July 28, 2006

The ‘unconventional’ Ms. F

MY friend F is getting married on Sunday. In fact, this will be her third wedding of sorts, although it is really just her second marriage. When we were much younger and much more foolish, F had gotten married to A, a likable guy who I remember as being wasteful when he cut off the ends of the onions close to the center for the nilagang manok he was cooking for all of us one chilly weekend up in Baguio.

The entire gang liked A enough and was one of the very few boyfriends among those of us who had any whom we actually got along with. Here was a man who felt confident enough to hang out with our various, often offbeat personalities, and could jump into our conversation with no hesitation. The other girls either didn’t want to introduce their boyfriends/husbands to us, or their men were suicidal, and two of our gangmates had been gay all along and hid that fact. Ergo, we never met their lovers either.

Most of us were surprised that F got married. Dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, she exchanged vows with A quite hilariously, hesitating to make that final “I do.” Among us, F is probably the most unconventional. In terms of careers, while she is a journalist like most of our friends, she was actually trained in computer programming.

In our younger days, F had the amusing habit of taking the bus going home to Muntinlupa as soon as she saw it coming, conveniently forgetting that she had an appointment with one of us, her friends, in some mall somewhere. There would never be any apologies. As her friends, we were supposed to understand. (But heck, people do change. F now keeps her appointments.) She could also be quite tactless that I remember looking down into my sheaf of papers after she made a joke about my boss, a Cabinet secretary, over losing his job right to his face! I didn’t know whether I should’ve hidden under the table or just ran away.

But F has no patience for small talk, for incompetent people, for the petty little dramas that most of us go through in relationships with other people. I guess that’s why I get along with her. She can be frank and honest without actually meaning any malice. She isn’t burdened by feelings of guilt for having perhaps unwittingly hurt someone. It’s not that she doesn’t care; it’s just that unlike most of us, F doesn’t carry much emotional baggage the way most of us do, affecting all our relationships. She is just that comfortable in her skin. And if people have any problems with that, she’s not the one who’s going to lose sleep over it.

Despite this departure from what is considered “normal,” it is she who is apparently the most traditional among us. She got married ahead of us all, and had a baby with A. I have no doubts that she loved him, but we disdained talking about romantic stuff so I never pried. After seven years, however, they parted ways due to rather conventional issues but are still friends. In fact, she has invited A to her wedding. I apparently have the dubious honor of baby-sitting him at our reception table. F says she allowed A to bring his new girl to the wedding, which perked me up since I would have loved to size her up, but—too bad—the girl passed on the invite. Perhaps she isn’t quite ready to meet someone as formidable as F. Darn! And I thought I’d be entertained.

F met her second husband, B, online. (She is actually the second friend of mine who has met Mr. Right through the cyber highway.) B, who is younger than her and an American, finally came over to the Philippines to see F in person. The rest is history as they say. Why we Filipinas are no longer content with our Filipino males is a topic for another column. Anyway, F and B got married before a judge in May, the day she received her annulment papers. I have met B only once before and he looked like a decent responsible guy. I trust F that she knows what she is getting into.

On Sunday F and B will be married again, this time in a grand fashion in an upscale restaurant in Manila. Again, for my unconventional friend, this is another stab at tradition none of us can figure out why she would go through. She will be walking down the flowered aisle in a white gown and heels amid a garden setting. B, whose immediate family has just flown into town, will be dressed in a barong Tagalog. There will be a classical string quartet playing at the wedding and at the reception. But, hang on, there won’t be a religious ceremony because bride and groom are atheists or agnostics, whatever. There will be a “blessing” of sorts by a Christian layperson but there won’t be any mention of God, Allah, Goddess, or any Supreme Being during the ceremony. Don’t look at me, I don’t get it myself. And, no, she hasn’t registered for gifts. Actually, some things don’t change.

A few more days before the big day, the only sticky issue is deciding how she will “storm to the altar,” as F puts it. She doesn’t want the traditional wedding march and has toyed with the idea of marching to the theme from “Clockwork Orange,” which, for those who don’t know, is Purcell’s music for the funeral for Queen Mary—the reason I balk at the preposterous idea. I actually suggested the theme from “Jaws”—sort of a heads-up for B and his family. Or maybe Handel’s Queen of Sheba…. Hmmm…. Anyhow, by the time you read this, I hope we have been able to choose something appropriate. If not, it’s not too late to e-mail me some suggestions, you guys!

Seriously, I am looking forward to F’s wedding. (My only request is that this be her last, as I am gradually outgrowing good dresses for such occasions.) Aside from giving us the opportunity to see a lot of old friends again under more joyous circumstances, as we last saw them at a wake, it drives home the point that it really is never too late to fall in love again and be happy with just one person for the rest of your life. It gives many of us single women some hope that we will still find Mr. Right out there, if we just have some patience. (Maybe all we have to do is get into those chat rooms!) But you can’t rush love. It will find you if the time is right and when your heart is ready. Sounds corny, I know…but love often is.

(Originally published in the Business Mirror, Something Like Life, July 28-29, 2006)

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