Menagerie Kiss with a bloodied fist: Dating a DDS
Menagerie Kiss with a bloodied fist: Dating a DDS
Kiss with a bloodied fist: Dating a DDS

Nina turned left, passing through the big gates of the subdivision as Cam Pleighner waved the guards away. So this is where he lived. As far as the whole “meeting the parents” thing goes, she never really worried too much about it. Been there, done that about a dozen times over. After she canceled her last boyfriend for being such an unabashed fan of J.K. Rowling and Quentin Tarantino, she felt just about ready for anything. 

Besides, things felt different with Cam. He was charming enough and funny—unintentionally or otherwise—and was up-to-date with the latest news, even if it wasn’t always true. Sure, they had their own points of contention, but then again, doesn’t every couple?

“By the way, babe,” he continues, “I know how much you love politics but you do not want to start talking about it over dinner. Mom and dad, they can be, medyo…you’ll see. Anyway, even I find politics to be so, like, magulo.”

(Even I find politics to be so complicated.)

Wait, that line. It all began to make sense now—that time he refused to register since “voting is pointless anyway,” or that other time he said Filipinos should just “shut up and follow the law.”  The dreaded thought threatens to form: Oh, goodness, am I dating a DD—

“So we’re here!” he says. “Ako na, let me park. Dad would kill me if he saw I let a girl drive his Audi.”

Hand in unlovable hand

When she enters their mansion, Nina finally understands why Cam likes bragging about how his hardworking parents built a multi-million dollar business out of scratch. But if only she could remember their company’s name. Was it called Nutri-eh-siya? Something like that.

“So this is Nina! We’ve heard only good things about you,” Mans Pleighner, Cam’s dad, greets her.

And Mrs. Eks Pleighner, whom Nina still isn’t allowed to call “Tita” yet, just had to say, “Except that you’re not voting for the same candidates as I am. Why, hija? ‘Run, Sara, Run’ is a good campaign! You’re a feminist, ‘di ba?”

Are his parents serious? Nina answers, “Um, I was thinking of voting for Leni Robredo if ever po

Cam’s parents suddenly freeze, the plates and utensils clanging until they erupt into boisterous laughter. “Anak,” Mrs. Pleighner turns to her son in between giggles, “you really picked an amazing girl! She’s so funny! Good joke hija, we almost thought you’re a dilawan!”

Just when Nina thought she’d reach her limit, Cam’s lolo nods in agreement. “Kids these days are so sensitive. Back in my day, we see government incompetence and we take it like a man. Ngayon kaunting rape joke lang nagmamartsa na sa Mendiola,he rants.

(Now, a little rape joke and they’re marching in Mendiola.)

Cam’s lola wags her finger, saying, “Listen to us well, hija, don’t believe everything you see on the internet! By the way, remind me to give you some essential oils before you leave. Mas effective pa ‘yun sa vaccine.”

(It’s more effective than a vaccine.)

Love the way you lie

After 20 more minutes of lines like “Hija, All Lives Matter!” and her boyfriend proclaiming that “Scarlett Johansson is the model of diversity,” Nina excuses herself to go to the bathroom.

She frantically dials her best friends. “Jessica, Sophie, I can’t believe I’m even saying this out loud—oh God, I can’t even say it—I’m dating a—my boyfriend is a DDS!” she blurts out.

There was a pregnant pause. “Nina, get out of there right now,” Jessica calmly says, “Do you know what they’ll do to you on Twitter if they find out you’re dating a DDS?”

“It’s not just him. His whole family is a bunch of racist, Duterte-supporting, anti-vaxxer lunatics!” Nina cries out.

“I knew there was something shady about Cam the moment you told me he’s an Aries sun and Scorpio moon. I told you astrology doesn’t lie!” Jessica points out. 

“Nina, I’m gonna tell you this as a 30-something woman who’s been single for close to a decade now,” Sophie says. “Do you know how hard it is to find a decent man? Do you know how lucky you are to have Cam? So maybe he thinks Marcos was actually a good president. That’s fine! If we’re being technical anyway, he was a good president economically. If not for the whole ‘killing people’ thing.”

Nina gasps. “Sophie, I’m a feminist! I have my principles. How can I just ignore it?”

“So?” Sophie prods further. “Just avoid bringing up politics. It’s that simple.”

“Every couple disagrees on some things.” Jessica admits, “Sometimes you just have to agree to disagree.”

“Sweetie, you have to ask yourself, ‘What would Amy Dunne do?’ Would she back away from this challenge? Hell no!” Sophie exclaims.  “You’re a strong, independent woman. You can fix him.”

Not for better, just for worse

Nina knew exactly what to do. She hangs up the phone, steps out of the bathroom, and quietly joins Cam’s family at the dinner table. Through all the misogynistic jokes, the gay marriage debates, and the grandfather’s quips about her skirt, Nina smiled like an angel and stuffed her mouth with lumpia.

That night, in the BGC apartment she shares with Cam, Nina recalls his stories about his parents and how their love is loudest during the silence—turning off the radio if extrajudicial killings are reported, doing under-the-table deals with politicians, and bribing traffic enforcers to exempt them from road regulations.

Virginia Woolf was right—their hatred was indistinguishable from love. Yes, he may have more red flags than a bucket of spicy Jollibee fried chicken. He may be short-tempered, messy, and clueless on how to do laundry. But who else would push her to the best she could be and challenge her to be the ideal woman? Who else would make her watch Joker a dozen times?  At the end of the day, politics is just foreplay.

This must be how love survives, she tells herself, and buries her doubts along with her disappointments in the government. With her best smile, she turns to the mass of blankets beginning to stir beside her. “I love you, you stupid bigot,” she whispers weakly, just the way he likes it.