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Dear Pau,

Hola! Buenos dias. Como estas tu?

Okay, I stop here. My Spanish is as limited  as my Italian. I confuse the two languages because they’re like soul sisters. But I’m careful not to. Imagine how disastrous  if  say, I order bread and butter in an Italian restaurant, I would say  pane e burro. But if I were Italian and unwittingly order pan y burro in Spain,  that would be bread and ass. How embarrassing, no? Besides, Pau, there are grammar Nazis in the blogosphere. There’s one in my workplace. Make that one half. And there’s even one in my head. And in my own bedroom, this time poring over my shoulders. He knows I am writing to you. But he says it’s OK. He’s never the jealous type. He always humors me and condones my fantasy and laughs behind my back. Isn’t he the sweetest?

Of course you do not know me. But I know you. I first started to notice you when some shoe company named a shoe model after you. What’s with shoe companies naming shoes after basketball stars, que grande cosa. I’m no stranger to this. I spent a good week in 2008, during the Summer Olympics in Beijing looking for the Kobe Bryant Hyperdunk. Nike’s overpaid marketing geniuses really know when is a good time to launch. As expected, when I searched online, all shoes but for the bigger sizes were sold out. But persistence paid off . When I called the Nike shop in the The Grove in LA, they had one but not exactly the color I wanted.  Better than nothing, I guess. At least I had something to bring home to hubby to make up for my protracted absences.  I reserved the pair and claimed it two days after. But that was not the first one. Hubby was like that  too with the Air Jordan Flight series. I’m almost glad your shoe advert didn’t quite take off or I’d be wearing those shoes to the office.

I am sorry Pau, I talk too much. I am like this when I am antsy. Comprendes ‘ansty”? Of course you do, you were from Memphis when you were traded in and Lakers took you on February 1, 2008 as its power forward. Were you the top draft pick? I don’t know but I know how underrated you were until you took the  Lakers to 1-11 playoffs and the legendary Game 7 in 2010 that propelled the Lakers to historic championshipville.

But  let’s talk about basketball later, por favor. Let’s talk about me and why I wrote.

I know too that you were born in Catalonia which proclaims itself a different country from Spain. But I don’t want to get into your politics. It’s so, uhm, unromantic. Like you, I was born in July. July 2 to be exact and this year I’ll be 44. I know you were born on July 6 and you will be 32. You make me wanna be a cougar (There, I sneaked in that sentence after hubby perused the draft). That’s it. If I had been a cougar. I know of many in my backyard and they have fought tooth and nail for their cubs. I will write about them in my succeeding posts. But now, let’s talk about us, Pau.

Like my husband, I’m also not the jealous type. I just shrugged off pictures of you and tu novia, that Brazilian fatso, woman in a steamy display of affection in Myrtle Beach? Or was that Ibiza? Or in her hometown in Rio? I didn’t read everything. It hurt too much. Oh, I’m sorry, I already said I’m not the jealous type. I’m a strong woman.

But no strength however towering would prepare me for what could have happened June 17 or 18 of 2010, the day I almost lost my son. And it’s all because of you Pau.

You see, we were on holidays, I and my six year old adorable son who looks like his father. There could have been a shorter route to the island called Palawan and that’s via Cebu. But my husband was adamant about not letting our only son ride a McDonnel Douglas much less a turboprop plane. I mean, I’ve taken this route before, took the same rusty, jiggly air crafts. It was OK with him for me to ride in this flying coffin but not for my son. That’s his love for me, Pau. So I had no choice but to take a longer flight path that is from my city 600 nautical miles south of Manila in an Airbus or Boeing 747 then slept in a tony hotel that served yummy-licious steaks and took the early morning flight to Puerto Princesa. Sabes tu Puerto Princesa?

The day we arrived in Puerto Princesa was the same day of Game 7. Lakers versus Celtics. As we had to go through the rigmarole of checking in and getting settled in our room, I missed half of the game. By then, my six year old son had already pestered the hotel staff about giving him a fishing rod and earthworm baits as he wanted to fish in the pond in front of the resort. Fishing is not part of the hotel’s water activities but my son was just too spoiled rotten bratty cute to be disappointed. Not catching any fish  after a long and agonizing wait of five minutes, he went to the concierge and asked for a boatman to guide him kayaking. Of course I learned about this belatedly because already I was glued to ESPN. Besides, I multi task and thought it would be easy for me to check on him as the hotel room wall was made of glass and gave me this view of the sea.

