Tuesday, May 14, 2019

It's hard to believe it's May already. It feels like the new year was just last week when our friend Jodie invited us to her home for yet another Chinese New Year dinner.

“Are you sick of loh-hei, yet?” she’d asked earlier on the phone. 

“I’ve had 12 so far,” Amanda told her.

“I’ve had 33!”

There was a brief silence as Amanda struggled to wonder if she’d misheard. “Thirty-three?” she said eventually. “How can you have had 33 loh-hei? This is only like the fifth day of Chinese New Year!”

“Oh, I started about two weeks before and as we approached the New Year, I had it for lunch and dinner with the family and my clients.”

“Thirty-three?” Saffy said when Amanda told her. 

“She’s so competitive! Just like at Uni!”

“I feel sick just thinking about all that sweet sauce!”

“Which is why tonight’s version is going to be Indonesian!” Amanda said. “She’s basically doing a gado-gado.”

Saffy blinked. “And what’s she using for the fish?”

“Otah-otah!”

“It’s going to be cooked, right?” I asked. “Because I’m not eating raw spiced mackeral!”

“She said she’s just unpacking the whole thing from the banana leaf.”

Saffy shrugged. “That’s just weird, but whatever. She just shouldn’t call it loh-heior Instagram us tossing,” she warned. “Can you imagine how that would look? All those great chunks of tofu and otah-otah flying up in the air? I don’t want to become a viral sensation for all the wrong reasons!”

Screaming with laughter at the image, we piled into a cab and zoomed towards Jodie’s apartment at Peach Garden. 

“God, that Jodie is such a China Doll,” Saffy said. “Even her condo sounds like a restaurant.”

When we arrived at the guard-house, Amanda poked her head out the window to announce who we were there to see. She hadn’t even opened her mouth when the security guard waved us through, leading Saffy to wonder if this sort of thing would also happen if we’d dropped by the Istana for loh-hei with the President. 

“The same thing happened to me the other day when I visited Shaun’s mother, do you remember?” Amanda said as the taxi pulled up at Jodie’s block. “I don’t think the guard even looked up from his phone. I mean, I could have been a robber for all he knew! He just happily waved me through.”

“Well, you’re in top-to-toe Chanel. You don’t exactly look like a robber,” Saffy pointed out, though I couldn’t help but think neither did the girls from Ocean’s 11. 

Amanda turned pink with pleasure that someone had noticed what she was wearing. “You know what the problem is? Singapore is just too safe! Which makes me wonder why anyone bothers with security guards anyway.”

“So that retirees have something to do!” said Saffy, HR executive to the Nation. 

“I mean, who would be stupid enough to commit a crime in this country?” Amanda went on, warming to her theme, though as Saffy later said privately, you could tell she was mentally role-playing her favourite fantasy as a PAP minister on the campaign trail. “You’d be tracked down, charged and jailed before you even had a chance to put your bag down to count your stolen cash!”

When we finally made it up to Jodie’s apartment, she said that after years of living in New York and being regularly terrified on her way home from work at night, she fully intended to live out the rest of her life in this country, secure in the knowledge that probably the most dangerous thing that would ever happen to her would be to go through an ERP gantry without enough money in her CashCard.

“So, did you read about that Go-Jek driver?” she asked as she carefully assembled her gado-gado loh-hei, which she’d since renamed galoh-gahei. “I’m telling you, this dish could fund my retirement. It’s just a question of clever marketing!”

“What about the Go-Jek driver?” Amanda interrupted. “You mean that girl and the ERP?”

“Yes! Did you see the video and how she was yelling that she was being kidnapped?”

“Hadn’t the driver brought her to the police station or something?” Amanda said, surprising us all with the depth of her knowledge of Singapore current affairs.  

“Only in Singapore,” Jodie said, in the solemn tone of a BBC newsreader announcing the birth of a new heir to the throne, “can you be kidnapped and the kidnapper brings you straight to the police station so that you can file a complaint!”

Amanda giggled while Saffy’s bosom inflated. “You see, that’s the kind of viral sensation you don’t want to be involved in!



Monday, May 06, 2019

To Pee or Not to Pee

Not to be politically indelicate, but the world is divided into two kinds of women: those who are done peeing in a minute, and those who aren’t. 

