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Tinder Tailor Soldier Spy (Part 6)

23 Apr

Chapter 10: Catching Lies

10.1 The Canada Conversation

Jayson had been busy at work the past week. This time around, he had to travel to Mindanao. He told me that he’d be back on Saturday but he wasn’t sure yet if he could meet me. He told me to wait for his text though, and that he’d try as much as he could to finish work early.

I have to debrief my team as soon as we come back, but I guess we will be done by noon.

Debrief your team?

I mean we still need to talk about work. Sorry.

Jayson mistook my question as me not knowing what debriefing was. When in fact I knew exactly what it meant, and in fact, I was asking him to explain to me why he was using a term that I only typically hear in action movies. But I didn’t pursue the topic. I left it at that.

Anyway, we did see each other that Saturday. I was in Greenbelt by 11am but he finished “debriefing his team” around 1pm. I didn’t mind. I could always amuse myself. I enjoyed a solo karaoke session before he finally arrived to get me. We grabbed a quick bite at Mary Grace, and then we walked around Makati for a while.

In the midst of our stroll, I got caught up with something that I do not remember anymore now, but that thing I was doing made me let go of Jayson’s hand for a while, while he kept roaming around. We might have been physically separated at that moment, but I could still see and hear him from a distance.

Then there was a foreign guy and a Filipina who came to the same spot where Jayson was standing by. Just like us, they were on a date too. They were taking photos together, changing poses upon the instructions of the girl, trying out various angles, albeit never ever getting the perfect shot. Jayson offered to take their picture for them, and the couple appreciated that.

Thanks, man! Appreciate it! The foreigner said as he shook Jayson’s hand.

No problem! Jayson responded. And they exchanged some cordial words. He was ready to come to me when suddenly the foreigner casually asked:

What country you from?

I’m from Canada. And you?

The foreigner either said UK or Australia. But I didn’t really care about where he was from. All I cared about was what I accidentally heard Jayson say. When the couple had left, I walked back to where Jayson was, and blurted out:

Canada?

Jayson pretended not to have heard what I said.

Why’d you tell the foreign guy you’re from Canada? I prodded.

He’s a stranger. He doesn’t have to know everything about me.

I am generally a confrontational person, but with Jayson I seemed to be holding back a lot. My gut was telling me to keep quiet for now, to gather more clues that Jayson had been dropping once in a while, whether intentionally or not. I am not stupid not to form theories of my own based on what I knew so far. But annoyingly enough, Jayson kept assuming I was a typical girl who didn’t over-analyze.

The Canada conversation I had with Jayson happened two years ago, around the last week of February of 2016 to be exact.

Well, I think it is soooo worth sharing with you guys that recently (2018), I bought a book entitled “Overworld” which is a memoir (true-to-life account) of a reluctant CIA Operative in the name of Larry Kolb. There was a portion there that really blew my mind — the part where his father, a seasoned intelligence officer, was giving him practical advice before he travels to another country for a job:

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Coincidence? You be the judge.

_________________________

10.2. Jayson’s Tattoo

I’d be lying if I say that I had never set foot on Jayson’s flat. At this point, I had already spent enough time with Jayson to finally see him in the rare occasion where he was not wearing his usual branded shirt and baseball cap.

Jayson slept at night like any typical western man. Half-naked and all that. It was the first time I saw him shirtless, and I must say, Jayson never disappoints when it comes to carelessly revealing interesting things about himself to me. It was dim, with only the lamp on the nightstand on my side of the bed lit up. Yet, when he came closer to cuddle me, half-asleep as he was, I saw, for the first time too, a tattoo on his right arm just below his shoulder.

USMC

Four bold capital letters spelled out across his bicep. Carefully concealed throughout the day thanks to his uniformly sleeved and collared shirts.

Suddenly I was in the mood to talk. And even though Jayson was exhausted, I knew my questions couldn’t wait until the next day.

Babe, I didn’t know you have a tattoo. USMC? What does it mean? I asked as I gently touched the inked portion of his bare arm.

Jayson opened his shut eyes.

United Sons of a Martian Child. It was a tattoo I had out of a whim with my high school friends. Some kind of silly fraternity thing. We decided to get it one night when we were all so drunk. The three of us. We called ourselves Sons of a Martian Child. I’d tell you the backstory of it, but it is quite long. Maybe some other time.

Then he chuckled, and anyone else would have been convinced he was fondly recalling his fun childhood memories. But not me. This time, he could not possibly convince me.

LIE. THAT IS A LIE.

I am 100% sure that Jayson was inventing his Martian Child Story. Did he really think I was that naive?

