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Nighthawks at the creperie |

Sunday Lifestyle

Nighthawks at the creperie


Either the day passed in a pleasant haze or I had an out-of-body experience for several hours. I’ve been feeling drowsy lately, which is odd because I haven’t exactly tired myself out. Maybe I have a double life I am unaware of, that transpires while I am supposed to be sleeping.

I remember getting up earlier than usual (for me; to you it may seem like sloth), checking my e-mail, and confirming the details of a trip I am taking later this month. I located the hotel on Google maps because I am geographically challenged and have trouble defining “nearby.” After that the details become vague. Incidentally I am not on meds or any perception-altering substances; I am one of those awful people who are described as “grounded.” How I’ve managed to be both “quirky” and “grounded,” I have no idea. It’s like being a low-budget arthouse movie that people actually watched and is therefore dismissed as a “sellout.” 

Whatever I did all day, I’m sure I was carrying a copy of Flaubert’s Madame Bovary in the new Lydia Davis translation. I know because I take it with me everywhere. Now I see what the fuss is about. Teachers say Flaubert is a master, but all I remember from having read Madame Bovary in high school is the urge to throw the paperback into the lagoon. Who cares about some shallow woman who cheats on her dull husband and runs up a huge debt? The amazing thing about Davis’s translation is that it makes you care; you understand what she’s thinking. Also, the prose is sexy and I don’t mean it has Emma jumping guys’ bones. I mean the descriptions of the sound of someone’s heels on the stones, the sun shining through the silk of a parasol, things like that.

Then I’m pretty sure I went to the supermarket because there was only one bag of cat food in the house this morning and now there are five. Oh, right: I went to the mall. It was after 1 p.m. and I’d had nothing but two cups of black coffee. My recent cold had receded with my appetite: the thought of eating anything made me queasy. You have to eat something, I told myself, or you will get a headache. I was going for some congee when I spotted Forever 21 and my feet automatically walked into the store.

Usually I am in and out of the store in 30 minutes, refreshed from a session of retail therapy. This time I must’ve looked at every outfit in the place thrice before I found anything I liked. My clothes tend to be severe and mannish; I just don’t have the girly vibe. People are always calling me “Sir” — understandable when I’m phoning in an order to Jollibee, but it even happens when I’m personally standing in line at Jollibee. It might be the wardrobe so I am determined not to buy another T-shirt unless it has something fantastically clever written on it, or an adorable picture of a cat, or the words “Roger Federer.” After casing the store I bought a shirt and two lint brushes.

By the time I got to HK Choi I was lightheaded and needing something more substantial than congee. Raymond had recommended their version of lechong kawali, called “layered pork.” They were all out of layered pork. I ordered something else, wolfed down half of it, then abruptly lost interest. I asked for the check and a doggie bag. It’s a habit. Every weekend I have to throw out all the doggie bags that have accumulated, or my fridge starts looking like the morgue of leftovers.

At this point I must’ve done the groceries and lined up for a cab. Hours later I was looking at my computer screen and wondering if the clock was wrong because how could it be 10 p.m. already? Had I been sitting there for six hours doing nothing? Granted I’d been in a good mood all week, but where had the time gone?

Suddenly I was starving so I texted my friend Noel if he wanted to go out to dinner. At that hour the only places nearby that are still serving dinner are bars or Old Swiss Inn. At 10:20 we were at Murphy’s bar up the street from Noel’s place. The inner room was packed; some kind of meeting was in progress.

“It’s Quiz Night,” said the waitress. “You have to sign up early because it gets full.”

“We would totally kill at Quiz Night,” I told Noel. Between us we could bore everyone to death with useless trivia.

“Unless they ask questions about sports and geography,” he pointed out.

“What are the categories?” I asked the waitress.

“Sports, geography...”

I had my qualms about dining in an Irish pub, but Murphy’s serves an excellent adobo. With rice and two eggs. I love all-day breakfast, it’s so civilized.

Dessert, though, is a stretch for any pub. Having recovered my appetite I demanded cake. We walked to Greenbelt, where everything was closed; not surprising as it was 11:30. Cafe Breton was still open, though, and who should we see dining there but Noel’s old friend, the actress Snooky Serna.

“I just saw you in Hello, Young Lovers by Lino Brocka!” Noel said. “Someone uploaded the whole movie to YouTube in segments. You were great in it, so vulnerable.”

“But that was one of my worst performances,” Snooky said.

“No, it wasn’t.”

“What was?”

“The one where she killed her child. That was ghastly.”

“And yet its ghastliness made it memorable.”

Snooky complained that she’d gained weight, but she looked lovely. She’s articulate, she reads books, and she has a level of self-knowledge that is rare in actors. Especially those who  got into show business at a very early age. “You know, of course, that I’m crazy,” she reminded Noel. “Cuckoo.”

“Sanity is overrated,” Noel declared.

“I only hang out with crazies, they make me feel normal,” I added.

Then we had a contest in which each of us tried to prove that she or he was the craziest person at the table.

I lost.

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