"You look like an addict."
Those were the first words out of the mouths of my aunt Glo and uncle Rene when they saw me (for the first time in years). I had had to bring Granny to see the doctor, at the insistence of my aunt, to Cardinal Santos Medical Center in Greenhills.
"You look like an addict" is a holdover from the Martial Law years, where Marcos's goons stopped busses, boarded them, rounded up the men with long hair and gave them impromptu haircuts. At least, those guys were lucky. The rest were branded as subversives, druggies, heathen counter-culture freaks, communists and lest we forget: drug addicts... As these years were formative in their early adulthood, I will forgo blaming my loved relatives for the misconception.
I did tell them point-blank that I've always looked like an "addict" to someone in authority, if by "addict" they meant someone who did not stay in the mean. When I was young, I slept late (I loved the moon and the stars like Tolkien's elves), drank a lot of coffee and talked about unconventional topics. Consequently, I had hollow cheekbones, a constantly tired demeanor and a body supported by bird bones. I had no social life, no physical sports inclinations, few friends, good grades in the sciences and literature. Girls were always incomprehensible creatures, but they did not burn the blood back then.
thin + tired + sportless + preoccupied +disinterest in girls = addict, or worse, gay.
Now that I'm practically thirty (and let's face it-- counting my age backwards is not gonna make this go away), I've filled out and fattened up. However, I'm still jobless, long-locked and a little androgynous, so therefore I must be an addict, or worse, gay.
I could have joked that they may actually drive me to drugs and gayness thanks to the incessant, if silent, labelling. But I figured that was a bad idea, as they would have died from a coronary or a stroke. I just smiled and assured them that the hair would go if PAGCOR finally makes up its collective corporate mind to hire me and pay me well. And I know exactly where to send my ebon locks...