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6.16.2004

One Friday Afternoon at the Mega Strip

The Dating GameImage via WikipediaIt was a Friday and was not just the perfect day to hang out and have fun with your friends. What?! With the incessant rains that drench your mood and spirit, would you care to go out? Besides, my colds was so terrible and my headache was killing me. But I had to drag myself to work in the afternoon. Thanks to Decolgen and Ponstan that I was relieved before lunch time that gave me the reason not to miss my date with Rikiboy.

Meeting Rikiboy was indeed a very pleasant experience. It was not my first gay date, of course. But I must also say that it is one of the very few gay dates I have had, since I still have this awkward feeling whenever I go out on a date with a man, unless he is my straight barkada.

So, we met at the Mega Strip after work. We also talked about our work, our families, kids, and whatever comes out of our minds. And we talked about men, and those men who pass by.

I must admit I was not really comfortable meeting or dating men I really do not know. It is a fact that when you have an EB, and no matter how you put up a façade that you really know each other, it still comes out that both of you are total strangers to each other. It is also a common experience that you have this “everyone-seems-looking at-or-talking-about-me” feeling whenever you enter a place. The result of this nagging thought is you get over-conscious about your actions and always keep yourself on guard.

Anyway, Rikiboy and I are partly to be blamed of what gays normally feel in these situations. And I (we) mean real apology for that. From our table where we exchanged thoughts and laughters, we also scrutinized men who pass by, and “judge” whether they are gay or not. Kulang na lang sa amin yung magtaas ng score cards whether 1 or 10, or in between. Besides the fact that I believe in the cliché “It takes one to know one,” I am also a very keen observant. My study of human behavior in college did help me to understand words and actions, and help me label it as “gay laugh, gay wardrobe, gay walk, gay group, gay stare/look, gay smile, and even gay hair” and what have you. And I appreciate that there was Rikiboy with me at that time that help me confirm my observations about gay behavior in EBs.

Our table at one of the coffee shops along the Mega Strip gave me a good view of the place and people passing by. Being a keen observant, I get to notice every person that passes by, including handsome Sol (who looks like Mat Ranillo III), the man in tight fitting black shirt who comes in and out of the coffee shop and later did we know that he seems to be employed there.

Intentionally, I did “flirt” at the men passing by. I looked at them in the eye and if I get a second look, that’s it! I know he is one of us. There were in their lonesome, some are in pairs and some in groups. Two of the set of people who passed by our table stuck in my mind. There was a group of three Ortigas yuppies who were walking fast and one of them was so fair and curly that you could easily notice him. I gave him that I-die-for-you stare and smiled at him. And luckily, he gave me a second look. And I immediately told Rikiboy, “He is one of us!” and we gave a hearty laugh.

“How did you know?” he asked.

“I just know. I looked at him and he did the same,” I assumed. Or should I say “gay instinct.” Well, I read about this “theory” some time ago that if you stare at each other for at least 7 seconds, you’re in it. You have chances of getting close and end up in a relationship, which works for heterosexuals and homosexuals. I just regret that I just saw him a few meters into our table and they were walking fast that it did not even reach 7 seconds at all. Plus the fact that I have not yet mastered the art of cruising in public places, that puts me on the downside. I must admit I could not get any further by just merely looking them in the eye.

After a while, there was a couple of yuppies dressed in their usual Friday jeans and shirts with matching backpacks. I told Rikiboy, these two have just met for the sake of EB. Again the question of “How did you know?”

These were my observations: They are an obvious couple.

They are walking fast and so straight that could make MMDA employ them to draw boundary lines along EDSA.
They are talking but are not looking at each other in the eye. Instead, their eyes are fixed on the people they meet or at the people sitting along the alley. They have simply committed a mistake in communication.

Their smiles are so tense that you could see their lips quivering, that no matter how they put on that close-up smile, they are still tense!

Their movements are so measured that their elbows were not even touching (considering they are walking side-by-side).
And I heard them say, “What’s your name?” “Jun. You?” That finally caught them. They have just broken the “Golden Rule” in gay EB!

