Monday, October 04, 2010

An Afternoon With Jessica Zafra

**She held this writing contest in her blog and she invited five of her favorite entries to cocktails. I was one of those lucky fan girls, and this is what happened that afternoon.

**Now, just so you know, this is a long post. I could have divided it into several posts for economy, but that senseless publication will be the death of me. Leaving people hanging out there almost got me punched once. I was in high school then and...

The People In That Table
The date was set to begin at four pm. I was unfashionably late by around thirty minutes, not because I wanted to, but because Salcedo Village was too big, and the taxi driver was too stubborn to stop and ask for directions.

There were five people in that table, and four of them had glasses. That includes Ms. J-Zaf. And aside from my person, there were three other fan girls in that table. QSDN works in a bank. Cochise_miz is working for one of the finest call centers around and has been at it for six years now. Sad_ism has lived in Singapore for two years now and mentioned "yogurt business" several times that afternoon. I remember their online handles more than their offline names. No, wait, the truth is I forgot their real names and left it at that.

The place was cute, and I'll leave it at that.

Clockwise from left: Ms Jessica Zafra, Cochise_Miz, Sad_Ism, The Gay Jerk Who Can't Do Captions, and QSDN.

Now I thought the most intense conversation I had over alcohol was with this tattooed frat guy. We talked about withdrawn Christianism, the occult, the end of the world in 2012, leftists, and Anton Szandor La Vey¹. But all that was weather talk and a flaccid penis compared to the Peter North-ish discussion which took place with this incredible group of fan girls. And that's because of the honest truth that they all spoke in uninterrupted English.

Seriously, there wasn't enough English in the world to accomodate that table! They asked questions in English, answered questions in English, joked in English, and ate their liver pate in English. The way they dispensed English on that table was an extravagance of Imeldific proportions. It was that serious, I tell you. I mean, who uses the word "dilapidated?" In a social situation? Offline? In the third world? In the Philippines, of all third worlds! But then, we do have The Mistress of the Universe in our humble quarry. We needed to rise to the occasion, so I reckon there's nothing surprising about all that effort. On the other hand, I didn't even try to measure to their generous English excesses. I work in a call center, and I speak in English if and only if I have a headset on. I don't talk it outside my billable hours. So I talked homo instead.

What We Talked About
We talked about real hot rugby players slash electricians, walks on cemeteries, Bembol Roco in Maynila sa Kuko Ng Liwanag, sports (yes, sports, but it was real brief), our online handles, vaginismus and John Lloyd Cruz, Hayden Kho and who was the worst partner he had in those videos, David Celdran and one of the Pangilinans, trains, India, the Chinese, taxi drivers and their crazy monologues, saying "Brush" instead of "Cheese" when having your picture taken, baby powder on your husband's eggs, and Twisted 9. Twisted 9 will be red, by the way. No metaphors there; it will be red.

Yes, it was a mouthful of talk, but there were still the expected pockets of awkward silence. Those were, of course, properly addressed. She had us prepare five questions each. And there's a snap snap snapping loud fag in the ranks. Plus, there's nothing like having a common denominator, like Jessica Zafra, to keep the group interested. But there were still the expected pockets of awkward silence, and we can't help it. Because some of those moments represented awe.

Would you look at that, I can do cheesy!

And I must admit that I was almost out of talk during the last hour, but that wasn't because I've ran out of things to say. It's just that the wine got to me.

The Food

The wine got to me. My constitution's built to withstand the local P150 a liter brandy. Anything in the higher end gets to me, and that Kier² (sounded like it) got to me. We also had these cute gay biscuits which were puffy and sweet and of varying pastel colors. It was what that faggot John Lapuz would be in his next life. The liver pate was an anemic Reno Liver Spread. And it was fantastic, and it had leaves and a grape for presentation. And there was another bowl of bread, for the pate, and it was splendid in its quiet interior design.

