That polite smile

My parents would knock at my door around 7am for breakfast.  That's supposed to be the time I wake up.  But I'm up before that.  I wake up an hour before, open the curtains and pull up the blinds.  I do some exercises, some pushups or crunches.  Then I gargle and brush my teeth.  I take a bath after that, go into the walk-in closet, close the door and linger, undecided for a few minutes on what to wear.  It takes time for me to become Chris, son, nephew, niece, and everything that's expected of me.  By the time my mom knocks on the door, I'm somewhat ready to face the day.  All that I am I leave behind the room; all that I must be, I assume.

We were having late lunch with my aunt last Sunday and, expectedly, it came up in conversations.  When are you going to get married?  Do you have a girlfriend?

I can't exactly remember what I said or what I answered.  But with all eyes on me, I simply wanted to vanish.  There was a pregnant pause, I remember.  A time when I was trying to think of what to say.  I'm hurling into an age where I'm running out of excuses.  It doesn't help that I'm in an enviable position compared to my cousins from my mother's side.

I was the one who seemed to have breezed through school, passed the board exams, never had a problem looking for work; while my cousins, even the one here in US, have yet to finish college after a dozen courses, are struggling to find work, or are simply lost.  I was their success story, the kid who did good, got into the best school, and landed the good jobs.  The only thing missing to their version of the perfect life is a wife and kids.

Maybe I answered that I'm still young, for a man, to get married.  Not like women who are running against their biological clocks.  Whatever it was, my aunt exclaimed: But you're turning thirty in two years, right?

I took a deep breath and said: Yes, maybe then I'll settle down.

An answer that's as ambiguous as it is true.  I've always been careful with my choice of words so that I wouldn't have to lie.  And it seemed to have satisfied them for now and their idea of a perfect life.

There will be a lot more of that as I meet all my relatives here one by one.  I smile a lot, but not the kind that says I'm happy.  Rather a polite, muted smile that's resigned to whatever fate has handed me to deal with; knowing I could never, ever reconcile who I am and who they want me to be.


  1. I used to wear that smile a lot for such inquisitions. Nowadays, my replies are more in the form of cute jokes followed by big laughs...

    -anonymous (from goodboi's blog)

  2. They still do not know, that's why they are asking. What's more tiring to deal with are people who, despite knowing that you have already made a choice of what kind of life you want, still expect you to live the way you did AGES ago.

  3. @anonymous. I can't reply with cute jokes. I used to do that before. I can only use it to a certain extent before they'll notice that I'm evading the question.

    @carabrant it's not that they don't know. they just have an idea of what life should be and everyone should fit in to their idea.

  4. Hmm. Got your point.

    Don't worry, pag nalaman na nila, mabaabsag din yang paniniwala nila and they'll get over it (I hope so).

    Or pwede rin tulad dun sa friend ko, ipapag-pray over ka nila. :P


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