Tenured for life | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022


“If you were my secretary, I’d fire you!”


Vergel, of course, means it every time he says it to me, and with good reason, too: All his secretaries before me have been super efficient. Fortunately, even for the worst inefficiencies, he can’t fire me—I’m tenured, I’m his wife.


It’s enough generosity in fact that I grant him the freedom to say it— You’re fired!—and he seems sufficiently appeased with the consolation. Surely, it also helps that I’m always contrite. After all, I sometimes want to fire me, too.


Extreme times


This issue of secretarial ineptitude arose when he started working from home, an arrangement we had welcomed until it became clear to both of us that it meant that, aside from being his menu planner and cook, critic, consultant, and treasurer, I would become his appointment secretary as well.


As it happens, I could use one myself.


As secretaries are expected to do, I always write things down; my only problem is remembering where. I never throw away invitations; I save them like Christmas cards, but, having arrived too early in many cases these days, sometimes weeks or a month before, they fail to resurface when I need them from under the weight of the bills, bank statements, discount coupons and other things that have overlain them.


In any case, hardly anything upsets me anymore, and maybe that’s the problem. I’m amused at how quickly I forget things, and how funny that and everything else become. I sometimes lose it completely and find myself laughing not just at my own lapses, but at other people’s lapses, too, inappropriately, though reassuringly.


To be fair, Vergel usually recovers quickly from my lapses and sometimes even finds in himself the gentlemanly generosity to laugh along with me. Those times in fact almost make the lapses worth it, which is exactly what happened to us last week: We woke up at 6, grabbed a cab at 7:30 for the pickup point for an outing with friends, only to find out we were a day early.


Such, however, are the extreme times that Vergel is driven to the point of wanting dearly to fire me, and they seem happening oftener and oftener. Still, it doesn’t make it any less funny.


I wish I could keep my laughter at appropriate levels, but at my age I can’t—and why should I?


I did it again


Last Sunday, I did it again. I made him rush home from his inviolate tennis, because, as far as I could remember, Nelson Navarro was launching his book of memoirs (billed as a fictional one, he thought it especially anomalously interesting) at the Raffles Hotel. The children having decided to have dinner at home, I couldn’t myself go with him.


Exhausted and hungry, Vergel left just as we were about to sit down at early dinner. One look at the pochero and he was tempted to stay, which I wouldn’t have him do, for sweet Nelson’s sake.


This time the invitation managed to surface; it showed him well within the time —from 4 to 8 p.m. He showered, dressed and warned he was having his pochero when he returned, which he did so soon he caught us still at table! As soon as he appeared at the door, he fired me—yet again.


Nelson’s launch had happened 10 days ago. Now that was hilarious! How we both (note his complicity) missed that singularly important detail in the invitation was beyond me! Vergel could only roll his eyes and shake his full, gray mane in sweet surrender.


I guess I did it again! And while I rolled on the floor in stitches, and just when I thought nothing could get funnier, my son Rob remarked, “Well, Mom, if you keep doing this to Vergel, pretty soon talk will be going around that it’s Vergel losing it.”


Well, I do declare, here and now, the full responsibility is mine.


Perfect fall guy


I have, meanwhile, passed on to my kasambahay, Lani, certain responsibilities, for both Vergel’s sake and my own, say, making sure my handbag and wallet contain everything that they should—senior and other cards, cell phone, etc.


My BFF Bea has done the same thing. Just when we were about to go down from her car, she discovered her cell phone was missing from her handbag. She shook her head and sighed; she now had a perfect fall guy—her own kasambahay.


Indeed, it seems our own tolerance for their lapses increases with our dependence on our kasambahay. Bea and I smiled at each other thinking the same thoughts: Mal con ella, peor sin. Bad enough with her, but worse without her. So far we’ve been lucky they haven’t fired us!


As we pass on more and more responsibilities to our kasambahay, our husbands have no choice but to delegate more and more matters to us as well. And Vergel must himself know he’s still better off with me around—Mal con ella, peor sin.


Lately, he, too, seems falling into lapses, though nothing so catastrophic that Lani can’t handle—little things like forgetting his wallet or cell phone. But our driver, King, has had to, not a few times, turn back home after only a few blocks, for something left behind either by him or me. To avoid this, he now checks us before starting the car, “Wala tayong nakalimutan, Ma’am, Sir? Cell phone, makeup?”


I guess these are just some of the indignities we seniors have to take in good humor.