Macaroni and cheese

Supposedly, it'd be me eating a Japanese rice bowl, a long receipt in one hand, a pen in another, writing down phrases that I'd bring back to the office and attempt to make a conversation with. So was my usual route: two escalator rides after the supermarket, and straight to another set of escalators, about a couple of hundred steps away, unless my estimates are wrong.

There was an unusually high number of people today. Turns out it's a weekend sale, with payday falling on yesterday for most of the world. The stalls are all out, and so are the signages, and in one instance, balloons. So there's no way my plans would be derailed, right?

Instead, I found myself entering a totally different restaurant.


There was no planned meet-up. In fact, Clarence was the person I'd least expect to see in the Ortigas area. She was with Jojo, her boyfriend (and Elaine's brother, to add a second degree of identification) and they were headed to, of all places, Batangas. The detour was obviously an unusual one. But my detours were much more unusual: I initially decided not to say hello to them, thinking it's a date that shouldn't be disturbed, and then I decided to have lunch with them, partly because an invitation was extended.

"Isang fried mac and cheese," Clarence later told the waitress, who was pretty giddy, to the point of writing a personal thank you note on our final bill. "Saka... isang homemade mac and cheese. Para sa kanya."

She points at Jojo. The fried one was a shared thing. I had some seafood pasta; she had something I had before.

"Di na kayo nagsawa, sir!" the waitress quipped. I think her name was Ellen. Or Jenny.

The two now work, part-time, at an events company, one of the many places our crop of graduates landed on. No surprise, really. They've been doing that sort of thing for what felt like forever. To my frustration, the conversation revolved around me - I tried my hardest to ask them questions, but somehow they all got returned to me, so it ended up being a fragmented discussion on Glee and Giada de Laurentiis and my meet-ups with Ariane and Jino working as an editor for Sir Doy and the fact that I only talk to Aly online, which is why I'll never know why Clarence had the urge to tell me she's getting thinner if I wouldn't know in the first place.

That was all there is to it, really. A pretty long conversation that went towards an hour, three hundred bucks spent, and no bill to write thoughts on. (Well, no time to write anything. I usually write while I eat. I still rush after all these years.) It felt good, really, like all friendly conversations should, a complete contrast from my almost-meltdown at the office, with the traffic jam and the uncooperative PC (which shut down all of a sudden later) and the usual they-buy-her-take-out-so-I-won't-notice-they-have-lunch-together theories. And then I return to the office, and type in a pretty coherent article without the need for notes, and everything was back to normal.

Well, until I found out Aly eventually met with Clarence and Jojo. Man, that was one hell of a detour.

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