The Acquaintanceship

Here’s a beginning to a good love story.

CHARACTERS:   JAKE, 21 years old, a senior computer science major

LAURA, 20 years old, freshman

SCENE:  THE MAIN ENTRANCE OF THE RIZAL LIBRARY, ATENEO DE MANILA UNIVERSITY.  At center are the two final steps leading to the glass doors.  At right is a telephone booth with a big dilapidated cardboard sign OUT OF ORDER.  The sign on the entrance door read LIBRARY HOURS and ENTRANCE ONLY. At left is a big trash can.  Extreme left is a palmeira plant.  JAKE and LAURA enter.  Jake is a lanky guy with a fair complexion and a rather unruly hair.  He wears a little hairgel to keep the strands in place.  His clean white t-shirts has prints that read COMPUTER KID…THE BEST IN TOWN.  Laura is a petite but sexy girl with clean white complexion and a squared jet black hair that ends just below the shoulders.  She wears a loose V-back olive green blouse with a pale yellow balloon skirt combination.  She carries a large bag and a few library books.  they both sit on the steps, Jake slouching.

LAURA.  Joaquin Vanguardia!  Your name sounds ancient.

JAKE.  It is. In fact the history profs usually associate me with the old newspaper La Vanguardia. The silly ones ask me if I’m a Roman vanguard.  Shiyaiks!  My only consolation is I get better attention.  Call me Jake. (pauses) And you?

LAURA.  I’m plain Laura.

JAKE.  Not Lala or

LAURA.  Noooooh!

JAKE.  Ooooops!  Did I say something offensive?

LAURA.  Nope.

JAKE.  Why the prolonged no?

LAURA.  No reason.

JAKE.  Okay.  I’ll let that pass for now. (pauses)  But you’re definitely not plain, Laura.

LAURA.  Thanks (smiles)

JAKE.  (softly)  Laura. (pauses) Laura Vergara. (normal voice) You’ve got a sexy name there, huh.  Suits you.

LAURA.  Thanks again.

JAKE.  Know what?

LAURA.  Not yet.

JAKE. Not yet what?

LAURA.  Know what.

JAKE.  Oh shocks, you’re fast, huh!

LAURA.  Just pacing you.

JAKE.  Whisssh!  And pretty smart, too.

LAURA.  You are flattering me.  My third thanks, anyway.

JAKE.  You’re welcome!

LAURA.  Well?

JAKE.  Well what?

LAURA.  What’s it I’ve got to know.

JAKE.  Ahaaa!  I was about tot tell you, before you so sweetly interrupted me, that this might yet be my best class this semester.

LAURA.  Proceed.

JAKE.  Here’s a story.  Not so credible but it happened to me just the same. (smiles) Would you like to listen?

LAURA.  At my own risk?

JAKE.  I’m afraid so.

LAURA.  I will cross my fingers.

JAKE.  Go ahead. (Laura crosses the fingers of her right hand and puts it behind her back.) (Jake seriously)  You see, I had to psychologiZe myself before enrolling on this subject.  Sort of meditation.  Very necessary.  Phobia for English classes.  Terrible.   I was in grade 1.  Happy.  Angelic.  Innocent.  Carefree.  My teacher, Mrs. Concepcion, she called me one recitation day.  Asked me to describe an insect.  A spider.  Our lesson was adjectives.  But I couldn’t remember the words I memorized.  To save myself from embarasment, I took my lunch box to Mrs. Concepcion.  It has five spiders in it.  My friend and I hunted for spiders before class.  They crawled on Mrs. Concepcion’s arms.  She screamed.  The girls screamed,too.  Pandemonium was next.  Mrs. Concepcion danced around.  The boys laughed.  Belly and buttocks swung to and fro. (Laura laughs heartily)

LAURA.  Then?

JAKE.  We boys were having so much fun.  But when she rid herself of spiders, she scolded us.  Very bad.  Sent me to the principal.

LAURA.  Poor you.

JAKE.  Yes.  Poor me.  Demise of my cantankerousness.  My creative mind too.  Hated Language since then.  Turned to counting instead.  Counting spiders. (Both laughed out loud)

LAURA.  (Catching her breath) So – so, how does our class becomes the best for you this sem?

JAKE.  Two reasons.  First.  Avoided English for three years.  Need to take it now ‘coz I wouldn’t graduate. I’m a straight A, computerwise.  Englishwise, the challenge is there.  I’m taking it.

