Sunday Lifestyle

Life . . . Sometimes

SECOND WIND - Barbara Gonzalez-Ventura - The Philippine Star

Sometimes life is strange. I am writing this at 5:20 a.m. Have been awake since 4 a.m. I don’t know why. Maybe I have more similarities with the man who works in the car repair shop across the street, the one I hear hammering sometimes at 2 a.m. There is no reason for me to wake up so early. I am not worried, not in love or lust or anything. It must be just one more sign of aging. Reminds me of my grandmother who would ask me before I went to bed what time I wanted to be awakened. She would then wake up at 4 a.m., wake me up and ask what time I want to be awakened again because she had forgotten.

Lola, never thought I would age like you, except I don’t have any grandchildren living with me. I live alone now. My apartment is still dark like the rest of my world at this ungodly hour so I’m still in my bedroom at my computer writing my weekly column whose title popped into my head before I even began to write.

Who would have thought that at 73 I would put teal — that’s blue-green, the color of the beetle salagintô — streaks in my hair? Well, I did. A man — just a friend, not more than that — observed that my nail polish matched my hair, the rare thing for me being that I had finger- and toenail polish and they matched. For him it was that the color probably belonged to a corpse. But I am happy that I had the daring to try an unconventional color on my hair. It makes me fit into my definition of funky, a look I like whatever my age.

That Sunday I dragged this friend to a new restaurant I had noticed on my way home. I live in San Juan and pass A. Mabini Street a lot on my way home from wherever and one day I noticed one of the houses had been turned into a restaurant. Francesco’s Kitchen, the sign said. I wanted to try it but I’m still not too comfortable just planting myself alone in a restaurant. There were many cars parked and the young waitress asked if we had reservations. “None,” I said. “We’re only two. Don’t you have a little table for two?” “No, ma’am,” she said, apologetically. So we headed out and while we were waiting for our car a man came and said, “We can put you in the coffee shop. Would you mind?” No, not at all, we said.

The coffee shop is a pretty room enclosed in glass and sort of wrapped around a big tree. It had tables for two and four and was empty.  The rest of the restaurant had full tables for six people and up. Then the man who had invited us back in introduced himself as Felix Yu. He said he used to work in Pepsi as chief operating officer. I used to handle Coca-Cola, I said, and we both laughed, amused that we were former competitors. You don’t know what that means, working for the two biggest competing soft drink brands, until you’ve done it. You can’t get caught consorting with the competition — much less drinking their products — unless it’s a meeting of the beverage association. We’re both retired now. My friend ordered a Coke Zero and got it so the restaurant isn’t even Pepsi-exclusive. That’s wonderful!

Felix said the chef, Francesco Rizzo, used to be the chef of Paparazzi at the EDSA Shangri-La. Once I loved going to Paparazzi, enjoyed the Italian food there. That was when I was president of J. Romero & Associates and could charge my entertainment of clients to the office. I remember resigning one of our accounts there. Who would’ve thought I’d remember that?

We actually enjoyed lunch. We were alone in the coffee shop.  First there was a table with parents and two children but they were whisked off, I guess when a bigger table was ready. We ordered osso bucco, which was excellent. We both enjoyed the peace and quiet of the coffee shop where we were sort of tucked in snugly. (If you want to try it, make reservations by calling 777-9777 or 0917-1444395/0919-9127785. If you don’t make reservations for a weekend, you will have to look for another restaurant. Or if you’re only two or four, ask if they can accommodate you in the coffee shop.)

My life is usually quiet, spent knitting or making jewelry at home, exercising at The Sunshine Place, hanging out with my girlfriends there for potluck lunches where I am known as the Leftover Queen, the one who eats all the leftovers. Then, every once in a while, something happens. I color my hair and nails teal and discover a wonderful Italian restaurant.  Life can be wonderful... sometimes.

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