On Saturday I took my gay friends to the rugby matches. We were supposed to be a group of six but one had a photo shoot, one was sewing, and one overslept. At half-past three in the afternoon in the blazing sunshine Bakekang, Torquata and I arrived at the IS Makati football field. A match was in progress between a team in white shorts and team in black shorts. Yeah, we know our rugby.
“We have to behave because we’re not out today, okay?” said Torqy.
“Of course,” I said. “No one can tell.”
“Right,” said Backy. “Do you see any other males in this place wearing pedal pushers?”
Earlier I’d suggested that to prevent vicious in-fighting, if anyone spotted a cute guy he should call out the jersey number and the others would lay off. The minute we sat down we all cried, “11.” We could tell from 25, 30 feet away.
“How many players on each team?” Backy asked. I said 15. 30 seconds later, my friends had learned the essentials of the game and were applauding the tries. Then the game ended, the players dispersed, and Number 11 started walking towards us.
In slow motion. With the wind ruffling his hair. And the amazing thing was, there was no wind.
The vision walked right up to where we were sitting and without so much as a Hello, took off his shirt.
“Hello,” said his six-pack abdominal muscles.
We shrieked. Silently, because Jaime Augusto Zobel was standing behind us and he might have us shot.
The vision formerly wearing Number 11 sat down in front of us and spoke to another guy in rapid Spanish. Suddenly we wished we had paid attention in Spanish 11 class in college.
“Papaano yan,” said Torqy, “Eh Frenchy-Frenchy ka.” (How will you deal when you’re faux-French?)
“Magkalapit naman ang Waray at ang Kastila,” Backy replied. (The Waray and Spanish languages are alike.)
“That better not be Jaime Augusto’s nephew or his uncle will have us shot,” I said.
By the way, we were conversing in tones so low they were audible only to our cats and dogs.
“His waistline is 30 inches,” Backy announced using his mental tape measure.
“What nationality?” I asked.
We decided he was Argentinian. (If we are wrong please accept our humble apologies.)
After a full minute I could not bear the tense silence so I addressed the vision formerly known as Number 11. “Excuse me, what team do you play for?” Even before I heard myself the voice in my head screeched, “Estupida! That’s your question?!”
He told us the name of his team. “Do you play here every week?” I babbled on. He told us where they played. I glanced at my friends, expecting them to pitch the follow-up questions, but they were staring into the distance. End of conversation.
“Why didn’t you speak to him?” I asked.
“We couldn’t look at him directly,” they chorused. “He’ll know.”
“He’ll know what?”
“He’ll just know.”
The vision got up and walked out of our lives forever, unless we start turning up at his games.
Later there was a short ceremony in which Jaime Augusto Zobel presented the official jerseys to the national team headed for the Asian 5 Nations Division 2 championships in New Delhi. Jaime had
volunteered recruited me to write about the Philippine team.
On the way to the presentation I saw the belt. “Aaaaaaah!” I covered my eyes. “What is that!”
“It’s Argentinian cool,” the wearer explained. “You just need to understand it in context.”
“What context, the brutal subjugation of the native Americans?”
“Hahaha,” the wearer said. Then he ordered the guards to take us out and shoot us.
My column on the Philippine national men’s rugby team appears in the Star on Friday.
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Tuesday, 2100. Because this is a small planet and getting smaller by the day, we have already found Number 11. Only two degrees of separation!