it hurt.


the thing of it is, she still sleeps in a bed with her twenty-nine year old daughter. it's a little weird. she brought us over in mabuhay class, though, so nobody says anything. her daughter, my cousin, has a curfew. we'll be out at a starbucks or some party, and the driver will be waiting in the maroon toyota to pick her up. it's eleven p.m., and she's six months shy of turning thirty, and she has to be home, in bed, with her mother. it's a little weird, but her mother takes us out to dinner almost every night, so nobody says anything.

her best stories are the ones where she scolds some naive employee at the airport. the way she tells it, the employee, some new kid, asks her where she's going, who she's going to pick up. you see, the new kid doesn't know who she is, doesn't know her position, that she's the vice-president of the airline. he asks a simple question like who she's picking up, and this irritates her, and she tells him he's cocky, and who's his supervisor anyway? you don't talk to anyone like that, she says. and she recounts this story at the dinner table, and she's visibly angry, and we all act like it's a story worth telling.

and at the dinner table, the tv is turned on, and there's news about brittany murphy's death, or the climate summit where nothing happens, or the pending eruption of a volcano. we eat quietly while she tells these stories from her day, the ones where she gets pissed off or gets to chew someone out. and then she tells us these things about feng shui and taoism, and we all nod along as though she were a child talking about the existence of santa claus. when someone dies, she has to burn all kinds of colored paper, and jump over the fire, and then shower immediately afterward. and did i remember when we did that when grandma died? of course i remember. how could i forget.

the way my grandparents on my dad's side met. my grandma was walking along the street, and my grandpa threw a basketball right at her. it hurt, my grandma said. that's how it happened, though. true story. lolo was playing some basketball, and he thought lola was very pretty (she was), and he chucked a basketball right at her chest. and it hurt, and then they had seven children. and then lolo had an affair (maybe more than one), and now i have relatives in canada and who knows where else? that man chucked a ball at a woman and got what he wanted.

and then my grandma got upset about something, the affairs probably, and she went off to the united states. for one reason or another, she could only take one child, so she took uncle reb, and ate ging was left behind. ate ging had to stay behind with lolo and she didn't see her mother for five or seven years. and as the story goes, ate ging was rebellious. she stayed up as late as she liked and got in all sorts of trouble. and then when lola came back from the states, she got upset at ate ging's rebellious ways, and she sent her to a place where nuns watch over bad children. and uncle reb remembers visiting ate ging at that reformatory or whatever it was, and when he'd leave, he'd smile a big smile and wave goodbye to ate ging, who watched from a window as her mother and brother left her behind.

and i could see it when she punched uncle reb in the arm. she punched him hard, and she meant it. he was making some comments about uncle tim's new chairs. uncle tim got some new chairs for his new townhouse, and the upholster or cushion guy or whatever didn't complete the task. he put cushions on the seats and arms, but not the back. ate ging said he was supposed to do the back, too, but he failed. so ate ging got upset and uncle reb said it didn't look that bad, and then she punched uncle reb in the arm. more than once. and then when i heard about him waving goodbye to her at the orphanage or reformatory or whatever it was, i could see why she hit him so hard.

and then my nearly-thirty cousin and i were talking, and she said that ate ging has to go to these cocktail parties for work. she has to dress up for these because her boss is there, and she has to talk to a bunch of people she'd rather not talk to. you see, she hates most people. and so, she'll show up to these parties for like ten minutes or so, and then leave. she likes the food part. she loves to eat and talk about the kind of food at these lavish parties, the way johnny nolan tells it in a tree grows in brooklyn, but as for the people part, she could give a shit. the only time i hear about people in her stories are when these people really screw up.

and tony the driver has to wait on her, wait on us, wait on everybody. he'll just be sleeping in the driver's seat when we're finally done doing whatever it is we're doing. he's a driver, and he knows it. he doesn't dine with us, doesn't do lunch with us, doesn't even walk with us when we're in the malls. he just sits in the car and drives us wherever the hell we want to go. he could be waiting hours in there, and it doesn't even matter. if i were him, i'd probably explode. but he has a wife and two kids to think about, and if he went off, if he even said a single negative thing, all bets are off. the negotiation is over. i don't know what else he could do.

ka wawa.

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