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So there we were last night, having dinner at La Girolle, the French restaurant at The Fort that's owned and run by Chef Ian Padilla. We were having a pretty good time catching up and laughing about all kinds of things.
By "we," I mean my die-hard La Salle friend M and myself.
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A DINNER INVITE FROM A HELICOPTER
I hadn't seen M in a while.
And, yesterday, my first day back in Manila after a series of trips, he invited me to dinner as we were texting -- I was at my office in Makati and he was in his helicopter on the way back to Manila from somewhere.
At dinner, we were laughing about lots of stuff I've promised not to blog about.
He said to me: "We can talk like this because we're good friends, but it's not for public consumption."
Then, in the middle of the evening, he suddenly asked me: "So, did you get that 'Laters, baby' thing?"
I shook my head.
Actually I'd forgotten that he'd sent me that message via email at lunch.
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I was at the Mandarin Oriental having a very nice Thai lunch yesterday, you see, and talking about the need for more tourism infrastructure in the Philippines. And M and I had already arranged to have dinner at La Girolle that night, so he was picking me up at 630 PM.
Case decided and closed, and not to be reopened for a couple of hours, as far as I was concerned. Then his email had suddenly come in over lunch.
He'd sent me a joke I didn't get, and then he'd ended his email with "Laters, baby."
I'd messaged him back then: "I have no idea what you're talking about. But I'm having a very nice lunch now at the Mandarin, so please don't bother me with strange messages until you pick me up later at 630 PM."
50 SHADES OF GREEN
But at dinner he brought up the "Laters, baby" thing.
Then he said: "Haven't you read 50 Shades of Grey?"
I shook my head. I know of the book, of course, but it's just not my thing.
I'd just posted on this blog the kind of stuff I read when I actually have any time to do so, and I almost never read contemporary fiction unless it's by someone like Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
Then I asked him, almost incredulously: "Have you?"
He was signing off his emails to me with "Laters, baby" after all.
A GOOD EXCUSE FOR EVERYTHING
I always tease him that he has an excuse and a good answer for everything. And this was certainly one of those moments.
After all, how on earth do you explain a guy reading 50 Shades of Grey?
He answered, almost pleased with himself, actually: "I was in the shower once, listening to New York radio. The DJ asked Alicia Keys, who was guesting, whether she'd read 50 Shades of Grey. She said she had. And the next question the DJ asked made me laugh so hard that I just had to see the book myself."
He told me what the question was, but unfortunately I can't print it.
YOU HATE IT SO MUCH THAT YOU LOVE IT.
Then he continued: "You know how sometimes you pick up a book and you read the first page, and you really hate it? And you hate it so much that you find you can't put it down, and you need to read until the end?"
This was the part where I started laughing my head off in that pretty small restaurant.
That had never ever happened to me so I couldn't relate. Life's too short to be reading stuff you actually hate, in my opinion.
He's given me a hundred good excuses for all sorts of things in the time I've known him, but this one -- about just why he had to read 50 Shades of Grey -- certainly took the cake.
THE MILLION PESO QUESTION
Next came the million-peso question, from me.
I asked him: "So you hated it so much you had to read it. But why did you really read it?"
This is when he gave me that smile that's served him well all his life. It's the kind of smile that can win an election. He really should've been a politician if he wasn't fancying himsef a big-time CEO.
WOMEN IN LOVE
And that's how last night ended.
With lots of laughter and teasing, and one truly unbelievable phone call he made in the car, in front of me, at 1130 PM. That had me in stitches all the way home. We were like two kids playing pranks.
My first night back in Manila, and just another day in my never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.
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