Red hair

I was at ATC with my mom a few hours ago. The plans was, I'd treat her to dinner, she'd buy some groceries, and pick up my brother from school. But the grocery shopping didn't happen, and I didn't find any magazines worth reading on a long weekend in Baguio, so we left for the school early.

Walking out of the mall, my mom pointed at someone in one of the nearby restaurants. "Niko, tignan mo," she said. "Red yung hair."

It did not quite register early enough, because I looked at someone else the first time. Nothing extraordinary there, I thought. And then I realized she was pointing elsewhere, and so I turned to my left, and there she was. A girl. With red hair. And Melanie Moore glasses.

Fine, maybe the hair wasn't so red. It was bright red, but not entirely red. I think I saw some remaining black strands, or so I thought under the slightly gloomy lighting in the restaurant where she was. The first thought I had was, well, quite obvious. "Nobody pulls off red hair like Allison," I thought.

And then I looked closer. And then she looked at me. Yeah, I'm quite obvious that way. I wonder how many awkward situations I unknowingly put myself in just to get a closer look at things?

To make things more awkward, it was Jill. I was actually looking at Jill.

"Sabi ko na nga ba eh," I told her. Funny I thought that, since a second ago I didn't think it was her. After all, I did have that thought earlier on.

And then, as if in automatic, I went closer to her and I started pointing at her and saying things I can't remember. I know, I passed off as rude, but I always acted like that, like, "see, I knew this would happen!" even if I didn't know it would happen. Even if I've seen Jill tweet about being on ATC for the past few months, for reasons I never quite grasped. Okay, I certainly said something along the lines of "I knew it was you," and then there was me insisting on the Allison angle, as if that's all that I thought about. In hindsight, I looked pathetic.

All she did was smile and wave. I really looked pathetic.

We've known each other for five years and she never ages. And I swear it's not the red hair. I don't remember her wearing red hair before, though. It was always pink. Or whatever.

While I was thinking all of that, my mom went to Jill and told her that, well, she saw her with red hair and thought I would be interested. Typing those words now, I think my Allison-by-default mindset has become a stereotype of mine. And then we walked past her and her company.

"Jill. La Salle."

"Friend mo?"

As if in automatic, I gave my default answer.


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