I'M TURNING thirty-two, and the university I'm teaching at has just informed me that I've been with them for ten years now and that they're giving me a plaque soon for this. I have earned awards for my literature and I have a couple of books to my name and several poetry manuscripts more saved in my hard drive. Conveniently, I think I have everything I need: all those consoles that console a man of my age. I can go to movies anytime I want. I can buy my clothes. I can wander everywhere when I feel the need to do so. I can eat anything I like—ooops!—except that gold-dusted ice cream in Europe and those that Prince William and Sultan Bolkiah feed on. A little above average, however, I have pretty much nothing to prove except that I'm single, and perhaps, an eligible bachelor.
Social networking sites prove not that effective. Thus, my status speaks much about my situation: it's complicated. Albums in my account contain photographs that are happy, jubilant and contented. But, often, if they aren't photos of friends during sprees or chocolate shake afternoons, they would be adventures at photography: sunsets, landscapes, train rides, rains. Oh, not to forget, of course, the photos of a naughty nephew and a cute niece by my sister who is eight years younger than me. Sadly, as it always happens to other photographers, I am usually nowhere in the photos.
There's an interesting album in my collection, nevertheless. And I consider it interesting based on the number of 'likes' it has merited and the tone of the comments—from bewilderment to heckles—made on it by friends. This is my 'Coco Girl' album.
To date, I have around 83 photos in my album; most of which are fulfillment of daily quests while a handful are my attempts at pushing my avatar—that girl icon whose sense of fashion is my creative conception—to win the Coco It Girl selection. Fortunately, and to my jubilation, she won in my third try—quite ridiculously getting ahead of my Coco-playing coed students in this category!
Coco Girl is a game application introduced on Facebook by Argentina-based MetroGames during these times when the site is synonymous with the names of hundreds more game and non-game apps like Tetris Wars, Castleville, Pet Society, etc. I didn't look it up in the net where the game's name was derived but I have a hunch that, for obvious reasons, whether MetroGames admits it or not, it was named after the 20th century French couturière Coco Chanel.
With a very simple gameplay, a not time-consuming one too, Coco Girl allows the player to manifest one's fashion preference through a girl avatar. A player's avatar may be heavily customized in terms of appearance, hairstyle and even tattoos and body piercing. Coco Girl leads the player to a daily quest of fashioning the avatar with various outfits according to given situations. But Coco Girl isn't just about vogue clothing styles. It is also about relating with others in terms of fashion sensibilities. The game is mainly based on how a player rates her fellow players' fashion sense; this also earns for the player the most needed Rubies which are the bread and butter for shopping outfits and accessories at the Coco Girl shops.
While I'm far from being a fad-savvy, I believe it is the ultimate app for the lady fashionista. And so, as many friends ask, why am I, a certified, self-confessed, indubitable straight male playing Coco Girl?
Here's where complications enter.
I tell my friends I simply enjoy the game. But behind this sense of delight is a labyrinthine of reasons—or excuses—why Coco Girl appeals to me.
I grew up with a pretty happy childhood spending my first decade as an only child. I was given everything.We weren't—still aren't—rich but both of my parents were employed so that I was raised provided with everything I needed. After spending my primary education in a public school in a small pastoral town, I was sent to an exclusive, all-boys school in the city but with a parental instruction that all I had to do was to study well, pray and live healthily. My schooling years were spent with home-school routine. I participated in almost every school activity, studied well and earned honors certificates and was a member of the acolytes because I had a slight inkling that I had a calling toward the religious life. In short, I was a nerd. I belonged to the type of student my classmates called mayong pakisáma. I was, perhaps, the strictest beadle in school so that I listed down on the beadle's report every student I knew committed even the slightest infraction. I wasn't in.
College years came and I was still a nerd. I tried to impress the ladies with wit and words only to find out that erudition wasn't the best criteria. Still, I couldn't get the ladies to like—or love—me with a tinge of romance even though they swoon over my drawings and poems and abilities with computers. I was simply a friend to everyone. As I did in high school, I busied myself with things that made me qualified to be called a good student. I sang in the choir, I performed on stage, I delivered orations, I wrote in the university paper, and many other things, some of which I have already or were intentionally forgotten. Thinking about it now, however, doesn't give me a sad feel. Rather, I feel stupid for not being able to find a way.
My first relationship—which lasted five years—happened only after graduation; I was 21 then, I think. By the sheer number of years it took from my lifetime, I thought she was the one I would marry. We were both professionals, had stable jobs and shared passion for a lot of things. Many times, we did plan our future: a small house of three or four bedrooms in a quaint suburb where our family of two children would live with comfort. But things didn't out quite well for us and after half a decade, my girlfriend and I parted ways. We remained friends even after the breakup. She’s now working abroad.
My second girlfriend was a fellow writer I met at a prestigious writers workshop in Baguio City. It was our penchant for creepy stories and sarcastic poems that brought and kept us together. She was pretty intelligent and it took me some time to break through the intellectual walls around her and eventually won her heart. My second relationship was a more serious one. There were already conversations about marriage and those talks were far more concrete. The dilemma where to settle was a major issue: I wanted to live in the province and many times she expressed that she won’t survive if I would bring her deep into the woods. This same quandary gradually kept us further and further apart until, after five years too, we said goodbye to each other.
I had my share of stubbornness and faults and, therefore, I want the third one, which I hope to come soon, to be my last. I believe I have a way with women that keeps me part ways with them after some time; and this I want to fix. At times, I would become too deep into what I desire for and neglect my lady’s basic longings—something that I believe is innate in every male human being, only that it is fully developed in some.
And Coco Girl?
I play Coco Girl because with it I believe I learn and dissect, in a rather peculiar way, the woman’s psyche. Playing it is in some ways learning the pattern of choices that a woman may confront in her likewise complicated life. All this because in Coco Girl I can fit my feet into a female’s footwear, or my waist into a plaid, pink checkered mini-skirt or my torso into a stylish floral blouse. I appropriate these bouts of choosing in Coco Girl’s daily quest to the more complicated problematiques of the female experiences. Through Coco Girl—despite its deep sophisticated and extravagant fashion nature—I do recall the challenges I had in my relationships with women; my ex-girlfriends, my quarrelsome sister and my late endearing mother.
Each Coco Girl daily quest is also a daily recollection of endearing moments with former lovers. Sometimes, they also come as remembrances of arguments with them and of the fact that I always gave in despite preposterousness for the sake of peace.
I play Coco Girl despite the possibilities of gossips that I may in fact be gay.
I play this ladies’ game because it makes me more manly.