See, if you readers must know one thing about me, it is that I have long been a user of dating websites… way before Tinder was invented, and way before phones were even called smart.

An older dating platform has indeed existed way before that. It was the kind where you log in using your desktop. The kind where it was still kinda shameful to admit you have a dating account. It was the era when taking things to the next level meant transferring from the website to Skype – not Viber or Whatsapp. And the era when men were not just within your 4 or 6 mile radius, but rather were oceans away. The way old-school dating websites operated back then was such that when two people who matched decided that they actually liked each other so seriously much, it would be time for the guy to book a flight.

In my history of using this kind of dating website way, way, back, I have come to talk to a lot of men from different parts of the world. Some of them I had remained friends with up to the present time.

There was this African-French guy who worked at Microsoft, and who built me a website for my then online business, all the way from France; There was another one from Gloucestershire who’d virtually tour me around his neighborhood during day time; There was this guy from Australia, divorced, with a daughter older than me, who wanted to marry me in an instant.

And then there were the soldiers.

I was quite drawn to soldiers ever since I could remember. I’ve had this fascination and raw admiration for men who run towards the sound of the gun. These men I met online were stationed in different parts of the globe, but all coming from just one country after all — no other than the US of A, of course. I talked to a lot of them in different times, for quite a while in each occasion. In the course of talking to them, I had come to know that there was a place in California called Twenty-nine Palms. I learned of the various stations in Afganistan, Iraq and even in the provinces of Japan. These military men would tell me about their day-to-day lives, their experiences in bootcamp, how they do combat, how to operate tanks and all that jazz. Heck there was even a time in the past when I had memorized all the ranks and titles of officers in the US Army, the US Navy, the US Air Force and , yes, the United States Marine Corps.

Truth be told, I’ve seen Jayson’s tattoo before. Except it was on another person’s bicep. And I only saw it via Skype when my bored friend living in the Californian desert decided to call me up so I could watch him cook his lunch, in a sleeveless gray shirt that boasted off his muscular arm.

Jayson was a former Marine. Could it really be?

I was discombobulated and amazed at the same time. I was nervous, and anxious, yet I found myself even more attracted to him now. The mystery that surrounded his person intrigued me to the bones. It made me want to uncover more information.

Slowly.

But more.

No, It’s not. It’s not what USMC means. I replied to him as soon as I slipped away from my internal soliloquy, and back to reality.

You know what it means?

Yes. I do.

I expected Jayson to dare me say out-loud what his tattoo actually stood for. But to my dismay, Jayson did not provoke me. I could feel he didn’t want to go there. He was not going to discuss his military background with me tonight. He was determined to lie.

You are too smart for me, lady. He said instead. Then he finished off positioning his arms around me, and he fell asleep, perhaps so intently, while giving me a warm embrace.

Image result for usmc tattoo right bicep

Not Jayson’s tattoo.

TO BE CONTINUED.

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Tinder Tailor Soldier Spy (Part 5)

12 Apr

Chapter 8: Crancube and the Child

Jayson and I have been touring around Intramuros the whole day now. We just saw Fort Santiago which Jayson enjoyed a lot.

There was this young lad in Jose Rizal’s prison-cell-turned-museum who was playing a giant puzzle that resembled a rubik’s cube game except it was only two-dimensional. Jayson thought the boy was smart. We stood right next to him, amusingly watching him finish his round. Jayson would whisper “Ooops!” to me every time the boy would make the wrong strategy. But no matter how many mistakes the boy made, Jayson wouldn’t coach the poor child. The boy figured it out in the end. And Jayson was really impressed. He told me he could solve that puzzle in three, five seconds, and the boy did it in a few minutes… so he wasn’t so bad. I thought that maybe he was seeing his 10-year old self in that child.

I tried to mentally solve that puzzle too to be honest, but as much as I thought I was sharp enough, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out which square to even move first and which should be next in order to piece the same colors together. Ahh. I have never played a rubik’s cube or a crancube anyway. I’d cut me some slack.

But even then, it was at that very moment that I got myself convinced that Jayson was indeed the better leader. I thought that if I would ever end up with this guy (which i was actually wishing for at that time), I wouldn’t have a problem letting him make the big decisions because I knew that between the two of us, he was the more proficient strategist and planner.

It was also then that I realized that the idea of a “woman submitting to her husband” does not, after all, absolutely repulse me. I realized I could concede to the bible on this if my partner deserves to play the part, or in other words — if he was smarter, more skillful than I am in almost everything about life.

—————

Chapter 9: Chivalry and Cab Rides

Jayson, wait up, I need to buy a bottle of water. Do you want one too?

