SMARTPHONES can be useful.
Especially if a summer downpour catches you unawares, leaving your underpants wet and forcing you to seek refuge in a fastfood outlet whose airconditioning is slightly above the temperature needed to produce ice.
Which is exactly what happened to me Tuesday night in Quezon City on the way home.
Immediately after getting off a jeep at Philcoa, I had nowhere to go. A small body of dirty water had formed right in the middle of a tricycle terminal where the last leg of my journey home usually begins. In the meantime, the rain gave no indication that it was letting up anytime soon: it poured continuously from the moment the train I was on pulled into the Quezon Avenue station until my untimely arrival via jeep at Philcoa.
Although I could take an alternative route to the apartment from Philcoa, it involved a far too complex process to be appreciated by greedy, predatory cabdrivers intent on making a quick buck or two from desperate commuters such as myself.
Besides convincing a cabdriver that the road home was free from flood, traffic, zealous policemen, and criminals, I was expected to fork out extra for his kindness, that is, if he actually decided to take me.
Unfortunately, since I was already drenched and stranded, my extra reserve of goodwill was in dire need of replenishment. It absolutely dried up when another driver told me that the leg room of his cab’s front passenger area was inundated with rainwater. It was drier than the humor of columnist Conrado de Quiros.
Incensed, I ran for cover, which was an exercise in futility—if there was one—since I was already gearing up to become a finalist for a wet t-shirt contest: the fat Filipino male version. I then whipped out my smartphone, and continuously pressed just one single button to dial a pre-programmed number: my wife’s. Upon being connected, I told her that I would be unable to pick her up immediately because I couldn’t get to Charing—a 1994 midnight blue Toyota sedan we inherited from her parents—who was parked at home. (As it turned out, my wife was given a lift by a very close friend who had an errand to run. Thanks, Barry. And Maya too for her thoughtfulness.)
In the meantime, since I was already stranded in the area, I told my wife that I might as well have dinner at a nearby fastfood outlet where I proceeded to freeze my balls off, as earlier mentioned.
After I ate a hasty supper of chicken and spaghetti, I once more unsheated my underutilized smartphone—a Treo 650. With two hands, I began to do the finger mambo on the unit’s qwerty keyboard using the Documents to Go application.
As I whiled the storm away, I eventually produced a short but nevertheless workable draft of a piece whose parts were enhanced to produce the blog entry which you are reading now.
Moral of the story: it pays to have a smartphone handy especially if you’re going to be stranded in a cold fastfood restaurant—it keeps your mind off from your freezing balls.
FROM THE ENGLISH USAGE DEPT. Re: phrase “catches you unawares.” Is it catches you unawares or unaware?
UNCONFIRMED reports indicate that the company which will own and manage the Philippine edition of Playboy Magazine has already acquired a mansion in an upscale subdivision in Manila. According to the grapevine, this will ensure that no rallies nor demonstrations will be held outside the said mansion, which will also serve as the magazine’s editorial offices. No reports yet whether the mansion will feature Playboy bunnies.
FOR a blog with significantly less hits than a porn site during Good Friday, Nothing in Particular has its fair share of readers, a number of whom, I am proud to say, are accomplished individuals.
Shortly after I began to blog regularly—an acquired taste, especially for someone inured to seeing his pieces printed on paper used for wrapping smoked fish, cleaning windows, and firing up charcoal—I discovered that there were other people, besides my wife, who were interested in what I had to say online.
So I began, however haphazardly, to indulge their fancies by contemplating my dirty navel, among other body parts susceptible to sweat and grime.
As Nothing In Particular’s hits grew—not exponentially but enough to draw an infinite supply of inspiration from—some visitors occasionally posted comments and/or sent email messages in reaction to some of my entries.
Last month, a day or two after American novelist Kurt Vonnegut Jr. died, I posted entries which dealt with separate encounters of two people I knew with the author. Turned out I was just half right.
While Ibarra C. Gutierrez, the father of a friend, did have dinner with Vonnegut in New York—a privilege I envy to this day—Butch Dalisay didn’t lose a book which he asked Vonnegut to autograph, as I previously reported.
Sir Butch, who was my English college professor immediately posted a comment and corrected my facts. He said that the book he had autographed and then lost was Catch-22 by Joseph Heller.
Meanwhile, a week or two ago, Pete Lacaba, another multi-awarded writer, posted a comment on an entry which said that the editor-in-chief of Playboy’s Philippine edition considered him as among those best suited to write for the magazine.
Although Lacaba raised the possibility that he knew who my source was, he nevertheless asked me where I got my information.
Lacaba, I guess, has more than a passing interest in the matter. After all, years before FHM began to publish its local version, Lacaba was all set to become the editor-in-chief of Penthouse’s Philippine edition. Unfortunately, the deal fell through.
Meanwhile, since I was sworn to secrecy, I told Lacaba in an email that I secured clearance to write about the subject—even in a trifling blog such as this one—because I promised never to mention any person nor entity nor to refer to any of their identifying characteristics.
He hasn’t replied since.
Too bad—I would have wanted to ask him who would have been Penthouse Philippines’ publisher.
But then again, I’m pretty sure that our paths will cross again soon enough.
Lacaba, together with other writers, has launched Salinawit, a project which intends to put Filipino lyrics, usually loose translations, into popular American standards. With this in mind, I’m looking forward to singing Filipino translations of Night and Day, One for My Baby (and one more for the road), and ‘Round Midnight. So how about it, Sir Pete?
But back to Playboy: the Philippine Edition.
Another Palanca awardee, Faye Ilogon, has asked me “why can’t they bring in Playgirl too to level the playing field?”
Hmm…good point, Faye.
Unfortunately, my sources aren’t that deep.
Graphic above courtesy of http://www.pczaak.nl