By Dannabelle Gutierrez
I have been single for thirteen years. Let me say that again, in case you missed it, my singleness is thirteen years old. It’s funny, because there are actual humans of the same age who are getting into relationships and here I am, tap-tap-tapping away on a keyboard, sipping my tea. A few weeks ago, I was out to dinner with two very good friends of mine and their significant others. When youʼve been single for as long as I have, third-wheeling or fifth-wheeling is nothing new. What was particularly special about this certain dinner was that eight years ago, those particular friends were my “single-since-birth-I-did-not-even-realize-single-since-birth-was-still-a-thing-that-actually-happens” friends, not only that, but they were also the “older-than-me-but-still-single-which-makes-me-feel-like-itʼs-okay-to-be-single” friends, and now they are both in what seem to be very serious relationships. Four-years-ago-me would have viewed this as a tragedy. Four-years-ago-me would have taken this as a blow from the universe and would have questioned every single thing about her life. Back then, I would have cried and wondered at the very dramatic conclusion that I was the last single girl in the world.
Now? Well, now, I wonder why I ever cried about the fact that I am single. I mean, so I’m single, so what? It’s not like my life is filled with excruciating loneliness. I mean, sure, there were some low points that would have been more palatable if I had a hand to hold and there were some high points that certainly would have been higher, if not sweeter, had I been able to punctuate it with an exclamation mark smooch from my very own wild pogi lover boy – but whatever. I have been blessed with some very amazing friends who have been with me for the high’s and the low’s. Plus, lover or no lover, bad times are still going to be bad times and good times are still going to be good times and right now good or bad, I don’t seem to have very much at my disposal, as I am either working for the job that puts food on the table or working on a project that feeds my soul. I haven’t exactly been exerting myself to find a man and let all my single girls raise their hands up and say: “And neither should you have to! Amen!”
Of course, this is not to say that I have given up on the idea of meeting someone, no. I have not given up on the hope that someday, some guy is going to hold my hand through this absurdity that we call life. And yes, I have made many attempts at meeting men. There were Tinder attempts, and there were meeting-a-friend-of-a-friend attempts, I mean these aren’t very valiant efforts, but with my schedule, this is about as valiant as they are going to get. I mean on top of everything, a busy girl still needs to sleep, do her laundry, and you know, shop, and meet her friends.
Today was one of the very seldom moments that I am actually free enough to meet a friend for coffee to catch up. We decided to meet at a cafe in Deira at 4pm and since I had a few hours after church, I decided to do my groceries at Carrefour before meeting my friend. Now, let me tell you something about doing your groceries when you’re hungry — Don’t. Especially, when the supermarket happens to have special deals on everything, because you will eventually leave the store with a ten-dirham crate of kiwis, among many other things. And really, what are you going to do with a crate of kiwis?
I managed to finally get to the cafe ten minutes late, carrying two big environmental sacks of groceries, and frothing apologies to my friend for one, being late; and two, for being late and looking like a ‘Kabayan Kakanin’. Don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about. You see them all over the Dubai, carrying Carrefour bags with apologetic smiles offering you sinful ‘kakanin goods’ on the down low – the very ones who offer you those sweet delectable cassava cakes, and you know you shouldn’t, because you’re on a diet, but it’s ten dirhams, you argue with yourself, and you’re helping a kabayan out, so you give in to buying that glorious 2000-calorie goodness.
Anyway, after a few hours, a cup of coffee, a fruit cup, and lots of laughs later, my friend had to leave for another engagement, while I chose to stay and think about what I was going to write for this article. I mean, it’s about being single; the stories I could tell on this topic are endless. So there I was, staring off into the horizon, making ‘muni-muni’, and getting lost in my thoughts as most writers do, when lo and behold, a ‘Kabayan Kakanin’ comes by with his bags of temptation. And I know him, because I’ve bought from him before, so I smile and say “Kamusta, Kuya?”
“Ati, maglambing lang aku sa’yu, ati,” he said. ”Naku, Kuya, ang dami kong bitbit, saka na ako bibili sayo ha? Next time na lang,” I replied.
“Sigi na, ati, maglambing lang aku sayu,” he said again as he came closer and sat right next to me, “Ati, sigi na. Maglambing lang aku sayu. Akin na ang kamay mo.”
I’m thinking, What? Kamay ko? Baket? And before I could even think of how to respond to this in a way that wouldn’t offend him, he took my hand and started massaging it while saying, “Meron pu akung biko, suman, may tikuy pu, empanada…”
Mind you, at this point, I was still trying to bring myself back to reality after getting lost in my own thoughts of writing, so I’m looking at my hand and I’m looking at Kuya who was still massaging my hand and reciting the contents of his kakanin sack, “…bibingka, turun, may pichipichi. Sigi na ati, maglambing lang aku sayu, plehs.”
And I’m thinking, What? How? Who? What??? How did I manage to get myself in this very absurd and awkward situation? And how do I get out of it? I mean, I know I hoped for someone to hold my hand through this absurdity that we call life, but I don’t think this was exactly how I wanted it to go. Nope. Not like this, ‘plehs’, not like this. And so I did the only thing that seemed right, I resignedly said, “Okay sige na nga kuya, pabili na nga ng isang cassava cake.”