Everybody has a boyfriend named Jonathan. Johnny, Jonas, Junjun, Nathan, Anthony, Tony, Wanwan, Tantan.
Skin glistening with sweat, Jonathans always talk rough, walk big, and hang out with their guys after a basketball game. They have clean haircuts, pressed shirts, big backpacks, and white rubber shoes. When they are with a girl, they hold doors, shake their shoulders and puff their chests like young roosters.
These Jonathans will have roses and chocolates, candlelit dinners for two, and quick kisses in dark movie houses. You practice your lips every Friday night for a date on Saturdays with Anthony.
On your eleventh date, Junjun waits for your arrival at his favorite internet station. You imagine a night on a secluded beach with Wanwan, gathering smooth shells along the coast. During afternoon breaks, Tantan steals away from class to join you on your pineapple pie diet at the canteen. You sit on a park bench with Jonas, holding hands, talking about nothing, filling the silence that you think is as big and as round as love. At the finals, Tony waves at you from the courtside before going into the last quarter — and you give him a flying kiss from your seat. Nathan is hesitant but, at last, lets you have a sip of his beer. And, always, Johnny drives you home after a party so he can have a chance to talk to your father, like any good boy does.
Many times you travel out of the city and you are tired from the trip. You yawn at every passing town and you start to dream when Anthony pulls your hand and allows you sleep on his arms. You lay your head and he smells like baby powder. From then on, you wish every bus trip would smell like his arms.
But, during the holidays, when every Jonathan must stay in the city, the December wind freezes your heart and the rushing of shops on the tinted window isolates you on the journey home. The colored lights blind you, swallowing, taking you back to a childhood dream: a sudden vision of a different boy.
Arms flung apart, his eyes widen into smiles. He pulls you from the station even before you could get your bags. He asks you to run through his meadows, to take a hit from his joint, and to watch him catch fireflies for your delight.
He will always have that name, written in longhand — always the one that you used to doodle at the back of your notes when you were nine years old. He will always have that name you cannot call your own. And, still, you laugh when you hear yourself saying it.
Jeffrey Blasabas-Javier is a Creative Writing student in UP Mindanao.