The Strange Red

"The wine list is just limited. I think we have to ask the waiter if they something else in the cellar" , Phil said slightly brushing his freshly scrubbed chin as if the task would be rather an impossibility.

The waiter comes in with the same blank face he showed me the day before when I made the reservation. He couldn't be tired yet as we were ones of the first customers to grace their locale today so I guess it is his natural face expression--nothing. He wears a blue over sized shirt which makes him shorter than his 5 foot frame. The sun was high and the light reflects strongly on his blading head, his nose and cheeks. Maybe I am wrong. Maybe he just tripped off a bucket full of olive oil, head first.

"Si,señor?" , the waiter asks

"Do you have any other wine that is not included in this menu? The choices are quite limited and we would like to know if you have anything else"

" One question señor. Do you think we could put all the wines in Spain in that menu?" he says passionately. Still, his face doesn't show any slight change of feelings. Adulterating men should learn from his facial expression (or the lack of it), it's just genius.

" Of course not but honestly, I don't fancy neither of what you have here"

I could feel the tension boiling. Phil tries to calm down although I could feel him wanting to kill someone today.

He fakes a cough and goes on.

"Ah..what about this one?" , asked Phil pointing out some strange wine from an unheard region of the country "Is this good? "

" Ah, señor. I don't know. Personally, I don't like wines; for me they are the worst drink that one could have. Malisimo!"

This is one of the few occasions that I wished I didn't know how to speak Spanish. Ignorance is bliss--is at it's finest at this very moment.

" Is there anyone who in this restaurant who could perhaps tell me something about these wines you have? Someone who actually understand something about wines?"

"Si, señor. Un Momento" and he flees.

Normally, Phil would have given them serious verbal lashings faced in a situation like this. However, he knows I am not happy with him getting ballistic with the wait staff for certain reasons. Most serious of which is that they might spit on our food.

He looks red now.

The Manager comes with a smile from ear to ear. He immediately moves on to explain about the strange red wine from the strange region. The manager is pleasant and does not lose the smile. He cracks a joke which we graciously answer with a laugh.

The tension is cleared. Finally the bottle arrives and surprisingly, it is a good one.

The waiter lurks from behind as we devour our paella and gulp the strange red. I seriously want some baguette to go with the nice food.I look up to call a staff but meet the waiter's eyes instead.

I look down on my plate. The rice is exquisitely golden.

Andalucia Diary meets the Scarlet Journal

Thanks for the comment on my blog – I really do enjoy your writing. I must post a comment or two soon! I think to be bitchy with class, you ‘ve got to be sharpe and intelligent and you pull that off very well!


Thanks Andrew. I enjoy reading your blog as well and your house is definitely a visual Viagra! I love it! Looking forward to have coffee with you sometime and oh, when do we get to see a picture of your significant other in your blog? Cheers!


The Pursuit of Happiness

I was chatting yesterday with a friend who I have not seen for years now. We were talking about life in general when suddenly, she asked me the dreadful question:

"Jeno, are you happy?"

If our relationship as friends have not been that long and if she were just someone I barely know, the answer to that question would be, "fuck off!" or a simple yes or no. However, she asked me this question before in my depression years and my answer was literally two hours of crying until I fell asleep. It was the height of my drama queen days and she knows exactly that the question needs more than a yes or no answer after all those years. The question is more thought provoking now than ever before.

The question was simple but tricky. Thinking about it, it's an everyday thing to say your fine when someone asks you if you are without really deciphering what "fine" means. Saying fine becomes automatic that it doesn't make sense anymore. However, the question of happiness is more personal. It only takes special friends and rare moments for conversations like these.

I would like to think that happiness is overrated and I wanted my answer to make sense to her.

" And why is it overrrated?" she asked.

"People do impossible things, go beyond their ways in search of happiness just to be disappointed in the end. I believe that happiness is a state of mind, happiness is a momentary experience".

" So, Are you happy?" Not contented with my answer, she asked.

" I am happy at this moment because I am speaking with you and our other friends"

" You don't answer my question".

" I just did".

Anthony Quinn, in his autobiography Original Sin, wrote, " Who said that we were brought to this earth to be happy?--Television!". When I read this years ago, I thought that was a rather pessimistic view of life. Life is harsh, tough and everything in between but happiness is not like a Birkin bag---You don't have to wait for two years to have one; you don't have to to work years, to acquire one. Yes, life could be rather too harsh sometimes, you feel like happiness only exists in Walt Disney films but after a scoop of strawberry cheesecake ice cream or a mindblowing sex, you feel like you're in cloud 9, don't you?

Until now, I don't think I am capable of answering the same question with a yes or a no; neither can I describe happiness in a Hallmark (card) way. I don't think anyone is purely happy unless he/she is mentally incapacitated to distinguish the difference. True, I have millions of things to be be thankful for and appreciate, which I honestly do. However, there is always something missing...something that makes you feel incomplete hence, unhappy.

