In one lechon-perfumed room in a (literally) dusty hall in U.P., my last class in law school ended with applause and the customary photo shoot with the professor. We were talking about quasi-delicts and how motorists were always at fault when hitting pedestrians and how hitting them with our car’s side-mirror could be our own way of urbanized revenge. This was a four hour make-up class but it was all lectures now since time was of the essence. The room was filled with only my professor’s voice – trying to hack its way to the end of the syllabus and wrap up this review class. Outside, the waxing moon hung under a clear, night sky peppered with its many stars. The walk to the car took a minute or two since I was parked in the annex, which I dubbed as ‘The Swamp’ since during the rainy season it does turn into a veritable swamp. The way was dark, serene and peaceful — a perfect opportunity for me to be mugged.
On the walk back, I thought about Room 307 and how I had my first class there during my freshman year. Ugh freshman year, I thought, how stupid of me. I remember classes in Persons and Family Relations and Legal History and Constitutional Law 1 and how I had absolutely no clue what I was doing. Many times, time just went by in flashes, like broad strokes in some post-impressionist, modern art painting indistinguishable from vomit: exams here, recits there, a head hunched over some papers under a lamp, empty cups of coffee by the side, the tune of jazz in the background, a rosary by the book stand, a stack of books, notes scribbled on loose sheets scattered on the floor, a jacket hanging on the back of the seat, hands aching from shrinking text to fit between the lines in the codal, memories of 5s and of 1s, victories like making it in the OPF and staying there, defeats like Oblicon, deus ex machinas like Oblicon and the 2013 bar results, wondering if I should join a frat, deciding not to, dates with Urie and our movies and dinners and chats – my sanity in this endless sea of unreason.
In hindsight, I could do with more walks in the oval now that school is over and only a few exams stand between me and graduation and then the bar and then I shall fade and diminish and sail over the sea to Valinor.
To friends who left ahead of me:
Eager eyes with hopes we had
when we set our roots to the earth;
a seed in the wind, dust from the wings of moths.
To grow we must at nature’s call:
a journey’s end, four years to come;
with faith and hazard our only friends.
True: in the rains do branches wear their leaves
so ripe and green — the shades above our heads
from dangers yet unknown, unseen
What story could they tell of an inferno — those that
have yet to feel its heat? August passes and April
comes with its thirsty glare. Up we gaze to see
no clouds but the sky: blue and bright with our
death — and some fall: brown and crisp to the earth.
And here we remain to see another May
until for need of lumber the axes come
and take for them those of us as they say.
There goes another year. It’s quite striking how time flies (though for a senior law student, Time can’t fly fast enough!). A little over three years ago, I read Tolentino for the first time for Persons. Back then I had no idea how to read for class then (heck, I had no idea how to do be a law student). Cases came piling up and the recits came. Readings here and there, seven hectic enlistment periods, at least two instances when I thought I was going to fail a subject, and more than a thousand kilometers of driving – such was academic life for the past three years. Looking back and with a restrained chuckle of desperation, I throw back the question to myself of why I wanted to be a lawyer in the first place. I suspect the question will return (and more emphatically, if I may add) during bar review and on the first day of work.
Outside there is the intermittent sound of fireworks. A sound that bears a strange similarity to a small firefight – a sound I’m all too familiar with after clocking nearly 30 hours playing Fallout 4. Fallout 4: in a sequence of uncanny events, that game actually proved to be the catalyst for me buying a new desktop just to play it. It was a comforting thought that I can still enjoy playing games, given that I could only do so in between semesters.
From law school to Fallout 4 – talk about digression. But hey, maybe it’s good to digress every once in a while. The year 2016 will be remembered for many things – many things. Many, including I, may feel that 2016 itself is a digression (from more reasonable times lol). And yet the show goes on. Oh that reminds me, a few days ago my Mocha Uson blog post got over a hundred views. A hundred views! That’s almost as much as a whole year! Thankfully, it has normalized now and this blog can return to its regular state of oblivion. Heh. Happy New Year, reader!
“The usual,” the customer said.
“Ok, Sir,” replied the cashier and she punched in the order.
The customer then fingered out some old bills from his wallet and handed them to the cashier. He moved to the side of the store and had a chat with his companions while waiting for his usual drink.
I can’t remember the first time I heard “the usual” as an order at Starbucks. Although I would bet my money that it was in a movie. Maybe it was You’ve Got Mail or When Harry Met Sally I can’t remember but all I know is that those were movies in cafés. Back then I had the impression that it must have been quite cool to dispense with the usual formalities of specifying an order. Instead of giving out an order like the others, “the usual” seemed to say, “Hey I’m a regular here, you know me and what I want, so on you go.” It sets one apart, no doubt, from the people who come and go to coffee shops. It gives the impression that there’s a secret club lurking in the coffee shop and oh do we love secret clubs. Perhaps the effect is doubled when it’s done at Starbucks where a cup of coffee costs more than some full meals.
Starbucks will always be more of a status symbol than a coffee shop to me. I’ll never understand why coffee would be served in sizes so large. A grande or venti cup of brewed coffee could fill three to four cups. Even with generous sips, the coffee would probably be tepid by the time you get to the bottom half. For a latté, it’s almost like drinking a glass of milk given the sheer size of it. And to top it all off, it’s all served in paper cups by default. Sure you can have it mugs, but only if you ask. One would be better off going to the new third-wave coffee shops sprouting up these days. Same prices for excellent coffee.
“The usual, Sir,” the server said as he handed the cup of coffee with a napkin prostrated on the top.
The customer took it and then smiled. He walked away along with his colleagues, all of whom holding their little cups and napkins in their hands.
Probably the only drink I’d been willing to buy at Starbucks is a tall brewed coffee. Black. I’d buy it mainly because of the strange coffee grounds they use (some exotic African bean sourced from local farmers from God knows where). It costs P100 and to stop me from getting a monetary stroke, I just apply some good ol’ accounting tricks. In my personal books then, I record the P100 as P50 rental expense for the space of Starbucks for x hours and P50 for the coffee. Not a bad deal, I suppose, considering that a Family Mart 8 oz. Americano is P55 and I usually take out. See? Accounting’s good not only for the wallets. So the moral lesson of the story is: never take-out in Starbucks.
“I’ll buy you coffee,” she said.
“No, you don’t have to. You really don’t,” I replied.
“I’ll buy you coffee.”
“Tall, brewed coffee. Black,” I cried in surrender. She took no quarter it seemed.
She stood up and walked to the counter and soon came back with a tall cup wearing a neat napkin on top. I thanked her for the cup. And that’s how I ended up with a cup of Starbucks coffee from my girlfriend.
As planned: we didn’t take out.