In the first group, the women might as well be men. A few garment adjustments, a ruthlessly efficient contraction of floor muscles, and they’re out the door. My Mother, the founding member of this group, even manages to find time to check her lipstick in the mirror. 

Meanwhile, in the second group, Saffy would still be marching up and down the toilet stalls, cautiously pushing each door open as she cranes her neck in to check the state of the floor, the toilet bowl and the general state of cleanliness.

Sometimes, nothing meets her expectations, in which case she will emerge from the bathroom with a look of grimness and announce that we need to go to another level.

“Oh God, Saff!” Amanda moaned the other day. “The movie is about to start, and you want to go look for a toilet on the next floor? What’s wrong with this one? I just used it and it’s fine!”

Saffy’s bosom stiffened. “There’s no toilet paper in there! How am I going to line the seat if there’s no toilet paper?”

Amanda shot me a look, but I was busy examining my shoe-laces. “Then don’t sit!” she said eventually. “Just squat over the loo!”

“Well excuse me if I don’t have your core muscles,” Saffy snapped, as she began moving towards the escalator. “I need to sit! Look, just go in first. It’ll just be the movie previews, anyway!”

“But those are the best bits of a movie!” Amanda called out, but Saffy’s back had, by now, disappeared into the crowd.

I turned to Amanda. “You squat?” 

“Sure! It’s the fastest way to pee!”

I hesitated. “But wouldn’t you have to be very careful about where you aim?”

Amanda gave me a look. “Unlike a man, you mean?” she said, never having forgotten that one time she was in desperate need to pee but there was such a long line to the ladies, whereas the men’s loo next door looked and sounded completely empty. So, she dashed in and nearly died of shock.

“Filthy and smelly!” she later told all her girlfriends. “The floor in front of all the urinals was wet!”

“Wet?” Cindy asked. “Why?”

“Wet with pee!” Amanda said in ringing tones that carried straight across the tables at Les Amis. Heads turned. She leaned in and lowered her voice. “Men can’t aim straight!”

Cindy, who’d been trying to get pregnant for years, sniffed. “You don’t have to tell me!” she said. 

Amanda waved her hands. “No, really. It’s disgusting. I mean, if you think about it, it’s basically a hose, right? You just aim it and direct the flow. I noticed that the urinals even have a little bee painted at the base.”

Cindy’s eyebrows arched. “A bee? What for?”

“Well, I asked Jason and he says it’s so that men know where to aim!”

Cindy put down her fork. “Shut up!”

“No, really! And yet somehow, they still miss and the pee gets all over the floor. Either that,” Amanda paused as she gave the matter some thought, “either that, or most guys have really small di…”

Cindy coughed as the maître d’arrived with the foie gras, followed by the sommelier to discuss the next wine pairing.

Leave it to Sharyn to find the silver lining in everything. “Aiyah,” she said the other day, after Amanda had complained that we’d missed the first two movie previews while waiting for Saffy to return from the loo. “At least, she only need to line the toilet when she outside. Not like my sister-in-law! That woman ah, really one kind! My mah-dur-in-law scold and scold her, you know.”

“Why, what does she do?”

Sharyn looked triumphant that for once, she was the centre of attention. She drew in breath, the better to prolong the moment. “You know when she go to toilet at home? She must oh-so line the seat with toilet paper!”

Amanda paused. “Wait. What? She lines the toilet seat at home?”

Sharyn’s mouth pursed into a thin line. “So strange right? Every day, the maid clean, but must still line. And she got bladder ploh-blem, some more, so she must go shee-shee every fie minute. Can you imagine? One day can use up tree toilet roll!”

Amanda sighed.

“Dat’s why kena scolding from my mah-dur-in-law! So you see, Saffy not so bad. Not like my sister-in-law. She really one kind!” Sharyn repeated.









Saturday, April 27, 2019

The Deep End

I don’t know about you, but I spend my days dreaming about holidays. The places I’d love to visit. The things I would do once I get there. What I’d eat. The spa treatments I would get. The museums I would visit. The Instagram stories I’d post. The hotel toiletries I would steal. 

In other words, normal stuff that normal people do when they go on holiday. Or think about when they’re thinking about going on holiday. 

