Starbucks Stories: The Smell of Nicotine


14 November 2016

The last occupants of this table have left a stub of cigarette on an ash tray, along with two empty cups of iced coffee and a paper bag with a half-eaten donut inside (Yes, I’m such a snoop I actually opened the paper bag to look). Normally, cigarette smoke gets me all weird and maarte, covering my nose as if I am some very important person too sensitive to smoke. But this time, I take it all in, remembering the lingering smell of nicotine in my father’s clothes. For a moment I wanted to try it to understand my father who has long passed on, taking the smell of nicotine with him. It has been four years since I last lived with that smell. I still miss it.

Hello Kitty and Lady Gaga’s Man


Note: I have been writing sketches of interesting characters I happen to chance upon during my wanderings. Here is one.

15 July 2016

“Hmph. Trapik na naman. Change is coming dawUtot nilang mga ha*** sila.

I had to bite my lower lip to keep myself from laughing as the scruffy old man sitting beside me continued his tirade peppered liberally with Tagalog expletives. Half the jeepney was giving him irked glances, disturbed by his unsolicited commentary about the country’s public transportation woes while half was watching delightfully, definitely pleased to have someone amuse them.

Soon he got tired — I know because he yawned mid-sentence —  and took out a tiny portable speaker. White and hot pink. Hello Kitty. Was it really his or, perhaps, his daughter? I wondered.

He stuck a blue flash drive on the mini speaker (it looked weird — the flash drive was as almost as big as the white and hot pink Hello Kitty speaker) and Lady Gaga started singing Poker Face. Then she sang Just Dance. That went on four times — Poker Face and Just Dance on loop. The old guy was rocking his head, his eyes closed. I honestly think he wasn’t stoned, just really eccentric. I wondered if those were the only songs in his flash drive or if he really just liked 2008 Lady Gaga.

He got down at Araneta. Lady Gaga was still singing, “I’ll get him hot, show him what I’ve got.” I wondered if the old guy knew what the song meant.