Sure.

We entered Ministop along Cabildo Street. I took what I needed from the fridge and rushed to the counter. The cashier punched the price in the register. Before I could give her my money, Jayson stealthily handed the lady two twenty peso bills to pay for my groceries.

Jayson, It’s okay! I’ll pay for it!

No, I got it.

Jayson! come on, it’s just forty pesos.

Exactly. It’s just forty, so keep your money now and let me be the man in this relationship.

If there was one thing that Jayson did that I loved loved loved so much, it was the way he made me feel so protected, well taken care of, and spoilt all the time. Jayson would never let me pay for any expense we would incur even if I’d insist to share. Not on my watch, he would always say.

So I let Jayson be who he wanted to be in our – what he called – “relationship”. And I believe he loved this in turn about me. I was the affectionate, caring, and genuinely appreciative lady his manliness needed me to be, but I was also the clever, sarcastic and challenging bitch his nerdiness enjoyed bantering with endlessly.

I know that being a willing recipient of the byproducts of Jayson’s chivalry may go against the very core of my beliefs. What with gender equality. But I’ve long accepted to myself that when it comes to dating men, I’d have to somehow allow my expectations and preferences betray my advocacy. Just a little bit. Just for now. I mean, until and unless all guys catch up with feminism, then I’d rather enjoy the perks of Jayson’s “being the man”.

Bringing our Valentine’s date to a close, Jayson had even gone to the extent of offering me money for my taxi ride home. This time I did not accept it.

At this point, I have to clarify: It is one thing to take care of the check by giving his credit card or spare bills to the waiters or sellers or cashiers directly; it is another thing when he is actually handing the money to me.

It makes me uncomfortable although I know it basically just boils down to the same thing. Somehow, I still associate actually receiving his money with my two bare hands as asking for a dole out or some kind of allowance. As I’ve said, I didn’t want to look like I am dating him only to exhaust his funds, especially not in front of the fancily-clad Intramuros guard and the driver who I’m almost certain was already sizing me up from inside the cab!

Thank you, I really appreciate it, but I can pay for my own ride home. Besides, you already spent for everything else.

I don’t mind. I just want to take care of you.

Aww, baby. You are so sweet. Thank you, but I’ll be fine.

You sure?

Yes.

Take it anyway.

No, babe. My god! Aren’t you stubborn! And I playfully rolled my eyes on him again.

Not as stubborn as you are! then he smiled, and then he succumbed to me and he put his money back in his pocket.

He leaned in for a kiss, I pulled back a little to tease, we simultaneously smiled while our faces were almost (but not quite) touching each other, until finally, I let his lips take the plunge… and then, with my bouquet of flowers on one hand, and my heart falling faster and faster on the other, I boarded the cab marking the end of yet another perfect, dreamy night. My first ever Valentines Day Date was a blast.

Tinder Tailor Soldier Spy (Part 4)

5 Apr

Chapter 6: Stuffed Bears and Sign Board

 

“Why is this man not texting me today? He texted me yesterday, he texted me the other day. I’m pretty certain he is in Manila right now… so WHY THE HELL IS HE NOT TEXTING ME TODAY?!”

I thought it was so foul that of all the days he could pick, he particularly – and probably intentionally – chose this day to go missing on me again. I looked at my phone one more time. There was nothing. I probably looked at it a hundred times more until I finally released a heavy, disappointed sigh, accepted defeat, put my phone back in my bag, and went on walking along Greenbelt 1 where storefronts were all decorated with hearts and cupids and too much red, and side stalls and kiosks were teeming with unreasonably expensive teddy bears and roses.

Tomorrow is Valentines day. And this man I am supposedly seeing doesn’t care. Sure we’ve only been going out short of two months, but come on now —– Tomorrow. Is. Valentines. Day.

Pissed-off was an understatement for what I was feeling that night. In my mind, I was already ready to “break up” with this guy I was not even in an official relationship with.

And then my phone rang.

Hello babe… how are you?
I’m good. Just strolling in the mall. What’s up?
Nothing really. I’m just finishing up with dinner.
I see.
So I was wondering if you wanna go out with me tomorrow? I’d like to spend my Valentines Day with you if you don’t mind.

I took back all the hateful words I had already told him in my head. All the angst in me was instantly taken over by so much unconcealable delight that I was sure he could see me smiling from ear to ear even though we were just on the phone that time.

Yes, Of course! I thought you’d never ask!
You panicked, didn’t you? Wish I could see your face right now haha!

Jayson loved petty games.

