Forgive me, I was just reliving something that happened to me awhile back.
It was 1999, high school for me, maybe college for you, maybe elementary for others, and, for some, well, you get the idea. The time was somewhere between 10 pm to 2 am, I can’t quite recall but I do know that it was past dinner. I mentioned ‘past dinner’ because my friends and I were hungry once again. It was the usual midnight snack routine for us. “Star Mart!” was suggested by one of my comrades. That night, I fancied Star Mart’s hotdog on a bun.
If you have never been to the Philippines, then I must inform you that our hotdogs are special: thick, juicy and red. And no, I was not throwing some sort of sexual innuendo. They really are red.
And so, I rushed back to my house and gathered every single loose change I could find. Being in high school, I wasn’t exactly very liquid with my finances. This was further compounded by the fact that it was summer vacation, or at least I think it was, and my funds weren’t easily replenished by my parents then. I serached underneath my mattress, inside my cabinets and drawers, consuming about twenty minutes of my time.
Finally, I was able to scrounge twenty-six pesos, just enough for one sandwich. The moment itself was glorious, even if it only lasted for a few seconds, but such trivialities are worth the inner-celebration. Successful, I placed them all in my pocket and made sure that they were all safe in there. I could imagine each coin singing high praises to their lord and master. That would be me, in case you were unaware.
“Thank you o lord! We shall be more than willing to oblige you in your quest for a hotdog!”
I marched outside and saw that my friends were waiting in the car. I hopped in and we drove off. We shared the usual friendly banter and stories. More importantly, we shared a common goal: to satisfy our stomachs with food. And we shared a common sentiment: that we were going to be able to do just that. Star Mart was a mere five minutes away, so we got there rather quickly and advanced to the entrance.
There it was. The hotdog that I so longed to consume, in all its thick, juicy and red glory. I brimmed with excitement which I had to hold back. I did not want to be looked upon with bewilderment by the store’s employees. My coins, on the other hand, jingled inside my pocket, already sensing the triumph that awaits them. I walked over to the counter with overflowing confidence, looked the clerk on the eye and said.
“One jumbo hotdog, please!”
Just like that, he, or she, I don’t remember, grabbed the tongs with his right hand and a bun on his left. The tongs then took hold of one of the hotdogs and let laid it in between the bun. Meanwhile, I had taken every single coin out of my pocket and counted every single one. My worry was that maybe one of the coins had fallen astray. If that happened, then my quest for a hotdog would be a failure and all my efforts moot, futile.
“Twenty-six!” I said. I shoved the coins, which were placed on top of the counter, towards the cashier. She, or he, punched in the necessary code. “Ding!” and the receipt began printing. The wonderfullicity (Yes, I enjoy adding over-the-top suffixes to my words. Hah!) of that sound signified my victory. I grabbed the hotdog and made my way to the condiments to add some ketchup, after which, I walked out of the store and towards my friend’s car.
The hotdog gazed at me with its loving redness and juicyness. In that brief moment, that piece of meat on bun began reciting Shakespeare’s 18th sonnet to me. “Thou art more lovely and temperate” struck me to my core and demanded that I satisfy my desire to consume this magnificent creation of the gods. And so, it began, the meeting of the hotdog and my mouth. Closer. Closer.
Farther. Farther. I realized that, despite having the bun in my hand, the hotdog began slipping, falling, subject to the evil whims of gravity. I could hear it screaming in despair. I, on the other hand, could only give out a monotonous “Noooooo…” as if I cared little of the fate the hotdog. But I cared. I did. The shock was just too much. I could feel the emptiness from the bun in my hand as if embodying the void that suddenly opened up inside me.
And it laid there. The hotdog drowned in a pool of motor oil. It gasped, asking me to pick it up. I couldn’t. I wouldn’t be able to eat it anymore. It had lost all its worth. All I could do was stare and whimper silently. My friends laughed, unsympathetic to my loss. I ate the bun in hand in hopes that, maybe, it would fill the aforementioned emptiness. It didn’t. I walked away from the hotdog and into the car defeated. Goodbye, hotdog. Goodbye.
Pretty funny, eh?