Then there are people for whom a holiday means trekking through sub-zero temperatures up the side of a very steep mountain. 

“Really? Why?” Saffy once said at a party to a guy who said he’d just climbed to Base Camp at Mount Everest. 

“I’ve never felt more alive!” he told her, to which she said, that was technically true only because an almighty avalanche hadn’t come sliding down the mountain to sweep him and his friends away. 

“You were playing the odds with your life! Didn’t you watch ‘Everest’?” she asked severely, having recently revisited what she felt was a criminally neglected movie because she’d had another late night craving for Jake Gyllenhaal. “Moral of the movie is: look, don’t touch.” She paused and gave the matter some thought before adding, as her bosom inflated, “A bit like my breasts actually!”

Recently, at breakfast, Amanda, who was scrolling through her news feed, suddenly stopped and gasped. “Oh, God…”

Saffy, never one to waste an ounce of drama, immediately jumped to a conclusion. “No, no, no!” she moaned. “Jake’s dead?”

Amanda rolled her eyes. “Honestly, rein it in, RuPaul! No! This bunch of divers in Hawaii were…wait…were ‘watching a school of tiger sharks feast on a dead whale when a much bigger fish appeared out of the depths. A 6m-long great white shark, believed to be one of the largest in the world…’”

“Wait just a second,” Saffy said, holding up a finger. “They were watching a school of tiger sharks feast on a deadwhale?! Why would you be watching a school of tiger sharks feast on a dead whale? Were they mad?”

Amanda scanned the article. “It doesn’t say. Oh, yes it does. ‘The rotting whale carcass off the coast of Oahu has drawn packs of divers keen to see the sea life it attracts.’”

“You see,” Saffy said, her face turning pink. “That kind of dumb behaviour is why the human race is going to get wiped off the face of this planet!”

Amanda nodded, secure in the knowledge that the only dumb act anyone could ever accuse her of committing, was once paying a lot of money for a Commes des Garcons dress that looked like it had been sewn by blind kittens on a diet. 

“I’ll say,” she said. “But wait, there’s more. The 6m-long white shark…huh, she’s got a name. She’s called Deep Blue!”

“Not Bites Deep?” Saffy asked.

Amanda smirked. “It, uhm…it ‘came up and brushed up against the boat, maybe she's pregnant, maybe she's itchy?’ Ramsey wrote on Instagram. ‘We spent the entire day with her till the sun went down.’ Huh,” Amanda said, looking up. “Apparently Deep Blue has a Twitter account!”

“That’s the most stupid thing I’ve heard all day!” Saffy announced. “‘Maybe she’s itchy?’?! What, and those divers thought they’d be helpful and scratch its side? Seriously, on the Stupid Scale, this is right up there with watching a school of tiger sharks feast on a dead whale in the first place!”

“Oh,” Amanda added, “it also says that ‘state wildlife officials have warned on Facebook for divers to stay away lest sharks mistake them for food’! Seriously? State wildlife officials have to tell you that you shouldn’t watch tigers sharks feast?”

“I bet they’re Harvard graduates,” Saffy said, pretending not to notice Amanda’s icy glare. “I mean, that’s like going to watch zombies have dinner! Has no one watched ‘The Walking Dead’? You don’t go towards zombies! The correct direction is away from! Put that on Deep Blue’s Twitter feed!”

Later, when Saffy repeated the story at work, Sharyn shook her head and sighed. “Did the article say the divers were what nationality?”

Saffy shrugged, the thought never having occurred to her.

“Must be ang-moh, I think,” Sharyn concluded. “Only ang-mohwill swim around in the sea and watch shark makan. Our people will be on dry land shopping at Plah-dah! Dat’s why, hor, there are so many billion Chinese people in the world, and the ang-moh population is dropping. Dey all in the sea being eaten by shark!”

Saffy says she laughed all day. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Box Set

I like to think that there’s a force-field around the little flat I share with Saffy and Amanda. Kind of like the one that surrounds Wakanda. You only get to enter if you know the correct entry points. This restricted right applies to all kinds of things. 

Like Brexit and Donald Trump.

If you were a fly on the wall of our flat for 24 hours, you’d never know there was any political unrest in either the UK or America. Our news channels are hard coded to anything to do with the Kardashians, Marie Kondo and Dr Pimple Popper and nothing else. On social media, we only follow cute bulldogs running around in the snow and every utterance of Oprah. 