Do you wanna go anywhere specific? I asked.

I would really like to see a place with some historical and cultural significance. No more malls for me, unless that’s where you wanna go.

Alright well there’s only one place like that in Metro Manila — I think you’re gonna love Intramuros!

———–

February 14 came sooner than I anticipated.

Jayson and I have agreed to meet first in a coffee shop in Makati before heading to Intramuros together. At exactly 8 am, he was at Starbucks waiting for me. I endeavored to beat him at it but I ended up being 20 minutes late. In my defense though, it had taken me a while trying to look like the finest lady in town. As early as 6am, I’d been trying on one outfit after another until finally I pieced together the perfect ensemble that I thought he’d find attractive, while at the same time would look chic and “un-stereotype-able” to the prying eyes of the public.

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Makati was rather accepting of pinay-and-foreigner couples, but now we were about to exit the bubble that is CBD and I wasn’t sure how the ordinary people of the outside world would perceive me to be. It has always been my issue, you know. I never wanted to look like I was dating this foreign guy for his money. Sometimes I would even wish I could hang a massive sign board on my neck saying “Excuse me. I make my own money and I have a law degree!”

 

Chapter 7: Cannons and Cobblestones

 

I was expected to be the tour guide of Jayson in Intramuros, all rehearsed to deliver the story behind every monument and every old building we were about to visit. I had even thought of giving him some cool trivia on Philippine History. Well I tried. But on our third stop, we both realized that he was better off just reading the historical markers of the sites because well, i clearly sucked at being a tour guide and all the more so as a historian. I would keep inventing stuff when I didn’t know what to say anymore and he would always catch each one of my wonderful concoctions about the happenings of the past – not because he knew the real deal – but because I couldn’t hide my hysterically cunning grin.

We walked atop the famous Intramuros stone wall. We walked and walked and talked, and we kissed every now and then, and then we’d walk again. A few more minutes of treading that 20-feet-high brick-laid pathway, he suddenly turned to face me, and he halted me to a still position. He grabbed both my hands with both his hands and then he gave me orders.

Look up! Look up in the sky !
And I quickly looked up in the sky as instructed.

What now? I asked out of confusion because there was nothing up there really but the sun that was starting to blind me.

Let’s play a game!
Ok?!
What is the year engraved on the bricks of the pavement we’re walking on?
There’s actually a year engraved on the pavement?
Yes! On almost every brick actually! So what’s the answer?

Having no clue at all, I just responded with the year of my birth which is 1989.

Ah close! It’s 1981… or 1861… depending on your orientation.

I looked down to see the answer for myself, and true enough there were 1981 engravings – or 1861 if you read them upside down – on most of the red bricks on the floor.

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Jayson was quick to throw me a smile filled with teasing condescension. 1-0, in his favor. Ugh. I’ve been to this place a number of times. How come I’ve never noticed this before?!

After savoring his quick moment of victory, Jayson suddenly changed mood and uttered something on a more serious note:

You’ve got to be more observant of your surroundings, Janica. Mindlessness can kill you.

———–

A few more steps along the muralla and we finally reached a wide rectangular open ground with cemented triangular planes here and there, and some uneven elevations. There we found the iconic 12 Spanish cannons strategically positioned against the indented parapets of the Old Manila fortress. Boy, did Jayson get excited upon laying eyes on these ancient toys! He speedily headed towards one of them with me in tow. As we got close to his cannon of choice, Jayson eagerly decided to give me a crash course on this particular artillery:

He talked about the engineering behind this weapon, as well as its assembly line. He explained to me how it works using principles of Physics I did not understand. He identified its various parts like the bore, the muzzle, and the reinforce whatever. He then blabbered about its history, its development throughout centuries, its various kinds and its more modern versions. I’m quite certain he told me more but I honestly had a hard time imbibing all the information. I gave up on him as early as when he started spewing Engineering jargons but I guess my acting prowess ( read: consistent nodding with occasional jaw drops, followed up with lines like  “Is that so?”, “Oh, really?”, “Wow, that is nice”) encouraged him to go on and on and on.

As he wrapped up his first lecture for the day, all I could ask him was:

How did you know all these stuff? You use cannons and cannon balls in your water-filtration job?

Oh yes. We use them as pipelines that’s why we are one of a kind,  He said in jest and I took it as a cue to playfully roll my eyes. Haha no babe, I just read a lot.

——–

Our next destination was the Bahay Tsinoy.

