I don’t remember every single detail about every single birthday party (“party” is too generous a word – generally my mother just cooks food and some relatives come over. Not sure if this is correlation or causality) I’ve ever had, but I don’t think I’ve ever had a birthday where it didn’t rain, or, at the very least, where the skies were never overcast. I even remember a birthday where we had a blackout. I suppose I remembered that birthday because it sucked.
Well, on the day I turned 22, the skies were gray. I’m not a big fan of uncomfortably hot days, so the gloom was actually a treat.
What I hated was the flood.
Row, row, row your boat.
I have this bad feeling the water’s really as old as I am (this is a recurring joke in our household). My high school friends have been begging me to throw a party in my parents’ house for years, but I look outside the window and I can only think of someone slipping and cracking his skull.
I’ve never brought a friend home, but some close friends have seen the interior of our house through pictures. I suppose our house is very photogenic. My friends think it’s this grand thing. Fucking flood has turned my parents’ house into an enigma.
* * *
But doesn’t stop my relatives from coming every year. This year, I even had more visitors than usual.
The question of the day was:
“May boyfriend na ba?”
The key is to look embarrassed as you reply. Well, I was embarrassed, but it’s important to look it. Otherwise, they’d think you’re a freak. I’ve done witty/funny/carefree/indifferent in the past, and they all looked at me funny.
So this year I was bombarded by a myriad of follow-ups:
“Bakit wala pa?”
“Bakit ayaw mo? Masarap kayang magka-boyfriend.”
(That last one from a middle-aged tita. She said that to me with her husband present; I believe she gave both of us an aneurysm.)
Well, a cousin said, “Ako nga rin,” with just the perfect amount of annoyed and indifferent. I loved it. We got to talking about other things: work, school, an older ex who dumped her. While she was eating dessert, she slapped me and said:
Cousin: So kelan nga.
Me: Kelan ang alin.
Cousin: Yung huli.
Me: Anong huli?
Cousin: Yung huli!
Me: Wala nga!
Cousin: Kahit nung noon-noon pa? Baka naman masyadong painful.
At one point, my dentist tita said: “Wala pa nga, since birth.”
To which I said: “Ay, kailangan talagang i-announce?”
At least everybody laughed.
* * *
And at least the incessant prodding meant they didn’t think I was repulsive, or strange. That I’m still single they saw as some sort of anomaly.
Should I be worried now?
* * *
Later that night, I stayed with my siblings in my brothers’ room.
I noticed something: before, when I try to kiss my younger brothers (I have two), they turn away. I suppose it’s some sort of law among younger brothers with older sisters.
Yesterday they didn’t turn away.
Cute. And sad. Our family’s aging, everyone’s getting old. Nobody could afford to refuse kisses anymore.