Baygon Man

In my mind, I call him Baygon man. I saw him dancing in front of our house.

I might have been nine or ten when the young men in black uniforms showed up at our home. Probably sent by the pesticide company to demonstrate a product, convince us our house was crawling with pests (not that we need convincing). I can’t be too sure because it was my grandma who came to the gate. We were home by ourselves, Lola and I. Maybe I’m remembering this wrong, though. There might have been other people at home. Maybe there were only two Baygon men, maybe there were six. A lot of the details are fuzzy.

But there are bits that are vivid. Our gate opened to a cement driveway (we didn’t technically own a vehicle) that sloped downward, our house sitting lower than the road (oh, the flooding in Valenzuela!). Someone standing in front of our house would be hidden in view from the street. I imagine the Baygon men showing up at our house, giving Lola their weary shtick. She was a forbidding woman but was open to strangers, trusted men in uniform (even a logoed Baygon uniform!) She showed them in, led them to where unwanted critters lurked in our house. But one wayward Baygon lackey stayed outside, felt inspired by the open yet concealed space and started dancing, UMD-style (only Filipinos who remember the early 90’s would get this reference but with the little I saw, that’s my best description of his moves).

He danced because he thought no one was watching. But I happened to be in the living room and caught a glimpse from the window. For a stunned second, I wondered whether it was a dance number, part of the promotion. Then I realised he didn’t expect an audience, would be embarrassed if he caught me watching. So I hid as if I had been the one doing something embarrassing. He was seared in my memory since.

I have shared this story, of course. My sister laughs at the weirdness and because there’s no one to corroborate my memory. I have to admit, my Baygon Man story has the tone of a questionable paranormal experience. The boyfriend is sympathetic; he visualized a man who took a moment to enjoy in the middle of a soulless job.

My grandma passed away five years ago in the same house. She left the world peacefully, surrounded by her daughters. The property was locked in a legal stalemate until it was sold to a family friend earlier this year. Life, real estate, other huge matters resolve properly at some point. But what of inconsequential encounters that left behind a mystery? I will always wonder what has happened to Baygon Man because I never really knew him. Didn’t see his face, only registered his built vaguely. Has he married, started a family? Where does he work? Aboard a ship or in a plush Makati office? A call centre cubicle or a company in Saudi Arabia? Where ever he is, I hope he’s finding moments to dance.

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