Wednesday, April 20, 2011

 

Two True Stories: Le Bastille and Le Poop

“How’s Skeeter?” (her real name)

“Okay naman siya! She does freelance marketing,” then biglang nag-dawn sa’kin kung bakit bilang naalala ni Wenda (not her real name) ang loka-lokang ka-edad lang namin pero mas batang ‘di hamak ang batch sa Broad Ass (real name, short for UP Broadcasting Association) kaya na-weirdan akong siya of all people ang unang kukumustahin sa’kin ni Wenda,“Puwede mo siyang kunin sa bagong trabaho mo!” Nu’ng nakuwento na ni Wendang na-pirate siya para maging bagong VP for Marketing ng isang bangkong gustong tapatan ang BDO, in-expect ko nang ililibre niya ang mamahaling bacon-cheeseburger na inorder ko dito Friday’s High Street.

Last year para ko na ring nagawa ang malayong panaginip na makapag-European Tour nang subaybayan ang regular fb status updates at mga albums na in-upload ni Skeeter . At nang matapos ang kanyang ilang linggong nagpalipat-lipat-bansa, excited akong nakipagkita upang masaksihan mismo ang mga super-animated na pagkukuwento niya ng kanyang mga travel abrowd!

“Rey, Paris, was the best! But it was expensive! I mean, I knew it was gonna be expensive pero ‘pag dating ko talagang hindi pa rin ako prepared! Expensive itoh!” Skeeter has a deep, nasal voice, a tall, morena woman who sends out energy to make sure you feel exactly what she’s feeling when she speaks out. I eagerly devoured every word, every exaggerated joke, every gesticulation. And it is from here that I will hear my favorite travel story. Ever.

Skeeter had Paris among her last stops on her solo backpacking tour of Europe. She further illustrated the very high cost of living in Paris by saying that her cab fare from the airport to her hostel costs as much as a week’s worth of train pass in Germany. But things serendipitously worked out for her, as if Paris was going extra lengths to be the most ideal host to this one-of-a-lifetime guest. There was a transport strike when Skeeter arrived in Paris. An Asian man she recognized from her plane was right ahead of her at the taxi passenger queue. Skeeter chatted him up. Self-taught in French, Skeeter acted out her French opening statemen to the guy. “Wait,” I interrupted, “naiintindihan nila ang French mo? “I guess, kasi kung kinakausap ko sila sumasagot sila sa’kin in French at nagkakaintindihan kami.” Whoa! This proves Skeeter’s creepy good self-learning! I mean, I wouldn’t really be able to tell if her confident, seemingly very fluent French is actually just gibberish, but I’m sure my glib Spanish ala Miss Venezuela in the question and answer portion won’t even be recognized as Castilian in Caracas!

That guy, who was masungit pa raw at first, agreed to share the lone cab with her, dropped her off at her hostel, and volunteered to foot the fare entirely! Then Skeeter meets a Paris professor in the hostel. He ends up postponing a trip to his hometown to show her around their capital the next day! Nakatipid na naman si Skeeter. On her third day she ventures out to see the Bastille. She was taking particular care when taking photos of the historical marker that bears the French name of the place when an Asian woman approached and asked why she was taking a photo of the marker. Skeeter explained to the woman, “I’m from the Philippines and my family name is Labastilla. It’s the Spanish word for Le Bastille.” To which the Asian woman replied, “I’m from the Philippines, too, and my family name is Labastilla!”

The woman turned out to be distant relative of Skeeter’s. She was in Paris for her work in the UN but she lost her bag and with it her diplomatic passport and money. She was supposed to leave France that day but decided to visit Bastille instead when her office advised her that they will shoulder all her expenses in the city pending issuance of replacement passport. Tita would take Skeeter around Paris the rest of her stay. Galeng, no?

Come to think of it, Wenda now reminds me of Skeeter. They both have a sharp, twisted sense of humour, they're highly entertaining conversationalists, and experimental powerdressers. Today, Wenda was wearing a power little black dress with biggish, structural sleeves. She does look like that young, dynamic, hotshot VP in her early 30’s who will add vibrance to this sleepy bank. She goes, “I have a gross story.” Wala pa naman ‘yung order so sige.

“Kaninang umaga (fresh na fresh ang story niya!), nagpa-medical check-up ako for this new job nga…at kailangan ng stool sample.” May mas gaganda pa bang opening sentence sa isang gross story? “So sabi nila gawin na lang beforehand then dalhin na lang sa ospital. So kanina dinala ko sa kanila.” She said this while raising her knuckles as if she were clutching an invisible purse so I asked, “Huh? Pero ‘di ba isang toothpick lang naman ang kailangang sample?” Biglang sagot ni Wenda, “SIYEMPRE HINDI KO ALAM ‘YAN, NO!”

Nangisay na’ko pagpigil sa malakas na pag-iyak-halakhak ko! Shet! Kadire!
Buti nga raw hindi ‘yung lumang Tupperware ang ginamit niyang lalagyan “para mas maganda,” so ginamit niya ‘yung lalagyan ng bagong Selecta-Hershey’s Reeses ! Kinarir pa raw niyang saluhin lahat pagkagising niya. Nilagay niya sa paperbag tapos ni-label pa niya ng pangalan niya, date, at time of movement. Pagdating niya sa ospital, pinagtawanan at pinandirihan daw siya ng mga nurse! “Ma’am, ilipat n’yo po sa parang lalagyan lang po ng catsup.” Nandiri pa si Wenda sa idea, “Ngyi! Kayo na gumawa nu’n!” Nagmatigas na lang siya at iniwan na lang daw niya ang kanyang pint-size stool sample doon.

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