[ Note : This might someday save your life, in advance you’re very welcome. 🙂 ]
THAT COOL, efficient-sounding word code enjoys in modern usage at least two common meanings. The first as I have grown to understand it is a loose association of verbal and non-verbal words, phrases, symbols and signs that have an obvious meaning, but emit a second and less obvious, but oftentimes more useful meaning. The second is a compilation of rules and regulations set by people in one group, for the rest in the group to follow.
As regards the relationship between men and women, that crazy word code in today’s rant might as well apply to both.
I happen to be a man, so whether I like it or not, 99.9% of my perspective is shaped by my Y chromosome. We heterosexual men all love women and as such get along with them hunky-dory, OK, but ultimately everything goes swimmingly only as long as we follow their rules, right? Secondly, because of the rituals of society and keeping appearances (or what Asians sometimes refer to as saving face), men often need to discern the meaning behind the meaning in a lot of what women say or do.
This truth of the universe occurred to me after the Kiwi cleaning lady I meet during afternoon shift remarked that one of the things Kiwi men hated hearing from their spouses / girlfriends / partners (based on a survey) is the catchall phrase we need to talk. It sounds innocuous enough, but it’s actually an all-embracing doublespeak for trouble is a-brewing, something very similar to a summons to the principal’s office, an unscheduled performance review, or a doctor asking for more tests or that you file a lengthy medical leave after your annual physical. I immediately followed up on that remark, telling Kiwi Cleaning Lady that, for our culture at least, similar phrases and signals coming from women often trigger the fight-or-flight, and tingling spider-sense response in hapless male partners. 🙂 And that’s how I surmised that this phenomenon of female doublespeak cuts a wide socio-economic swath across many cultures and races.
But I’m not going into the why, merely my empirical observations on such, and because we’re Pinoy, our expertise (at least for the next 15 mins) is our experience with Pinay doublespeak, and (when I feel like it) the rules of engagement for hidden meanings :
Mag-usap (nga) tayo. The connecter nga is optional but it adds oomph to the imperative, very similar to adding punk at the end of any command-disguised-as-request (as in, are you feeling lucky, punk?). Literally, it sounds nearly identical to its English counterpart we have to talk, but in reality it’s a bit more menacing to the addresee. It often suggests that (1) you need to sit your sorry ass in my office for a good whupping, (2) you haven’t got your head on straight in the last 24 hours and it needs urgent straightening, and (3) you are so busted, you probably won’t see the welts subside until the ice thaws. The problem with this statement is that it encompasses a wide range of time-space trouble, for stuff you might have failed to conceal three years ago, before your hair started thinning, to less than five minutes ago, before you walked in on the newly shampooed carpet in your garden shoes. Now that is a surefire recipe for a lovely day. Pardon my pessimism, but the odds of mag-usap tayo not becoming a one-sided tongue lashing is about as certain as you doing the nasty tonight, which is, optimistically, less than zero.
What to do : the basic response is to hang your head, make sympathetic, vaguely agreeable sounds (without conceding agreement) like uhm, uh-huh, and blink-and-purse your lips, wait for the anger to subside, then quietly disappear into the shadows. Repeat procedure until she gets wise. There are infinite creative variations to this, newbies just go with the flow for now. 🙂
Bahala ka sa buhay mo. Again, the literal connotation of this shrug-inducing utterance is so far-off from the actual meaning, distance-wise, that you might need Hubble’s Space Telescope to measure it. It sounds like she doesn’t give a flying fig what you do about your supposed night out with the boys on her poetry reading finale, but in actuality it will determine your physical and mental well-being for the rest of your natural life, only you’re not that aware of it for now. Well, be afraid, bro. Be very afraid. Bahala ka sa buhay mo is the dead-sure way of women making their men know that they are not in control, bahala ka is hindi ka bahala, forewarned is forearmed.
What to do : This phrase has special reference to : time together (as in bahala ka sa gusto mong gawin), advice untaken (as in bahala ka kung ayaw mong makinig), warnings unheeded (as in bahala ka kung ayaw mong maniwala). The phrase acquires more dread (to you) when it is accompanied by alternately arching eyebrows, strategic pouts and dismissive nods. Repeat, I shall and will never underestimate Bahala ka sa buhay mo. Good boy !
Ayokong makialam. Again, this is code for her laser-sighting, infrared and subsonic monitors on you, and everything you will be doing from hereon. Ayokong makialam is code for she already knows what you will do, feigns disinterest in how you decide, but in reality is obsessed with the outcome. Ever heard of pre-approved applications and actions? Well, she has pre-disapproved whatever you are considering, because she has the benefit of hindsight and afterthought, and sadly for us men, she is usually correct. Ayokong makialam often has that microdot-sized pero… (but) at the end to save you from your unwise decisions and so she can gloat and remind you of such for years and years to come. In short, ayokong makialam actually means makinig ka na lang sa akin, huhuhu.
What to do : Please refer to Mag–usap (nga) tayo above.
Hulaan mo anong nalimutan mo? Sorry to sound repetitive, but this is an all-purpose tool to grab your attention, generate instant guilt feelings from you, raise your hackles and supersensitive antenna to, get ready, anything she wants and feels like at the moment. (underscoring mine, who else?)
This sounds unfair, but as regards women to men they are in a current relationship with, they are entitled to do this anytime they want, better that you get this in your head right now kapatid. It is wired into their DNA, that it is their God-given, inalienable and historical right, to make you remember things you never knew, know things that are unknowable, feel womanly feelings or emotions (that men commonsensically cannot feel or emote), or discern womanly discernments (that men chromosomically cannot discern).
Men by nature wouldn’t remember birthdays, anniversaries and similar stuff if their lives depended on it, eschew thoughtfulness like the common cold, and get in touch with their emotions as often as the planets align, if not less.
Women take it upon themselves to correct these cosmic wrongs, and the generic phrase hulaan mo anong nalimutan mo is designed to elicit the familiar dread that an antelope senses when the lion starts charging, that Babe feels when his Master starts sharpening the knives, or when Missus starts bringing up those text messages on that simcard you thought you cleverly concealed in your billfold. Hulaan mo… refers not only to dates and events but to documents, conversations, old flames (and even current ones), mistakes that you omitted to declare, and bad memories that no human should be forced to relive, but which you are numbingly being asked to recount at this very moment. Hulaan mo anung nalimutan mo is not only excruciatingly cringe-inducing, but is a manifestation of her superior memory and application of that memory to current events, namely what she is to do with you.
What to do : Make a great show of exhaling deeply, feign complete surrender, show your best disarming smile, and the most important step : run for your life, don’t look back, and don’t stop running.
The sooner you master these non-verbal cues from The Love of Your Life, the better. Vaya con Dios my son!
Thanks for reading !
PS. Here’s a funny NZ ad on the perfect man:
- Tips & tricks 4 aspiring Pinay GFs/spouses/mates of Kiwis (ylbnoel.wordpress.com)
- Welcome 2 Barangay Pitong Gatang mate ! (ylbnoel.wordpress.com)
- Dear Inday : haere mai, mabuhay & welcome 2 New Zealand! (ylbnoel.wordpress.com)
- Mao is dead, but his doublespeak lives on (thepunch.com.au)