LAURA.  Boastful.  And the second?

JAKE.   I’m seating next to the most beautiful freshman in campus.

LAURA.  Touche!

JAKE.  I’ll be the envy of every male.

LAURA.  How could you be?  You’re the only senior in a freshman English class.

JAKE.  Cruel.

LAURA.  Can’t believe it.

JAKE.  Can’t believe what?

LAURA. That I’m enjoying you.  And I’ve only known you two hours.

JAKE.  Owwssss.  Come on.

LAURA.  True Jake, never had so much fun in a conversation.  You always funny?

JAKE.  Hmmm.  Tell me Laura.  Why haven’t you had much fun?

LAURA.  A well guarded secret.

JAKE.  Tell it to the vanguard.

LAURA.  (she eyes him)  Why you?

JAKE.  ‘Coz I can’t keep one.

LAURA.  If I tell you, you’ll tell the world.  If the world knows, I don’t have to keep it any longer.  I’d feel much better.

JAKE.  Exactly.

LAURA.  Okay.  I’ll tell you. (pauses)

JAKE.  You want me to cry now? (smiles)

LAURA.  Not yet.  (smiles too)

JAKE.  Will do, on cue.

LAURA.  Jake, I don’t know where I was conceived.

JAKE.  Neither do I.

LAURA.  Jake, please.

JAKE.  I’m sorry.

LAURA.  I don’t know where I was born.  (pauses)  All I know is tht my first home was a large one with a big family.   I had 17 brothers and 21 sisters.  No dad.  No mom.  But there were people who took care of us.  Social workers.

JAKE.  Orphanage.

LAURA.  Yes.  And then one day, a handsome man came.  I was just about 6. He said his name was Robert Vergara.  I told him my name was Laura Vergara.  He said he was my father.  That is why we had the same names.  I was very happy.  Every child in the orphanage longed for a father or a mother.  And then he brought me home.  It was a huge marble house with strong wooden thresholds.  I was ecstatic.  I was finally in paradise.  And my new mama, she was gorgeous, or so I thought.  She spanked me when daddy was not looking.  And I have two sisters.  They were cold and mean.  I wanted to play with them in the beginning but they called me bastard.  Daughter of a whore.  Son of

JAKE.  That’s better than son of a nothing.

LAURA.  Never thought of it that way.

JAKE.  Only creative minds…

LAURA.  But you don’t have that.

JAKE.  Comes on occasions…

LAURA.  Oh Jake, didn’t know it was easy to unburden oneself.

JAKE.  Only if you relate it to the right person.

LAURA. Yes.  (pauses)  I did not fight, Jake.  I was little.  I could not win.  But father noticed.  I was a lively imp at the orphanage.    I became withdrawn.  Then I flunked first grade.  My half-sisters blessed me witha new nickname – stupid Lala.

JAKE.  I see.  I’m sorry.

LAURA.  You didn’t know.  Actually I’ve come to like it.  Lala is musical.

JAKE. Whatever you say.

LAURA.  Father was alarmed when I failed again.  He accused mama of neglecting me.  They had a terrible fight.  I begged father to take me away from there.  And he brought me to a convent school.  The nuns were boring but I learned.  I excelled actually.  That is why I was granted the scholarship here.  My two sisters did not pass  the entrance exams.  Mama brought them to America in the hope that they enter college.  Father is with them but he’ll be back by Christmas.  He promised me.  The end.

JAKE.  Hey, hey, hey, you may be a scholar but you’re no story teller.  You capsulized a highly interesting human drama there.

LAURA.  I’m only playing it safe.

JAKE.  What do you mean?

LAURA.  Think I have forgotten that we’re supposed to write themes about each other?  If I had told you the nitty-gritty details, you’d get a good grade.  My life story is spicier than yours.  Who would want to read about crawling spiders?  Ergo an A for you?  No way.

JAKE.  You missed a point there.

LAURA.  Which is?

JAKE.  Just a couple of hours, Laura, and I’ve come to like you so much.  Instantly special.

LAURA.  You are so funny, Jake.

JAKE.  I am.  That is why I will only write about the melodic side of you.  Can’t share you to the world, Laura.  (pauses)  Tell me about the impish little Lala.

circa 1986  (5 December)

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