The Cast of Could(never)-have-beens

Fact 1: My blog seriously needs updates.

Fact 2: I don’t know how it happened, but somehow some crumpled pieces of paper which contain scribblings of an article I wrote almost 3 years ago ended up on my desk. I wrote the article for a friend who was conceptualizing some sort of anthology, but the project never really took off so I thought what the hey, I’m posting it.

You know sometimes when you read your old stuff, and there are just some portions that make you cringe and go how could you have written that? There are are few of that here so, my apologies.

The Cast of Could-Have-Beens

26 years old and single since birth.

It’s not exactly a one in a million kind of phenomenon, but for women in that situation it seems that way sometimes – a lot of times. People even refuse to believe it when you tell them you’ve never had a boyfriend, as if you’re some freak of nature that should never be allowed out in public. And as a freak of nature, here are some of the characteristics:

  • You’re constantly vulnerable to emotional upheavals caused by romantic movies and sappy songs.
  • You live your romantic life vicariously through the lives of your friends, and you’re always there to listen to their stories of heartache and to give sage advice as if you know what you’re talking about (the miron always knows better).
  • You have numerous celebrity crushes because it somehow doesn’t work out with real people.
  • You have a journal where you purge your Ally MacBealish type of ranting and mushiness.

The course of my 26 years as a single manang, while frustrating and depressing at times, nevertheless featured certain characters – boys and men who, had circumstances been different, had I been a different person, or had we been the only two people left on the planet, could have been the one to break the 26-year single-since-birth streak. All women (or even men), I think, have one or two of these characters in their lives. See if you can recognize some:

The Childhood Sweetheart

You were in school together, you live in the same village, and your parents know one another quite well. The two of you were the perennial object of tireless teasing by classmates, and a chorus of “uuuyyy!!” erupts every time you so much as get within 5 feet of each other. Embarrassed as you were by the jokes, you learned to live with it, as you would naturally learn to live with something that has become a regular part of your life from Grades 2 to 6. He’s now married and has two kids, and drives a tricycle for a living. And you still wince a little every time you see him during the rare occasions you go back to your hometown.

The Adolescent Infatuation

The fortunate (or unfortunate) object of the impassioned, heedless, innocent stupid love only a thirteen year-old can exhibit to the fullest, most excruciating degree. The whole class, including him, knew you had a crush on him, and being the sweet, amiable (and highly suggestible) guy he was, he developed a crush on you as well. You conducted a mild and harmless “courtship” which ended the next year when you switched schools. However, you suspect that evidence of this period still exist somewhere in your house, in the form of countless letters to your then best friend (a classmate who you saw everyday anyway) breathlessly recounting every single encounter, glance, or sentiment; and treasured items from him like the piece of paper he gave you during a test which you never used but kept for posterity, an intricately folded 2-peso bill with your names written on each side, a Valentine card, and his end-of-school year letter wishing you the best in your new school. You tried once or twice to visit your old school the next year hoping to see him but somehow you never did, either because he had a different schedule, or worse, because he didn’t want to see you. You realized for the first time what a disappointment, a waste, all your feelings can be. For the first time, you got hurt. You swear you’d never be that foolishly head-over-heels again over some guy. Since then, you’ve only seen him once, from a distance. But you would like to see him again, if only to learn what his signature looks like now, which used to feature your initials as an added flourish.

The Harmless Friend

A high school classmate, who confessed to you that he had a little crush on you, which you sort of knew all along but just ignored. He’s nice in his own way, but he just doesn’t do it for you. He knows, and you know, that even if he makes a move nothing will come out of it, and it’s not like he’s in love with you or anything. So he remains the occasional movie and phone buddy, and you’re comfortable enough with each other to be able to swap stories of other heartaches or objects of affection.

The Pest

You met him once at a formal event, and he somehow got hold of your number under the misguided illusion that you would welcome any communication from him. You started off with being polite, until his frequent calls and text messages started to get on your nerves and acquire a creepy quality besides, and you learned not to answer your phone. This trend went on and off for many months until he finally got the message and faded off. You heaved a sigh of relief when you learned that he’s getting married.

