In My Own Words - Ron Centeno

a collection of thoughts and sentiments...in my own words

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1/18/2009

What A Friday Night ( A True Story )

Written by Ron Centeno

Barely two weeks since I arrived in New York, I thought it was a good idea to get acquinted nearby. The temperature was registered at 65 degrees. It was a lovely young evening, indeed, and the whole stretch of Roosevelt Avenue and 69th Street was littered with people from all walks of life. Cabs were plying around in all directions. There were beep-beeps everywhere, a familiar noise in cities of New York. Pedestrians continued to defy the stop signs and crossed the streets anyway at anytime they wanted to. The neon lights were visibly well lit. And within the short radius of this area in Queens, New York, a line of Filipino restaurants provided live music, karaoke, and dancing till the wee hours of the night.

In front of Perlas ng Silangan Restaurant, one of the busiest hang-outs for most Filipinos on a weekend, a familiar sound went off from a street peddler - “Baluuuuuut!” (Balut is a fertilized duck egg). I wasted no time and approached the balut vendor and inquired, “Kumusta na ho ang benta?” (How's the business going?). “Okay naman” (It's okay.), he said mildly – quite the opposite from the way he sounded off one second earlier. Quickly, he opened the basket. “Ilan?” (How many?), he asked, referring to the balut. Frankly, I had no intention of buying one because I couldn’t stand the sight of that tiny “sisiw” inside its shell. “Pasensiya na ho, di ako kumakain ng balut – magtatanong lang sana ako”. (I'm so sorry, I don't really eat balut - I just want to ask you something). His enthusiasm quickly vanished and tried to remain accommodating, anyway. “Ano hong meron sa loob”, I asked him, referring to what is inside the Perlas restaurant. “There’s a live music at maraming pulutan (plenty of appetizer)and the people are there to enjoy the music”, he said politely. “Maraming salamat” (Thank's a lot), I said with a flash of smile and headed to the door. Before I could reach the main entrance, the same familiar sound went off again...”Baluuuuuuuuuuuuuut”.

Inside, the waitress approached me and led me to a table two feet away from the speakers. Not exactly where I wanted to be. I asked the waitress if I could have the table next to the wall located at the other end. It would not only give me a better view of the band but would give me a chance to figure out the young lovely woman seated three tables afar. Soon, I found myself in a seat every guy would hope to earn.

The music was blustering and the “kalderetang kambing” (goat stew) was close to being exotic. Not bad, I said to myself. Soon, my eyes were glued to a lovely woman fifteen feet away. I was hoping she would look back. Songs were sung - many of them. Two hours later, I was still hoping she would look back. Finally, my hopes ran out. Loser! I said to myself. With a sigh of desperation, I asked for the check. It was not meant to be, I thought.

I was ready to find my way out until the last song caught my attention. Engrossed with the song, I stayed and found myself seated right across the woman I was dying to meet. It was a perfect spot, I thought. What seemed so wrong was the thought that she was one with the group of two men and women. They must be couples.

Finally, I walked out the door and found the same balut vendor. “Okay ba?” (Is it okay?), he asked. I said, “hindi” (no). I did not bother to say why. When I turned my back, I saw one of the two men who were with the woman inside. "My name is Ron", I said and shook his hand. "Mine is Rey", he said. "You must be very lucky to have with you and the other guy the two beautiful women I’ve seen tonight", I said with envy. Soon, the two women followed out from the door and headed to where Rey and I were standing. “This is Nilde, my wife”, Rey said. “And this is Ces, a friend of ours”, he continued. Dumbfounded, I shook both their hands. In seconds, the other guy came out and looked me in the eye. Uh uh, I thought to myself. "My name is Vince, what's yours?", he blurted. "Ron", I murmured in reply. He then stepped back and spoke with the balut vendor. "Don't worry Ron, Vince is gay", Rey said matter-of-factly. Rey continued, "Come on, keep us company. We usually have a round of coffee at Cafe Lalo in Manhattan. Are you in?". I was completely befuddled. I don’t drink coffee but what the heck. In no time, I found myself next to Ces at the rear seat of Rey's Cadillac, Escalade. Suddenly, I was in cloud nine.

At Cafe Lalo, the three of them had coffee. I guess they wanted to sober up. I wanted the opposite. Hence, I had three shots of Tequila. I wanted my dream long enough when I hit my bed and the spirit of that Mexican liquor would do just that. In less than half an hour, I downed three shutters of it. My mind was racing having not used to drinking the stuff. "We're close to even now", Rey said, after he he had eight shots of Tequila at Perlas ng Silangan restaurant. Minutes later, I quickly headed to the bathroom and threw up. No one knew, of course. And when all was said and done, they drove me back to Roosevelt Avenue where I lived.

On our way home, I had weird thoughts. I was wishing the car would break down. Or the stop lights would falter. Or perhaps we'd get lost somewhere. Anything that would stop us from reaching my place while I'm seated next to Ces would be most welcome. It didn't happen. Rey's driving was smooth as silk. No thanks for his black coffee. Finally, the Escalade was pulled over.

It was time to bid our goodbyes. Mustering all my courage, I lightly held Ces' hand and planted not one but two kisses on her cheeks. "Goodnight", I whispered. "I'Il call you tonight", I continued. "You can't, you dont have my number, yet". She reached a napkin and scribbled her number. I got home without remembering what time it was. All I remembered was, both Ces and I were talking on the phone till the sun went up.( MORE ON "WHAT A FRIDAY NIGHT - PART II" ).

8 Your Thoughts/Comments Here::

Anonymous said...

That is so romantic. I would have given you all my attention at first glance!

Dina

Minnie said...

Ang sweet naman! Kakakilig story! You sound like a hopeless romantic!

Jill said...

Smart and sweet. A fertiliaed duck egg?! What in the _ is that!

Ben said...

Very nice story. I could imagine that night in your vivid description. Good Post.

Sly Cloud said...

What a beautiful story. Does it have a happy ending? You should post this at Allvoices too.
Keep posting.

MJ said...

Not a hopeless romantic but a hope-filled one =D and it paid off really well, it seems.

Marj said...

You look nice together. Your hours on the phone worth it? Still together?

Ron said...

It was worth every minute, indeed. Yes, we are very much still together.

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