Addressing J-Zaf³
Now a gay guy, particularly a loud and out-there gay guy like the one "standing in front of you," has a ready term of reference to address the one they're speaking with. For women, it's usually any of the following: "
ateh, teh, ganda, mader, mammee." A man is "kuya, daddy;" the fresher ones go by "baby;" the fresher strangers are "Jason, Michael, Eric, John, Iking" and so on until we get the name right, and then we are rewarded with an acknowledgment. That invariably never happens, but we keep at it because it's fun. An acquaintance, especially when I forgot their name, is "fren." The same term of reference is used on real friends. The only difference is that it is pronounced with a distinct sweetness on the inflection, "fre-een," and, by then, it is endearment.

I addressed Ms. Zafra as "Madame" all throughout that afternoon. If you should remember, they all spoke English while I spoke Homo. I was all smiles and "Hello Madame!" when I got there. And I went like "Thank you Madame!" when she gave me this autographed book (which I wasn't expecting, by the way). And then I was "Kakaloka naman yan Madame!" when inspecting her curious Castle Ring. Nobody in that table seemed to address that reference, and I kept at it, and I was pleased.

And I was all the more pleased because I'm finally sitting with the one female I've been sincerely trying to impersonate all these years. You can see I'm too pleased. I smile a lot in person, but when I'm in the Awful Presence of the Mistress of the Universe, I let it all out. Teeth, gums -- all out! They were so out there that I swore I heard the seams of my mouth rrripp. Now if this was a painting, it will be oil on forehead. And T-zone. And cheeks. And I'd like to thank my sponsor, Petron Unleaded, for the retouch.

The Mistress of the Universe
The Mistress of the Universe was wearing this dress that's got this shade of violet to it. She also had this red scarf wrapped around her neck, a pair of brown fabric earrings, and I remember this gold-plated ring with this miniature castle on it. Castle. Ring. Her hair was thick, wavy and framed her face because it fell from both sides of her face, and it made the signature rimmed glasses all the more pronounced. And before I forget, she was wearing this crazy ring with a castle on it.

The Mistress of the Universe was subect to fits of sneezing that day because she was recovering from a cold spell. But that didn't stop her from surprising those four fan girls that was her captive audience that afternoon.

And we were!

Contrary to what I was accustomed to, there wasn't a trace of venom about her person! Everything about her was a pleasant surprise, most especially if you've been following her near-toxic material with eagerness. No, she wasn't wicked. She was armed with the best manners, a ready smile, and a firm handshake. No, she wasn't snarky. She spoke in this almost baritone that hummed of energy. There's nothing condescending about the way she talked; there is this spirited intonation which was common to both singers and storytellers alike. No, she wasn't a bitch. She was a generous and accomodating host, and she gave everybody books, autographed books at that. And, to top it all off, she also shared a writing tip.

She said that one should have a pet subject, something that only he can write about because he knows it like the back of his hand, and he will never run out of passion and material.

The passion and material bit was me improvising; she never said that because that kind of thing goes well without saying anyway.

Lessons. Yes, Lessons.
Meeting one of the greatest people in your estimation is the reality check I needed as a blogger. I've been blogging for some time, and I've this following, one fan, and I think I've got it made when I started earning from it. "Hell yeah" is the word until I'm in the same table as The One Female I've Been Sincerely Trying to Impersonate all these years. She's got several Palancas, books with an insane readership, real influence, and a newspaper column; I've got this blog with a Page Rank of 2. I can't be any more humbled than after spending an afternoon with what can be one of my greatest influences. You can't be any more grounded than that. Otherwise, you are coffee beans.

Grounded. Coffee beans. Get it? Hello?

Being a gay jerk is my pet subject, and I was never clear on that until she said it. I thought I was just being a dick all along.

And I'm beginning to love the closet-nerds all the more this time around.

