The Truly Rich Lady on Taking Sides and That Basketball Championship
The usually quiet Coo household has been turned upside-down, and the cause for the tumult is something I did not expect: basketball.
You see, there are Coos who went to the blue school, Coos who went to the maroon school, Coos who went to faraway schools, and Coos who went someplace else.
I, like my parents, went to a faraway school for university and further studies, but old Coos, such as various aunts, uncles, and older cousins, attended the two Katipunan institutions that are now locked in battle. (We never talk about the last group because of the disappointment.)
And you can tell which Coo went to which school. Would it be wrong for me to say that those who went to the maroon school have this folksy quality about them, while those who went to the blue school have the permanent expression of someone who has smelled something bad like a fart?
If they were styles of clothes, one would be thrifty bohemian in well-loved Birkenstocks (not from the store), while the other would be Ralph Lauren catalogue with designer “tsinela.” (True story: I have an unnamed Truly Rich Atenean Friend who, for the longest time, thought the singular of “tsinelas” is “tsinela”).
One would get worked up about injustice, the other an impossible-to-solve math problem. One would enjoy a sweaty walk to an authentic lunch destination, the other would ring up the driver to go to the Pancake House that is just across the street.
But these are just stereotypes. I know of people who went to UP who looked like farmers because they were actually farmers, as in the guy who only wore jean shorts is actually the only heir to a sugar plantation. I know, too, of people who went to Ateneo that swanned around in the latest fashion, but turned out to be poseurs (when the bracelet of your Rolex shatters like water, the jig is up).
Anyway, when news broke out that the University of the Philippines will face off against the Ateneo de Manila University in the finals of the UAAP, we received a phone call from Aunt Marietta Coo of the Northern Kus. She went to the maroon school.
She wanted to talk to my father, who attended the blue school in his youth, to collect P50, which was a bet from long ago about whether UP could ever be part of a basketball finals again. Well, here was the day.
My father, ever the gentleman, said, “Mari, you win, but how about we make it interesting? Loser of the finals pays P50,000.”
“And then your Tita Mari said: ‘I agree to this because you will lose, loser.’ And she put the phone without saying goodbye!” my Truly Rich Father told me later. “I was so shocked because it’s just so childish. If there is a loser in this situation, it won’t be me! She’s the loser.”
All this was too much for breakfast on a Thursday, so I just murmured my assent by drinking my orange juice.
I thought that was that, but as it turns out, the Coos stand divided regarding this (very important?) matter. Cousins sent me taunting messages with very hurtful animated stickers. And I don’t know how to reply with other expressive stickers, because my phone is stuck with the Girl With Her Hand Near Her Hair one!
It is turning into a little mess. A casual gathering of family became a contest on why one school is better than the other. I never knew there were so many passionate public speakers in the family, like the usually calm cousin Nick, who nearly toppled the orange juice jug because of his fiery defense of his school’s involvement in some recent debacle.
I never thought how many name-calling experts we had, too, until Candy Coo rhymed eagle with something that I can not print here. And I never imagined, as well, that the bet between my father and aunt could escalate into a pot of money with an embarrassing sum to be split among the winners.
As a third-party observer, with a just a bit of loyalty to the blue side, I only ever want to keep the peace by providing the snacks and drinks. While we champion free-thinking, the discussion of different opinions, and comedy, I think it is important that we do these things with the help of an overstuffed grazing table.
Or maybe I should just let it all happen. Maybe I should just sit back and watch the show—not the one unfolding on the hard court, but the fireworks exploding in my very living room.