Jayson had particularly requested to visit a museum. Luckily for me, one of my friends had randomly told me a couple of months back about this Chinese museum which she really loved, located in the heart of the Walled City. And so I decided to take Jayson there. I thought it was the closest and most convenient to go to anyway. We braved the scorching heat of the day and walked the streets of Intramuros in search of it, only to find it still closed the moment we got there.

Since it was almost noon and we were getting hungry, we decided to go eat first and then just come back later.

I thought it would be interesting for Jayson and I to try Ristorante delle Mitre. I was convinced he’d love the cultural underpinnings of this holy diner.

The food on the menu of Ristorante delle Mitre were named after bishops and priests. And statues of saints and other sacred icons and representations were the primary decor. Those life-size religious figures were literally in every corner of the room, making you think that they were perpetually watching your every move. If you ask me, this made eating there very uncomfortable. And this made kissing there really awkward as hell.

Right after lunch, we decided to stroll aimlessly and see more of Old Manila for a while. Then we agreed that it was time to return to Bahay Tsinoy.

Well, after having walked along similar-looking cobbled streets, I found myself ultimately unable to remember our way back. I looked behind me, and side, and behind me again hoping to recall where we’ve been this morning and he patiently waited for me to figure it out.

Let’s go that way. 

I don’t think that’s the right way. 

It is. It is.

And so he quietly followed me to what I would soon realize was indeed the wrong direction.

Ok. You’re right. We’re lost now. Wait. Let me open Google Maps on my phone.

No need. He said rather softly.

And just before I could take my phone out my bag, he reached for my hand and took the lead. First, he quickly gave me a rundown of the NAMES of all the streets we must turn at and pass through. Then he wasted no time correctly navigating the place until finally, we were standing at the front door of Bahay Tsinoy again.

Have you been here before, Jayson?

No! it’s my first time.

So why do you know the place so well?

Just good with directions, ma’am.

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(TO BE CONTINUED)

Tinder Tailor Soldier Spy (Part 3)

31 Mar

Chapter 5: Samar, Seafood, and Salvation

Jayson didn’t reach out for two days. By this time, I had already learned how to be okay with his intermittent texting and disappearing acts every time he was out of town. I had also started to anticipate and expect his ready excuses upon his return.

Jayson would usually tell me where he has been right after he’s been there, but rarely before he goes there. This time though, it seemed like he was missing me just a little bit more because he has sent me a text informing me where he currently was:

Down south in the Visayas.

We had dinner as usual as soon as he got back. After settling down in a corner table of an alfresco restaurant, I initiated the conversation, and chose to talk about his recent trip:

So you were in the Visayas?

Yes. Our company is looking to take a new project there.

Really? It seems your company is aggressively expanding. You’ve got potential clients all over the Philippines.

Something like that, yeah. But it’s not definite yet.

Which province in the Visayas were you at?

Somewhere south. But when I texted you I was in Samar.

I see.

I’m really hungry. Let’s go order now.

Jayson ordered some seafood to devour that night. While in the midst of experiencing the deliciousness that is a platter of shrimps, clam shells, squids and mussels, we got into talking about a Jewish friend of his who wouldn’t eat this kind of dish because they are not considered kosher. Said friend used to convince him about going strictly kosher too but Jayson would always engage him in a debate about it. Jayson thought that going strictly kosher was baloney since according to the bible, God actually declared that it’s not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of it. I’ve heard my father refer to this verse before when I was still a little girl as he explained to me why Christians eat pork . So yes, I was familiar with what Jayson was trying to say. I just nodded in agreement, intentionally trying not to prolong the conversation about God and the bible, lest I bitch about how sexist I actually thought the bible was.

I talked about how salivating the shrimp was instead.

After our seafood dinner-cum-bible study session, we parted ways. A few hours later, just before I was ready to dive into my bed for my much-coveted slumber, I received a text message from Jayson but instead of just the usual good night and sweet nothings, I found myself reading a long quotation of verses from the bible. After the cited text from the book of Matthew or whoever it was that authored the topic of safely eating this or that, he followed it up with his own annotation.

I’ll be damn honest here – I really liked Jayson… but this revelation about him almost threw me off the wall. I was a little disconcerted by this sudden indoctrination and all. I never took Jayson for a religious man. And I never thought he read the bible regularly, but he actually had a bible app installed on his phone. I didn’t know what to do for a second. Should I reply to his eager text or should I just pretend that I was half-asleep already and my brain wasn’t in the mood anymore to process his five-page electronic essay?