There once was a goose who found a small, quiet pond, with just enough fish and just enough sunlight. I do not know the name nor if it is a he or a she. I just know that a goose is a goose. “All is good here.” said the goose to itself and felt no need to mention it to the gaggle. Upon returning to the flock and asked “Where have you been?” the goose would simply reply “Just by the cotton field.” It had been well-known that this particular goose liked cotton fields. It was also known that this goose was a bit disconnected with its own flock.
Of course, the goose’s secret would not be that much of a secret for long. Just as the goose was enjoying a quiet afternoon, a crane flew in, partly attracted to the pond, partly curious as to why there was only one goose in the pond. Again, I do not know the name of the crane, nor do I know if it’s a boy or girl. “Where’s your flock?” asked the crane. “By the west side of the lake, as they should be. I have no intention of telling them about the pond, and I suggest you do the same with your flock.” The crane looked around and understood why the goose wanted to keep it a secret. “Can I, at least, join you here?” The goose nodded, enjoying the idea of companionship.
A few days passed, and the goose and the crane got along quite well. They would talk about the pond, they would talk about the fish. The goose would talk about cotton fields while the crane would talk about life as a crane. Little did they know that another would join them.
“What ya doin’? Where’s your flock?” It was a lone duck. There are just too many ducks in this world and they all look alike to me, hence I do not know the name nor the gender of the duck. The crane obliged the inquiry “Just enjoying the pond. Well, the gaggle of geese are by the lake while my flock of cranes are standing within the reed beds, as they should be. We have no intention of telling them about the pond, and I suggest you do the same.” Despite the discomfort of not mentioning the pond to its flock, the duck agreed …”but only if I get to come here as well.” The goose and the crane agreed and, somehow, the goose had a feeling that the circle was complete, that “This is it. These two will be here with me for a long time.”
For a time, things were good. Fishes were as abundant as stories shared, which for these birds can be a lot since they do talk a lot. Well, maybe not the goose. The goose went on talking about cotton fields. The crane discussed the myriad complexities of crane life and the duck constantly talked about duck escapades “…or as we ducks call ’em, howards.” People worry about big things like politics, religion, social sciences, mathematics, quantum mechanics, relationships, and, therefore, might find such discussions to be trivial, for but for birds, they are a source of bewilderment and wonder, talking constantly for hours about cotton fields, crane life and howards.
Personally, such simplicity is quite enviable. But not all is simple in the animal world. A goose is still a goose and is obligated to the flock.
The gaggle had caught word of another lake further out west, one with abundant fish but lesser shareholders to the lake’s stock. Also, it was general knowledge that the new lake had the most maginificent cotton field, one that would make any admirer of cotton fields cry with joy. Our goose, naturally, wanted to stay but duty and desire called and so, visited the pond one last time. “No matter what happens, stay true to the agreement.”
And so, the goose joined the flock in the new lake, and did as goose would do. But the goose’s mind would simply wander off, wondering about his companions and the pond. Our goose missed the oddness of it all, how three different birds with nothing in common shared moments in the pond. More importantly, our goose missed the escapism of the pond, the comfort it gave. In this new lake, the fishes were abundant, but the fish did not seem to taste so good. The other geese would disagree so perhaps our goose’s opinion was somewhat tainted.
Alas, the goose remained in the new lake. Over time, the goose eventually came to appreciate the new surroundings. The fish started to taste better, the air started to feel fresher. And while there was nothing that would talk about the ways of the cranes, nor the howards of ducks, there were other geese who had eccentricities of their own. Some geese, apparently, would enjoy looking at cloud formations through the reflection in the water. While others would re-enact the popular goose classic acts like “Mon Goose: The Snake-Killing Goose”, “There It Goose Again” and “Duck Ducked Goose”.
I do not exactly know the details about these things for I am not a goose.
Months passed and the goose had set aside his thoughts about the pond. That, however, did not exactly mean that they were forgotten nor would these memories choose to be forgotten. The goose found a cotton field to admire, and would gladly visit it everyday. It reminded the goose of the pond and the crane and the duck, and what they told the goose before leaving.
“Tell us about the cotton fields when you get back.”