love at a coffee shop


“You’re not gonna meet him at a coffee shop,” Georgie said. He sounded like he’d been waiting to say it, like he sat on it and waited for a gap in the conversation to drop his truth bomb. “You’re not going to be sitting with your worn-out copy of some Nicholas Sparks paperback when he casually sits down next to you to tell you how much he liked the book. You’re not going to argue over whether the movie was better or swap quotes that literally changed your life. Guys like that don’t exist outside those romantic comedies from the 90s that you devour like a diabetic in denial at a discount candy store. You’re not gonna meet him at a coffee shop.”

Don’t get me wrong – I love Saturday coffee with my two best friends but lately, it seems our conversations always go back to my love life or lack thereof. Couldn’t we talk about something more relevant like politics or world economics?

“Okay. I may be a hopeless romantic but that picture you’re painting is nothing like me,” I said, stuffing my copy of Safe Haven deeper into my bag. “Granted, I could be a little old fashioned but is it so bad to think that maybe we’ll run into each other at a record bar, both reaching for the last copy of an Aimee Mann record? Is it wrong to dream that maybe we’ll both be stuck in front of the same painting in some downtown gallery, pondering the meaning behind the colors or…” I trailed off.

“Cut him some slack,” Dee interjected. “After that last guy, can you really blame him?” Dee was always quick to defend me, perhaps because we both watched one too many Disney movies growing up. “Our little friend is traumatized,” he said, awkwardly hugging me from the side. “So let him daydream about cafes and record bars. At least he hasn’t given up on love.”

It was easy for Dee to stay on the Pro-Love train. He’d been in a completely normal relationship with another lawyer for two and a half years. He was practically a unicorn in the barren wasteland that is Gay Manila.

“Are you even hearing yourselves? A museum? A record bar? What era do you think you’re in? Hello, girl. Ever heard of Spotify? Nobody buys CDs anymore. When was the last time you even saw a Tower Records or an Odyssey? Just like elephant pants and all our exes, they are in the past where they belong.”

“And what would you rather he do?” Dee asked. “Whore out like everyone else?”

“No, naman. There’s an app for everything, sweetheart – even dating. You are literally one swipe away from meeting your Prince Charming.”

“Or your next hookup,” I said.

Oy. Don’t be so cynical. Not everyone’s there to hook up. In fact, just a few days ago…” Georgie stopped to show us something on his phone. He swiped emphatically until he found the photo he wanted to show us.

Ayaaaaan… girls meet Baby Boy. Baby Boy, meet the girls!” It was a dark photo most likely taken from a motel room. Georgie and his lover were shirtless in front of a mirror. Georgie’s hand was shoved firmly down Baby Boy’s boxer briefs. It was completely obscene.

“Oh my god.” was all Dee could say. He was always the Charlotte to Georgie’s Samantha.

“Like I said. Apps are for hooking up and I just don’t do that.”

“Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. Baby Boy and I have the same goals. Sure, it started out with sex but the conversations we’ve had…”

“Stunning philosophical conversations about the best starter Pokemon, I’m sure.”

“No, conversations about the future and stuff. He’s surprisingly deep. He may be young but he’s got an old soul like me.”

“Just how old is Baby Boy?” Dee asked as he zoomed in on the photo. “Bakit parang wala siyang pores? Won’t this kind of relationship land you in jail?”

“Excuse me. He is 19 years old.”

“Making him a toddler when you lost your virginity.”

Hoy, grabe ka. Age is just a number.”

“So is 6 to 12 years – the minimum sentence for child abuse.”

Hep hep hep. Slow your roll, fellas,” I interrupted. “Dee, this isn’t a prosecution. Georgie, you’re not on trial.” Dee slinked back into his seat while Georgie sipped the last of his macchiato.

“All I’m saying is you should give online dating a shot.” Georgie said to me, his hand firmly on my lap. “Girl, you don’t see what we see. You’re stable. You’ve got a great job. You’re not ugly.”

“Not just not ugly. My best friend is gorgeous!” Dee said, pinching my cheek.

Sige, you’re gorgeous. And most of all, you’re kind. You’re a catch and there are plenty of guys out there who would be crazy not to see what we see.”

“And yet none of them are lining up to see me.” There was a slight hint of self-pity I didn’t mean to let out.

Kasi nga…” Dee began, breaking the awkward silence. He exhales loudly and in defeat. “You’re not gonna meet him at a coffee shop.” Georgie looked up, confused. “Yes, I agree with you. Okay? How do you think I met my partner?”

Nooooooooo…” Georgie said, his shock exaggerated but not exactly unwarranted. “You told us you met Eric at a law conference in Singapore.”

“I did. But let’s just say I had a little help from my little friend, Grindr.”

“You whore! I did not see this coming. So he was just a hookup?”

