Thursday, January 20, 2011


He heard from his cousin in Canada that the air was so cold at night that you could leave out a glass of water for just a few minutes and soon it would freeze, become solid ice.

Maybe so, I said. Montreal can be cold.

A customer from Canada had come only yesterday. He said that haircuts back home could be two or three times what one would pay in this city.

More than that, I said. Ten times as much, even twenty.

He whistled and snipped.

He had married a Muslim, he told me, and so he had converted to Islam over ten years ago. She was from Mindanao, down south. Where Manny Pacquiao was from. The boxer.

I said that I knew him quite well. Had even seen him train in Burnham Park here in Baguio just a few months ago.

He told me had seen me running around town. But it was too cold here to run, he said. Better down south, where the air was much warmer. I said that, for me, this cold was my spring. He laughed.

Muslims make the best barangay chiefs, he told me. They don't drink, so they can patrol their own neighbourhoods and stay out of trouble. Alcohol is the cause of too many problems here in the Philippines. People drink. Get into sexual stuff. Rape not good.

I nodded.

He whipped off the sheet that covered my chest, an act that always reminded me of a magician's tablecloth sweep, a soft thrilling whoosh.

If I win the lotto, I will go to Canada, he said.

I smiled. Wished him luck. Gave him a tip because he said that my new short haircut made me look younger already. (At what age did I begin to care about seeming youthful at all? Two years ago? Five? Just now?)

Fifteen minutes. In and out. He told me his life.