We never watch the news, unless it’s Perez Hilton’s latest Instagram announcement.

“What! That’s news!” Saffy once said to a stranger at a party who’d asked her what she thought about the devaluation of some currency in some country she couldn’t pronounce (it was actually the Japanese Yen), and she replied that she only followed Perez and the person said, “Yes, but what other news do you follow? Doesn’t the state of the world concern you?” 

Saffy gave the question some thought. “Actually, there is something that I’ve been thinking about. Which is why the Kardashian sisters don’t come up with their own cookbook! They’ve already got everything else,” she pointed out, not noticing the look on the person’s face. “It only makes sense for them to do a cookbook, even though I’ve never ever seen them cook anything. They only ever seem to eat take-out food, have you noticed?”

By this point, the guy had begun to look desperately around the room, hoping perhaps to see someone who might rescue him from this conversation.

“And you know what?” Saffy said, moving in closer as she dropped her voice into a whisper. Or to be more accurate, her bosom, inflated like a ship in full sail, moved forward. “I have the best title for the book! It would be, are you ready for it, ‘Kooking with the Kardashians’! Do you get it? Cooking with a ‘k’! It’s genius!”

As Amanda later said, after Saffy had told her all about it, some people really need to lighten up. The world, she concluded, is just too uptight about too many things. “It’s why there’s so much unhappiness. Everyone should just take a chill pill. I mean, so what if you don’t know your GDP from your NLB? Who cares? Are you going to sleep any better knowing that the polar ice caps are melting faster than ever before?”

“Nightmares for a week!” Saffy said with a shudder, having just watched again ‘The Day after Tomorrow’ because she’d suddenly had a craving for a young Jake Gyllenhaal. 

Amanda nodded. “Exactly. So, it’s best not to know too much!”

“Don’t you think,” asked her friend Joanna at lunch a few days later, “that you might end up isolated and ill-informed about the issues of the day?”

Amanda waved a fork-full of coiled spaghetti aglio olio at her. “Not at all! If it’s really super important, someone will tell me about it. Or it'll be all people will be talking about. There are just too many unpleasant things happening today to keep up with,” she told Joanna. “I mean, what’s the point? How did the quality of your life improve today after reading the newspaper?”

Apparently, it was a question that stumped Joanna into silence. 

Saffy says she’s got the best name for this approach to life and news. “It’s Bird Boxing! We’re Bird Boxing crappy, scary news! You daren’t look, because if you do, it’ll make you do crazy things.”

“Like ask a complete stranger at a party what she thought about the devaluation of the yen!” Amanda said. 

Saffy turned pink and her bosom puffed up. “Yes, exactly!”

“Although the fact that you didn’t know that the Japanese currency is the yen really is quite bad, Saf!” Amanda told her.

Saffy shut her eyes and shook her head. “Bird Boxing! Bird Boxing!”

A few days later, someone from some government agency came knocking on our door. Saffy opened the door. “We’re here to inspect your flat to see if you have dengue spots!” said the woman with the clipboard and flashlight.

“Bird Box!” Saffy said to her. 

The woman blinked. “What?”

“Bird Box!”

The woman tried again. “Ma’am, I’m from the…”

“Bird Box!”

“Uhm…actually, it’s mosquitoes I’m checking, not birds. If you have any places that collect water, that may breed…”

“Bird Box!”

“Uhm….Maybe I should come back when your husband is…”

“Bird Box!” Saffy said, closing the front door.










Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Good Riddance

Amanda has been binge-watching ‘Tidying Up’, Marie Kondo’s new show on Netflix. Apparently, it’s all she and her yoga friends have been able to talk about in between their downward dogs.

For Sheryl, the show has provided the excuse she’s been looking for to throw out all her Dolce and Gabbanas. 

“She threw out all her Dolces?” Saffy asked.

Everything!” Amanda repeated. 

Saffy’s bosom deflated as she sighed. “But why? She could have given them to me!”

