Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Knowing Me, Knowing You

Saffy’s motto in life is: ‘Everyone will eventually disappoint you.’

Each time she’s been let down by someone, say her mother, she’ll announce in dolorous tones, “Everyone will eventually disappoint you.”

She says she came up with the motto when Jonathan, her first boyfriend in high school, cheated on her with the head girl. “I was devastated!” she told us once. “He was the first boy I ever loved. I thought we were going to get married. And then he had to hook up with that skank, Sarah Chan. Broke my heart.”

Apparently, Jonathan eventually married the skank, but on their seventh wedding anniversary, she ran off with her remisier with whom she’d been having a torrid affair. Some time later, Saffy bumped into Jonathan when he was coming out of the local 4D shop. “He’s grown so fat!” she later reported with immense satisfaction. Her bosom strained with happiness against her tee-shirt. “You can barely see his eyes! Which just goes to show. Everyone gets what’s coming to them.”

Amanda arched an eyebrow. “Is that another life motto?” she asked.

Saffy’s bosom inflated. “Yes! It’s the yin to the yang of motto number one!”

A couple of weeks ago, she stormed back into the flat, her face black as night. 

Amanda and I were on the couch weighing up our Netflix options – a Marie Kondo re-run or a slasher flick. We looked up at Saffy’s entrance.

“What happened?” Amanda asked.

Saffy’s bosom inflated. “I am never going out again with that Melissa!” 

Amanda sucked in her breath. “Oh my God. She ditched you again?”

Saffy flopped onto the sofa next to us. “I just never learn!”

Amanda later told me that she’d been friends with Melissa first and had introduced her to Saffy. “She’s the absolute pits, but she and Saf seemed to hit it off, so I couldn’t wait to palm her off.”

I’ve met the woman a few times. She’s a transplant from New York, and a lawyer in one of the Big Four firms in Raffles Place. The first time I met her, I was in the midst of my obsession with Dr Pimple Popper and Melissa said that was the most disgusting thing she’d ever heard, so that was the end of that potential friendship. 

But to hear Saffy now tell it, the woman is actually very nice company. 

“When she shows up that is,” Saffy sniffed. “First of all, she does this ridiculous thing of never replying to messages about going out. I have to ask her, like, five times, ‘Shall we catch up?’ before she says, yeah sure! But she never suggests a date, so I have to do that, and then she doesn’t reply. So I follow up. Several times.”

“I’m exhausted already,” I told her.

“It gets worse,” Amanda piped in.

Saffy rolled her eyes. “So if I suggest any day, she’ll say, ‘Oh, my sister may be visiting then. Can I let you know closer to the day?’ Once, she actually said that she might be having her moon cycle on the day we were supposed to meet. ‘Can I let you know?’ I mean, what do you say to that?”

Amanda pursed her lips. She’d been down this road before. “Nothing.”

“We’ve made so many plans to meet up for coffee, for a movie, for drinks and lunch and dinner and manicures. And it’s always, ‘I’ll let you know?’” Saffy went on, working herself up into a simmering rage. 

Amanda asked, “And does she still do that thing where about a week before, she says, she thinks she can make it, and so you start making plans before and after you meet her?”

Saffy’s bosom stiffened. “Totally. I will have the whole afternoon planned out. And she confirms on the day and about half an hour before she’s due to meet, she’ll text and say, ‘I’ve got a headache, I’ll have to cancel lunch!’”

I gasped. “After all that?”

“Well, today, it was a sudden headache. Two weeks ago, she double booked herself. And before that, she had a stomach ache. And before that, her mother was in town. And she would have known about her mother’s visit ages ago. So why string me along? It’s ridiculous! Every. Single. Time.”

Amanda sniffed. “It’s no wonder she’s still single. What man will put up with such crap?”

“I had to have lunch by myself, too!” Saffy’s mouth curled into a pout as Amanda rubbed her back. “Seriously, people are so disappointing! Though why am I surprised?”

“Come on, I’ll take us all out to dinner. It’ll cheer you up.”

Saffy sighed. “I’m not sure I’m up for dinner after all that. Can I let you know?” 