“In the beginning, yes. But we saw more and more of each other that week and it was pretty clear we had both found something we were looking for. So yeah, maybe 99% of guys on dating apps are just looking for sex pero every now and then, you get lucky.” See. What did I tell you? Even when all the mathematical odds were against him, Dee was a frigging unicorn.

“Wow. What a revelation.” Georgie and I looked at each other in disbelief.

“Speak of the devil.” Dee held his phone up as it rang. As if on cue, his temporary hookup turned full-time partner was calling him. From his side of the conversation, it was clear Dee was late for dinner.

“Girls, I gotta go. I was supposed to meet him pala an hour ago.”

“Go. Go. I’ll take care of this,” I said as I signed at the waiter for the check.

“Me too. I have to go. Baby Boy and I are going to catch the last full show. Sama ka, you want?”

“No thanks,” I said. “I’m too pretty to be the third wheel.”

“That’s the spirit. Ayan ha. Tell me you’ll at least think about it.”

We hugged our goodbyes and I sat back down to finish my latte. Maybe they were right. I looked around the busy coffee shop. Everyone around me had their noses in their phones. Maybe Prince Charming was out there, hiding behind a smartphone and not a book. Maybe he curates Spotify playlists full of indie acts I’ve never heard of. Maybe we’ll swap epubs of authors we both like. Maybe we both tweeted out the same street art that moved us. Maybe -

“Sir, your change,” the waiter said, snapping me out of my trance. “Is there anything else I can do for you?”

Before I could change my mind, I uttered the words to trigger my release.

Kuya, what’s the password to the wifi?” Maybe it wasn’t too late to enter the 21ˢᵗ century. It was like sparks were coursing through my body. It felt like the beginning of a brand new page.

♫: Aimee Mann | Dear John (2005)

The Post: August 2018
"A Brand New Page"

Epilogue. He walks out of the coffee shop in a hurry. There was thunder in the distance and the streets smelled like it was ripe for rain. He turns his collar up knowing fully well this would do nothing when the first of the drops begin to fall but it was all he could do. A smarter person would’ve brought an umbrella.

He hurries the pace – half because it was about to rain, half because he was already late. He liked the sound his shoes made on the pavement. Click. Clock. Click. Clock. They were the sound of expensive shoes hitting concrete. He often passed the time like this, making percussion instruments out of every day things. Click. Clock. Tick. Tock. Flip. Flip. Flop.

NJJJJ NJJJJ NJJJJ. His phone’s vibrations briefly interrupt his symphony.

He swipes to unlock. His lover, impatient, sends out a three-word SOS. “Where are you?” Just as he was drafting a reply, another message comes in.

It was from an unknown number. “Place is free. U wanna cum over?” He could feel an all too familiar feeling from between his legs, a warmth that radiated from his groin to the rest of his body. His nipples tense, he taps back to his lover’s message.

“Sorry. Emergency. Can’t make it tonight. Can I see you tomorrow instead?”

You may not find love at a coffee shop but really, were the odds any different elsewhere?

8 comments

  1. Hahaha. I like this! I've met two guys from tinder early 2017. But didn't get to meet both them in person until early this year, on separate occassions, of course and not via tinder anymore. Pero ang lalayo nila eh.

    Ayun, I also reverted to ways of meeting people organically... Oh life.

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    1. Yccos: Re-reading it today, parang off brand siya for this page pero kebs haha unless you count the hidden epilogue.

      Mahirap ata diyan in general yung pagdadate, esp for a gaijin. But I know mas maraming places to meet people organically there. Baka andiyan na siya, nagtatago sa Book Off. haha

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  2. I was wondering about the big space then I saw your response to the comment. Bakit ganun?

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    1. Anon: Hello! I forgot that feature was there. :p

      That was actually the first part of the story that got written. Parang early on, I knew that the character would be two-faced like that. I guess yung di ko lang inexpect is kung sino ba siya dun sa 2. haha I'll leave it to you to decide, I guess.

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  3. cuteeee post! hihihi. ikaw na talaga. lol

    haaay minsan iniisip kong sisihin ang disney at 90s romcom kung bakit ba natin naromanticize ang love na yan. haha

    but yeah, now, i'm kinda open na rin sa idea na baka nga ang the one naglulurk lang pala sa hopeless place sabi nga ni rihanna. hehe

    the thing is, i'm not looking for him...

    yet.

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    1. kalansaycollector: you’re really back! Haha gusto ko yung may clincher sa dulo. This sounds like a brand new blog post!

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    2. well sana mapost ko nga. hahaha shet mukhang nbsb na ako forever. lol

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    3. kalansaycollector: Never say never! haha I'm sure parating na 'yun. Baka na-traffic lang sa EDSA.

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