it’s my monkey and i will spank it as often as i want to.

“do you really have an idea what that means?” zsolt asked me.

so, okay. i have some sort of an idea what that means; us being in the gutter too long doesn’t need a book of metaphors for anything. everything will always somehow sound freudian.

“it just sounds funny even without the visuals,” i told him.

“it is very funny!”

so, i guess i got myself into trouble then. not about me buying my 18 year old brother a shirt that says exactly that, although i shouldn’t have done that in the first place, really. but about me finding it so funny i totally forgot it was even worse if a girl would put something like that in her scuba diving profile side by side her clueless grinning face.

what was i thinking?

i did remember a conversation once with a cab driver on my way home from work. i was so tired after a long day at the office my eyes were drooping already.

“please don’t fall asleep.” he said in a cheerful voice, stirring me up from going straight away to dream land. “i had a passenger this morning who fell asleep in the middle of the trip and it took 40 minutes before she woke up due to the heat. turns out she had a few beers or so right after work and that did her in.” he paused, “are you very tired?”

“oh, yes. work was tough today.” i told him. “graveyard shift folks do that a lot. makes it easier for them to sleep in the morning.”

now, what other country in the world where the young, working class drinks beer at 7am?

“very true.” he agreed and proceeded to tell me how the contents of their refrigerator changed when her 22-year old daughter started working as a callcenter resource for an airline in the country. “there used to be only water and some left over food there but now it never runs out of beer! ” he paused, “things changed so much these days. so many kids have started working on the evenings!” This is a very popular observation since the boom of the BPOs and Callcenters took the Philippines by storm.

“and you know, she used to be really prim and proper and all that…”

i chuckled.

“it is true. when she was still studying, no vices at all. now, she smokes and she drinks and her clothes are getting fitter and fitter. skirts are getting shorter and necklines are getting lower!” he paused again to concentrate on the road. “i told her she ought to watch what she has become. she assured me though i do not have to worry so much, she was just growing up with the time.”

“so she parties all the time, huh?” i asked him. god, i still remember the time i was 22. my group of friends then frequent this bar in makati (it was shut down a few years back) and stayed there singing karaoke and drinking liquor and playing pool until 2:30 am on a working night. tuesday nights were a favourite because nothing ever happens on a tuesday!

“oh no. she’s actually not like most of the kids these days who spent all their paycheck for fun. she knows fun but she’s a very good saver.” he told me. “my wife and i, we don’t touch her money. it is all hers. and she’s doing a good job investing her savings. she’s working on paying for a condominium unit now.”

“that’s pretty impressive for a 22-year old.” i commented, actually very surprised. i was surprised that once again i have met a father that is so unlike most fathers ruined by poverty. “when i was 22, i live by the paycheck.” i commented.

“although i sometimes wish she acts like the lady that she was, i am good. she’s still the same daughter i had. she always teases me that i am too old-fashioned. always tell me that i have to learn and accept the world is changing.” he said. “i can see that she is right. the world is so different now. i would have not guessed this could get to this point when i was growing up.”

i can see his proud grin from the rearview mirror, that kind of expression when fathers talked proudly about their sons or daughters. i don’t see it quite often in this country infested with so much poverty. but when i do, it is so easy to notice it.

i have no idea who his daughter is nor how they reared her up. i do not care, too, that it seems so wrong that he was so indifferent about her growing fondness for smoking and drinking and dressing up. the fact that he can talk about his relationship with his daughter in so much fondness and pride voided everything else in my state of reasoning that day.

i thought about that one conversation today because he said something that hit a nerve now:

although i sometimes wish she acts like the lady that she was, i am good. she’s still the same daughter i had.

i can almost hear father from the cab driver’s voice.

it is time to pick up the phone.


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