The first time some stranger waltzed up to me and breathed out a casual, raspy hello, my initial reaction, unlike that of gorgeous, confident femme fatales in movies, was to wrap my fingers around a pen hidden in my pocket and to sweat profusely despite a bus airconditioning vent blasting in my face, reminding myself that self-defense as a reason for murder holds up in court.
Thankfully, the guy noticed I was definitely not used to human beings being nice to fellow human beings, and so chuckled good-naturedly before counting the coins he had in his wallet. Ten minutes later after I calmed down and realized he was perfectly harmless (and adequately attractive, too), I learned he was in med school and liked indie films. Nearing his stop, he asked for my number and if I was free that weekend for Cinema One’s film fest. I remembered I had a boyfriend of two years waiting for me at home and so in a rare moment of moral uprightness, blurted out eleven random numbers instead.
Of course, in a city of eleven million, I never saw him again.
This was in 2010. Last year, drunk out of my wits somewhere in EDSA after a friend dropped me off, I boarded a bus because I stupidly dropped the crumpled bills I was clutching supposedly for cab fare and ended up arguing about atheism in the Philippines with a guy who I suspected was drunk as well. This afternoon, a policeman started a conversation about the weather (of all things!) and as far as he was concerned, my name was Patricia and I lived with my aunt Mercy.
I blame film and literature for introducing me to the romance of coincidences, which Kundera wrote was literally just that, “co-incidences”: two things happening at the same time, somehow managing to become inextricably intertwined.
The Guardian defined the “meet-cute” as the ‘Hollywood screenwriters’ name for a standard plot device in which a couple meet in a way that’s charming, ironic, or just generally amusing.’ I am, however, for the most part just amused, recognizing how appropriately convenient the events of everyday life when stacked up against each other is.
The meet-cute’s role is to introduce new people into our lives. Some of them remain, some are forever reduced to a funny anecdote. However, there are those who are already in our lives we would have rather met somewhere else, at another time, in a completely different way — perhaps when we are better people ourselves, when we have it all figured out. We don’t get our wishes granted, but these people we have built every scene up for remain prototypes, and we mould strange new characters after them, even if we try not to.