¹Anton Szandor LaVey was the American founder and High Priest of the Church of Satan as well as the author of The Satanic Bible.
²The drink is actually called Kir. It's white wine with creme de cassis.
³Got this from Glentot of


  1. Wow eye to eye..cheek to cheek kay JZaf! isang kudos para sayo na hindi ka nahiyang gumamit ng homo lingo kahit na madugong englisan!!!

    ok lang na naisponsoran ka ng Petrol..parang ganon din yata si Ms JZaf eh,hihihi!

  2. love this! I heart Jay-Z too and inggit ako sana andun din ako kahit 30 minutes lang (mahirap na maubusan ng english)

  3. Hindi ko pa nababasa. Pero naanticipate ko na ang haba. Teka lang ha, basahin ko lang. :)

  4. And I thought I was the only one calling her J-Zaf, how naive of me. I am soooooooooooo bitter and sooooooooooo envious I wish i was there even if I didn't deserve it... It would have been so much fun... at least for me...

    You should have taken a video!

  5. Sorry for flooding your comment board. But WOW, I can't even think of something substantial to say.

    Maybe this. There was this one time I saw another idol, Allan Popa (another local poet), I pretended that I didn't know him. I almost considered running away from the venue. At namumula ko nung buong event. Para akong sira.

    Pero ang saya-saya. I had the same smile, the mouth-ripping one, long after the event.

    I can only imagine how happy you were, even while you were writing this. Lavet. :)

  6. Ahaha! @ Pokwang

    Oo, di ko talaga kinaya na um-English, walang headset, walang budget! Relax lang noh! It's a tie ba ng endorsement?

    That's an idea! @Johnny Cursive

    Mahirap nga naman maubusan ng English! Ay intense, kailangan dere derecho ang English mo, ang ga-galing ng usap dun. Shempre kailangang rise to the occasion, Englishan din, pero di ko kinaya eh.

  7. Oh you got the props! @ Glentot

    You should know that I've always credited you for calling her "J-Zaf." That's why it's got a superscript attached!

    I like it on account of there's a curious recall to it.

    I would have loved to have taken a video, but I can't take proper photos, let alone footage. But that's an idea!

    It was like @ Manech

    A deep and meaningful kind of starstruck. Funny I should use that word in the same breath, but it is, and I was, but it all went away once I got used to her presence.

    And yeah, I was still a different kind of happy even after getting home that evening!

  8. Cheers you guys! Thanks for dripping by!

  9. hindi ko kakayanin ang englisan..kung ako nasa lugar mo 5 minutes palang after saying "hi"...eexcuse me talaga..sasabihin ko may lagnat ako.ahahhaha

    buti kapa...nakita mo na si zapra. and yes, im bisaya like dat.lols

  10. Honga eh @ Maldito

    Sa totoo lang eh naloka ko, pero feeling ko naman eh uma-ayon lang ung mga ka-table ko gawa nga ng si Jessica Zafra un ka-chika namin. Pero ako eh, wala, binakla ko silang lahat. Madame kung madame!

    Ahaha, Cheers Maldito, and thanks for dripping by!

  11. Anonymous1:22 PM

    You know, like you, Petrol would have needed a retouch too...:D

    & never mind that you are her impersonator, I think you are entitled to be called the Miss JZaf of Gayville, just the unleaded kind...

    Now if only you could keep that smile, says major sponsor Petron!

    - 2Qt2BStr8

  12. Ay haha hindi ko nakita yung credits sa dulo...

  13. Oh you're here! @ 2Qt2BStr8

    Miss JZaf of Gayville, that's so sweet, but then, that will offend some of these gay bloggers who, from all these months of reinforcement from their networked echo chambers that repeat the words "Beautiful, well written posts," think they deserve the same entitlement, if not better. But I will stake a claim to being the first one to do female impersonation while blogging. I don't have as much "Beautiful, well written posts" to my credit, but I know I am, to a certain degree, unprecedented.

    Cheers you! And thanks for dripping by!

    Oh hey! @ Glentot

    See, I've always credited you for that catchy title. Always have; I like good ideas, but I never plagiarize. You loving the book so far? Hehee, take your time! And have you taken a gander at The Beyond yet?