“Well, she’s gone back to Lanvin as her favourite brand, but she didn’t have the heart to throw out the old wardrobe, and then that whole China thing happened,” Amanda said. “When she saw that person using the Dolce jacket to wipe the toilet seat, she knew it was time to really Marie Kondo her closet. Especially when a few days later, Kim Kardashian deleted her Dolce post after Diet Prada called her out on it.”

According to Sheryl, Dolce is the new fur. You really don’t want to be the one left wearing it and being screamed at. Or have fake blood splashed on. Or worse, be ridiculed on social media for your politically misguided fashion choices. 

Amanda says that Sheryl stood in front of her closet, weeping as she took out one Dolce outfit after the other, clutching each dress and handbag to her chest as she thanked them. 

Because that’s what Marie Kondo says you’re supposed to do whenever you throw something out. You thank it for being in your life. But if that sounds like too much hard work, do what my friend’s daughter did, which was to pile all her unwanted clothes into a giant heap and then thank them all at once. 

“So sayang,” Sharyn later said when Saffy told her about Sheryl. “Why she don’t give me her Dolce? I want!”

“It was a political statement, Shazz. Plus the clothes weren’t sparking joy for her anymore, now that she’s gone back to Lanvin.”

Sharyn was amazed. “Ay, so expensive you know, liddat anyhow throw away one, ah!”

Saffy shrugged. “She’s rich. Rich people are strange.”

But apparently Marie Kondo’s approach to tidying up your house has a much wider potential. Because a few days later, while shopping for a dress at Muji before her lunch appointment with her friend Mavis, Saffy’s phone pinged. It was Mavis saying she wasn’t feeling well and was cancelling lunch.

Saffy was livid. She immediately speed-dialed Amanda to vent. 

“She’s done it again!” she said the second Amanda picked up. “Ten minutes before she’s due to meet me for lunch, she cancels! This is like the third time she’d done it in the past couple of months!”

“Who?”

“Mavis!”

“Oh. Why are you still friends with that woman? Get rid of her!” Amanda advised. 

Saffy blinked. It was as if someone had asked her how she walked. “Get rid of her? You mean unfriend her? But I’ve known her for twenty years!”

Amanda’s voice sounded bored. “So? She’s not sparking joy. Why would you hold onto a friendship that isn’t sparking joy?”

Again, Saffy blinked. 

As she later said to Sharyn, just when you think Harvard should be closed down for allowing someone like Amanda to graduate from its law school, she comes up with a statement that is so profound she might as well be Yoda. 

“I mean, I never thought of friendships that way,” she told Sharyn. “It’s like, my whole life, I’ve just held onto friends because I’ve known them for a long time. No one ever said to me that you can actually get rid of them.”

Sharyn’s eyes, magnified like saucers behind her thick spectacles, blinked slowly like an overfed lizard. “Yah what. Is like old clothes. If got hole orredi and cannot sew back, what for you keep them? Just because you bought them twenty year ago, must keep, meh?  Or just because is Dolce. And get mouldy in your cupboard, some more!”

“That’s kind of what Amanda was saying!” Saffy shook her head. “She said if Mavis keeps cancelling lunch on me for no good reason, then clearly she’s not valuing our friendship as much as I am!”

Sharyn nodded sagely. “She not spark joy, mah!”

“Huh!” Saffy said as she stared off into space, contemplating this brave new world in which you could throw out friends like last season’s Dolce. 

“And is Chinese New Year, some more,” Sharyn went on. “You must spring clean your life. Some friend are like dust! Must wipe off!”

“Really, Shazz,” Saffy said with deep admiration. “You should put that on a tee-shirt!”

“Yah, boy!”


Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Holiday In

They say that travel broadens the mind. Of course, Saffy is of the view that the people who say this sort of thing are usually cashed up rich kids who eat quinoa salads for lunch and can touch their toes in yoga.

“I mean,” she said the other day, her bosom inflated to maximum capacity, “it’s all very well for Suzy to vomit such horrible platitudes at me, but really, if I didn’t have to work because my husband is a plastic surgeon and I live in a house so big I need two maids, which then left me with all that free time to travel on Satay Class to San Francisco, I’m willing to bet that my mind would be broader than her hips!”

“Ooh, girl, snap!” Barney Chen growled as he helped himself to another bite of coconut cake at PS Café. “Who is this Suzy woman? She sounds like someone who needs to be pushed down the Istana steps!”

