Although I don’t know all of my Facebook ‘friends,’ at least I’m aware of how I’m supposed to know them. I’ll look at someone and think, “Who the hell is that?” And then I’ll check and see we went to high school together. Once the link is established, I’ll try my best to remember the person. Usually I can’t, but after two years of reading Facebook updates, suddenly I’ll feel like we go way back.
“I’m so happy Laura is doing well!” I’ll say to myself, blocking out the fact that I don’t know who on earth Laura is and, for all I know, she could be the post-sex-change reincarnation of one some boy that kicked my ass in 9th grade.
Samantha F. doesn’t fall into this category of people. I had no idea who she was when she sent me a Facebook friend request, and I still don’t really know for certain that she’s a real person. She could be some psychopathic male posing as an attractive Filipina to try to lure and kill Americans or, even more horrifyingly, she could be one of my friends playing a practical joke. When Samantha F. sent me the Facebook request, I accepted it, figuring we must have some common friends. Nope. She’s as random as they come. A week or so after we became pals, she caught me on the Facebook chat. Our first conversation went exactly like this:
Her: How old are you?
Her: Are you married?
Her: Do you have kids?
Her: You’re looking good!
It sounds like an exaggeration, but that really is how it went. I’d heard about women in places like Thailand and the Philippines who search out Westerners, either to milk them for money or to marry them to improve their lives. Over the next few months, Samantha F. and I would chat from time to time. I learned a bit about her. She lives in Manila and works at a laundry mat that her sister runs. She has a dog named Mickey. Most of her family lives in Mindoro. She likes to sing and can apparently cook up a mean sinigang, which she promises to make me.
The whole thing was weird, having this woman appear out of nowhere and start chatting to me, and I found myself having great fun with it. For instance, I read on the brilliant Renxkyoko blog that it’s a tradition in the Philippines for a man to come serenade the woman he desires. The man will pick whatever night he feels is right, and he’ll sing a love song outside of the woman’s window. If she loves him back, she’ll open the window and listen to him sing. On the other hand, if he’s not the one, the window will remain closed.
“I’ll come to your window,” I said once to Samantha F., “and I will serenade you with Open Arms by Journey. Will you open your window for me?”
“I will wide open window,” she said.
I thought that was neat. Not every girl would wide open window for me. And even if they did, no girls would phrase it in that particular way. It’s not like I talked to Samantha F. a whole lot…just from time to time, and it would always be goofy and sort of flirtatious. Good harmless fun, I would call it. Things took a little turn, though. TTD and I decided to book a trip to the Philippines to visit a mutual friend. In a flash, Samantha F. was no longer some abstract person a million miles away. I could conceivably meet her. I immediately realized that I had to practice my singing and brush up on the Open Arms lyrics.
“You will be in Philippines?” she wrote me on Facebook after I informed everyone of my vacation plans via status update. This was not good. I mean, having playful banter with her was pathetic enough; meeting up with her would really make me a loser. Especially since I was only targeted in the first place because of my American passport. Is that really what this girl wanted, I asked myself. To live in America?
In all honesty, there’s a part of me that wanted to meet up with her. Not so much because I thought we’d ‘fall in love’ or something (and not because of horniness, get that out of your dirty mind), but because I thought it would just make a really whacky story. You know, because I spend a significant portion of my life trying to do things to blog about.
“Hey,” I said to TTD, “would you be upset if some random Filipina laundry girl met up with us at the airport?”
She just looked at me with that I-will-stab-you look of hers.
So that was settled. Next week, when I fly to the Philippines, I shall not go anywhere near Samantha F. or her wide open window. It’s too weird and sleazy. I talked to her last night, about nothing in particular. She had spent her holidays in Mindoro and was telling me about it. The pictures looked breathtaking, the island beach and the spectacular sunset.
“Oh I’m drunk,” she said about her time there. “Happy happy together with friend. I sing to Mindoro.”
She meant that she got drunk on the beach with her friend and sang to the island. I pictured that and wondered how anyone could think that wasn’t paradise. To drink on a warm island at sunset and sing to the land and the water.
“I sang Filipino song,” she continued. “It was beautiful ‘cause I was drunk and sing the wrong lyrics.”
It made me quickly think back to the house I owned in Charlotte and the small square of land that came with it, how I’d sometimes sit outside and drink a beer and look at it. ‘Underwhelming’ would describe it suitably. I wonder what Samantha F. would think of that little, fenced in-piece of land. She would probably dream of being on a beach in Mindoro, singing the wrong lyrics to an old Filipino song.