Ahhhh….. But of course! the ever-accommodating side of me prevailed, and I decided to indulge him that night. I asked follow-up questions, I challenged some of his logic, disagreed on some of the things he said, agreed on others, and pretended to be curious myself about the biblical verses he just sent me, all in the hopes of fully convincing him I was the kind of woman he could talk to about anything under the sun. Perhaps I overdid it, perhaps I was too good at faking interest in what he was lecturing me on. Or perhaps he just needed someone – anyone – to hear him out. Whatever the reason was, that specific conversation I had with him marked the beginning of our many late-night virtual bible lessons… and this would eventually extend in our day-to-day face-to-face interactions.

Jayson’s favorite topic to discuss from the bible is salvation. He would repeatedly (and perhaps unknowingly on his part) talk about how God would forgive all the sinners on earth come judgment day for as long as these sinners repent and believe in Him in the end. He would tell me that it didn’t matter how big or small our sins were, all of us could still be saved, and that this fact made him really happy. I don’t recall anymore the exact biblical passages he would send or tell me, but trust me when I say that there was not a scarcity of them in the course of our “dating” life.

Whenever our conversation would start to gear towards the topic of salvation, my law-school-trained-and-debate-hungry mind and mouth would automatically shut up, and this would quickly be replaced by my feeling a little sorry, worried, confused and shaken for him. It felt like I was dealing with an entirely different person – not the funny, witty, sharp and light-hearted Jayson I was used to. It was like his sentiments were coming from somewhere deep down inside, like he was actually holding on to this verse all his life, like it was the only source of hope he had. As he spoke of being saved, his eyes would throw a piercing blank stare so far it might have well reached a mile, yet it would protrude so inwardly too at the very same time that the only conclusion I could make was that it was his soul doing the talking now.

This freaked me out a lot. This also made me wonder what kind of past this man has had. I even quickly entertained the idea that I was probably dating a legit crazy person! It was a good thing (or was it?) that this episode on salvation would only last just a few minutes or so each time: It didn’t brew up enough panic in my head for me to actually probe deeper and further into his history. I guess I was also scared to pry.

In the end, I was just really thankful for the rest of the days that we were normal, secular human beings who ate and kissed and held hands.

(TO BE CONTINUED)

Tinder Tailor Soldier Spy (Part 2)

29 Mar

Chapter 3: Cover Story

Ever since our first meeting, I noticed how Jayson has started to text me more regularly – daily even. I mean, he would still go missing for a few days once in a while but at least now, he would endeavor to tell me beforehand of his anticipated travels. He didn’t want me to wonder why he hadn’t texted. He also didn’t want me to think he was flaking on me for good. Little thing, yes, but I appreciated this gesture a lot… while at the same time I wondered what could he possibly be doing in his job that he couldn’t send me a text for a few days at a time. I mean, so what if you traveled out of town? It is not like you lose your mobile phone signal in the provinces right? But I killed the thought and convinced myself it was way too early to demand for so much.

As far as I know, or as far as he made me believe, he would make sure to ask me out whenever he was back in Manila. So yes, Jayson and I have gone out on a few more dates, and boy was every date great and fun!

Jayson was definitely a man of colorful stories. Every time we saw each other I learned something new and interesting about him:

He has talked about his parents, his sister and nieces, and his friends back in the US. He shared about the little rift he has had with his sister because he was always the good son – achieving great feat academic and career wise, while his older sister has always been involved in a lot of troubles.

Once, he showed me pictures of his pet Elsa – a Siberian husky he named after the character in Frozen because he said it was his nieces’ favourite movie. He showed me photos of him driving his truck while Elsa was right by his side at the passenger’s seat. He showed me pictures of California where he resides.

He told me he got Elsa before he was sent to the Philippines because he wanted some sort of family in his house waiting for him whenever he returns from an overseas assignment. He had hired a dog-sitter to look after Elsa and sometimes the sitter would send him pictures and videos of the dog. He said his job has made life a little lonely for him, but now he was thinking if he did make the right decision of getting a dog that he would just leave behind all the time.

He has told me that his job required him to be away from home a lot. He also said he’s lived in more than thirty countries already. I asked how that was possible and he said he usually gets assigned in one country for 6 months or less (but never more), then he’d move to another country for a fresh 6 months, and so on. He has been working for this water-filtration company for around 15 years already. He said it was founded by a very good friend of his that was why when such friend asked him to be a part of it, he couldn’t say no. That was also why his dedication to his job was that great.

Of course, being the upright woman that I am, I made sure to ask the most important question of all: I asked if he left any girlfriend or wife back in the U.S. He said no with sufficient resolve, although, he shared that he almost did get married way, way back but he and his fiancée broke up months before their wedding because of  – guess what – his job.

