Explaining “Torpe” to a Non-Filipino

Third in the series of trying to define non-translatable Filipino words to a non-speaker of the language. It may have a direct translation say to another romance language, but as for English, I am still searching my brain for one. This time, it’s a word that defines a good deal of my personality.


Torpe is really, really having to pee during the climax of a movie.

Torpe is taking a deep breath when you pass him by, forcing your teeth to open up; your intentions to say a quick ‘hi’ but what comes out of your mouth is ‘mxyzptlk’.

Torpe is everyone knowing, but him.

Torpe is sleeping hours after you were supposed to, with crusty eyes staring at that one corner of the room, where every night you are actually together.

Torpe is a constant stream of love letters and love poems written on your blog with an anonymous recipient.

Torpe is jumping up and down, beating your chest, telling yourself for the nth time to put your game face on.

Torpe is the human heart’s natural shelter against previous devastations.

Torpe is the human mind forcing you to rationalize.

Torpe is the human soul arguing that the idea of him will always be better than the real him. The ideal him would never break your heart. The ideal him would never have a girlfriend on the side. The ideal him would look and smell perfect every morning.

Torpe is having a coach tell you exactly what you should do before the game, but once the ball is in your hands, you awkwardly dribble it for a few meters before dropping it.

Torpe is living with Schroedinger and his proverbial cat.

Torpe is being a fan of The Voice, but chickening out of sending your own audition sample.

Torpe is being in a race, but having a huge boulder tied to your shins; miles away, you could see the winner claim her prize.

Torpe is the belief that you could actually communicate with just your eyes.

Torpe is asking for dating tips from your geeky friends at comic book forums.

Torpe is like getting all pumped up and steamy with someone but having that one organ refuse to cooperate.

Torpe is a soap opera scene where you’re in your nightgown, with long red hair flowing in the moonlight, and he’s barechested on the sofa, and having the scene ruined when he realizes one of your breasts is bigger than the other.

Torpe is being slightly jealous of your friends who are in relationships: what do they have that I don’t?!

Torpe is falling in delusional love with underdog shows, like the Big Bang Theory, where the nerdy guy could get the hot one, and wishing that you were as lucky as them.

Torpe is buying the best ice cream from the store, but always putting off eating it, as you’re saving it for something or someone special, and, eventually, the ice cream goes bad.

Torpe is going through your little black book and seeing where and how you were wrong, so you could prepare exactly, to the most precise dot, how you approach this new relationship — if it did begin.

Torpe is just wishing he’d goddamn make the first move. Why must it always be you?

Torpe is navigating through a minefield; you’re unsure if you will survive, or get blown up.

Torpe is flowers you’ll never get to send, letters that will never be read, weddings that will never take place, and children that will never be born.

Torpe is giving in to the scary image of being alone forever.

Torpe is neither yes nor no.