    Cheers you!

  14. Momel!!!!

    Tuwang tuwa ako sa photo ninyo!!! Mahh gaddddd, you could be sisters.

    And the smile, darling, the smile! Ang saya mo lang. Hahahaa.

    You know, I know how much you adore her, but I hope you realize you are your own person too. =)


    p.s. Ang ganda ng writing tip. =)

  15. Hello! @ Kane

    Ahaha, it must be the hair! And yeah, you can tell I'm too pleased, noh? That's the ultimate in rip-roaring. Thanks for the reality check; sometimes I get lost in my own imaginings.

    And you're the first one to notice the writing tip!

    Cheers you!

  16. fan girl na fan girl ha! and tama si kane, that photo of u guys is priceless!

  17. woah! rubbing elbows with the celeb writer!

  18. Wow, you are a helluva lucky impersonator! Congrats!

  19. Anonymous1:36 AM

    i love this entry of yours! haha, now you will hunt me down for simply saying "i love your entry" w/o specifying what i like about it. --michaelcorleone

  20. Anonymous4:18 AM

    I love the way you write! Also, awesome post!

  21. Oh Hell Yeah! @ Citybuoy

    Priceless is the werd. No, that was on purpose, as in werd. Fo shizzle mah nizzle.

    Oh hello! @ Ikotoki

    And it was a fantastic meet up that exhausted me, perhaps all of us fan girls at that table, with all that good cheer!

    Why bless your sweet little heart! @ Habibi Lakiari

    But luck had nothing to do with it, I suppose. She invited the five best entries for that specific challenge to cocktails. Underscore best; what's luck got to do with it? Ahaha, I'm a jerk.

    Oh you seem familiar! @ Michaelcorleone

    You are from J-Zaf's blog, right? And yeah, if I were up to it, I'd hunt you down just so I can ask you to be more specific. But I reckon I'm not that vain anyway. But thanks for taking the time to comment!

    Well @ Anonymous

    Thanks for taking the time to comment!

    Cheers you all! Thanks for dripping by!

  22. Even though it involves jessica zafra, this experience of yours reads like a chicken soup for the soul entry, yung tipong, 'even though she's such a snarky woman (judging from her books), she still smiled and got together with us/me. In short, it's... heartwarming. Hehe.

  23. Oh, man, I never expected "heartwarming." The problem with me is that I'm loaded with ready retorts and what have yous, and they're triggered by a certain phrase or adjective. Heartwarming was never in that list, and this caught me off guard. But that's off guard in a nice kind of way, much like accidentally bumping into your officemate while he's switching into his trunks during that team building in the office. Bumping being the operational word.

    Ahaha, thanks Pat! Really!

  24. Hands down to you fre-een! One of the best blogs I ever read. I thought I'm gonna be bored reading this because of your disclaimer about the entry being long, but I really enjoyed it. Congrats for meeting Ms. J-Zaf. I bet you really had a superb time. Kudos!

  25. Aw @ Fren Lanie

    That means a lot coming from somebody in my offline social network. Really. Thanks!

  26. Anonymous4:38 AM

    Hey Gay Jerk! I soooo miss you. I hope to bump into you soon.

  27. Hi @ Anonymous

    Are you Bryan or Jeh?

  28. Dearest Momel,

    I finally got to read this entry! What a fun afternoon, getting to spend it with Madame and everyone else. 'Tis a pity I had to take a break from all the writing contests for a while - and missed out on all my chances to hang out with J-Zaf and everyone else - but still, you made it all sound like so much fun.

    Also, I'm still keeping your tip about the Van Heusen outlet at Robinson's Galleria in mind - looks like I'll be in the area soon, since our family's going to meeting up with a friend at The Podium.

    Again, thanks for sharing!

  29. Tsk. Ang swerte swerte swerte mo. Sana I get to meet JF before the world ends next year...



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