Maita finally decided she’d go to her graduation ball.
She and her gang had meant to skip it, or, if they went at all, they’d go stag. At the last hour, however, the moms wouldn’t hear of it— skipping or going without escorts. That left Maita scrambling for two urgent quests: a gown and a date.
It would be easy enough to shop for a ready-made gown. I had gone along, in fact, with mother and daughter, looking at Rockwell, and saw beautiful and affordable choices.
The harder quest was a date, especially since Maita didn’t want to have a direct hand in choosing and preferred to leave the matter to friends. All of 5’6”, Maita insists on wearing heels.
Little did I realize I was myself getting caught up in the romantic aspects of graduation balls, something I never experienced in my time. My own school was of the idea that what we needed as graduating high-school seniors was to bond with each other and our teachers, and what better place to do that than at a beach resort, not at a ball—and absolutely without escorts.
They even took it a step deeper by reminding us of the rising poverty, of children of the world starving while we danced in haute-couture gowns. That certainly took the joy out of a milestone!
It seemed only yesterday that I attended Maita’s First Communion. Now, my daughter’s youngest child, who we thought not ever arriving after a sister who was turning five, is graduating from high school and going to her ball. I remember how her mom had to borrow back some of the baby stuff she had already given away. As a result, she’s at least five years younger than any of the children of her mom’s friends.
So when she asked her mom to suggest a date from among their children, they were too old—or too short. That prompted my daughter to ask me to tap my lola connections. That was all the opening I needed —suddenly, a role for me!
I happen to belong to several lola networks—Viber groups of classmates from the three schools I had attended, the political and environmental warriors and a dedicated prayer brigade that storms the heavens round-the-clock with appeals for the desperate among us for a rebound to health or heaven; although, also for a maid or a driver; the latest was for a reliable termite exterminator.
I didn’t mean to tap all my connections, just one or two expected to recommend an escort of good standing. But, as is my wont, I messaged the wrong Viber number. The message went out far and wide, and the quest was on.
In my enthusiastic search, I tapped even a favorite ex-balae, whose grandson would be almost a cousin to Maita. It was getting late in the day; on such short notice, the choice should be someone she knew well, and he was a perfect choice.
I myself knew him as a child—so well brought up he should be able to handle any situation, especially since he’s a pilot now, although perhaps too old at 22 and most probably with a girlfriend. But, not perturbed by such details, his lola vigorously volunteered him. Anyway, he was a prospect.
I called a high-school classmate whose two tall and handsome teenaged grandsons I remembered meeting, but right off she said her grandsons were mortally shy and would rather die than take a girl they never met to a ball, although when lola mentioned Maita had a honey-colored pet Labrador, they showed a spark of interest.
The lola had gone through this before, for her eldest granddaughter, and remembered how she shamelessly looked and couldn’t have found one any cuter than the grandson of a fellow pianist. But because it was the first time for the boys and girls to be in formal mixed company, the girls ended up dancing among themselves, forgetting their dates. Lola decided it was best I looked elsewhere.
I’ve stayed in close contact with friends through the years and some of our children have themselves became friends, too; but that didn’t go so far as down as to our grandchildren. Considering how willful lolas can be, anyway, they can be trusted to devise arrangements for adjustment.
One candidate came from such a connection, but just then Maita got wind of the involvement of the syndicate of lolas. She was mortified! Until then I had not realized what ridiculous interlopers these lolas-cum-fairy-godmothers were to a 17-year-old!
Put in my place, I texted Maita apologetically and conceded her friends should come through for her!
And they did, indeed.
As luck would have it, it was the same candidate from the lola connections. He had come through the front door as a handpicked candidate of one of her own gang-mates. Thus, the double endorsement made everybody happy and made him the ideal choice for my very shy graduate.
Thanks to the lolas who, with no candidates to offer, interfered properly—with prayers. We’ve gotten no feedback yet for a final validation, and don’t know if we ever will.
Where are those CCTV cameras when you need them?