However it was not quite the same watching Game 7, a breathtaking, cliffhanger championship match all alone. So I went out of the lobby where maybe all the guests were. As it was a chivalrous almost all male crowd, I wormed my way in front and nobody complained. And so in the company of strangers I screamed, I hollered, I cheered you on. Of course for good measure, I did not wear a name tag.

What a game! I have to confess you are one of the reasons why I love this game! In the dying minutes of Game 7, I stopped breathing, especially after you made a basket and you would let out a primal scream like an animal in the wild, shaking your frilly mess of curly brown hair. Why, you almost look like my friend Luca, only that he’s a hyper-geek genius of a physicist- and Italian. So, in the final rebound, was that 18th, you passed the ball to Lamar. You made a lane basket with ninety seconds left in the game that upped the score by 6. You made 9 points in the last quarter alone. And 19 points over all. Ah, not bad. They needed those points from you, caro. Coach Phil Jackson was proud.

And when the final buzzer  buzzed (how else?), it was mayhem. Just mayhem. There in your home court and wherever I was. I saw you hug DJ Mbenga. Were you crying? I like boys who cry. That’s so brave of you. But then who wouldn’t. It was your game even if the game MVP they say was Ron Artest. Kobe, Lamar, Ron and Derek Fisher were there but they were just like some of those people in the crowd in a universe you dominate. They were like extras and bit players in a movie where you’re the male lead and I, ahem the female, ahem, lead.

We celebrated by giving high fives to strangers and clanking beer bottles. The beer steins were overflowing as  the joy in our hearts could not be contained. Of course, I was holding the beer bottle as a prop as I do not drink beer. I couldn’t go on screaming until I was hoarse. I’d be a caricature of myself. I had to celebrate no matter how so I had to hold a beer bottle. To look celebratory. And chic.

Thank goodness I did not drink so I did not get soused. Had the spirits and inebriation taken over me, I would not have remembered that I had a son out kayaking in the open sea. I had forgotten about him Pau because of you. How dare you look so good and handsome and attractive and appealing like an animal with your primal scream and frilly mess of your brown curly hair? You made me a bad mother!

I sprung from my chair and stormed my way out of the crowd and made a dash to the beach. It was not an ordinary sea, you know. It was the open sea, the West Philippine Sea. And there from a distance I saw my son paddling his kayak (maybe the boatman was among us in the crowd I might even have clicked my beer bottle with his stein) in the middle of the sea. Like any mother would, I forgot that I did not know how to swim. I also forgot that it was low tide I could just walk my way to the middle of the open sea past and beyond the mangroves and get to my son who had been chuckling so hard with his new found friend Gabby. But then again, they were so close beyond the border of Philippine territorial waters, Chinese fishermen might poach them and it would be a stalemate. See how you almost started a war between my country and China, Pau?

I had to forgive you Pau. I only had your game to blame.

That is why, two weeks after the cars outside Staples Center had been smashed (why would they do that, tell me?), the ticker tape parade and the rain of confetti had long been rested, I was in LA. I was still hopeful I’d get a glimpse of you even from a distance, but no. The Saturday I was there with my sister, her husband and children (my sister, just like my husband, humors me and condones my fantasy and laughs behind my back), I only saw schoolchildren being herded into the arena by their teacher for a circus show.

I ended up in the Staples center store and was delighted to see that while there was a glut in Kobe Bryant and Lamar Odom  jerseys, I could not find your No.16 jersey Pau Gasol. Which was a good thing. Or I’d be reporting  to the office wearing your jersey.

I found Gasol warm up jerseys which was fine by me. I’ve been asking hubby to wear them actually. And to have a piece of you with me every day, I bought a paper weight with your pictures in it. It has since been on my table top since I bought it even if there’s no paper underneath.

I was supposed to go to LA again this July, Pau but my husband sent me on a mission to see through the launch and completion of  Full Moon Over Marrakech. It would take beyond July. It’s the biggest project I’ve ever handled as a frustrated trying hard wannabe architect. That much effort and yet I cannot append Arch Angel to my name. Que sad!

Having said all this, don’t say I didn’t try. I will try stalking you again next year. I hope you will still have the same primal scream while shaking your frilly mess of long curly brown hair when you finally see me. And I hope I don’t read any more stories about la novia. I just realized I’m the jealous type after all.

Your fan stalker secret admirer towel girl, water girl, masseuse, fan,