Saturday, June 25, 2005 A.D.
Smoke Gets in Your Bootlegs
Greenhills is one of the places that people with temper issues should avoid during weekends. I try to find reasons not to, except I often do find myself going there anyway, to merely end up stalking the parking areas for a decent slot and stringing invectives at lucky drivers who have found parking slots but who have arrived later than I did, and at people who walk nonchalantly to their cars without any intention of leaving, letting me conspicuously follow them to their parked cars without bothering to even let me know through the slightest gesture that they aren't going to be leaving after all. I keep promising myself that I would stay away from Greenhills during weekends, but you know the drill.

It started lunchtime just when I was only trying to find my way to the parking lot entrance. A silver Civic with rolled down windows, flashing hazard lights, and an insensitively blaring siren was bullyingly weaving its way through the traffic, prompting a lot of pedestrians to look at him with annoyed but questioning faces. The driver wore a rat-tailed mohawk, looking like a cross between a Samoan muscleman and a flabby beehive with barely fitting sunglasses. He was casually fiddling a cigarette between the fingers of his right hand, which he dangled outside the window for full contrabida effect. Between the way he held his cigarette and his loud siren, I easily came to the conclusion that I didn't like him. Someone from the sidewalk shouted, "Hindi ka bumbero!" which got a smirk out of me. He didn't look like he was on an emergency. It was then that EmCow remarked that, even for a Saturday afternoon, there were a lot of people positioned at the Shoppesville entrances. We were going to hit the gym over lunch, and I thought suddenly that we should have stuck to the Ortigas branch instead. Right about the time when the Samoan beehive turned a bend and we found our way to the parking lot entrance, it became clear that the people we saw clustered at the doors weren't going in but out. Grey smoke could be seen billowing from the general direction of Theater Mall and I realized that I was seeing my second Greenhills conflagration (with three having taken place only in the past ten years). This couldn't be good.

The fire didn't look serious at all, and the atmosphere wasn't really that tense as one would have expected. With the place being evacuated, I found that I had a veritable smorgasbord of parking slots to choose from, conveniently settling for one that was right across the gym entrance (which was a good block away from the fire). I actually had a good view of the fire from the weights area on the second floor but realized that the gym was the worst place to be monitoring a fire, what with the endless club music that they piped out through their speakers. Firstly, I had no clue at all that firetrucks were already making their way to the place because their sirens just blended in with the bleeps and sound effects. I also didn't notice that smoke was already blowing into the gym, probably because it was easy to assume that smoke machines were responsible. All I needed to party were a pill-popping DJ, an obligatory metrosexual, and a gaggle of sweaty half-dressed girls who could only look hot when under multicolored strobes. With a more active imagination, I'd have realized that I was merely missing the DJ and the strobes. I especially wished for the strobes, if only for the instant makeovers.

Looking out into the parking lot, I could see an exodus of vendors dragging sacks and boxes into waiting vehicles. Stranded salespeople were stationed wherever shade was available, and volunteer firemen from places as far away as Taguig, Malabon, Marikina, Cainta and San Antonio (among other places) were lugging hoses that looked like they were piped in from Penang (the restaurant, not the famed Malaysian city). It was surreal, to say the least, and lest I be accused of trivializing the incident, I was honestly moved at the sight. I am tempted to drop the joke that maybe God has a stand on piracy, but I am afraid it would be in bad taste. I am really tempted to, you see, but I won't.

The fire was officially put out by 5pm, which was incidentally the screening EmCow and I caught for H2G2 (I just want to point out that the Promenade cinemas are amazing and the movie, funny). It was past 7pm when we got back out and the firetrucks have already gone. Shoppesville and Theater mall were still pitch black but Music Museum was noticeably lit up (for the M2M brunette's concert, I think). Just to add a final piece of irony to all this, it was steadily raining. I still won't drop the joke about God's stand on piracy. I am really tempted to, you see, but I won't.

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