Saffy rolled her eyes. “Ugh, she’s this woman who does yoga with Amanda. I was waiting to go to lunch the other day, and she came out of class with Amanda and she says to me, ‘Oh, I’ve just come back from the East Coast and I must have caught a cold there!’ And I said, “Oh, do you know Sharyn? She lives in Joo Chiat!’ And you should have seen the look she gave me!”

“So bad,” Sharyn piped up, her eyes magnified by her Coke bottle-thick spectacles. “Joo Chiat is East Coast, what!”

Saffy’s breasts puffed up even more. “I know!”

Amanda, having already heard this tirade at least five times in 24 hours, sighed.

“I mean, who says East Coast to mean Boston?” Saffy went on, gathering steam. “And that was when she dropped that stupid line about how she loved to travel as it broadened her mind! Broadened her fat ass, more like it!”

Amanda looked at Sharyn. A secret code to change the subject must have passed between them because Sharyn coughed and said, “Ay, I ask you, ah, I got two week leave I must use up. Where can my husband and me go, ah?”

“Why don’t you try the West Coast, Shazz?” Saffy said immediately.

“Hah? What for I go to Jurong for two week! You siow, ah?”

“No, I meant San Francisco!” Saffy turned triumphantly to Amanda. “You see?!”

Amanda rolled her eyes.

“Seriously, though, Los Angeles would be lovely this time of the year!” Barney said. “Not too cold, not too hot. Lots of cute men.”

Sharyn shook her head. “Doh wan! Skali, got earthquake like in that movie and my whole hotel fall into a hole! You tink all those cute men will help res-kew me? I doh no why people want to live on top of a fault line! Siow!”

Amanda frowned. “What movie?” 

“‘San Andreas’,” said Saffy, who like Sharyn, adores both Dwayne Johnson and apocalyptic movies.

“Tanzania?” Barney suggested. “The gorillas there are supposed to be amazing!”

“Doh wan. Got Ebola and Zee-kah! And lagi expensive!”

Amanda began: “But that’s in East Africa and there’s no Ebol...” 

But Sharyn wasn’t haven’t any of it. “Thank you. Next!” 

“My sister just came back from the Maldives,” I said. “She was at this amazing resort where…”

“Aiyoh,” Sharyn moaned. “Got tsunami, then how? I cannot swim, some more! Sure drown, one!”

Barney hesitated. “Uhm, India is meant to be really…”

“Cannot,” Sharyn said firmly. “My husband got asthma. Confirm he die from the poh-lu-shen!”

“I love Paris,” Amanda said. “All those gorgeous French me…”

“Ay, hello! There, still got riot, hor!”

“I know! Melbourne!” I said, feeling a little desperate. “You’ve never been to Australia!”

“Got big spider there!” Sharyn said. “Cannot, I takut spider!”

“Where got?” Saffy began and then mentally rewound what she’d just said. “I mean, what spiders?”

Sharyn’s eyes widened. “Hah, you doh no, meh? That Kee-ree-gos got bite by spider! And then he straightaway lose his match!”

It took a while, but we all got there eventually. 

“Oh, Nick Kyrgios,” Barney sighed.

“Yah. Spider!” Sharyn repeated. “Aiyah, no point, lah. Everywhere in der world so dangerous. Maybe we should just stay in Sing-gah-pore and have a staycation. Hor, Saffy, hor?”

Saffy shrugged. “That’s really boring, Shazz, but it’s your holiday!”

Later back in our flat, Amanda said it was a miracle of nature that Sharyn had survived to adulthood, much less gotten married and had children. 

“Well, I do see her point,” Saffy said. “The world is such a dangerous place these days. You can’t open a newspaper without reading about someone dying somewhere!”

“But people are dying all the time!” Amanda pointed out. 

“Yes, but there’s no reason to pay good money to fly out to where they’re dying,” Saffy told her. It was a statement of logic that defeated even Amanda. 

The last we heard, Sharyn was investigating hotels on Sentosa. 

“Don’t tell her about the landfill,” Amanda warned us.



Tuesday, April 02, 2019

Unfresh Start

It's just astonishing that we're already into April. Where has the year gone?

I remember New Year like it was yesterday. And the way things worked out, I was so convinced that 2019 would be a bit of a bust.  

