If you plan to flagellate yourself this Holy Week, here is a good way to start earning your penance: By reading excerpts from my new book from Anvil Publishing Playing With Pink Parts, RJ Ledesma’s Guide to Gayumas, Aphrodisiacs and Love Spells. Please ready your whips, hot candlewax and crushed glass.

TALKED TO DEATH

The first one is a talk on mortification. In ascending order, the most feared set of words that can escape from the mouth of one’s girlfriend are the following:

a) Am I getting fat?

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b) My dad isn’t afraid to be charged with manslaughter.

c) I’m late.

And the most fearsome of them all is: d) Can we talk?

You see, most grown men are capable of maintaining an intelligent conversation around three things — basketball, girlie magazines and bodily gases (in no particular order particular, unless it was a particularly good basketball game). Now if the topic of conversation moves beyond these topics, men risk bowel discharge, nosebleeds and brain implosion. This is because, as a result of evolutionary missteps, men were not predisposed to talk for periods exceeding five minutes (give or take five minutes) but, instead, we were given chest hair and non-utilitarian nipples.

So, a word or warning to my three female readers: if you plan to engage men in conversation — most especially a conversation that will involve a revelation of feelings — please know that men will screw up. Royally. If you really want her to engage in a meaningful conversation, please talk with your gay best friend instead (However, if you insist on talking to us on a heterosexual level, please only ask us questions that we can answer to a degree of certainty like “What time is it?”; “What is the limit on your credit card?”; and “Do you want to know it feels like to be castrated?”)

Now, back to the grown men. A temporary solution to address this problem is to throw fashion accessories at it. But once you reach your credit card limit, then there must be a more permanent solution. So heed this: your female partner is not interested in our verbal diarrhea that resembles a solution. She wants you to clam up like a constipated sphincter and do something that governments rarely do for us: listen to her carefully. Under stress or pressure, a woman’s speech function is activated and she starts talking as unnecessarily as a campaign spokesperson. When your woman is stressed, it is time to hide behind your yaya’s palda and hope to God that she doesn’t find you. Otherwise, she will talk about her problems for hours, and her analysis of her problems will be more thorough and exacting than any congressional inquiry. She will talk about past problems (where you were not involved in but will be retroactively blamed for), present problems (your fault of course), and future problems (which you will be blamed for as well). But don’t whimper like a dog that just got neutered after she has been talking about her problems for five hours straight and you need to get up early the next day for work (no, sweetheart, I promise I am not ranting about last night. We’re married, there’s not need to put that chastity belt back on me) because she isn’t seeking a solution — she already receives comfort and relief from the process of talking.

So woefully single men, when your significant other prefaces her conversation with the phrase, “Can we talk?”, here are some practical tips that have kept me a hair’s breadth away from castration:

1. Just shut up.

2. Stay awake.

3. Take it. Just take it.

4. In the event that you are forced to talk, be prepared to reply every single time with “Yes dear, I understand.” Or, if worse comes to worse, “Please stop dear. I have lost sensation in those parts.”

5. Clench your butt muscles. It has nothing to do much with the conversation, but it will give you a constipated type of look that will make you appear as if you are listening.

6. Do not interrupt with “What’s the point?” or “Can I watch TV instead?” or “Honey, you aren’t making any sense.” (The last phrase has the last words you will squeak before she rips open your guts and consumes your spleen for protein). The most valuable lesson a man can learn here is to listen and clench.

7. Do NOT try to minimize her problem by telling her, “You’re overreacting” or “It’s not a big deal, forget about it” or “Why don’t we (unprintable, unprintable, unprintable) first, I’m sure you’ll feel much better after. I know I will.” If any of these phrases depart from your mouth and land in her ear, then expect your fate to be similar to many of the poultry products sold in dubious wet markets: you will be double dead.

8. If you can no longer take the talk, ask to be excused, make a mad dash to the banyo, take out your razor and perform a lobotomy on yourself. Or if this takes too long, just shoot yourself in the head. You might feel better after that.

9. If, because of divine consequence, you misfired while in the banyo and find yourself instead regaining consciousness in the ICU and she keeps on complaining that you should have let her into the bathroom so that she could continue to talk while you tried to shoot yourself in the head, then it is time to search for that sensitive man that resides deep in the crevices of your being and attempt listen to your significant other intently. Then, after she is done, try to choke yourself by swallowing your own tongue if your gun was confiscated by the authorities.