 

Chapter 4: The Viber Anomaly

In the course of our hanging out, I had asked Jayson to install Viber because I find it much easier to communicate there. I had this impression that he never used this messaging app before. He did install it right after I asked him to. When he tried to send me a test-message via such app, I noticed something strange.

See, Viber puts up this default thumbnail showing the first letter of your Viber-registered name when you don’t upload any picture as your profile image. Jayson did not upload a picture of him in the said app. So what I was supposed to see in my phone, right by the left side of his name, was the default purple letter inside a gray tile. Oddly enough, the thumbnail that appeared was a letter “R” — when it should’ve been a “J”.

Probably just a Viber glitch. Or a bug. I told myself calmly.

I did not mention this anomaly to him. I actually forgot about it for a while. But looking back, this little technical glitch actually gave away two crucial things which I had chosen to ignore:

  • He has used the app before, otherwise Viber would not have recorded or captured the first letter of his name; and
  • He’s had another name.. and it wasn’t “Jayson”, that’s for sure.

While this is something I decided not to ever bring up in our conversations, I later on discovered the real explanation behind the curious letter “R”. Funnily enough, a story that would come from the horse’s mouth itself was what would birth sense into this anomaly. And he didn’t even know I had put the puzzle pieces together in my mind.

I guess it is also worth noting here that this Viber anomaly is significant in one other respect:

Of all the incredible but unverifiable things he has told me and would soon tell me about his life – the story about his name/s is one of the very few things I am sure are true; And believe me when I say that in this account, a single truth would matter so damn much already.

 (TO BE CONTINUED)

Tinder Tailor Soldier Spy (Part 1)

27 Mar

This is a story of a total jerk of a guy, or a spy (whichever you find more believable), that I once dated.

_______________________________________________________________________________

Yes.

What do you mean, yes?

Do you remember your last question to me? The answer is YES.

Just as he was about to kiss me, my eyes grew big and I got as excited as a five-year old child seeing a Superhero mascot for the first time. I remembered his last text on my phone now. It read as such:

“I will tell you the answer only if you agree to see me one last time.”

I am not dumb to believe what he said just like that, without hard evidence and without verifiable facts…. but there was this inner child in me deciding to actually believe it because at that moment, the fantasy was all too important to leave behind.

Disenchantment was the last thing on my mind.

_______________________________________________________________________________

Chapter 1: Tinder Chats

His name is Jayson. But this is not his work name. This is his social name, his name in the Philippines, but not the name he is called by his colleagues. I found out about this eventually because of a Viber anomaly, but let us hold that story down for later.

So I met Jayson in Tinder. We both swiped right one fine day, but just like most of my Tinder matches, we did not necessarily talk right away. At that time, Jayson was just one of the many people I was care-freely chatting with, so it didn’t really bother me that his messages started out intermittently.

Intermittently – this is a word that I would probably overuse in this story. Because that was what he was basically, which therefore leads me to believe that he is either one of these things only: (1) A GUY WHO ENJOYS MAKING A FOOL OUT OF ME, or (2) A GUY WHO KEEPS AND DOES SECRETS FOR A LIVING.

Anyway, Jayson messaged me for the first time a day after we matched, if I recall it correctly. He was polite, he seemed intelligent, he knows a lot of general knowledge stuff that I thought he could actually win one of those televised quiz-bees of sorts. He introduced himself to me rather properly, and he was not the kind that sends unsolicited dick pics or the kind that tells you he was at the moment horny. So that was good.

We asked the normal introductory questions:

What are you here for in the Philippines? I’m here for work.

What do you do for work? I am an industrial engineer, but ironically, I am functioning more as a civil engineer these days (or was it the other way around? I’m not so sure anymore).

I see. So you are an expat. Of what company? A company that installs water-filtration systems, now trying its market in the Philippines…

He insinuated about getting coffee together if his schedule that week would permit, and I insinuated that I am cool with the idea. We talked a bit more about pretty trivial things. But that was that.

Our conversation would end without much hang-ups. But he didn’t text me for a week after that. I didn’t mind. In fact, he didn’t even enter my mind during the time that he was quiet. After all, I did not really know this guy.

Exactly seven days have passed before he texted me again. I could still remember I was shopping with my friend at SM Manila when he buzzed. First and foremost, he apologized for his being “missing in action” for a week. I said it was not a big deal. He said sorry one more time and explained that he needed to take care of some things, and had to find a more permanent place to stay in. He told me he used to stay at the Holiday Inn Hotel, but finally his company has found him a unit in Rockwell. He finished moving all his things there today, and now he had time to rest.

