” How can you tell? The star-struck ingénue brandishes a boy’s bullring on her middle finger, so thick and formidable that it could double as a ninja weapon. I think it was the only love token that girls would happily show off to signify that she was seeing someone exclusively; she had gotten herself out of the loop, cheerfully and thrillingly, with all of her heart and soul.

We lived the fairy tale and some found strong, lasting love while others endured broken hearts and moved on to find another path, perhaps, leading to contentment and fulfillment.

In those courtship years, I was dating a young man who asked me, “Why do lovers call each other sweetheart?” I paused and answered, “Maybe because the heart is a vital organ and without it, life stops.” “Hmmm, but an artery is just as vital,” he said. “Without arteries, where will the blood flow to reach the heart to keep it alive? I’d rather call you Artery.”


So, here we are.  With families of our own, reaping third generations who are unarguably better versions of the originals. They are paving roads to fulfill dreams and aspirations, while we have retired from inspired careers, and our friends, too. We are now the lolos and lolas who have taken delight in watching the apos grow. If we’re doubly blessed, we may even behold yet another generation who’d give us more gigil babies down to our ankles and toes.

We have slowed down and can laugh heartily, exchanging opinions or  standpoints. We feel free to do things and say things we’ve kept under wraps before. That’s because we’ve earned our stripes and what more could we possibly want to achieve at this time except maybe, more time with family and friends, filling our hearts with laughing stars and angel moments?

We’ve stocked up on beautiful memories and we’re still making more. Our hopes are soaring steadily that for the time still remaining, we look up to a sky with no limit.

“Yesterday, when I was young,” sang Charles Aznavour. I’d sing that differently. Swooning to a jazzy beat, I’d be snapping my fingers and be belting anew, “Today, the good life.” We remain grateful, thanking and enjoying this time, until it lasts.

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