Tuesday, October 11, 2005
The following Electronic Mail message was taken from the archives of the Eastern Internetworking Library as entry to the South Eastern Decoding Contest.
14 February, 2045
How are you doing? Haven't heard from you for quite a time and I hope you're doing fine with your family. And your new baby, how is she now? Thanks for the photos you sent, especially the one taken during the baptismal, my, she was pretty.
I wrote to tell you some good news, sorry, I cannot contain my excitement anymore. It's Valentine's day again and I just arrived home from a wonderful date with Jamie. You remember her? She was the girl I was telling you about in my last letter. And boy, she sure was impressed with our candle-light dinner at PepperMill (that's a classy diner here). For both of us, I ordered porterhouse steak, the thick one, and red wine, the expensive kind. The dinner was a party until she spilled some wine on her lap which almost spoiled our evening.
By the way, Jamie wore a blue gown which made her even more attractive and desirable. As for me, I had a black tie coupled with white pants. We were such a perfect pair this evening, Boy, everybody was looking at us as we entered the place. Anyway, to continue, she went to the Ladies' Room and came back refreshed, I mean, the wine spots were gone and I ordered some more drinks.
To appease her and to divert her attention from the spilling incident, I told her excerpts from some of the immortal love stories that I know like Romeo and Juliet, Anthony and Cleopatra, and even our local tale about Florante and Laura. You know, when she said that I was being overly romantic, I told her that Jose Rizal, our national hero, was that romantic, too, for he conquered a lot of girls from off our shores. She was giggling, probably didn't believe.
But I do believe that we Asians are really a romantic lot. Some say that it may be due to the tropical heat and there are others who say it is because of the food we eat. Speaking about food, I miss the fruits out there although I'm enjoying what they have here in California. It's been five years since I tasted our sweet and succulent mangoes there. Ah, how time flies.
Frankly speaking, I think, being romantic is deep in my veins. Would you believe that my Grandpa and Grandma always eat breakfast together since the day they married? Well, I haven't told you that before when we were busy chasing our female classmates during high school. What was the name of your girlfriend then? Was it Carla or Carol? (Don't show this letter to your wife.) Sorry, I forgot.
Anyway, to continue with the story, my Grandma was a very capricious woman and to add more insult to injury, my Grandpa spoiled her and tolerated her whims. Imagine, my Grandpa was the one to prepare the fruit bowl every morning, ready to eat when Grandma got out of bed. If you already forgot, Grandpa was the best agriculturist in our town that time, which of course (modesty aside and no bragging) I inherited.
Being a health buff, even before he married, Grandpa only had fruits in the morning and Grandma acquired that habit by choice, just to maintain her nice figure. Grandpa had to wash the fruits thoroughly with soap and water before slicing the mangoes in a plate and spoon feed Grandma. Very romantic, you might say.
After the mangoes, the sweet grapes will follow and Grandpa would break open each grape with a small knife to take out the seeds for Grandma to eat in convenience. The big slice of watermelon will be rid of the hated seeds and Grandpa took pains in pulling out each and every seed with a fork before slicing it some more to small cubes for Grandma to pick at her delight.
But progress came in our town and being a renowned agri-scientist, Grandpa was appointed by the town mayor to oversee the government's agricultural program. There was a total change in their way of life which made it difficult for Grandma to cope. Grandpa was always in a hurry and during breakfast, all he does was eat his fruits while reading the reports of the previous day. There were days that he almost ignored Grandma in the breakfast table but she did not complain, at least at first.
Grandpa was away the whole day and he rarely eat dinner in the house due to meetings and conferences. He was almost always invited by the farmers for the evening meal which left him no time to attend to Grandma's needs. He usually comes home to see Grandma fast asleep, although I learned that she was just faking it to spite Grandpa.
Grandma was left to her own devices in the breakfast table and it took a month before Grandpa noticed that she was eating only the bananas in the fruit bowl. At first, he did not say anything, but after a few days of the same routine, he asked the sulking woman and Grandma replied with spite in her voice, "Banana is better to eat, no messy juice, no annoying seeds."
Those words were imprinted in Grandpa's mind, you know. It dawned on him an impending marital disaster which may get out of control if he wouldn't do anything about it. So, after some thinking, he left his government post and embarked on a personal project to bring back the lost harmony. You know, sometimes I think Grandpa was not just being overly romantic, frankly, I think he was some kind of a jerk or a nerd.
Grandpa spent all his time in the greenhouse, the very first one in our town, if not in the country. The neighbors called him a mad scientist when they got word of what he was experimenting on. It took him a year before he developed the seedless grapes which Grandma could eat sans the trouble of taking out the seeds. Although my old lady enjoyed the seedless grapes with the flimsy skin, she did not show any signs that she was impressed with Grandpa's toil.
Grandpa continued with his other experiments and after a few months, he had grown the first seedless watermelons, a miracle at that time. It was succulent and very sweet which made Grandma's tongue enjoy every bite. It was the first Mallorca watermelons, if you don't mind my bragging. But she continued eating bananas although Grandpa didn't notice for Grandma was already smiling at him even for once in a while only. Everything went back to normal, or so he thought.
