No, he said. Many good fruitcakes right here.
Did you order Collins Street fruitcake? I asked my daughter Wendy.
No, she said, I will bring fruits. Cakes are bad for the health.
Did you order Collins Street fruitcake? I texted Arcus, my youngest son.
Why? he asked. I didn’t reply.
Did you order Collins Street fruitcake? I asked my daughter-in-law Lanelle.
No, said Lanelle, should I have?
Collins Street fruitcake comes in a round tin. It has the picture of an old American winter scene with a carriage drawn by horses. The man is in an overcoat and top hat, and the woman in a bonnet, a skirt with a bustle and a fur muff. Dad used to order it for Christmas as early as September every single year since we can remember.
Everyone kidded Dad about his Collins Street fruitcake imported from Texas. But not only did everybody eat it, they also demanded a share to take home. So delicious it was, bursting with nuts and chewy glazed fruits and redolent with rum. No Macadamia Nut Sans Rival or Strawberry Shortcake or Decadent Chocolate Cake with Toblerone could elbow it out of the holiday table.
But no, nobody had ordered Collins Street fruitcake this year. Dad was dead.
Tonight, though, I can hear from Mol’s house next door the seven grandsons rehearsing the piece they hope to play on Christmas in my house. Franco does the sax, Juaneo the bass guitar, Miguel the other guitar, Rafa the keyboard, Carlo the harmonica, Io the drums and Quinito kinda claps together two cymbals. Plus all of them can sing.
One of the two granddaughters is studying in America. But the other, Chin-Chin, is also around next door, wanting to rehearse the ballet she will dance while they play. But there is not enough space. Besides, the boys are ignoring her so she’s pissed off and decides to go home.
I’m happy Dad’s and my progeny are musical because I am strictly literal and Dad was a one-note samba. That’s because our daughter-in-law Bing Bing and son-in-law Roy are both musical and will sing too on Christmas Day. My sister’s son, Papo, sings with the Madrigals alumni. So there will be a horde of cherubims and seraphims around here, so Christmas may go through after all. Even if Dad is dead.
I learned two new words/phrases from the boys tonight. One is “Yolo!” which means “You Only Live Once” and seems to be the motto of people who do stupid things just for fun (a kind of twisted version of carpe diem!). So you better not ask any really stupid questions of them—lolas are not exempted—and you better know what it means! Another thing I learned is that the Filipino translation of OMG! is AMG! Or “Ay, my God!” These boys make my day.
This year, shopping seems more frenzied than ever, maybe because everybody (or is it just oldies like me?) is looking for good presents to buy at cheap prices. I found an adorable handbag with a tag that says, “Genuine Made-in-China.” (At least, honest!)
Actually, I do not like to buy fake designer bags. It’s not because, as my daughter-in-law, Lilli-Ann, says, “It’s easy to spot in a party.” ‘Cause I can’t tell. And neither can most of my close friends (except maybe Mariel). “If you have to buy a cheap bag,” says Lilli-Ann, better get a generic, unbranded one (saan, sa botika?). The true reason I do not buy those fake bags is because the shrill salesgirls practically poke them in your face—Prada, ma’am, 50-percent off, Louis Vuitton ho, bagong dating, Hermés po, two for P1,500! It’s so annoying. I just run away as fast as possible!
Before shopping, my daughter Wendy and I always fortify ourselves with lunch in Gloria Maris. Even in its huge expanded state, their food is as good as ever. (If you’ve forgotten it, try the fried pusit with salt and pepper again, Clinton Palanca!) The restaurant still keeps its charm with Panciteria English entries like “noodle top with brisket and tendon,” “rice top with seafood and white sauce,” or “sizzling prawn with steak sauce.” (Only one prawn? And with steak sauce?) One of the menu headings is “Roastings” after “Noodles” and “Sea Foods.” (Shouldn’t it be “Roasts” or “Roasted?”) At the end of the list is “Sweet Desserts” and nothing more (no unsweetened desserts or sour desserts).
But wait! Christmas may not take place at all! Dec. 21 marks the end of the Mayan calendar, and also the end of the world, some people say.
Today is Dec. 8 and ABS-CBNNews.com reports: Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, in an interview with Radio Veritas, said, Is it coincidence that tragedies happen whenever lawmakers push for the RH bill? He said the underlying message should be understood. The death toll from typhoon “Pablo” was already at 325 on Thursday. At least 379 are still missing and 411 more injured.
And Fr. Melvin Castro, executive secretary of CBCP Episcopal Commission on Family Life, stopped short of linking the habagat phenomenon to the RH bill but noted that “nonetheless God speaks through his creation. Nature tells us to respect the natural course of things.”
Well, since Congress already passed the bill, if the end of the world does come on Dec. 21, and most of us are decimated, the clergy can always tell the remaining living souls, “Didn’t we warn you? That’s what you get for welcoming the condom!”