I know that I am no expert when it comes to gay EB. But my observations two Fridays ago have helped me put up some tips for discreet EBs. I know how it feels to be uncomfortable that is why I am writing these tips, to make you feel more comfortable in your dates. I know some of you are experts along this line and you may share what you have. So here they are…

On walking side-by-side, act naturally, and no matter how tense you are because there might actually be people whom you know and see you meeting this guy. You know when you are barkada, you tend to dilly-dally and walk as if you are prowling the beaches of Boracay or the namamasyal-sa-Luneta stroll, or naglalakad-sa-ilalim-ng-buwan walk. Do not walk fast, as if trying to avoid prying eyes ogling at the queer you or trying to muffle the gossipy ears listening to every word of your conversation. When you converse, avoid “getting-to-know-you” topics. Somehow, in your exchange of emails, you have talked about his or your dogs, or your masungit na ate, or Ragnarok (works for yuppies and PC game junkies), concerts, favorite movies, etc. And do not talk about gay sex like “are you bottom or top or versa?” I should know because I heard my gym buddies in one of the gyms in Ortigas Center uttering these words inside the locker room, though in a different context. And now I know, that no matter how masculine they pretend to be, “mother” din pala sila.

Come on, smile when you need it. Do not smile for the sake of smiling, just so you look good and winsome to your date. Be natural. Frown on the word he said when you need to, or even fake a frown so that you do not look sweety-sweety to each other. Men, generally, are not sweet, you know! We banter. We laugh aloud, as in LOLZ. And make those silly actions like a teenager.

An elbow nudge or a pat will make your first meeting more relaxed. Do not walk like a robot. Look at the people around you even if you are not really paying attention to them. That should make them veer their eyes away from you. Look at them too para mapahiya sila sa kaka-titig sa inyo.

Know your EB-mate before you even meet him personally. If needed, ask for a photo. A nice and trustworthy guy would not hesitate to exchange photos. And you must also be willing to share yours. After all, relationships start in trusting people. However, there are many guys who do not really want to exchange photos, simply for "security" reasons. In fact there are some among us who use other people’s photos. Just prepare yourself for the outcome later on.

I had an EB a few months ago and he described himself a a-la Ding-dong Dantes. I thought, wow! What a great catch! It turned out he was fat and dark, too tall and too feminine for me. And do not forget, to know what he is wearing so that you do not look like an obvious fool looking for your date.

Do not ask in the middle of the crowd, “What’s your name?” Pretend you are long-time pals and a simple high-five or pat on the shoulder would do. Do not shake hands. Instead a high five using your knuckles should make it up for a hand-shake—jus like how Rikiboy did it to me. And I appreciated that because I felt like I knew him well from the past and he appeared to be my long-time friend. I was comfortable afterwards.

And do not meet in the area where you work or study. There are a thousand places in Metro Manila for you to meet. For those in the provices like Davao or Cebu or other cities, avoid the crowd or malls. In Davao, Jack’s ridge will be okay. Or go to Eden park (ang layo nga lang from the city), or some unpopular resto or bars, where you would not be easily identified, unless you are openly gay. Though I broke this tip by meeting Rikiboy in Ortigas where I work. Well, what do I have to hide anyway? I was just meeting Rikiboy and maybe I could just introduce him as one of my classmates in college or a gym buddy if by chance we bump into an officemate or friend. Nasa diskarte yan. And would you imagine, Jason introduced me as his college classmate to his landlady? And we even ate some snacks with her landlady. So I just played it well—acting his “college classmate-whom-he-has-never-met-for-so-so-years.” I wonder if the landlady ever noticed the age gap (I am 7 years his senior! Buti na lang hindi halata…no objections please!).

Be on time. This Ding-dong Dantes look-a-like daw was three hours late. We were supposed to meet at 2 PM at SM West. He showed up at around 5 PM. That drove me really nuts! I spent for my food, transportation, not mentioning my cramped leg muscles waiting for him. I have already visited all the stores at the Cyber Park waiting for him. Well, isa rin akong gago because I was really interested to see for myself if he really looks like Ding-dong. We met, of course, and upon seeing him, I told him I was sorry I could not go on with the EB (not because I was disappointed with his looks), because I have to see a friend at SM Mega mall, and this was just an accommodation for him, and want him to feel that he duped me waiting for him like a hungry animal. So, that’s it, I waited for 3 hours and talked to him in less than 1 minute. Ahhhh. Gays! (Men!).

With these words from your friend in the net, I want to wish you happy eye-balling. By the way, on your way to your dreaded and most anticipated date, do not forget to take some deep breaths.
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