It wasn’t exactly one of those teen love stories with a happy ending. It was more like Saturday Night Fever, where every man was a John Travolta and every woman was an Olivia Newton-John. A good part of any guy’s allowance would be spent on those jars of menthol-scented pomade, now used to groom dogs at a veterinary clinic. Girls would buy miniskirts and striped leggings, which in today’s world would practically defeat the purpose of the miniskirt.
Besides, we’re not dealing with teens here. We’re dealing with two 28-year-olds. Teen love story? I don’t think so. Happy ending? Definitely.
Mon was working as a finance clerk at Benguet Exploration, while Sol was working as a cashier at the famous Café Amapola at Baguio City. At a time where pesos actually meant something to banks that they printed them in crisp blue bills, Mon and Sol were in love. Mon, for all his problems trying to eke out a living, was very much in love with Sol. They could have gotten married earlier, but you just can’t make enough money during those days to live comfortably, considering they had their own families to feed. Sol was cheerfully working the cash registers at the café, smiling as those drunken lawyers and journalists took three hours to drink one mug of coffee. At least the blind musician playing the piano was playing medleys from The Carpenters.
Such is life… and such is love.
For 14 years, Mon has been trying to project a love that cannot be denied. You could only imagine how many times Mon went to the local branch of Goodwill Bookstore to look for those Hallmark cards with those gilded red roses. If you can’t afford the real thing, you might as well have the reproductions. I guess the monotony of Mon’s job as a clerk unleashed the poet in him, every time he wrote those odes to “Solly” in his love letters. Believe me, he’s no Romeo Montague, but in his eyes, Sol is always his Juliet Capulet.
Mon had a way with love. Every Friday night, after treating Sol to dinner – at great expense, I might add – he helps her to a taxi and takes her home. After a few minutes, when he’s absolutely sure that she’s inside and she won’t notice, Mon will walk home. Granted that those dinners and taxi rides put a big dent on Mon’s budget, but there will not be an old soul in Bonifacio Street who’ll say that Mon didn’t skip merrily home with the kind of springy step that comes with a man hopelessly in love.
All this wasn’t lost on Sol, who saw how thin Mon’s wallet was every time he paid for dinner, and saw Mon walk off home instead of riding the same taxi he took her home with. All those love letters and Hallmark cards with gilded roses were treasures Sol kept in photo albums, in shoe boxes, in just about everywhere.
And so it went on, and on, and on, for 14 years until Mon finally picked up the courage to ask for Sol’s hand in marriage. Today, 14 years of waiting may have someone run off to the next good-looking person who happens to be rich, who happens to own a car, who happens to be able to afford real gilded roses. But not for these two lovebirds who, 25 years and six days ago, exchanged their vows in the Parish of Saint Joseph the Worker, and were pronounced husband and wife, in sickness and in health, till death do they part.
Yes, this is the love story of my mom and dad. Twenty-five years later, Papa’s thick and shaggy hair has turned into one of the most ridiculous combovers I have ever seen. Mama is no longer the cute cashier of the popular café, and herself gained more than a few pounds. The mines have long since closed, the café has long since collapsed from the earthquake, and they both started new and very different lives since then. Not to mention having three kids: one’s a game programmer, one’s a Nursing student, and then there’s that chain-smoking manic-depressive obsessive-compulsive alcoholic who happens to be a “writer.”
Although those menthol-scented pomades had to give way to Ben Gay. Like love, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Happy silver wedding anniversary, Mama and Papa!