Remember always, my fellow grown men, that the biggest mistake that you can make during the “Can we talk?” talk is one of approach. You do not approach her. You run away as far as your chicken legs and a bottle of Red Bull will take you.

Lying in state

Allow me to share with you a key skill that you need while campaigning for office: how to “re-arrange the truth.”

Re-arranging is not a simple intellectual exercise, mind you, despite how easy most politicians make it appear. It requires an overpriced pair of rose-colored glasses, and wanton consumption of hard liquor or barely legal medication (or whatever product you can consume that is easier to blame for the consequences of your actions).

But more importantly, “re-arranging” the truth is a survival skill that comes into play when the parents of your “girlfriend” want to know if there has been any “hanging out” with their daughter without the sanction of the proper religious authorities. If you are caught in this predicament, is there any possibility that you can get away with the disorganized truth? Without having to run for congress?

Normally, I would not describe at length how to “re-arrange the truth” as this is a morally reprehensible thing to do. But when you think about it, “re-arranging the truth” isn’t so bad after all, especially if you are trying to prevent other people from getting hurt, most especially yourself.

Similarly, heathen bachelors, do you really want to let your “girlfriend’s” parents know that — because of all the “hanging around” — how you almost lost two pints of blood when you found that she missed her last two periods? Spare them the anguish and spare yourself from becoming target practice! Practice your organizational skills now! Tell her folks that you have joined an office prayer group (you just passed by a prayer meeting in your officemate’s cubicle on your way out to happy hour from the office), that you have never frequented a KTV (you do not frequent, you only go there occasionally) and that you have NEVER seen their daughter naked (you always turn off the lights).

For the heathens who require further training in a politician’s favorite pastime, here are a few tips to help you to tell the truth from a parallel universe.

1. Have as little contact with your “girlfriend’s” parents as much as possible. According to experienced “re-arrangers” (columnist vehemently not included), it is incredibly difficult to tell if someone is “re-arranging the truth” unless you have had previous exposure with their baseline behavior, which is your behavior when you are not “re-arranging the truth.” The greater number of interactions you have with these people whom you intend to “re-arrange the truth” to, the more familiar they will be with your baseline behavior. Thus, this is actually the perfect reason for you NOT to meet your “girlfriend’s” parents until after your honeymoon or after you are in a country that has no extradition treaty with the Philippines (whatever is better for your welfare): If you need to “re-arrange the truth” to her parents for the sake of your hanging parts, you want to make sure that you remain credible. So have her tell her parents that you cannot visit their home because you were caught in EDSA traffic at the height of a Midnight Madness sale or that you caught the latest strain of mutant bird flu or you were arrested in Sabah, anything that will prevent them from establishing your baseline behavior.

2. Practice. Imagine how many times our last president had to practice “I’m sorry” in front of the mirror. Now, constant practice allows us to psychologically distance ourselves from our “re-arranged truths” so that when we are actually in front of your “girlfriend’s” parents and “re-arranging the truth,” you can focus your efforts towards maintaining a semblance of our baseline behavior. And contrary to what sticklers to the unorganized truth think, purposeful lying is a tough mental effort. Why do you think our politicians look stressed all the time?

3. Use details. Details are important because they are not easy to fabricate off the top of your head while maintaining your baseline behavior. Usually, if you have to worry about making up details, you will forget to maintain your baseline behavior and you’ll fumble like police officials in a government hearing. So, even though it may sound cliché, it is true (yes, true in the unorganized sense of the word) when they say that the devil is in the details. Thus, when your “girlfriend’s” dad asks you, “Can you please tell me something? When my daughter said that you went out of town with her and her barkada, what are the full names of all her barkada, how many days did you stay out of town, and who slept with whom in what room?” — be prepared to answer, “Tito, I have notarized affidavits of three of her friends stating they were present during the out of town trip, along with the official receipt and room assignments of the resort we stayed in signed by the hotel manager, and pictures with her and her barkada in the various tourist spots. I would like to show you all these documents but an Executive gag order prevents me from revealing anything further. Now excuse me for a moment, your daughter and I need to hang out.”

Now go out there and be the best heathen “boyfriend” that you can be! If you can get away with “re-arranging the truth,” there just might be a job opening for you at your neighborhood LGU. And even if your “girlfriend’s” parents still don’t approve of you, remember that you are only “hanging out.”

However, your “girlfriend’s” parents still pester you about the “old-fashioned” version of the truth. In the event that this happens, my once-fellow heathen, remember this: Lying does not always work.

It requires an exchange of money as well.

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