We usually hung around Mike's apartment, a large two-bedroom affair in Mandaluyong with a small kitchen and living room. Mike had no furniture then; we lounged on his flea-bitten mattress where we consumed copious amounts of white wine and cigarettes.
Conversation, inevitably, will move on to Ron's love life. Ron is a good-looking, muscular gay man who incidentally ended up with a guy named Jason, a person somewhat less than admirable in looks. The first time I met him, I told Ron, "Dude, charity case." Of course it wasn't, he said, though he later admitted, grudgingly, that their relationship did make a strong case for the adage "love is blind".
The conversation was about cheating; specifically, Ron's boyfriend's cheating. I had no capacity for patience; I told Ron I do not understand how he can still live with the man.
A background: Ron discovered Jason’s affair through photos found in the latter's laptop. They were at the beach, the mistron and the cheater, Ron said. He remembered Jason telling him he had a conference to go to. (My mind noted the cliche). When confronted, the boyfriend said he was "confused", that he "needed space", and that he didn't know who he loved between the two of them. They spoke, and nothing was resolved. Ron gave Jason his space, and they continued as if nothing happened. The cheating became a proverbial white elephant.
Ron defended their relationship by saying that the whole thing was out of his hands. He said he already gave Jason an ultimatum: him or the other guy. He couldn't have both. That was all very well, but the ultimatum somewhat lost its power when we realized Ron did not give Jason a deadline . Unless Jason actually made a choice, he was more than able to have it both ways. I tried to point out the illogic of the whole thing to Ron, but Ron was adamant. It's out of his hands.
I couldn't believe a word of it. I was ruthless; I called Ron naive and a doormat. What I lacked in empathy, I made up for in misdirected anger.
So that was how we spent our weekends for three or so months. Someone will bring a bottle or two of wine; we smoked until we couldn't breathe, then we ragged on Ron to leave the guy. Ron became our emotional punching bag.
One night, evidently bolstered by the alcohol we just consumed, we pushed Ron a little too hard, and Ron pushed back. 'What do you want me to do', he said, 'I don't know what to do'. I found it extraordinary; he was both defiant and defeated. He knew what needed to be done but refused to allow his mind to acknowledge it.
For all our pushing, I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Ron was admitting his vulnerability, and for the first time, I understood his defiance. They had a good three years after all. There was love there, and we forgot to acknowledge it in our haste to find blame.
That night, we ended up stuffing Jason’s clothes in large, black trash bags. Ron said it was finally time Jason made a choice.
A few days later, I called up Ron to ask how he was. He told me Jason was furious when he came home but that Ron ultimately held his ground. In the face of his lover’s anger, Ron said, “What do you want me to do? I’m angry, and hurt, and tired. What do you want me to do?” Jason couldn’t answer. Later, they agreed that Jason would move out as soon as he found a new apartment.
Photo taken here.