Hand Me Your Pasta Puttanesca Part One

By Michelle Tan and Joan Tan
~For Rammy Bitong.
Your smile is the brightest one I've ever seen. It made me want to cook pasta for the rest of my life.
                  ~Special Thanks to Ronald Ungson for helping me name the characters.

            "Unhook my bra." My sister requested while lying down at the bed, about-faced at me on my right. She always asked me to remove hers every night. Get the picture? Every single night! Ever since her chest popped out when we were eight, I stumble myself unhooking them before we sleep. Good thing the lights are off so I cannot see her busty features.

            "No! Try to muster the art of unhooking your own bra." I told her.
            "You're lucky you are a boy. Just because you don't wear one doesn't mean you have to escape from the reality of having girls in your life, you know. Plus, it's a little something for you to be trained for when you get girls sleeping with you. Come on, unclasp it, fast!" By the way she said "trained for" insulted me a bit. She's a girl, and I guess she insulted other women too on her part. I mean, normal brothers don't train to unhook their twin sister's bras for future use right. She cannot just depend on me all the time.

            "I hate it when you always rub that on my face."
            "I don't always rub that on your face" she tries to mock a queer old man's voice and continues, "you don't even know what it feels like to be caged by push ups just to feel pretty."
            "People don't wear them just to feel pretty, you know." I paused, "You have to learn how to remove one of these. What if I'm not here?"
            "But you are here. And I'm too lazy for that. I can't even reach my back while lying down side view."
            "That's the point, you can't reach your back because you got used to me doing this to you." I gave her a chance. So I traced my left hand on the spine to guide me towards her upper back. And before I know it, I felt a line of wire with three hooks in it. I unfastened it quickly to get this discussion over with.

            I'll never win any argument with my sister. Anyhow, I stumble into thought that Olga was always the best on my parent's eyes. When will I ever be recognized or appreciated? I look up to the ceiling and faced my left, saw on a dim light a tiny portion of me and Olga's photograph together. I can't believe we still share the same bedroom for seventeen years. It must have been a thing for twin siblings.

     Life without Pascal is just too odd to live with. He's like my big brother since he came first out of mom's belly. Well, I have to say, he is more meticulous than I was. He always reminded me of my chores, my responsibilities, my limits on the telephone, his share on our laptop, his share on this bed, and his share on our business thingo.
             I'd never have to a better life without him. He runs this tiny cafe for the both of us to start living with. I take the orders while he cooks them. His specialty, pasta puttanesca, keeps a long line of hungry customers. He never gave me the recipe. What an egotistic! If he'd give it to me, he'll have to sing it. Well, that wouldn't happen because: 1. I love my ears more than I love my brother, and his voice would make him disqualified for any singing contest. 2. I have a good taste in music. I've listened to his poems; well he's a great writer, but as soon as his mouth opens, end of my story (I'm ruined). 3. We never meet each other halfway. He's my complete opposite. Even though I'd always love to discover a man version of me, it wouldn't be my twin just because of many causes. We'd always scream on each other's faces when relatives tell us that we "look alike." Disgusting!
            He's skinny for a guy. I always see him talk to himself in front of a mirror while he tries to buff his twiggy shoulders I wish I had. In return, I wish I were a bit skinnier. I am round and muscular, not the ideal body for a woman who aspires to be in magazine covers.
            I checked my watch, 11:12 pm. Shoot, I missed wishing on 11:11. People say that you have to wish on 11:11 to have your wishes come true. Uhm, does "A woman who aspires to be in magazine covers" count as a wish? I don't think so. I'm an idiot. No, not really or not exactly barbaric. Pascal's smarter. He's one of the top smartest people in the batch. I'm the type who is between high average and superior. I think.
            I took a peep out of the window and realized the sky is getting darker. I'll have to close my eyes so I could still check myself at the mirror, hopefully.

            First day of schools are the most horrible days ever created; Most especially for me. Who am I supposed to eat lunch with? Who would be my teachers for this semester? Will my schedule fit me for my extra-curricular: Yearbook Crew, Nucleus Club, The Mathletes, Social Service Community, Theater Effects Crew, Artist's Guild, and a long list of influencing group of people in school. I am a member of every club except cheerleading and the athletes! I would rather not be photographed of my sweaty armpits trying to shoot for the final season and be posted on every yearbook to be signed. I hate to think that athletes are influencing people. In fact, they are not!
            I'd rather choose to exercise my mind by figuring out concepts more than risking my body in representing the school; I enjoy receiving tons of medals during Recognition Day. It's hard to decide what you like best if you're good at everything, so I choose every thing. Everything except facing an angry crowd of backstabbing and savaging mob called teenagers. Olga is extremely good in handling people. Her voice makes people at ease when everyone is at the brink of (nervous) breaking down. I, on the other hand, am comfortable working alone. I plan well and stick to it like a total freak on Mission Controls.
            I finished my bowl of Cheerios. Honestly, I hate them. I don't know why people enjoy eating one of them early in the morning. Olga, for example, wants to maintain her body so she, based on my observation, enjoys gulping spoonful of cereals.
            "What?" I didn't even realize Olga's talking. I guess I talk a lot in my mind than I do in life.
            "I said, what clubs are you joining this year? Don't tell me everything. I mean, you have to work on a new recipe for our cafe. Conduct a promotional strategy to gain more profit."
            "I'm eliminating the Nucleus and backing out as team captain for the Mathletes. And by the way, I do all the hard work in our cafe. I cook, I open the shop, I clean the place, I recount the daily profits we get, I do the marketing strategy while you go there past your work hours after your cheering practice. You wouldn't even use cheering after graduating college." I said harsh digs, but it's true. She never heard any criticism from mom and dad. I guess it's always okay for Olga to commit mistakes, but never for me. Life is unfair for me!

