I think I’ve discovered the meaning of life in a 7-Eleven store. There will always be two less lonely people in the world. When I’m all out of potato chips, I’m so lost without it. And people are making love (love…) out of nothing but TOT.
“Good evening, Mamser, welcome to 7-Eleven!” Mamser, I thought. It was like snippets of a Kafka-esque revelation: As Marocharim went off to the store from an uneasy afternoon at work, he found himself transformed by the door into a monstrous Mamser. Then I look around the store: I’m surrounded by Mamsers. There’s the Mamser by the Slurpee machine, the Mamser getting hotdog sandwiches, the Mamser guzzling a bottle of Cobra on the way out the store. There was nothing different, and there was nothing strange.
“JENNYTOT!” I heard someone shout from the other end of the store. “JENNYTOT ANO GUSTO MO, POTATO CHIPS O TORTILLOS?”
“YUFFIETOT!” came the reply. “KUNIN MO NA LANG POTATO CHIPS, YUNG GREEN YUFFIETOT YUNG GREEN!”
I walked out of the store with a pack of cigarettes and a bottle of flavored water, and walked back to the office. There’s nothing like overpriced flavored water – apple – to give your brain a zap and realize that you’ve just overheard a conversation punctuated by the suffix, “-tot.”
I don’t know if I was walking like Ozzy’s Iron Man or if the whole world slowed down, but I ended up by the ATM machine smoking a cigarette filter, my water bottle still unopened, and the familiar voices of Jennytot and Yuffietot just behind me.
“Si Marietot kasi eh… tsismosa talaga yun Jennytot. Akala ko friends sila ni Gracetot tapos gaganunin lang pala…”
“Ay oo traydor nga talaga si Marietot. Uy Yuffietot naalala mo ginawa niya kay Lexietot?”
“Ay oo nga Jennytot…”
Tot… I mean, thought bubbles started to form in my head. (If they were to form on my head then we’d be living in a cartoon universe) I’ve always thought that my generation has enough inherent kajologan in it as things stand. Girls calling each other “sis” (OK, that’s “cs”), guys calling each other “bro,” and everyone’s a “bes.” Or at the very least, “FRIEND.” We lack people named “Magtanggol” or “Tagumpay” in my generation to find value in the term, “kaibigan.” “Tsong” is so Eighties, I guess.
Nah, I have nothing against kids who find interesting terms of address; the pa-cute de-jolog-ing of their generation. Maybe I’m just middle-aged, crazy, and I’ll die before I hit 50, so I’m taking it out on minor annoyances like the suffix “-tot.” It’s just that my usual cranky (completely harmless) self on a late Thursday afternoon managed to take out a whole dam of angst to a couple of girls doddering to each other like badinskies, calling each other “-tot.”
I gave them a rather cold stare.
“Your name’s Jenny, right?”
“Opo…” she said, looking shocked.
“And you’re name’s Yuffie?”
“Y…y…yes sir…” I could have sworn they would have made a run for it, and not continue talking to a stranger who looked like a cross between a rockstar, a zombie, and a complete and total dork.
“Stop calling yourselves ‘tot,’ okay?” I breathed out. (Bio note: I either mumble or breathe out whatever I’m saying.)
“Yes sir…” they said, looking meek, and I went on my way to the teller machine.
Ah… teller machine. The one thing that doesn’t call me a “Mamser.”