Tuesday, August 22, 2006

[Essay] Sleight of Hand

When I was in college, there was this girl I courted for my entire stay as an undergraduate student (well, more like tried to court her for a year, and spent the next three years trying to get back into her good graces). Needless to say, my intentions were transparent to nearly everyone, from the girl’s blockmates to her friends from other courses. This story isn’t about her though. While me, my blockmates, and my crush had some overlapping classes, my blockmates never suspected (short of me blatantly telling them, and even then…). Instead, they thought I was attracted to someone else, someone closer to home. They thought I was in love with a fellow blockmate.

As a freshman student, my heart had just got broken, and I had given up my flirtatious ways after knowing (and lost) true love. However, that didn’t mean I couldn’t the same techniques I used to woo women to gain new friends. It was also a time when I would fall in love once more, but this time, I was a bit more cautious. If I were to do favors for a certain individual, I had to do favors for everyone. Suffice to say, I was still lacking in experience, and the love of my life shunned me.

Enter my sophomore year, still heartbroken but a little wiser. With no individual to focus all my energies on, I had decided to simply dedicate myself to making as much friends as I could. I was in this writing class and my classmates varied, some were blockmates, while others belonged to different courses, or even a batch higher than me. It was on that occasion that one of my upperclassmen caught my eye. I admit I was attracted to her, but not so much as to detract me from giving up on my crush (in other words, my intent was a platonic relationship rather than a romantic one, although I was sorely tempted). By chance (or strategic positioning), she was my seatmate and on our second class or so, she happened to ask me for candy.

Asking for candy is a common occurrence. People will ask it when they suddenly have a sweet tooth, need to get rid of a foul taste in their mouth, or simply for the sugar rush when you’ve had a really bad and tiring day. If you’ve seen me in real life, you’ll also notice that I carry this really huge bag that seems to contain everything from masking tape to staplers… except candy. On that day, I vowed that the next time she asks for candy, I will have some ready.

And just as expected, the next class we had, I had chocolate with me (because you can’t go wrong with chocolate, unless you’re like me and have allergies to it). I thought why settle for simple candy when chocolate is even better? Who knows, the recipient might actually fall in love with me. Anyway, not waiting for my seatmate to ask for candy, I offered her the chocolate, stating her craving the day before. As can be expected, I get the “that’s so sweet” response. Of course I know that if I kept at it, it would seem as if I was courting the girl. Which I wasn’t, nor did I want to project the image of. So I applied my rule of doing favors for everyone. I gave her seatmate, another upperclassman, chocolate too. And then by chance (an inevitable chance), a blockmate of mine passed by. The chocolate, by then, was too late to be hidden. So I offered her chocolate too. And then that caused a commotion as my other blockmates wanted chocolate too. I was hesitant at first, but then one of my classmates said “why are you only giving chocolates to xxx (xxx being my blockmate and not my seatmate)?” At that point, I realized I had the perfect smokescreen as everyone else thought I was pinning for my blockmate rather than my seatmate.

To make a long story short, yes, I gave chocolate to everyone. And I didn’t stop there. These days, when I run into a batchmate acquaintance and I ask them if they remember me, they say of course, and then associate me with giving chocolates.

Moving back to the story, my smokescreen unfortunately worked too well. Even until the very day I graduated, all my blockmates continued to think I was attracted to a fellow blockmate (honestly, she’s not my type and never found her pretty), even when I was obviously courting someone else. And so it happened that when I met my crush’s friends and blockmates, I’d get teased about my crush, but when it gave to my block, I’d get teased about my fellow blockmate.

Well, it did prevent my blockmates from teasing me about my actual crush. But it’s funny the wrong assumption carried on for several years (actually to this very day, until one of them reads this essay).

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