Monthly Archives: June 2008

Driving Miss Crazy

Despite occasionally making fools of themselves in public, husbands fulfill various functions which are beneficial and important to society.

Besides carrying unwieldy appliances, moving heavy furniture, and opening tightly-sealed containers, husbands are useful for taking out the trash—dry or wet, plastic or paper—rain or shine, given proper training and motivation.

But of the many duties husbands perform, nothing compares to the task of driving their wives to their destinations, whether for business or pleasure.

As a skill, manipulating a four-wheeled vehicle through the city’s chaotic streets is difficult enough.

However, as an errand, driving your spouse—who is usually running late for an important appointment—requires the patience of a saint, the willpower of a workaholic, and the luck of a lotto winner.

This has been my lot for the past year or so, especially since my wife has refused to take driving lessons.

Although I continue to beat deadlines, I have also become my wife’s part-time driver, bringing her to various functions all across the city as the need arises.

God knows it remains a thankless chore, like washing dishes, fixing the plumbing, and cleaning out the cat’s litter box (all of which I have also managed to do).

But then again, I’m not complaining.

For services rendered, I have been generously paid with regular lip action, the occasional shake in the sheets, and vows of undying love.

Recently however, I have begun to doubt whether I have received just compensation.

Just a few weeks ago, my wife—a US government scholar—was invited to a party thrown by the American Ambassador to the Philippines.

Upon receiving the invitation, she conveniently forgot that she was married—an error which I hoped was accidental. I saw that she had faxed back a form confirming her attendance, which also indicated that she would be driven by someone identified as Robert.

It was an oversight I conveniently ignored, to my great dismay.

As the event drew near, I sent my blazer—the only one I owned—to the cleaners so that I could make a good impression on the diplomats.

After all, drinking free beer while wearing semi-formal attire doesn’t look half as bad as getting drunk with a T-shirt on as you feast on appetizers.

It turns out that I would neither have the occasion to wear the blazer nor drink beer, let alone any cold beverage. Nor would I have the opportunity to rub elbows with consular officials.

On the day of the party, my wife told me that she would go to the event unaccompanied—a euphemism which meant that her bitter half would be left behind.

Despite having resented her decision, the part-time driver brought her to the embassy, finding very little consolation in avoiding reckless bus drivers, wayward traffic enforcers, and posters of Bayani Fernando.

I wore a T-shirt and shorts, thinking if I was going to wait for two hours in the car I might as well be comfortable.

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Photo above taken in Boracay during our first visit in 2006. Ms. Crazy never wanted to drive, then and now.

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Heart attack

OF the countless risks which can cause heart attacks—alcohol, tobacco,cheeseburgers, and relatives—none can prove more potent, and perhaps even more devastating, than entertainment news.

You got that right: celebrity gossip can kill you, especially if taken in large, unregulated amounts.

Compared to arteries clogged by bad cholesterol, liver damage wrought by beer, and lung cancer brought about by smoking, none can make your ticker go into cardiac arrest faster than a juicy sex scandal involving a starlet.

And if the piece of information includes graphic evidence accessible online, the news—and the vicarious thrills it brings to males such as myself—is likely to cause anyone to kick the bucket.

This explains why like all pleasures in life, I take Chika Minute in moderation. And thrice or so a day at GMA’s 24 Oras seems the perfect dosage.

Unlike regular males of my age (old), income (low), and temperament (grumpy), I remain genetically predisposed to having a heart attack.

Various doctors have warned me that I am at risk for a seizure because my paternal grandfather died of it before he turned forty (which, in hindsight, was good because Delfin Sr. never had to endure an intransigent grandson, let alone contend with a stubborn son).

Despite going to the gym twice weekly and cutting down on my food consumption, I always try to keep excitement at bay.

For instance, before logging onto Philippine Entertainment Portal (http://www.pep.ph) or tuning into GMA Network, I take a deep breath, preparing myself for the best—and the worst—the colorful world of showbusiness has to offer.