Weeks passed and Grandpa can't help but notice Grandma's prejudice to her favorite fruit. She ate almost every fruit in the bowl except the mangoes which was the sweetest in that part of the country. When he asked her, she replied with sarcasm, "I like mangoes, all right, but I'd rather eat bananas for it is easier to handle."
So, Grandpa took the challenge and went back to the greenhouse to continue his project. He spent all his waking hours there and he rarely saw Grandma anymore in the breakfast table. The marriage was again headed for the rocks and it took only a year before Grandma left him. Grandpa was even surprised to find her gone, that is, after a week that she left.
Grandma stayed with her parents and no amount of pleading from Grandpa convinced her although he did not lose heart. You know that Grandpa was a born fighter, don't you? He continued with his experimentations on the mango strains, racing against time. It went on for another year of grafting, budding and marcotting, until Grandpa hit the jackpot.
Immediately, Grandpa went to his in-laws' home and presented the first harvest of his genetically engineered mangoes to Grandma one morning. It looked like a banana, complete with a curved figure, although thicker because of the seed, and the sturdy yellow skin. When Grandpa started to peel the mango, Grandma was impressed because not a drop of juice was seen and the flesh was hard to the bite, and except for the elongated center seed, it can be mistaken for a banana.
Grandma had a wonderful breakfast that day with Grandpa's new hybrid mango and of course, the seedless grapes and watermelon. He had proved his undying love for the capricious woman and she, on her part, accepted Grandpa's proposal for the second time by giving him a tight hug complete with trimmings of gentle sobs and dainty whimpers. My great grandparents were both beaming with joy when Grandma went along with Grandpa back to their own home.
It was a tearful and joyful reunion for the two lovers now back in their nest. In between hugs and kisses, Grandpa professed his profound love to Grandma, in words and in deeds, and Grandma, in reply, explained something which bombed Grandpa's mind. "All I want was for you to spoon feed me with the mangoes, to break open the grapes and to take away the seeds of the watermelon. But you really proved your love because you went to great lengths of doing all these for me."
They were all smiles after that and our ancestral home became brighter with the prevailing atmosphere of love and harmony. Everybody in our town envied my grandparents and there was even a time when they won the 'Ideal Couple' award during the fiesta, right before my father was born. That was the reason why my father was named Teofisto, taken from the word fiesta.
Grandma had completely and totally changed to a better woman when she bore children, a lot of them. I'm sure that Grandpa died a happy man, at least that's what my father said to me. You know, Grandma told me this story, a week before she passed away. I recall, we were just freshmen in college then when I was summoned from Manila and had to take a four hour travel just to see my Grandma still alive. What a spoil, to think that it was only the first week of school.
Now, so much for history and let's get back to the future. This Jamie, she seemed to be a temptress at times, was giving me a hard time. I started courting her a year ago and although I could feel that she likes me, I really couldn’t say if she loves me. Jamie is the conservative type, you know, and it was difficult to force through with my proposal to her. Besides, what good would it be if she wouldn't live with me?
Times have changed, that's true, but I decided to adopt the old style of courtship, not the serenade though, mind you. My father calls it the Game of Impression. It involves an object or event which can give the subject extreme pleasure. Now, if the suitor can provide that particular pleasure to the girl, the chances of acceptance would be higher. Did you understand? Probably not, I know you hate theories, sorry about that.
But you know me, my patience can ridicule Father Time. Like what Grandpa did, I ventured on my own experiment in my own greenhouse to impress Jamie at all cost. You see, she is my ideal girl and I don't think any other girl could replace her in my heart. Fortunately, my perseverance paid off when my experiment succeeded and I was very confident this evening when I left the house to pick her up for our date.
And for the big news! She accepted my proposal of engagement when I presented her with my valentine gift of three black roses. Congratulate me, Boy, she's here beside me right now, doing the word processing as I dictate this long letter, she's a wizard with the keyboard and I can't say anything more.
Thanks for the advice and everything. You're a real pro when it comes to women and I sure am glad to have a friend like you that I can count on. The San Andreas Fault may split anytime but our friendship will remain cemented, that I promise!
Please tell me some news about the recent development of the rice research and the local flower shows. I have plans of entering my black roses in this summer's World Flower Contest to be held in Singapore. Boy, if that pushes through, I'll be dropping by to spend a week in Manila, do you mind being our personal tour guide? Ha-ha, what a good guess, of course, Jamie will be coming with me.
Before I forget, enclosed are some of the catalogues that you asked for. According to the dealers that I went to, Storage Cards and Optical Disks are getting cheaper everyday, I have encircled the minimum volume required for your importation. As for the Audio Packs, it comes complete with the manual and cables plus cleaning implements. That's all for the moment and I wish your company survives the tight business competition there. I'll be sending the purchase forms next time, okay?
Till here (for I still have to attend to some very important personal XXX matters) and I wish you can come over to attend my wedding. No plans yet but it will be soon, I promise you. Don't worry about the expenses, the tab's on me. Regards to Cynthia and the kids.
The Vintage Finders team of Manila State University won the 2095 Championship Trophy, besting seven others for the most accurate and complete transcription of a coded message.