It was the second term of freshman year, and I vividly remember eating a chicken burger at McDonald's. Jason and Cuyeg were there. Kevin and Icka were there, too. Maybe Sudoy, too. I think Ian was also there, although when he dropped out of DLSU I somehow forgot some of the places he's been in with me.

My point is this: they comprised my very first lunch group in college.

Catch is, I don't have an origin story. For some reason I just ended up eating lunch with them. I don't know if it's Icka's charms (inside reference!) or my surprising affinity with Jason. All I know is, for a week or so, I was eating lunch with them, something that culminated in all of us, plus a few others, shooting our since-muted El Filibusterismo-meets-Backstreet Boys video.

It was much later when I'd put two and two together. Or, actually, I still haven't. Back in college I was this obnoxious kid who popped up everywhere looking for a conversation, which meant I was nosy enough to pick up a few running gags. Like that boy band named Mango, which I always thought was a brainchild of Cuyeg and Nico, which first popped up when we all rehearsed for the Dance-a-Parable contest.

It's funny how people bond because of a shared hatred of certain people.

Blockmates, you surely remember Jom, right? No? Right, that was the very point. If there was a guy more obnoxious than I was, it was him. Unfortunately, I do remember him for three things: for thinking I'm gay, and saying that it's okay to admit it; for spoiling the ending of the sixth Harry Potter book in front of our whole Miss Sangil class, and for boasting about being shot and surviving. Or being chased around by a guy with a gun, I don't know.

Icka also told me about a moment involving a photo of him in his underwear. Apart from the fact that it's not a pretty sight - he flexes his muscles a lot but doesn't have much to show - the specific details of our conversation has been lost in the many Siobhan Magnus-related conversations we've had in the past month.

Simply said, he was the guy the whole block loved to hate. I didn't like him too, solely because of the "it's okay to be gay" comment he made, but I'd like to think that I tried to understand him. After all, I considered myself an outsider for most of my college life, so I tried not to stab him (deservingly, perhaps) in the back among friends. I just watched as they picked apart every facet of his annoying behavior.

Eventually we became classmates in sociology class, and I tried my best to stay away from him - he was on to me, going, "blockmates have to help each other out!" knowing that I'm a smart guy and we're all deblocked and he can't rely on Les - pretty much like when I publicly dismissed him during CWTS sessions, demanding I get Ian as a partner again.

Bottom line is, we pushed someone out of our circle and, at the same time, we made our circle stronger. Might as well be a reality among cliques, one that I didn't really subscribe to. No, I'm not clearing my name - I must've forgotten, but that is the point of this blog - but isn't it interesting to think that, in order to be close to certain people, we put other people down? I know very well of groups of people - I won't mention specifics - who bonded over their hatred of certain people. You know, someone reacts negatively, or someone cheats their way out of a scheduling conflict. Or you just know the object and was willing to be a sounding board.

Come to think of it, I made friends the same way, too, although it didn't go well with me eventually. It's like pandering to a crowd.

Heaven knows how many people bonded over their shared hatred of me.

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