If the day’s events are unusually rife with controversy, with accusations and counter-accusations filling the airwaves, I make an effort to hang out at the water dispenser to drink my fill of the soothing liquid.

But sometimes, in the face of great adversity, cold water and deep breaths remain ineffective to combat tension.

Take the showbiz highlight of last Friday.

During the early evening of that day, the Philippines’ leading broadcast network said that it already had signed up Heart Evangelista, allowing her to join the company’s stable of artists.

There I was, beating a deadline for the Philippines’ leading news website—GMANews.TV, what else?—when a picture of Heart Evangelista
flashed on the office’s TV screen and a voice-over announced to one and all that she was a newly-minted member of the Kapuso network.

When I heard this news, I nearly fell off my chair and almost suffered a minor stroke.

Fortunately, the water dispenser was just a few meters away from my desk, enabling me to get a refill of cold water—the calming effects of which I so desperately needed.

For more than five years, I had kept track of Heart’s career, ever since I saw her face in an ad for a cellphone company. And years later, when she did that soap commercial in which she bared more skin than usual, I was smitten. I still am.

Since Ms. Evangelista is a Kapuso like myself, I am now looking forward to seeing her around in the GMA Network Center. And by that time, I hope that I would no longer need a cold glass of water.

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Photo taken from Heart Evangelista’s friendster account, discovered through the wonders of Google.

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Great—and unmet—expectations

A book review of P. J. O’Rourke on the Wealth of Nations

P. J. O’Rourke reads Adam Smith so you don’t have to.

Or so says the blurb—printed in boldface—on the front inner flap of his latest opus.

Entitled “On The Wealth Of Nations,” the work is the American journalist’s take on Smith’s classic as part of Atlantic Monthly Press’s Books That Changed The World series.

The offer is just too good to be passed up, both for fans and first-time readers of America’s funniest Republican.

Besides allowing readers to experience the dense, wry prose of the famous Scottish economist, On the Wealth of Nations also promises to showcase O’Rourke’s biting wit once more.

Considered as America’s funniest republican, O’Rourke has conjured highly original one-liners while avoiding wayward missiles in Iraq, periodic gunfire in Lebanon, and corrupt policemen in the Philippines (his piece about Edsa I is included in Holidays in Hell, one of his very best books, next to All the Trouble in the World and Give War A Chance).

As Rolling Stone magazine’s foreign affairs desk chief, he was also the most well-traveled conservative commentator, giving his readers something to laugh about every time he submitted dispatches from abroad.

Sad to say, his latest work falls below expectations.

Like his previous two books—The CEO of the Sofa and Peace Kills—On The Wealth Of Nations arguably shows that being something of a television celebrity—through his regular appearances at HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher—may have blunted his edgy, no-holds barred, take-no-prisoners writing style.

This is not helped by the fact that O’Rourke in On The Wealth of Nations is “all over the place,” according to one discerning Facebook user, noting the author’s awkward attempt to establish a unifying theme to hold the book together.

Instead of dishing out outrageous, racy, and funny diatribes, O’Rourke simply quotes liberally from Smith and then provides weak insight that does not befit someone of his stature.

Originally printed in a shorter and different form in a UK publication, the book also includes an Adam Smith Philosophical Dictionary, as compiled by O’Rourke, his literary nod to Voltaire and Ambrose Bierce whose The Devil’s Dictionary remains cited to this day.

In an entry called “Homeless, an alternative view on the,” he quotes Smith as saying “The beggar who suns himself by the side of the highway, possesses that security which kings are fighting for.”

While the material—900 pages long in two volumes—may have cramped his style, the O’Rourke faithful, myself included, can still take refuge that the work is not totally devoid of humor.

“At my house I see a Made in China label on everything but the kids and the dogs,” O’Rourke says in Chapter 8. “And I’m not sure about the kids. They have brown eyes and small noses.”

Here’s hoping that his next book would prove to be funnier than his British Airways commercial (which, by the way, is available on YouTube.)

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Picture of the book is taken from the Cato Institute, whose members include O’ Rourke.

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