Over the past few months, I have been posting with abnormal frequency about my dogs. I suspect this is – spoiler alert – because I will have to give them away once I leave the Philippines. You might say I’m practicing missing them now so that I’ll be really darn good at it by the time they’re actually gone. At this rate, however, my blog will soon be completely overrun with dog-related content. OK, listen – I’ve heard of a dog with a blog, but a blog with a dogs?! Now I’ve seen everything! Or, more accurately, now I’ve seen two things (a dog with a blog and a blog with a dogs, if you’re keeping score back home).
In the midst of my rising terror over my imminent departure from Manila – and with it, the loss of my home base and the end of a life I’ve known as the norm for quite a few years – it’s worth taking a moment to step back and find comfort in life’s simple pleasures. One of the sweetest pleasures – perhaps the sweetest of all – is the act of reflecting upon the funny ways that people have unintentionally messed up the names of my dogs.
My dogs are named Bop and Chichi. Bop was a dog I accidentally-on-purpose inherited when I rented a house in Davao City. She had been guarding the house I rented, and kind of ended up staying there by default after I moved in. Apparently the son of the house owner was into Barney and Friends, which I didn’t know was still a thing in 2013 – but hey, that makes me feel less old! Here are a few ways people have gotten Bop’s name so very, very wrong:
Pot-pot – Source: A woman I dated for a while in Davao City accidentally referred to Bop by this name in one solitary, immortal text message. For the sake of this poor woman’s privacy and my own, I will say nothing else about our sad, lurid, utterly bizarre pseudo-relationship.
Fox – Source: One day I was taking Bop for a walk around our neighbourhood in Davao City. A little boy, perhaps eight years old, approached and asked, “What’s your dog’s name?” “Bop,” I answered calmly. “Hi, Fox!” he exclaimed with great enthusiasm. I did not shake his budding confidence by correcting him, because the children are our future.
Bob (or possibly “Bab”?) – Source: The Iglesia ni Cristo handyman who has done so much to keep my house in Muntinlupa from collapsing during the last few years. There was a period when he would try to convert me to his religion every time he came over to fix something. When he and an electrician installed a big-ass old school TV antenna in my yard, they wanted to make sure it got a clear signal for the Iglesia ni Cristo channel. His attempts at converting me have fallen flat, and he has since given up; I am still trying to gently correct him whenever he calls my dog “Bob”, but so far I’m not having any luck their, either.
Buff – Source: A woman from the city veterinarian’s office who wrote my dog’s name in great haste on her rabies vaccination certificate. The vet’s office had set up a free immunization clinic in my neighbourhood, and I literally caught them just as they were driving away, at which point they kindly vaccinated my dogs out of the back of their van. So, I can’t blame her, although I would object that my dog is more lean and sinewy than buff per se.
The longer I’ve stayed in Manila, the more I’ve learned to dislike the daytime. During my first few months here I loved wandering outside in the middle of the day, soaking up the sun’s rays, sucking up the pollution, and celebrating my new life in a place without winter. With no hat or sunscreen, I destroyed innumerable quantities of precious collagen – that non-renewable resource that, once upon a time long ago, gave my skin its creepy-smooth texture. But a decade ago, who was I to care? I was young, indestructible, and drunk on the giddy joy of starting a new life far from home. (I was also quite often drunk on alcohol.)
After a while, I realized that the daytime in Manila is not exactly ideal. The sun takes its brutal toll on pale Scandinavian skin, and the air pollution wears away at a sickly Caucasian immune system. Eventually, one realizes the many advantages of staying inside with one’s dogs until the blazing midday sun makes way for soft, golden light around 5 PM – a wonderful time to take the dogs for a walk or go out to the market to buy some coconut water before the vendors close for the day.
More recently, though, I’ve learned to love the completely different world that is Manila after midnight. I’m not talking about the usual nightlife – I stopped drinking almost two years ago, I hate virtually all people, and I have better luck meeting women online than in bars, anyway. Rather, I’m talking about the night life – the unique life the city takes on well after sunset.