One cold holiday evening.
One group of seven HIV-positive guys.
A cozy, little, dimly lit room.
Some alcoholic beverages.
And phallic items meant to be mouthed.
It was the weekend after New Year’s. I’m guessing everyone wanted to salvage what was left of the Christmas break, before the reality of life and work and all came crashing back down on us. It was, after all, a week’s worth of vacation that was about to end in a jiffy.
Of course, we were also still probably reeling from the little “positive” northern exposure thingy we had after Christmas. I’ve never really been the type of person to have barkada time during the Christmas break. It’s usually just family gatherings for me. Or, back in the day, maybe an EB or two… or more. But this time, that one day after Christmas was spent with people of... uhm... common interests. And the inertia of that was obviously carrying on.
The positives. The like poles were to attract each other again. We had made plans again to get together after New Year. The plans were really sketchy, ranging from another mall invasion, to an amusement park, to a spa day, to a trip to Tagaytay or Laguna. It wasn’t easy organizing it with so many minds and personalities to please. Ah, what the hell, we finally settled on regressing to our childhoods. It was to be an evening in... Trese, help me say it... STAAAAARCITYYYYY!
Fine, I’m not a big fan of thrill rides, but what I am a big fan of is letting loose. So, go. StarCity it is. Wa poise kung wa poise. I was ready. I took the MRT going south with BFF, GreenFrog and BFF-in-law. Yes, I now have a BFF-in-law... a whole other story, a good one, that’s not mine to tell. There was actually supposed to be a fourth with us, a newbie, my first for the year supposedly, who begged off the last minute because he wasn’t feeling well. Darn.
So our group of three took the trip to Mandaluyong to meet with my O at Shang. Nope, O wasn’t with us that first get together, but was game to join us when I told him about the northern posse. And then there were four. Together we made our way to StarCity, where we were supposed to meet the others. We actually still weren’t sure who was really going or not at that point. Getting to the ticket booths... suddenly, StarCity didn’t look so starry.
It was ridiculous. There were so many people, and we were just at the ticket booths, mind you. I guess we should’ve expected it, but we were certainly overwhelmed. I guess none of us could deny that a bunch of immunocompromised guys sharing the same intimate breathing space with thousands of people just wasn’t a good idea. Not to mention the time we’d probably be wasting just lining up to get into and onto the rides inside. Our excitement just started to wane.
We waited for one of my “kids”, a guest from the south, who texted us that he was on his way. When he got there, our now group of five just retreated to the safety of a fastfood outlet nearby. We had dinner while trying to figure out where else we could go, if we decided against pushing through with the StarCity thing. While there, two more guys arrived. Another of our northern friends, and my J, who is now better known as GreenMan. And then there were seven.
As it was, just in that fastfood outlet, we were already having fun chatting it up, okraying everyone in sight, comparing ourselves to mascots, and watching boys. But we were determined not to let the evening go to waste. So it was decided. We finally figured out where we could spend the rest of the evening.
From the CCP Complex, we made our way to Malate, the homo capital of Manila. We drove up to our destination, at a time which was actually a bit early for anyone to be in a place like that. We were led up to the second floor, and all seven of us walked into room 24. Tiny, dimly lit, with a picture hanging on the wall of an over-sexed African-American man staring down at us. Shivers.
So what do you get when, on one cold holiday evening, you put a group of seven HIV-positive guys in a cozy, little, dimly lit room with some alcoholic beverages and phallic items meant to be brought up to one’s mouth? What else... VIDEOKE! You and your dirty, dirty mind... tsk, tsk, tsk. Wait, are you stuck on the over-sexed African-American man we were singing to? Here goes... Hehehe.
Singing, belting, shouting... even some dancing and all-out performing… we did it all! Wondering who was biritero for the night? I’d ask you back… Do you mean serious birit? Or epal birit? BFF-in-law, O and GreenMan were seriously hitting those amazing notes – no pun intended. BFF did a couple of songs as well. The two others were microphone shy. And me?
I got leafing through those song book pages, spotting one familiar song after another fun one, everything from Britney’s Oops! I Did It Again to Blakdyak’s Modelong Charing. Yes, everyone kidded me that since I sang the most songs, I should foot a bigger chunk of the bill. Bwahaha. Hold on. My disclaimer: I am NOT a singer.
Why did I end up singing my lungs out? Nope, it wasn’t that I was drunk. I’m not the type who will get pushed over by just a couple of bottles of beer. Neither was it the ARVs talking. Remember, almost all of us were already in ARV heaven by the better part of our little videoke night. So what happened?
Well, let’s just say I was karmically flashed the grim reminder that whoever punches in the number codes for a song may actually be expected to sing it. Ugh. Consider it a lesson learned. And with that, I shall never grab that remote the same way again. Maybe... Or maybe not...
So with that, our growing little group had our second night. Not exactly the StarCity experience we had planned, but starry nonetheless. What we do know is that we got our ultimate objective of a really carefree and fun night. Certainly, we proved that putting a bunch of HIV-positive guys together in a cozy and dim room doesn’t mean an automatic orgy... ahem, ahem... bato bato sa langit... Whatever making out that happened can be attributed to BFF and BFF-in-law, which is, of course, legal. Hehehe.
So there. Funny, if you notice, that we ended up as a group of seven yet again. May seven be our lucky number? Let’s see. Oh, this won’t be the last gimmick of our little group. Until the next great adventure.
- Yes, I'm gay. I probably was since the day I was born. On my 21st birthday, I sort of had my debut. I came out to my parents. A little drama from mom, and some indifference from dad. An above-average coming out. Almost perfect.
Nine years later, two weeks before my 30th birthday, I found out... I'M HIV POSITIVE.
And so my story begins... I'm BACK IN THE CLOSET.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
One cold holiday evening.