Sean and I are here in L.A. at the Best Western Monterey Park Inn. The conference where he’ll be presenting is just a couple of miles down the road, and it seemed silly for us to get in the car and drive around looking for a place to eat when there was a free continental breakfast in the lobby. We decided to go with the free food.
As it is with all major chain hotel lobbies that I’ve ever encountered, a large TV screen was mounted on the wall in the dining area, and it was showing the local morning news. And of course the dining tables and chairs were all strategically positioned in front of the television.
Sean and I generally don’t watch TV. We don’t even have cable. Unless we’re in places like bars and Best Western Inn lobbies where we absolutely cannot avoid being in the presence of an actively playing television, we never even see commercials.
We got our food and sat down at one of the tables, directly in front of the television screen. The news anchor was talking about the upcoming Los Angeles Marathon, but I was more interested in looking at his face.
“Sean,” I said, “Look. I bet you he’s Filipino!”
See, here’s the thing: Ever since I moved to the mainland from Hawaii, I’ve lived in places that are not very ethnically diverse and where I hardly ever see any other Filipinos. So I get really excited when I see somebody who I think could possibly share my ethnic heritage. If you have any Filipino friends who originally came from the Philippines like me, you understand what I’m talking about.
“Hmm,” Sean said. He’s known me for over twenty-one years now and has been exposed to my crazy family and extended relatives for almost as long. So he’s familiar with Filipinos. “Could be. Maybe.”
“What do you mean, maybe? He is Filipino. Look at him. I’m sure of it. I bet you.”
The morning news story changed from the L.A. marathon to a feature about an unidentified man on a motorcycle who rode down the escalator at a shopping center in British Columbia, rode through the automatic sliding glass doors of some store, and eventually got away. Sean and I watched the security footage clips of the guy coasting down the escalator on his motorcycle and him being comically and futilely chased by a security guard. We laughed and cheered for the getaway, and I promptly forgot what I was willing to bet.
After breakfast, there wasn’t a whole lot more to do except head back to our room. Sean had to get ready to leave for his conference. I’d brought along my laptop and a new sock that I’d started knitting. I figured I would stay in our room and do some writing and a little bit of knitting while Sean gave his presentation. (Yes, I had absolutely zero interest in going to see it, and he had absolutely zero interest in making me come along. That’s what our marriage is like after twenty-one years of being a couple.) He planned to return before the noon check-out, and then we’d go grab some lunch.
I was logging on for internet access when Sean came out of the bathroom. He saw me on the computer and said, “So, did you find out?”
“Find out what?”
“If that news anchor is Filipino.”
“Oh, I already forgot about that. But now that you remind me.” I went to Google and started typing in some key words for a search. I found him. “His name is Adrian Arambulo. It says he was born and raised in Chicago.”
“There are no Filipinos in Chicago,” Sean said.
If you didn’t know Sean, you’d think he was being a jerk. If you do know him, then you can totally see him saying this in a deadpan manner and trying not to laugh.
“There are, too, Filipinos in Chicago!” I said. “My mom’s side of the family came out from the Philippines and went to Ohio and Missouri!”
“Ohio and Missouri are not Chicago,” Sean said.
He sang in his worst best Ilokano accent, just to tease me. “A-drree-ahn Ah-rrrum-booo-low. A-drree-ahn Ah-rrrum-booo-low.”
I ignored him and did a little more searching. “Ha! See, I was right! He’s half Filipino! I win!”
I realized then that I was sitting in a Best Western Inn at 8 AM on a Saturday morning, shouting that last part about some random guy being half Filipino and me winning. I lowered my voice. “I told you. I was right.”
“What?” Sean said innocently. “I never said you were wrong.”
“Ha, ha,” I said. “I’m putting this in the blog.”