It’s like a bad scene from the Great Depression, only that I’ll still end up pretty much poor; there I was, asking the bank teller if she can change my P1,000 bill to crisp P50 bills. I would have had it if she’s that cute barista from the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf some months back. Heck, I wouldn’t mind if she’s Chloe McCully from “Kapamilya: Deal or No Deal.” I’ll just sit there and stare.
And yet, I did mind, owing to the fact that the bank was closing up for the day, and that she wouldn’t change my bill to crisp bank notes.
No, I didn’t raise my middle finger and cursed the living hell out of the banking oligarchy, but it did make me wonder why I have six nieces and 10 nephews. I didn’t attend a single baptism of my brood by proxy because:
- I get nervous and twitchy whenever I enter a church.
- I’m usually busy when I get called up to attend a baptism.
- Every baby I have ever seen wailed like a banshee because they saw me.
- Many of my relatives and friends think that I’m a bad omen.
Nephews and nieces by proxy means that I have to give aguinaldo by proxy. While I do think that aguinaldo is extortion, it’s erring on the side of hypocrisy; after all, when I was young and jobless, I was on the receiving end of ampaw and money shoved into my hand on Christmas morning. It gives me a fuller and better appreciation and understanding of money shoved into my bank account every payday, with every cent literally evaporating.
The problem with kids is that they know – quite literally, may I add – the color of money. Your love and concern for your godchildren is expressed not by giving them a noogie or squeezing their fat cheeks to show you a smile covered in powdered cheese, but by the color of the money you give them:
- Shiny coins: Ninong is a cheap prick who gets his kicks dry-humping the porcelain horses at Enchanted Kingdom.
- Orange twenty-peso bill: Ninong is a sonovabitch who has probably drunk my aguinaldo money.
- Red fifty-peso bill: Ninong loves me enough, but he probably forgot my name and just gave me this bill because he was forced to by Lola.
- Purple 100-peso bill: Ninong so loves me, but this will only buy me a meal at McDonald’s which I always get from my parents anyway.
- Booger-green 200-peso bill: Wait, if Ninong hates The Government so much, why is he giving me this bill?
- Yellow 500-peso bill: Wow, Ninong is so good to me that he’ll attend my graduation and my wedding.
- Blue 1000-peso bill: I love Ninong so much that when I grow up, I will vote for him to be President. Then I will venerate him to the status of heroic god-king. I will then kick the evil messenger down the well.
Yes, at school, they don’t teach you to say “Thank you.” No, never mind that my bank account has been pillaged by the ill-minded tradition of aguinaldo. Pretty soon, they’ll start accepting marked money from paper bags in the Kremlin, and make interesting hobbies out of collecting liquid fertilizer. Then they’ll call COMELEC officials using truncated surnames. Then they’ll apologize on national television.
It’s a good thing I don’t have a niece named “Gloria” or a nephew named “Jocelyn.” That will be the death of me. I’ll probably jump into the path of a moving train at Tutuban, get crushed by iron wheels, and my body parts sold off as barjer.
I guess I’m just paying penance for mooching the spirit of Christmas when I was a kid. Or propagating corruption. Or maybe it’s just that all kids – including myself – look forward to the best Christmas gift out there: money.
The spirit of Christmas is, of course, a blank check.