The Dysfunctional Non-relationship

Charmed by the way you banter and bicker with each other like some romantic-comedy movie couple, you developed feelings for a friend. Once again, your journal was full of sentimental ramblings. He’s the first guy you had serious feelings for since the disastrous adolescent infatuation. It happened almost against your will, before you learned that he has a girlfriend – a fact which made your head spin. Nevertheless, the two of you started to grow close; exchanging constant text messages and emails; going to movies once or twice; planning out-of-town vacations which you never took. A more or less steady stream of communication that went on for years even after he moved away and you seldom saw each other anymore. Your friends warned you that you may be stepping over some line, that your regular bantering were actually bouts of flirtation, that you’re allowing yourself to be some kind of a second girlfriend. You mulled over these things several times, but technically there was really nothing going on between the two of you and you had no intention of breaking up his 8-year relationship anyway, so you just went on. He became a harmless habit, an occasional memory, until, betrayed by its own shallowness, the whole affair ran its course and just faded away.

The Love of your Life

Just when you thought that you’re going to be single forever and decided that you’re actually okay with it, the love of your life comes along. He’s a friend you’ve known for several years, and you’ve always known he’s a great guy. You actually had a little crush on him when you first met him. You were pretty close. In fact, you’re privy to the details of his previous relationships.

It was the surprise of your life when he first let you know that he’s developing feelings for you. But you had doubts. He’s a friend. Whatever possessed him to see you that way? What about what’s-her-name? You’re too different from each other it would never work out. You’re okay being single.

You had a long list of considerations that you threw in his face while refusing to even ask yourself what you feel about it, and about him. He listened. He nodded. He agreed. And then he just went on being sweet and showing you how special you are to him. You never really had the heart to tell him to stop. And then eventually you felt that you never really had the heart for anyone, but him.

A few months after your 27th birthday, you celebrated your first year anniversary as a couple. He had previous relationships, you had previous… categories, but somehow you both feel that it all was leading up to this moment. On hindsight you realize that in the morass of confusion, of gray areas, sentimental moments, agonizing heartbreaks – you were making your way towards each other.


7 thoughts on “The Cast of Could(never)-have-beens

  1. Don November 28, 2007 at 4:39 am Reply



  2. noreen November 28, 2007 at 2:40 pm Reply

    napapangiti ako at napapatango while reading this. 🙂 galeng, rina! two thumbs up. 🙂


  3. Scarlett November 30, 2007 at 12:06 pm Reply

    Hahaha! This list… are soooo soooo right!

    Single manang at 26? Who cares? You have your fair share of men hovering around you…hehehe.

    Nice post….I can very well relate in so many levels.


  4. rina December 1, 2007 at 4:51 am Reply

    thanks noreen! coming from you that’s means a lot! hhmmm, we built up our years of blog relationship through posts like this didn’t we?

    scarlett: fair share? consider that the list spans two decades! i’m not complaining though, hehe


  5. strawvera December 8, 2007 at 2:36 pm Reply

    Naks naman Ate Rina! 🙂


  6. wonder woman December 27, 2007 at 6:58 pm Reply

    I wrote something like this when I was 18, but I told the real stories, about the boys and men who almost took me away from singleness. It was also handwritten. This post made me cringe in disbelief. Do NBSB manangs really think alike?hehehe=)

    I am 26 now and turning 27 very soon. I am still very much single but happy and at peace with it. I think I have met the love of my life. The events are unfolding just like how you told it in your post. I could only wish that it would turn out as beautifully as your story did.=)

    Thanks for this inspiring post.=)


  7. rina December 28, 2007 at 1:07 pm Reply

    wonder woman: yes, we like to think that our troubles are special and unique, but NBSB manangs are so alike in so many ways 🙂

    i wish you all the best in your love story. and do let me know how it turns out!


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