Friday, April 01, 2016

Tatay Doro

**"Tatay" is Third World for "Father." 

The sheer irrelevance of this picture to this post is truly a jarring thing. But I'm using this anyway because old people covered with tattoos are nothing short of inspiring. 

You will think that his smile was congenital, like a hare lip, the way it  was always on him every time, every single time I saw him. Every single time. This went on with remarkable consistency all those years I knew him since 2003. And it never occurred to me, not once, to ask him if he ever tired of smiling. He was already old the first time he smiled at me on the first day we met. Doesn't his face tire of all that cheer? He wasn't smiling today because Tatay Doro died of a heart attack Friday at nine in the morning. And whoever did his make up did an admirable job. He looked 70. 

I once wrote about championing a nine ball tournament in 2005. Imagine that. An effeminate gay guy winning a billiards tournament. And I mention that because Tatay Doro is a memorable part of my Pool Playing Years. His was the name on the billiards hall where I was an official queen in 2005 and 2006. I was there four to five hours on any given Saturday, and then around three hours Sunday. My kinky night job was rather taxing to my then true passion, and making the time to play pool on a week day was a bitching adventure. But I managed to squeeze in around two hours a day, alternatingly perhaps, because I needed to play pool. Tatay Doro always had a table ready for us, and a smile, and we never waited more than ten minutes on the off chance that we had to wait for our turn. 

Rumors have it that Doro's Place closed in 2008 because someone gambled most of the capital. That may or may not be true, and it doesn't make a difference now. I remember seeing Tatay Doro less and less since the usual opportunity was no longer open for business. But I remember seeing him every now and then, in between unexpected glacial periods, and his collared shirts were getting bigger and his face was getting smaller. His smile was beginning to lose some of it's sunshine, but the difference is ever so faint. That smile was still there. 

I imagine that he's somewhere in these gardens now in the last day of his wake. The report of his death is stunning, which is an unusual word for anything in your News Feed. I had to pay my last respects to this solid man of cheer. It is now eight pm on a humid Sunday evening, and I am surrounded by old age. Perhaps he's sitting on one of those cream colored monoblock chairs in that table of well dressed old people. Hardy was one of his truly dedicated friends, and he's here in spite of the second stroke he suffered last week. I see Tatay Doro seated on a chair behind Hardy, his ear a few inches away from Hardy's labored speech. I imagine he's catching up to a dear friend who came to pay his last respects. I notice that Tatay Doro's gray hair is still thick in spite of, how does he do that, and that pair of shades, brown is on him like it was every single time he waved hi. Did you know that he never took those shades off, not once? That smile felt genuine without the eyes anyway, so I don't think that matters at all. And I think he's smiling at me now. 

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