I was first introduced to ‘Carlo Rossi’ on a bright Sunday afternoon when I went with a group of media people who were out to get footages of a ‘hito’ farm in Los Amigos Palaisdaan in Mintal, Tugbok district.
Earlier that morning, I boarded a Crosswind with media friends Gwen, Kuya Ross, Riel, Jimmy and Doc Alcantara of the City Health Office.
We encountered some difficulty in finding the place. After negotiating a barely passable road a few kilometers off the main highway, we passed by a signboard with the words
“Private Road” inscribed in black ink.
That’s when our doubts were confirmed: We were lost.
Sure enough, we ended up in somebody’s private drive. Blame it on the people who pointed with their lips when we asked for directions earlier. One of the lessons I have learned in the past is never to trust somebody who points with his lips for that would surely mean an indefinite distance.
Finally, we found a man who pointed the direction with his forefinger so we were sure we were heading for a definite direction. Crispy fried hito and huge plates of newly cooked rice awaited us.
After the meal, bottles of wine materialized out of nowhere, (in celebration of Kuya Ross’ birthday) and the guys handed Gwen and I one shot each (which was really a glassful) of Carlos Rossi burgundy, assuring us that it won’t make us drunk.
“Walang tama yan,” Kuya Ross assured us.
I downed my glass and cringed at the acerbic aftertaste, cringed some more when the glass was refilled. Not used to alcohol, I could feel my senses start to reel so I refused the fourth refill.
A few minutes later, Robert, one of our companions remarked that my eyes have grown heavy-lidded and sleepy while Gwen had grown red-faced. Indeed I was sleepy, (groggy too) and to think that I still have to file my news stories at the office!
The trip back to the city was short and uneventful, except that I had a very hard time keeping my eyes open. I grew weak-kneed and my vision doubled.
Back at the office, I stared glassy- eyed at the computer. The monitor seemed over-bright and blinking. Infact, everything in the office seemed to be over-bright and blinking. My eyes swam yet I had to finish writing my news stories, or else I would be the recipient of a memorandum early the next day.
“Walang tama, ha!” I made a mental note to reproach Kuya Ross the next time we met, which I did. He answered with a laugh, “There’s always a first time. Masasanay ka rin”
My first real introduction to alcohol (if that’s how you would consider Cali Shandy) was when I developed the most knee-shakingly intense crush possible on an engineer fifteen years my senior. I was still a struggling high school sophomore flaunting tons of flabs in my whole body while he was already famous (locally nga lang) with a flourishing career, and a super-gorgeous girlfriend (agay!), which meant that any form of romance was out of the question.
All I could understand was that some great some great curse had descended from the heavens and rendered me, a mere 14-year old mortal, totally helpless.
My “knight with a drafting table” was nice to me and ignored my flabs that I was sure I had fallen in love with him.
For weeks, I lived in a dreamworld but my resultant bliss lasted until the night when sought me out with a message that he has something “very important” to tell me. (You’re right if you think I was expecting he’s going to tell me that he had dumped his gorgeous girlfriend and that he can’t live without me. It later turned out to be one of the five worst nights of my life).
I remember feeling the need to be inspired by a chemical lowering of inhibitions and dragging my closest friend to a nearby cafe to drink a bottle of Cali Shandy each. What a laugh it had been when I ended up vomitting infront of my “engineer-knight” and discovering that all he wanted was to ask me to help with the decorations for his coming wedding!
As my long-gone buddy James once said, “if you’re not capable of experiencing hazy, torrid nights without outside assistance, I’m terribly sorry for you”.
Anyway, after much effort, my stories came out just fine (judging from the silence of the editors while going over my stories). One thing I can say, Carlos Rossi (or any of his other names) don’t mingle well with work.*