First of all, we’d all wanted to watch the new year’s eve countdown and fireworks at Marina Bay. But then at about 5pm, the dark clouds that had been gathering on the horizon all afternoon finally opened and it started to rain hard. 

Half an hour later, it was still pouring, with thunder and lightning. 

From the dry comfort of her bed, Saffy peered up at the sky through her wet windows. “Seriously!” she called out to Amanda in the other room. “I’m not sure I want to look at fireworks in this weather! Can you imagine how difficult it will be to get home?”

From the dry comfort of herbed, Amanda cocked her head towards her window and pursed her lips. “Yes, but surely it’s not going to rain like this all the way to midnight?”

“The grass and everything will be wet and soggy!” Saffy said. You could tell she’d already made up her mind that she’d be welcoming in 2019 with a bottle of cheap white wine, a big bowl of popcorn, a side of pizza, and ‘Bird Box’ on Netflix. 

Amanda got out of bed and padded out of her bedroom, down the corridor and into Saffy’s room. 

“You’d really rather stay home and watch ‘Bird Box’?” she asked, leaning against the doorframe.

“It’s supposed to be really scary!”

Amanda arched an eyebrow. “Scary like ‘Hereditary’?”

Saffy’s bosom puffed up. “I have no idea. I was too chicken to watch that. But Sharyn said Sandra Bullock is really good in this one and you know how I’ve always had a thing for that gal!”

Which was how we ended up staying in on New Years Eve. We ordered in pizza. Bottles of cheap booze were opened, and corn was popped. 

Meanwhile, Sharyn and her family had made the trek down to Marina Bay, armed with umbrellas, plastic ponchos and slippers. At 11.05 pm, she rang to say that the rain had stopped and that the fireworks had started. 

“Wah, very pretty!” she shouted over the bangs and pops. “Come, lah! The rain has stopped! You still got time! They got one hour of firework before midni…! Wah! Wah! So pretty!”

Saffy put her phone to her chest and looked at us. “Sharyn says the fireworks are amazing and that we should go!”

Amanda, currently slouched on the sofa with her finger poised over the play button of the TV remote, swiveled her eyes from the screen. “I really cannot be bothered. It’s going to take me at least 15 minutes to put my make-up on, another five to get changed and then we still have to get to Raffles Place andfind Sharyn!” 

Through a mouthful of popcorn, I said I was with Amanda on this one. 

Of course, while we watched a blindfolded Sandra Bullock be terrorized on Netflix, Sharyn was watching what she later described as the most amazing fireworks she’d ever seen in her life. “Even better than my wedding night!” she giggled the next morning at brunch at Tiong Bahru market.

Saffy, her eyes bloodshot from not having slept at all because she would come awake everything she heard the trees rustling outside her window, winced.

Sharyn dug her elbow into Saffy’s ribs. “Ay, you know what I mean by fireworks on my wedding night, right?” The woman giggled again.

“The image of you losing your virginity might be just the image I need to erase last night’s horror!” Saffy moaned. 

Amanda shook her head. “When those people’s eyes changed colour and shape…I’ve never seen anything so horrific in my life!”

“And how they all died!” Saffy said, burying her face in her hands.

Sharyn frowned. “Aiyoh, this is new year and you all or-redi talk about people dying! Choy!”

“It really was a stupid movie, though,” Amanda said. “Scary, but stupid!”

“I’ve closed all the curtains in my room!” Saffy told her. 

Amanda shook her head. “Honestly, what a start to the year! We should have gone to see the fireworks. Instead, we’re now scared of the wind and leaves!”

Saffy sucked in her breath. “Oh my God! When those leaves just rose from the ground and those voices started whispering…”

Meanwhile, Sharyn is still so moved by the fireworks. “Good use of my taxpayer money!” she pronounced. “This year, confirm vote PAP!”

Amanda was astonished. “That’s how you decide how you vote in elections? By the quality of the fireworks?”

“Ay, this year very good, you know!”

But Amanda had stopped paying attention because Saffy had just messaged her to say that the first episode of Dr Pimple Popper’s season 2 had just dropped on YouTube. 

“Finally,” she sighed, as she tapped her screen. “The year is starting to look promising. Oh gosh, will you look at all those lipomas!’