Friday, October 07, 2005

Can’t buy me love, Dutch-Man

Setting: Manila, Philippines, around 7 in the evening inside Starbucks Coffee Makati [the one beside Shangri-La Makati Hotel]
Circa: 1999, I was then 29.

I was checking the menu trying to figure out what I want but could not decide, so I ordered the normal cup of coffee. While waiting for it, this almost 60 year old something white guy was trailing my back until such that I finished garnishing my coffee with sugar, cinnamon and milk; he, with his coffee too in tow, followed me outside to where my friends were sitting chatting with each other.

These set of friends are not the flaccid and prude types, so I knew exactly what’s cooking in their mind. Let’s just say, something not good.

True enough, they thought it was the perfect idea to pull my leg me so they asked the old white guy to join us, which of course he gladly did. Well, I am sure all his glands were flapping over with joy! To complicate matters, after the excessive bantering, my friends gave him my business card [someone had to have one in their wallet]. Ach, this is always the drawback when you are with friends huh?

In the next days, this Dutch man kept calling me. He says he wants to have dinner with me. I said plainly, “No I am busy”. But the funny thing is this… all my friends were begging me to go out with him at least once for the “experience”. I thought, “Why not, it’s not that I am going to hold hands and kiss him?” So out of curiosity, peer pressure and let’s just say for the heck of it, I obliged. When he called back, I said yes BUT lunch. I thought lunch was less of a date than a dinner.

The Lunch

We met at Shangri-la Makati Hotel in one of the chic restaurants there. The moment I sat down, I encountered what I have always feared upon. On the farther side of the restaurant, were my acquaintances in the business world smiling and nodding towards my direction. They were all male. The first thing that came to my mind, “What are they going to think of me lunching with this old man?” On second thought, they might think he is a business partner or client since he was wearing a suit.

Anyway, on to the lunch... we talked about the usual stuff. I found out that he is Dutch, very well traveled in the Philippines and had many well to do Filipino friends. He was staying at a friend in Bel-Air, one of the posh albeit older subdivisions in Makati. He is I think 57 years old or so. He is an Expat stationed in another country working for the airline/airport industry and goes home to the Netherlands from time to time. He even showed me pictures of his ex GF who was a stewardess before but died of cancer. Whew, what a story, zeg!

The “Can’t buy me love” LP.

I was crazy with the Beatles and adored Paul McCartney in the 1980’s, as if he was still 25 years old. I even had a poster of him sealed on my ceiling so when I wake up in the morning, I can see his baby face smiling down at me. Ironic, he’s way older than me but then again he’s a rock icon…

The Proposal

Then he made the proverbial offer which during that time I didn’t know if it was that common or what, normal? Maybe I was just naïve, at 29 haha. So just like how things flow on a business lunch during a deal negotiation, he offered me airline tickets to anywhere in the world, he also offered me to buy a new car, a cool SUV Rav4, all in exchange for a “relationship”. That direct.

My reaction was utter shock. I don’t know but I felt like, “Are you trying to impress me or buy me… you prick?” I felt disgust but like a professional erudite woman I kept my manners. Making a scene and public spectacle and even leaving him in the midst of his lunch would be the last thing to do. After all, I had some business friends a few meters away who might see it differently and spread rumors about me if I were to do that. This is the Philippines, the land of controversies and gossips. I would not mind if the rumor was “She stood up and slapped this Robert Redford look alike and stomped out the restaurant’s door”. Alas, that was not the case.

But I let everything what he said simmer down into my trying hard to be objective brain and decided to take it with a grain of salt. This is truly the ugly real life out there. Relationships are born out of need; need from love, companion and money. I actually pitied the old man sitting across me but who am I to pity him when he probably don’t even see it the way I do? After all, relationships can be anything. Whether it’s the ideal route or the convenience model, it’s not really my role to pick on people’s lives. I can critic generally without judging personally [oops, can that be? haha]. In fact, all I can do is say, “NO” and I am pretty sure he would move on to the next available meat in sight.

Sigh of relief

The 1.5 lunch hour was nearing to its end. I did well with stretching my patience and at least the curiosity was quenched. I should not forget, I promised to tell my friends the “experience” which they were all dying to hear. I am sure they’d be all ears and tongue out hearing this great scoop!

He kept calling me in the next couple of days and I answered him once or twice out of politeness and told him I am NOT interested with him or any of his offers. He was a persistent hunter though, if that’s something to shed a positive light on him. On second thought, maybe I should just have cursed him flat out so he won’t bother the daylights out of me? Anyway, I found an easy solution. I just left my mobile phone ring or pushed the off button when I see his number on display. The trick worked and he finally got the message.

On the other hand, my friends were very much thrilled and delighted with the reportage. They kept teasing me with leering faces that I should just have taken the SUV Rav4 and the flight ticket bookings. Ah, I wish I was a gold digger! Duh *laughs evil-y*

A year later, I met the now Dutchman and told him about this encounter. He can’t stop grinning ear to ear. He asked me why I didn’t bite when he wasn’t giving me any of what he offered?! Hmmm, now I am regretting!!!!!!!!!!!

I know they were all JOKING but can you see the message in between? It’s so sad that people would even try to buy love and companionship. Much sadder if you accept it. And saddest because it is happening as we speak.

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