Reminiscences: The 10 O’Clock Habit

Courtship. Sounds medieval, right? But oh-so-appropriate.

This was how it was just a few years ago… not during the 1500s.

Precisely at 10 in the evening, a pair of rubber slippers whacking noisily (and callously!) against the wooden staircase could be heard in cadence with the succeeding seconds.

Smack!ticktock

Thwack!ticktock

Whack!ticktock

The footsteps stop…Then follow a few milliseconds of uncomfortable silence as he stands on the stairs directly above us. Me goes, “oh, man, here we go. grrr!” 

Slowly, deliberately, he bends forward and directs his severe, unforgiving gaze at the squirming young man — the gaze that takes him back to his Plebe days four years earlier… 

And just like a PMA Tactical Officer, my father says,

‘Hijo, it’s late.’

 or

‘Hijo, it’s 10 in the evening, it’s time to go.’

or

‘Hijo, come back tomorrow.’

or

‘Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum! I smell the blood of a stinky Dugumon!!!’ 

Uh, well, my father is too somber to joke like that, but to me then, he was all the villains rolled into one big blob of a supervillain.

Seriously.  Imagine how F used to come from Sangley Point, Cavite where the ship he was assigned to was berthed. He then suffers through two hours or more of commute to visit me in San Juan only to be shooed away by Signor Mussolini himself.  How archaic. No matter what time F arrived, he had to be out by 10 in the evening. I remember F arriving at around 9:30 in the evening once, maybe twice, but Father was unforgiving.  Hijo, it’s still time to go. 

Oh, well, you had to give him some credit.  He did try to tone down his tyrannical lines with his “hijo”.

Nothing changed when we moved to Camp Aguinaldo. It’s 10 in the evening, you know the drill, plebe. And F had to walk the long way, in the dark streets of the Camp to reach the  farthest gate because the one near our quarters was already closed by 10. It was the Martial Law era all over again.

I laugh at this now and make fun of this now but my father’s traditional ways used to drive me nuts (still do sometimes).  To think that we were already in our early to mid-20s that time.  With stable jobs. Being treated like teenagers.

Fathers.  They make life so complicated. Sigh.

Anyway, Happy Valentine’s Day to all suffering suitors.

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