Pages: Scoring at love

John Z. Pages
·3 min read

Happy Heart’s day! Allow me to reprint an article I wrote a few years ago. It’s a true story...

There once was a dream girl named Jasmin. Intelligent, funny and the president of our college student council, she was a cross between Alice Dixson and Sharon Cuneta. To top all that, she bagged the Intramurals Most Valuable Player award when she smothered that softball for the last inning home run that captured her senior team’s gold medal.

She was all you could ask for. And like any warm-blooded reptile, what’s a man supposed to do? Just drool and stare at her like some lizard with a clipped mouth? Naah. Chase her, of course. And so, I planted the moves. She said yes to my first date request, lunch at Shakey’s Mango (across Fooda). We climbed Tops. Laughed in “Something About Mary.”

I was close. Or so my imagination thought. I was making inroads, yes; felt her feeling reciprocal, true; but up until then, four weeks past our first date, I never “scored.” And isn’t it all about the score?

We play games for what? The score. We put our money in the bank for what? To keep score. We teach our kids to study hard and do well in the exams to get a high score.

But I was scoreless. Zilch. Nil. Nada. Not even HH. (You know, holding hands.) Then, lo and behold, tadang! Like the genie that popped out in Aladdin, an idea sprung to mind. Take her out on a tennis date!

One afternoon, surrounded by yellow flowers that danced and the swirling wind that sung when one’s in love, we climbed Cebu Plaza Hotel and had our first tennis date.

A beginner she was, thank you, Lord! That meant one thing. I can smell her perfume. And, so I went up close, close, closer. You can’t go screaming the Tennis ABCs from 40 feet across the net, right?

One point. Then I held her hand. You can’t teach a semi-Western grip unless you gently take her hand, look her in the eyes and guide her step by step, right?

Two points. Then we relaxed, sitting side by side with legs almost touching, sweat flowing through our faces while I pulled out a towel then moved closer. She pulled back slightly, hesitated a moment then took the towel to wipe her face — all with a smile. Romantic, intimate — whatever you call it... I’m scoring!

Three points. A couple more dates ensued before I convinced her to play a real game of doubles. This time, it was at the Cebu Tennis Club in Banilad and, with two friends, we rallied for half an hour then got ready to play our first set of tennis.

I served first and we lost, 0-1. Then 0-2. Then 0-3. Jasmin was frustrated, I noticed. Finally, when the score was 0-4 against us, I blurted out the four most meaningful words in my life, “We’re still in love.”

Her eyes enlarged bigger than owls and she stood akimbo with arms locked at the hips as if to say, “What did you say?”

Zero points.

“I mean... uhh... our score is still zero. You know... Love means zero in tennis.”

Good thing, Jasmin’s now my wife. Or else, my score in love would have been... love.