“Never trust a boy’s words. Words are bullshit.”
There were only a few times throughout my adolescence that my dad discussed boys or dating. Prior to the handful of instances, he joked that as soon as I hit puberty, he would inject me with fat cells so no boys would think I was pretty. When I was twelve, he warned me of a (supposedly) universal truth.
“People lie, Dad.”
“That’s not what I mean, anak.”
“Then what do you mean?”
“All I’m saying is, you should never trust boys. Especially at this age. In fact, you can’t trust them until you’re in your late twenties. Even then, I’m skeptical.”
“Because boys will lie to take advantage of you.”
“Like, take my money or…?”
“Maybe in some cases. But mostly, they lie to take advantage of your virtue.”
“Oh. But what if –”
“No what if’s. It’s a fact.”
That sentiment resonated for years, resulting in my inability to take any guy (liars and genuine ones alike) seriously.
“The only lasting trend is good taste. Dress accordingly.”
My dad has worked in corporate retail since I was in elementary school. He’s disdainful of all things trendy and favors classic pieces and designers. In high school, I had a collection of pink shoes — flip-flops, ballet flats, hightop Chucks, and regular Chucks. My dad was appalled.
“How old are you, anak?”
“Don’t you think it’s time to stop wearing pink shoes?”
“It’s one of my favorite colors, Dad.”
“But those in particular –”
“What about them? They’re ballet flats.”
“Where did you get them?”
“Looks like it.”
A few months later, I returned from going to the movies with friends to find that a certain pair of shoes were missing.
“Dad, have you seen my pink ballet flats?”
“Which ones, anak?”
“The ones you hate so much.”
“I don’t know which ones you’re referring to — ask your mom.”
I didn’t bother asking my mom. The ballet flats were buried under potato peels and egg shells in the bottom of the trashcan. I bought more sensibly colored shoes after that.
“A boy’s actions are a reflection of how he feels about you.”
During college, my dad realized that I would (at some point) meet a guy that I would date (for real). Resigned, he offered an amendment to our last conversation about boys.
“Anak, remember when I told you that boys’ words are bullshit?”
“It was a long time ago, but yeah.”
“Well, it’s still true, for the most part. But what I also meant was that you can gauge how a boy feels about you by evaluating how he treats you.”
“Actions speak louder than words.”
Years later, I told my boyfriend three words. Before he said the same back, I had fleeting moments of insecurity. Every day then, (and every day since) he made me feel cherished. That was just as important as (possibly more important than) three words.