There got to be a law!

By Jing Villamil

AN hour before the “reunionists” arrive for lunch, the house is smelling clean and fresh, thanks to the wide-open but screened windows, pine-scented freshener and days of vigorous, hand-numbing scouring, scrubbing, sweeping, washing, airing, arranging, re-arranging.

It smells cloyingly yummy, too. The rainbow cake awaits for its colourful carbs to be freed from its box. Two big Tupperwares of fruit salad cool their bottoms on the fridge shelves, while two huge bowls of tossed veggies keep friendly company. Pasta stretch out languidly on the draining pan, beside the beef sauce still bubbling its mindless babbling. The chicken thighs, embutido, morcon, lumpiang shanghai patiently line up for their turn to fry.

Satisfied, you rub your hands briskly; you cross your fingers. You close your eyes. You wish, you pray fervently hard from every fiber of your being: “please let everything be alright”.

But from this point hereon, everything begins to be . . . not alright!

Electric power browns out! At first, the neighborhood quiets in shock. Then pandemonium breaks out: doors irreverently blag open. Kids and teens leave their suddenly uncool houses hooting, stomping feet, banging walls, shouting challenges.

Your fingers rub down your face and let hang from your mouth. The fresh pine-scented air goes warm, warmer, stifling oven-hot. You slide open the window screens; black flies, all-sizes, welcome themselves in. You grasp the fly-swatter. In panic streak, you swat the food; you fry the flies.

The cake-in-the-box melts down its sides. The first batch of guests arrive; they, too, promptly melt from their sides – heads, fronts, backs and their in-betweens.

You serve soggy salads, sad limpy spaghetti, sizzling-hot meats with flies disguised as peppers floating on sauces. The drains in the kitchen and the bathroom clog with the guests’ puked-out food remnants, chunky and bitsy ones.

The guests pucker their lips in a pretend-kiss, wave both hands bye-bye, oh my. They leave sighing, chuckling. You wish to leave with them; you can’t. You host. Foods must be saved, thrashed. You look around; which is which? You weep. The cake weeps with you.

You go to your room, heart and migraine throbbing. You whip off your clothes and undies steamy with sweat, stress and tears. You plomp face-down naked on the bed, hugging yourself, sobbing, swearing at no one, at nothing. At everyone, at everything.

Suddenly, the bedroom door slams open. Whoa! You turn around, with nothing on, surprised!

The second batch of reunionists had arrived. Bearing gifts of three gallons of ice cream.

There got to be a law against you, Murphy!

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