A winning smile
By Aileen Macalintal
12:57 am | Tuesday, January 31st, 2012
When I was still teaching in the University of the Philippines Los Baños, I used to tell my students the story about how I met a stranger on a bus, as an example of an autobiographical report. Semester after semester, the reactions I got were always the same: kilig. Here goes: It was a Monday night. I boarded an HM bus in Cubao after my evening class in UP Diliman. As usual, I took the window seat and stared at the carbon-monoxide laced window. Instead of pondering Metro Manila’s pollution, I recalled an incident that afternoon: I had reserved a copy of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s autobiography at a book sale in UP, but the staff sold it to somebody else, so I ran to the ladies’ room to cry (silly, I know). I smiled at the thought of this but quickly put on a straight face because I didn’t want to be seen smiling by myself. A guy sat beside me, but I hardly paid attention to him for I was still immersed in my thoughts on Gabo’s book and missed opportunities. He asked whether that bus would be passing through Calamba. I found the question dumb because the Sta. Cruz signboard had “College” and “Calamba” on it, so I just nodded a little while still looking out of the window, sending the I’m-not-interested message across. As the bus left the terminal and the conductor started collecting fares, I suddenly realized that I had no ticket. I strained my neck, looking for the conductor. The guy beside me said the conductor must have thought that we were traveling together because he gave him two tickets. I was about to raise hell but when I turned to look at him, I forgot about hell. He was so gwapo. His eyelashes were longer than mine. His eyes were adorably big. Lips, pinkish. Nose, perfect. Complexion, smooth. And he smelled good. For a split-second I was possessed, but I was exorcised immediately. He handed me one of his Calamba-bound tickets. ...