“What the hell is your problem, man?” Sam looked at me with empathy.
I held the beer bottle’s nozzle like a gun and pointed it to Sam. He always smelled it if something was bothering me. Sam and I have been childhood friends. He is the son of Mang Ambo, who sells bibingka or rice cakes outside the church during the holidays. Sam was my partner in crime; we would cross to another town just to sneak mangoes and coconuts then relax underneath the shade of the palm trees in our backyard after eating too much of our loot.
Sam has a way of looking at me straight in the eye, sober or drunk, and making me squeal about what got me.
“Sam, do you remember when we used to steal mangoes in Sampaguita Street and Mrs. Chavez freed her two pitbulls from their cages to literally get our asses bitten?”
“Well, aside from the fact that it was fun and stupid, I didn’t tell you one tiny secret.”
He rolled his eyes, squinted and looked at me.
“Are you trying to tell me that it was not the mangoes that made you decide to go there and sneak behind that house?”
I smirked, “Uhhh…yes.”
“I f****n’ knew it! I knew it, you bastard! You were there because you wanted to peep through Teresa’s window in front the mango tree! Oh, you pervert! No wonder I always brought more mangoes because you were glued to that window the whole time!”
“But, wait a minute. Why are we drinking two bottles of tequila now? I mean, Tony, I can feel the kick, man. But I am still sober. You can pretend that I don’t smell something weird but just…say it. Shoot?”
I smiled. He does know how to persuade me like Mom. “Okay, okay. There are two secrets. Actually, this other one is something I was hesitant to tell you. Been trying to hide it for too long but ahh! I guess today’s the day.” I bit my lip.
“Okay, okay…take it easy. Let me take this shot first.” He gobbles down the glass of tequila. “Okay, Tony, bring it on! Whoop my ass!”
“Sam, you ever wondered why I always preferred tequila over beer, or why you would complain that I put too much shrimp paste on mangoes, or why every time you come by the house to invite me to hang out somewhere, I always have to take a shower? Sam…”
“Yes? Oh, don’t tell me you are gay this whole time. Uh-uh! Not that I will whoop your ass outside this bar and we are F-O or “friendship over”, Tony, friendship over! Man, how many times did we sleep together talking about basketball and girls in school?!?! (Endless mumbling).
“Sam! Sam, just…Just shut up! I am not gay! We can still sleep together like grade school and I won’t fantasize about your hairy body! Sam, I can’t…I can’t smell things and I can only taste things that are specifically strong like shrimp paste or tequila. And ever since we became friends, I was always worried that you would pick on me because I probably stink. So, uhm, that’s the reason why I take a bath twice or thrice a day cause I can’t smell myself; I will never know if I smell bad. I have congenital anosmia.” I put on a straight face.
“Well, Tony, I hate to break it to you but I already knew. I foresaw this day would come.” He winked at me.
“Oh, you just made me feel bad, Sam! You did! How did you know? Mom? I am weak at hiding things! Oh, sh*t!”
“Not through your mom but from dad. He was in the hospital when you and your mom went for a consultation way back when we were like 12. Dad saw your mother crying outside the hospital while you were left inside to talk with the doctor. Dad came to her and she told him everything. When dad told me about this, I felt really sad but he said that I should help you by treating you as normal as possible. I mean, we are like brothers. Man, I always knew…So, what is the real problem?”
“Oh, Sam, I hate you!”
“Tony, I know where this is going. You have one elaborate explanation that seems like it’s the problem but it is just the f****n’ symptom, so, let’s get to what hurts. Tell me, baby!”
“Okay. Uhm, yeah. Uhm, I’m falling in love with this girl from the office.” He grins. “Sam, I am scared that with my disability, I wouldn’t be able to be the right man for her, and that if ever we pushed through with it, I would never be able to experience her fully. It saddens me so much. I get crippled by these thoughts, I mean, you know, I don’t want to be her patient or be a burden to her or I don’t know…”
“Tony, are you f****ng kidding me? Again? How many times have we done this Sam-I-think-she-is-not-gonna-be-happy-or-Sam-I-may-not-be-the-right-person-shitty-conversations? Man, it only gets worse from here if you pretend that she has no hint and that you are forecasting the future. What are you? A meteorologist? Do you know when it would snow in your relationship and when it would exactly be sunny, or how warm will the bed be in Friday nights? Tony, love is like an earthquake. Listen to me before you cut my lousy analogy. It is unpredictable. You, my friend, are thinking too much about the future – waaay too much!”
“But Sam, it’s a fact. I am noseblind. There are things I cannot do in life nor will I experience some moments or give material things.”
“You moron, do you have hairy balls in your nose? N-O! Do you look like you are handicapped? N-O! Are you stupid? Y-E-S! Why? ‘Cause you are creating some non-existent problems.”
He is a straight-up counter puncher. My best friend, Sam.
“Okay. So what should I do from here?”