            The room was tranquil but not peaceful. Finally, Olga spoke.
            "You think you can do everything! You think you're best in everything. You always make me feel unimportant. FYI, mom and dad appreciated me naming our cafe Sunny Side. Yours was Buffering Beefy, which is way overrated. And if you think that I am always the black sheep right here, then maybe I should stop being your sister. You know the problem with you, you always try to make the place a better place but you always fail to make a life. Live a little bro. But who am I to advice a smarty pants like you?"
            "I just want to take the risk you aren't taking. You don't know your responsibilities. And I was thinking of a jingle of free Wi-Fi at the end of the phrase, you know." I defended myself and grabbed an apple, left. I would take the bus today. She's right, beefy and Wi-Fi does not rhyme.
            Normally, Olga would drive me to school. I guess it takes her such courage to bring me to school everyday. I guess she's important in my life too. But I don't have a dignifying excuse to go back and say sorry. Just wait and see later... She'll be begging for my help.

            My name, when anagrammed or mispronounced is like ugly. Just like what I feel right now. I don't mean to say that. My parents named me because they think I am special just like my name. They named me after they found out that my mom's great grandfather's mother and my dad's great grandmother's mother's name is Olga, not related though. My father is Spanish and my mother is Egyptian, so I don't see the connection either. Anyway, I hate it just like how Pascal could ruin my day. And why does he have to have the better name? Nobody nowadays is named after his or her own ancestors.

            But I don't have to panic because first day of school is always my favorite! Plus, I know how much Pascal hates his first day, so I feel a way better now than ever. And when his day gets him defeated, he'll be begging to have me back!

            I drove my way to school, which is a catch today because Pascal's not with me. That dirk. Good for him to leave my space alone. I could use my own music. Everyday last year he'd always play his old school 1920's soundtrack. I don't even know those people. It bores me to listen to his music. I think those were the time when Ford's convertibles are flashing on every road in America. Cool, but too dusty for me. I played some Rihanna song, Only Girl. I know it's four years ago, but come on, age is a state of mind. I laugh at my pride.
            It flatters me that I have my own parking slot in school. I feel as exclusive as Ashley Tisdale on High School Musical. I never admit to liking it, but her character there also had a twin brother. I wish Pascal was more like Lucas Grabeel, the twin of Ashley Tisdale in HSM. I'm never into musicals. The thought of watching live characters try to get the audience attention is dispirited for their part as hooligans. Which reminds me of my brother (again?)!  I cannot believe my brother is one of the special effects crew last year. I hope he gets less pathetic in choosing almost every club in school.
            I forgot my notebook! Oh, it's not like a problem anymore, if I have a skanky follower like Gabe. He'd surely lend me anything he has. And I don't want to blend in with normal people's Third World Problems.
            I locked the doors from my car and proceeded at the hallway. What a great year it will be, I tell myself.


            Miss Green handed me my schedule. I looked at it and revised bits of it.

RECESS Student Council Meeting
RECESS Book Club Meeting
RECESS School Editor's meeting
RECESS Special Effects Crew Check up
Advance Algebra
FREE PERIOD: Young Analysts
Advance Chemistry
LUNCH Mathletes Training
LUNCH Social Service Community
LUNCH Press Committee
LUNCH Yearbook Club
LUNCH Writer's and Artist's Guild
Advance Algebra
World History
Advance Chemistry
World History

            I love my schedule! The whole class complained with their schedule but for me, HAH! Is this my very first Happy First Day of School? I should cook Pasta Puttanesca later. On the down side, my only available break would be Friday, recess time wherein leftover foods are served for everybody. I guess, I will enjoy my following days as (becoming) a well-educated individual.
            I heard one of my classmates complain, "After Monday and Tuesday, even the calendar says WTF!"
            As far as anyone is concerned, I am actually having a great time. 

           Suddenly, my sister's words echoed into my mind. "Get a life!" Her voice ringing to my ears has sent me unidentified shivers that linger through my spine. I doubted myself for the first time of my life, "Have I ever had a life?" I wonder what Olga, I mean, "she" is doing.

Hand Me Your Pasta Puttanesca Part One Hand Me Your Pasta Puttanesca Part One Reviewed by Michelle Tan on 10:39 PM Rating: 5

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