Butch. Dalisay. Congratulated. Me.
Personally and everything, by which I mean "not as an aside when he was really engaged in conversation with Dean." Lemme 'splain the unmitigated glee precipitated by this occurrence:
There is a table at the annual Palanca awards which, over the years, Dean and I have come to refer to as "Olympus"--because Butch sits there along with Krip Yuson, Cirilo Bautista, the Hidalgos, and other deities of the local literary pantheon. The actual placement of the table changes from year to year, but the composition of its members rarely alters. And while no actual strictures have ever been explicitly or implicitly made known, only certain blessed people approach Olympus with impunity. Dean is one of them; I am not, because among the assembled gods, I only really know Ma'am Jing Hidalgo, who was my favorite Comp Lit teacher in college back in the years of prehistory.
So when Butch wandered out into the smokers' ghetto and came over directly to speak to me, I swear to God I felt like Daphne, bedazzled in the presence of Apollo himself, come down from the mount to walk the earth among us mere mortals. Luckily, I did not run away from him and get turned into a laurel tree because, y'know, getting transformed into botany would have really put a damper on my Palanca night. Instead, I think I managed to carry on a reasonable conversation--without even squealing, "Ohmigod, Killing Time in a Warm Place is one of the four Filipino novels I've actually managed to finish reading! You rock!"
See? I'm really not as cool 'n' composed as y'all go around thinking I am. I just act like it.
Things I Got to Do on Palanca Night for the First Time in Umpteen Years of Attending:
1. Talk to Butch out of a classroom and in the absence of Dean (who was busy schmoozing elsewhere at the time).
2. Sign the attendance folder for winners instead the guest book for (you guessed it) guests. Yay!
3. Get an approving nod from Ma'am Jing, who has been gently chiding me thusly for years: "Congratulations on Dean's win. When's it your turn? You once had such potential..."
4. Wear the little red "winner" ribbon--Dean is such a veteran that his fell off during the course of the night and he didn't notice, whereas I was conscious of the precious piece of cardboard stuck to my dress the whole time.
And of course I got to go up on stage and receive my certificate. Ms. Palanca-Quirino, the judges, and the redoubtable Ms. Babes (without whom, I remain convinced, the entire Palanca hoohah would simply cease to function) kept trying to get me to take my check and turn around the face the cameras. But I knew perfectly well that if I did not first shake everyone's hand and thank them for the honor, such a lapse in manners would somehow immediately be discerned by my mother all the way across the globe in Florida, with the result that I would end the evening on the phone, listening to a lecture on the responsibilities owed to the world by persons of good breeding.
Yeah, you laugh, but you don't know my mother.