“Ninong, can I ask you a personal question?”

They were back, the four horsemen, er, the four sooner-to-be-men. I had an inkling that they were bored roaming around, seeing the same scenery every time. What they needed was a stimuli to tax their brain with a mental exercise.

If it would be about their non-existent Ninang, I was ready to shoo them away to bug someone else. I was sure they already heard all the variations of my answer, most specifically my evasive tactics.

“Fire away,” I replied, standing up to my full height from the kneeling position.

They pretended to hold long guns and proceeded to pepper me with ghost bullets. I did not expect their reaction but I was to blame for giving them the cue.

“Seriously, what is it?” I asked, engaging them with my own invisible firepower.

After their laughter subsided, the eldest hushed them completely so he could present his query.

“How do you know if a woman likes you?”

These boys have fathers. Why should I be the one grilled for such father-son talk? The only answer I could think of was that I treated them not as kids when I explain things.

“To tell you the truth, I am not an expert about the subject. What I do know though is that women like men who respect them.”

They showed aha looks, perhaps inculcating in their heads the gem I just said.

“Besides that, how can you tell? I mean you had experience. Surely, you can tell us about it.”

If there’s a trap somewhere, I was not aware of it. The innocuous questioning could lead to the same conclusion I often feared that would be asked.

“Women can keep you guessing so don’t be too sure of what you think is actually the same as what they think.”

Confused faces confronted me. Even the youngest seemed to crease his forehead, unable to follow the line of thought.

“You mean they might show something but it is not what it appears to be?”

“They might be too friendly with you, but that’s it: they treat you as a friend. You might interpret the same action as affection but if it is not explicitly said so, you should be careful not to make incorrect conclusions.”

“What should we do then?”

“Be a man!” I replied. “Tell her what you feel and wait for her reply. It’s that simple.”

“What if she does not reply?”

“That’s when courting comes in. You woo her, do the works.”

I could see they were not satisfied with my suggestion. It would seem the younger generation believed in instant relationships much like instant messaging. Most probably they were not prepared for the long waiting period of the traditional setup.

“It’s a good thing I am still a boy,” the youngest quipped. “I really don’t like girls hanging around me.”



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