I went on with my shopping, he went on with bothering me, although I was willingly allowing it because hey, he was fun to talk to. He was witty, he was decent, he was almost too courteous at times, and he spoke Spanish. He kept the conversation interesting, and me interested, just enough.

I counted two days before he texted me again, then another three days before his next text. Another day, for another text, and another cycle of intermittence after that, that eventually I started to wonder why this guy has not asked me out yet. Surely, that was too long for message exchanges already. Based on my past experiences, a western guy would ask you out after a week – sometimes even less – of texting.

Another day has passed until he finally reached out again.

Hello, miss…

Oh hi there! How’s it going?

I’m all good. He then proceeded to tell me about his day. He once again apologized for not being able to text so often. We talked for a while about any and all things we could think of, but this time, he made sure to ask me out for coffee before we ended the conversation for the night, to which I said yes.

Finally. A date with this Spanish-speaking American man who doesn’t text much, and yet has texted me too much by now!

One particular thing I found unusual about him was his disinclination to give me his phone number. It seemed to me he was content with talking just through Tinder chat but I knew well enough that that would mean disaster when we try to meet up because Tinder crashes all the time, and I really don’t wanna waste my time going to a certain place while losing contact real-time with a guy I’m trying to meet for the first time.

So I just went ahead and asked for his number. He didn’t reply to me which was really weird. It was the first and only time that a guy from Tinder would not give me his number or ask for mine, especially when we have already agreed to meet up. I sensed he was really being very cautious so I didn’t push it. Instead, I volunteered mine away. I typed my digits and told him that he could text me directly (via SMS) if something came up on the day that we were supposed to meet. And that was that.

Chapter 2: First Meeting

Tuesday night. It was raining a little bit. I was wearing my favorite immaculately white dress because that was our color code for the day in the office. I made sure to put on my peach-colored lipstick, wear a sexy black and gold stiletto and sport my glorious long curls. I know I said I am not really into him in the beginning, but somehow I still wanted to impress the guy.

I arrived at the café a few minutes before our agreed time. I bought my own coffee, and looked at my pocket mirror too often. A few more minutes passed and still no elusive guy on sight. I tried to open my Tinder app just in case he left me a message there telling me he couldn’t make it, but of course, as I’ve foreseen, it crashed.

Before long, I got an SMS from an unidentified number.

It was him.

He said he was just caught in traffic somewhere in Makati Avenue but he was almost there.

Ha. He was finally forced to text me using his real number. Wasn’t I smart to have provided him with mine? It made me smile a little bit knowing that he wouldn’t trade chivalry for his cautiousness, after all. I learned later on that he was almost never late for any rendezvous. He was very particular with time.

A few more moments into that rainy night, and a familiar face passed by the glass walls of Starbucks. I know it sounds cliché but he almost went slowmo in my head. I was watching him come closer and closer to me. And I was watching my jaw not to drop out of too much excitement.

He was wearing casual clothes – a baseball cap, a dark-colored collared t-shirt, a pair of light khaki cargo shorts, and slip-ons. He had wonderful blue eyes, well-complemented by his clean-cut but very blonde hair. He was not particularly stunning, but I liked how he carried himself. He was not that tall, but he commanded a healthy dose of pride, authority and manliness, I would say. Jayson was not the first guy from Tinder I went on a date with. He was the fourth actually. But I never felt the sensation I just had with the three previous men. There was just something about him that made me predict I was going to fall head-over-heels in love for the first time after a long time.

He saw me, and he smiled. He immediately removed his cap which had been somehow drenched in rain. And then, he spoke his first few words to me:

Hi there! Wow you look really beautiful.

Oh thank you! You’re very sweet!

I am so sorry I am late, I didn’t expect the rain and traffic. Have you been waiting for a while now?

No. not really. I came early so no worries.

He asked where I wanted to eat. He said he couldn’t recommend any place around because he was just new in Manila, and so I took him to one of my favorite restaurants in the area. There, we talked and talked, and I learned a lot of things about him.

I learned that he had to leave for Pampanga a few days ago to take care of some business. I clarified if that was where his office was located. He said not really, their office was in fact in Quezon City, but there was a site he needed to regularly inspect in Pampanga, and he just got back from it.

So where exactly in Pampanga were you at?

Clark. Subic.

A-huh. Now I’m pretty sure you did get busy there!

You know, Clark is quite a seedy place, but there is some serious work to be done there. Really dirty water. I barely had time to go out. And I had to return back to Manila right after.

There he was answering a question that I didn’t actually ask, but actually did. I liked him for his sharpness, and his seeming “un-offendable” character…

(TO BE CONTINUED)