Videoke and Freddy Mercury

With your full-grown mustache on, and singing Bohemian Rhapsody, your five pesos in the videoke gave you the right to be Freddy mercury. So you started your groove on in high-waist corduroy and drove us back to the 70’s– or 60’s– maybe, your age.

Some people think you should retire and live someplace nice and quiet but every night, we were told, that you belt your lungs out and become Bon Jovi, or Ariel Rivera, or Simon and Garfunkel rolled into one.

Your routine, since time immemorial, stays the same. You take a seat at the far left corner of the bar. Strategically near the alcohol and within the length of the mic cord.

We down two bottles at humirit ka pa. I wished for a falling star to turn itself in our sight so I’d pray you’d stop singing na, but your move on at sinunod mo naman ang We Are the Champions while my friend repetitively whine about a woman who doesn’t want to talk to him anymore.

On my side are lovers, or maybe, one-way lovers with this guy looking like he’s hoping to hit the sack with this girl who, from the look of her varicose veins must be tired standing all day. And no, I guess she won’t be buying the sales talk because I know that’s what she’s been doing the whole day.

An old guy selling peanuts approached our table displaying his greased merchandise. Who knows how many nights it has strolled around the bay with him. But when you’re on your third bottle, it’s the point of no return, so I said “Isa lang, ung maanghang”. You become bold, and adventurous, and you buy any other pulutan that comes your way with the hope of turning alcohol into water.

The videoke gave a score of 85. Not bad for self-confidence. Freddy Mercury was attempting his nth song since we got settled in. God knows how much he’s spend on that machine.

Now my friend regains touch with his reality– irritated by the thought of another singing round from this old guy– “manong, pahinga naman.”

“Anong problema mo?”

Putang ina gulo to. It was a stare-fest. I wanted to bet that my friend would blink first– I was wrong. Manong clutched his chest, with that confused–then scared–then begging look on his face. And as he collapsed I saw in his eyes he knew that was his last.

He was the champion.

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