Three months to a single minute

Clarence pushed me one last time yesterday afternoon. I was stuck at National Bookstore looking for a greeting card - I actually had one in hand already - when I decided to kill time and check out the magazine section. I missed passing by that particular spot at its Alabang Town Center branch. I always did that when I was in high school. There were two students at that time, going around the novels, when I began contemplating to go by the cashier and buy the greeting card. The two then pointed at something. It was almost empty out there, and i couldn't help but look. And there it was.

Besides Tuesday with Morrie and The Da Vinci Code, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince. For a little more than what I have.

So I called Clarence up. I was making a scene at the magazine section, torn between buying something else and sticking to my decision. I was wondering if Kizia had that book already, and they weren't sure of the answer. (Of course, there was the possibility of her having it somewhere in Laguna.) But she was starting to persuade me. Take the risk, Niko. So, I dropped everything - the greeting card and the book - and went to the nearest Netopia branch, and checked her Friendster profile. (As Katia just pointed out, like it was really reliable.) Two extra bucks spent, and the book was off her list. So I rushed back and bought the book. I had one hundred fifty pesos that time reserved for the gift, and I shelled out around forty more.

But what could I do? I somehow felt like impressing. Obviously, this is the first time I'm doing this.

On the same phone call - just as she and Ariane were walking down some street looking for their gifts - Clarence mentioned about their little plan. It's her eighteenth birthday anyway, so they had eighteen roses making the rounds. Eighteen guys, one rose each. And I was on that list. For those who actually knew about my drama sessions with the two, I had a reason to panic - I didn't get it quickly, so I went, "why me?" without any hesitation. Then I felt that I was making a scene at the magazine section, for I was getting a lot noisier.

And then, there I was, settling for the book with the glossy pages and the illustrations, trying to think of a dedication, and a way to give her that gift. I wasn't sure, however, if she'd like it. She reads a lot, I figured (no wonder I checked out Friendster).

See, that's how much of a fuss I can make with giving a gift.

I had Clarence elaborate on the plan last night, since we were both chatting. Four hours after buying the book, I was still stuck for a dedication, and then she began talking about the weird things that happened. The security guard at Kizia's dormitory that was supposedly the first to give one of those white-faked-green roses gave it immediately after seeing her. By then I realized about the seventeen other people giving flowers (including Huey, Nico and Cuyeg, apparently). She logged off, but not after promising to text back. I grabbed my phone and realized it was ringing.

Immediate panic attack. Why is Kizia calling me?

She dropped the phone. I called back, and she answered, asking me for a favor. She wanted to borrow my camera, because her's went bust. She wanted to borrow it for the night.

I let her - still am freaking out, though. I somehow felt she was sensing what I was up to. A couple of hours later, I had my dedication, my details, a pending reminder (I asked Kizia to remind me of the camera the following morning), and possibly the debutante's first greeting. I was still up at midnight. Well, technically it's already Tuesday by Monday, right?

I woke up at 07.30, feeling weirdly relaxed. I just had my breakfast, my bath, my lunch, and that book tucked in my bag, along with the plastic bag it came with. At the bus I wasn't falling asleep. At the amphitheater with Malia, Sara and Jill, I was weirdly silent. After Jason rushed me again, though, I was at the Miguel building waiting for Clarence, for the rose I was to get and give in a jiffy. After phone calls, I got mine - unexpectedly wilted, I thought - and told Clarence and me and Kizia would meet for the camera, which means she might see the roses being distribured like pirated CDs on a Sunday morning.

So she left as they came in, and I pushed her, the way I am when I'm excessively hyperactive. I guess she still caught a part of the surprise, though.

All the hysteria would be later interrupted by Biology class, though, with this videotape on STDs, and me worried that the rose I'm holding on to looks so dead. After another early dismissal, though, I asked seatmates Kim and Charmaine for some leftover whatever you call it - twine? rope? - from their CWTS scrapbook. Lucky me, they had some. Green ones, at that. I took the (dying, sadly) rose, took the book, and bound them together - wait, Charmaine did that, for I was getting frantic again - and then I left the already empty room. Time to wait for the debutante to come out.

Thirty minutes. Half an hour of photos, more dedications, and endless waiting. (Obviously I was falling asleep, because it was up until past midnight.) In the middle of me writing on the dedication cards from the party animals in an orange marker, she came out. I didn't notice it, though, until Jason, also involved with the eighteen-rose effort, told me just that.

So I got up, dropped my bag (it was getting really heavy) and started looking for her. But where was she? Apparently we were going in opposite directions (and I had that figured out much later), but after two three-sixties, this.

In the same corner where me and Clarence rushed the (still dying) rose, now tangled with The Little Prince, reminding me of the rose that kid was trying to raise, coincidentally tying to each other, I stopped a bit. I almsot hugged her - I think I almost did - and then had to give it all up.

There goes the gift. There also went the thanks you's and the needless explanation (about how, three months ago, I pondered buying a Madonna CD before getting through all the drama, and then deciding to give a greeting card because of monetary issues), and the final straw: she hasn't read the book yet. All praises kept silent, after all.

So, I guess that's it. Funny to think that all the fuss, reflected in the blog or otherwise, amounted to a single minute spent with her, amidst people trying to get over their own gift-giving dilemmas. And, for once, I can breathe easy.

Or maybe not yet. She still has my camera. And, I'll end up having more pictures of her than I expected.

But we still don't have a picture together.

Happy birthday, Kizia! How many times do I really have to say that?

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