I am happy typing this entry. I just wish I was more eloquent.

Payback time.

My blog guru once told me "If you act like a diva, you will be treated as one". Well, I just love this philosophy and decided to put it into practice Last Sunday.

You see, my first job in Spain was as a kitchen staff in one of the best or should I say rather expensive restaurants in the coast. I was pulling out fish guts, de-scaling them, going up and down the steeply stairs going to the beach to get seawater for the mussels, clams and god knows what else and finally throwing away tons of trash at night. In short, it was an excruciating job--physically and emotionally. I never had any physically challenging job in Manila before aside from my fastfood stint in JOLLIBEE in college. Everyone in my communications 1 class were having part time jobs as service crew so I tried it basically for curiosity than anything else. The stint lasted for a whole one and a half month and I rather left a sour taste to my managers' buds. Well, I thought I wouldn't want to spend the rest of my university life sliding and falling on the greasy kitchen floor every so often. My career in food handling died a quick death but I never regret one minute of it.

Anyway, so going back to Spain. Last Sunday, I went back to this restaurant that I worked one summer of my life. I was quite nervous to see the the kitchen manager who we call "bruja" (witch). She's a mean piece of shit. She can kick your ass with her non-stop shouting and snooping around everybody's business. I didn't speak any Castellano at that time so I've internalized, I didn't have to put up with it. I just pretended I didn't know a single word she was talking about so even if she shouts at me, I leave her with a blank face and ask my latin-american colleague what she was on about. Of course, at that time, even if she told me what it was about, I didn't make any difference because I barely comprehended her.

"I'm so nervous", I said to my friends.

"Why?" Shauni asked. Couldn't see his eyes as his electric blue shades were distracting me.

"Because it's been almost three years since I've worked here and definitely, it's not really a Walt Disney story, I tell you"

" Were they mean to you?", asked Phil

"Sort of"

" Well, it's gonna be fun sweetie. Enjoy the ride. It's gonna be payback time"

I laughed.

So we were seated and Dolores (I really didn't remember her name. I just overheard someone calling her when the memory came back to me), my Argentinean ex-coworker asked us for drinks and we ordered a glass each of white wine. She didn't seem to recognize so I didn't really chat her up. When she came back with a bottle of Marques de Riscal, she said hi and we started to talk about old days.

" Hi. I didn't recognized you!" she said.

Oh it was almost three years now. How are you?"

[small talk about work]

So, is Lola (the bruja) still here?

"Oh, no. She's gone now a long time ago. I don't know where she is now"

"Ok. What about Raquel? DO they still own this restaurant?" (The name of the restaurant has been changed since)

Yeah, she's actually on her way now to here.


Aside from Lola, Raquel is the other character I loathed in that restaurant. Don't get me wrong, she is a stunning Spanish woman with very expressive eyes and lovely figure but during my kitchen muse days, she must have spoken to me on 3 separate occasions only. First, 3 minutes on my first day when she was looking at how I was mopping the floor (the horror! I didn't even know how to properly mop floors back then!), the second time was when she had a go at me when I forgot to clean something, and lastly when I brought a copy of the magazine I worked with before and she found out that I used to be an editor of a certain third world publication.

" caro estar alli?" (Is it expensive to be there?)" pointing to the picture of a Palawan resort on my magazine.
" No" , I said. I wanted to say more but the language was just a hindrance. She didn't say anything and left.

That was the last time I've spoken with her. I've seen her once in Puerto Marina and I'm sure she saw me as well but we didn't even say a word to each other. Not that I cared at all.

" Hollllllaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!"

I almost choked on my wine being startled with a woman's voice. It was her.

" Hola! Que tal? Hace Mucho tiempo!" (Hi ! How are you? Such a long time!), she said while grabbing my arms and then giving me a big kiss on both cheeks.

Obviously I was surprised. I thought...hmmm...I don't think she even knew I existed then why the fuss. I remained to look enthusiastic.

Little chat about work and stuff. Then...

"Well, it's wonderful seeing you again! I'm glad everything's well with you".

Thank you very much. I politely replied. Afterall, she was an ex-boss.

And she took our orders.
I felt like a true diva that afternoon. We were served quite exaggeratedly by three different attendants who were happy seeing us drink like fishes. My ex-boss was coming back every so often to ask if we need anything more or if everything's okay.
In the end, we consumed three bottles and paid a total of hundred fifty-eight euros bill for the lunch.

Needless to say, I got drunk and spent the afternoon lying on the poolside, passed out.

I dreamt my former boss and Lola serving me food. They've cooked the giant ( and I mean like three meters long) stingray that was washed ashore one fateful morning on that restaurant three years ago. The fish was badly cooked so I threw it on the ground and let them eat it without using their hands. I've unleashed the evil diva in me and I had them to taste their own medicine. They cried for mercy and I had none.

I woke up disgusted with my dream.

I wonder if true divas eat stingray.