By Danton Remoto | Remote Control | 03/17/2009 12:20 AM
Views and analysis
Raul, 29, is working as an editor at a government corporation. He used to be a journalist who now wants a quiet life, away from the noise and the lunacy of the press room. He is amused now by the slow, agonizing turning of the bureaucratic mill. It is in sharp contrast to his nights, which he spends hooked to the Internet.
After taking off his crisp Barong Tagalog and his tailored pair of pants, Raul has dinner at his condominium unit in Ortigas. He has a housemaid who comes to his house at 6 a.m., cooks and cleans for him, does his laundry and irons his clothes, and promptly vanishes at 6 p.m. It is a good schedule, right to the point, because after dinner, Raul begins to chat.
He goes to the MIRC, the yahoo chat groups, guys4men, and to gay.com. In the world of cyberspace, he becomes a different person. Or persons, more like it. He wears different masks. The lurkers in the chat rooms do not favor men who are fat or effeminate, thus the tagline: No fats, no femmes. But this is okay, because Raul works out and is straight-acting. With his skin the color of honey, deep-set eyes and nose of pico de loro, he is a catch, indeed. Add to that a mind sheathed in polished irony and wit! With these gifts, Raul demolishes them all. He plays games with the men—verbal games mostly, cybersex sometimes, and rarely, SOP (sex on the phone).
Only once did he have an SEB (sex eyeball), or an actual, physical meeting with a chatmate. The guy happened to be Rob, one of his schoolmates in college. Rob is a self-supporting student in college and an orphan. Sad and good-looking, he is the kind of man Raul would fall for. A perfect fit. The first time they met they had dinner, they talked, and Rob came home with Raul.
But Rob said it is better if they do not live together. So Raul lives in his condo, while Rob stays with his aunts in Pasig. Not a far commute and they could always meet at the Podium, to have coffee and share a piece of cheesecake, or walk a block away to catch a movie at Megamall. When the first month of their anniversary fell on a long weekend, they went to Baguio and Sagada, their skin soaking up the chill air of the woodlands.
However, Rob finds Raul too intense and too aggressive. Having been used to a life all alone, he cannot cope with the vividness of Raul. Too present, too real, so very here and now, like vine around the vase of one’s throat. They drift away from each other.
Raul goes back to his life before Rob. Workhorse by day, Internet hottie by night. He edits the words of his bosses (“national progress in the and now, and most importantly, today”) and trawls for friends in the Internet (“Coffee, conversation, companion, anybody home?”). Who knows, one fine day, those bodiless, anonymous men in the Net at night would materialize into bright, young men, with faces golden in the sun. Who knows?