I knew Jun-jun* since we were young. He was one of those dirty looking kids who roam the place around. Since my father had been operating a billiard hall from time immemorial, my chances of watching over it was a given. Needless to say, Jun-jun was one of our regular players.
He was the usual bum, smoking at 10, drinking at 12, gambling as soon as he learned to talk. He was also known for being rude to elders, talking obscenely with ladies and cheating on games no matter how small or high the stakes were.
So, I wasn’t the only one who was shocked when we saw him in clean and respectable shirt and with decently cut hair. Come to think of it, he smelled nice, too. Our shock doubled over when we saw him among the sacristans. Well, it seems like our parish priest was giving him a chance, so, why won’t we?
Though I still had misgivings, I started to talk with Jun-jun just like I do with everybody else. Before, I used to avoid him every chance I get. After a few months, Jun-jun became one of us, at-ease, funny and nice. I noticed, however, that he liked talking to me more than the others and I could understand that, we’ve known each other for a long time and now that we’re beginning to be friends, why not catch up for the lost times. Then, we were randomly paired in a newspaper dance where I had to step on his feet and put my arms around his neck just so we could win. Well, we lost.
But since then, Jun-jun started to take a new interest in me. That’s when I found out his weakness. No matter how tough a guy he was, he was extremely shy to the girl he likes. I knew he was starting to like me but he was too shy to tell it to me in person. So, he started giving me stuff, sweets (through his friends) and a cuddly little stuffed dog (through his friends as well). It went on and on until he finally realized he wasn’t getting anywhere unless he talks to me personally.
Sadly, he chose a very unfortunate time. He came to our house at the same time another suitor did. He smelled of beer, but instead of disappointment I felt only pity for this tough guy who needed to drink just so he could speak up. It seems as if my other suitor understood Jun-jun’s predicament, he left earlier and even gave him an encouraging tap on the back.
So, there we were, Jun and I, Jun-jun making unintelligible noises, probably convinced that I understood what he was saying, and I, waiting for Jun-jun to pack up his courage and get it over with. Fortunately, after two hours, Jun-jun finally spoke, and without looking at me in the eye, told me how much he likes me because I was cute, I was smart and that I treated him very nicely.
I didn’t want to break his heart so soon, but better sooner than later. So, I told him how nice it was of him to think I was cute and smart. I told him I like him too, but I like him only as a friend. And I would be happy if we would be friends in the years yet to come.
Jun-jun was broken-hearted nonetheless, so, I gave him time and space. After a while, he started to talk to me again and we, indeed, became friends, until now. Every now and then he would remind me of that night and we would laugh over it agreeing with each other that it was one of the funniest moments in both our lives.
*not real name