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For Lack of a Better Word

I needed to get a few things from the supermarket today, so off I went to Rob at half past nine. The crowd waiting in front of the mall’s gate was much thicker than usual, a stark reminder – if one needed any – that Christmas is just around the corner.

Because I was headed for the supermarket, I bypassed the crowd and headed for the rear gate where they allow entry for those who come to shop for groceries. As I walked past the second gate, I overheard one lady say to another, “Ang sarap ng hangin…!!!”

Hmmmm…. I thought to myself. Not from Lipa, these two! We get all sorts at the malls these days, conveniently central as this city is.

In fact, although the breeze was lively, it was unseasonably hot and humid this morning. I actually felt uncomfortable because the wind made my skin feel sticky.

I was in and out of the supermarket, as usual. By the time I had gotten all I that needed, though, the mall had opened its gates to the public.

Before heading home, I thought I would get some fried chicken to go. So off I wove down the corridors, careful not to bump into any of the window-shopping mall-goers, many of whom really needed to watch where they were going.

I sped past KFC, but was disappointed to find that many of the hordes who were earlier patiently waiting for the mall’s gates to open were now queued in front of the Jollibee counter. Although my taste glands are hopelessly partial to Chickenjoy, I actually eat at KFC more often for the simple reason that it is almost always less crowded.

So I tracked back the short distance to KFC where there were, thankfully, just a few diners waiting by the counter.

I was on my way home in no time at all. In the jeepney that I took, there were a couple of gentlemen sabungeros who were having a lively discussion about what I could imagine was the afternoon’s tupada.

Between them, on the floor of the jeepney, were five bayongs with holes at the sides. I did not have to look to know that each bayong had a fighting cock inside.

I paid the two gentlemen no more attention, having angled my head to look out the window so I could watch the road, until the elderly gentleman pulled the bamboo shaft that was keeping one of the bayongs closed. He then proceeded to bring out a beautiful red and black Texas fighting cock, briefly examined its behind for any signs of droppings and then laid it down carefully on his lap.

What he did next I immediately knew I would have a hard time describing in an FB note – which, of course, I am doing now. Straightforwardly, I could say that the elderly gentleman was lovingly stroking the head and neck of his – for lack of a better word – cock.

That sounds frightfully raunchy if taken out of context; but in fact, that was exactly what he was doing! If I used the word “bird,” it would sound just as bad! If I used “chicken” or “rooster,” it just would not be appropriate.

The sport is, after all, called cockfighting! Come to think about it, both chicken-fighting and rooster-fighting – although there is nothing technically wrong with either – border on the ridiculous!

Honestly, I do not even know why I think I face a dilemma because the cock in question, after all, had a beak, feathers all over it, two legs and menacingly curved talons. Ah!!! The English language and its permutations! We Tagalogs are so wise and just say manok!

Thankfully, the gentleman soon returned the contented bird back into the bayong. I had had enough chicken issues to ponder about for one morning and – because I had not had breakfast – was just anxious to get home for a meal. No Chickenjoy for me this time; but maybe some chicken joy for the two gentlemen later in the day.

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