Monday, September 09, 2019

Meat and Eat

It’s been a year or so since Saffy and Amanda turned vegetarian and life has finally settled down. 

The first few months were a little challenging, especially for Saffy who had never met a cut of meat she didn’t like. She was the ultimate carnivore, an approach very much informed by a complete lack of protein prejudice. Anything that mooed, crowed, oinked, slithered and crawled was fair game. We once watched her crunch her way through a heaped bowl of deep fried crickets in Cambodia. She went on a camping trip in Australia and came back a confirmed fan of grilled snake.

But a combination of YouTube clips of Esther the Wonder Pig and an endless daily barrage of news articles about the environmental and ethical problems about meat consumption started wearing her down. The final straw came when, at a yoga retreat she and Amanda attended in Bali, the teacher said Saffy couldn’t ever really become truly spiritual if continued to eat meat.

Sharyn, who was at the same retreat, snorted. “Aiyah, what for you want to become spiritual?” she asked. “You think you are Dalai Lama, issit?”

For Amanda, the bigger psychological obstacle to becoming a full-blown vegetarian was that she would have to give up leather and silk, but she comforted herself with the knowledge that she could now shop exclusively at Stella McCartney. 

But at the beginning of their vegetarianism, well-meaning friends provided plenty of unhelpful advice.

“Where are you going to get your protein?” asked Mabel, whose family runs a steakhouse. 

“From pulses and tofu,” Amanda replied, serenely beautiful in her new Stella McCartney dress. 

Mabel looked unconvinced. “I read somewhere that people who don’t have enough protein in their diet are more likely to get Alzheimers!” she went on. “I think you should still have a little bit of meat. Just eat the skin of the roast pork! You don’t have to eat the meat if you insist on being a vegetarian!”

Amanda couldn’t wait to get on the phone to tell Saffy who squealed.

“She did not say that! Eat the crackle but not the meat?”

“Apparently, you can still be a vegetarian that way,” Amanda reported. She hesitated. “Though I can kind of see the logic of what she’s saying…”

“Don’t you dare!” Saffy warned. “I need moral support. You cannot abandon me when we’re already in week three!”

Amanda sighed. “I know, but I feel so left out! Last night at dinner, everyone was sucking up the crab claws and cutting into their medium rare filet mignon, and there I was stabbing away at my quinoa salad. It was a little sad!”

“Think of all the poor Esthers in the world!” Saffy insisted, having just spent the past hour cooing over Instagram posts of Esther the Wonder Pig. 

Amanda sighed again. “Oh, alright.”

Then, a few weeks ago, we found ourselves at Cut by Wolfgang Puck for dinner. 

“This is such a lovely restaurant!” Amanda said, looking around.

“My God, why are we at a steak restaurant?” Saffy moaned, her eyes having attained the glassy stare of a recovering crack addict who was looking for the loo and accidentally wandered into a meth lab. 

“Because Sharyn says we need to check out the Impossible Burger!”

Saffy eyed the woman at the next table cutting into a thick cut of sirloin. “Sharyn is the Devil!” she pronounced.

“How can vegetable protein taste like meat?” I wondered aloud. “Not even those mock meats at Chinese vegetarian restaurants taste like meat.”

“Apparently, the ones here are amazingly realistic. They even bleed like real meat and…Ooh, here they come!”

Saffy looked at her plate with deep suspicion. 

Because the Impossible Burger looked just like a burger. Right down to the patty, which had the texture, colour and glistening sheen of a well-charred slab of minced beef.

The girls looked at me as I lifted my burger to my mouth. I took a bite, chewed, swallowed and paused. 

“Well?” Amanda said finally, gulping down her saliva. I picked up my phone.

“What are you doing? Why are you calling someone now?” Saffy demanded.

“We need to buy shares in this industry,” I said. “This is the future!”

“Oh, you’re so dramatic!” Saffy said as she gathered her courage and took a bite. “I mean, how can this be…” There was a silence as she chewed, her eyes closed in utter bliss. 

As meals go, that Impossible Burger was transformative. Even now, we’re talking about it.

“You really can’t tell!” Saffy told Sharyn.

“Yah, lah! I told you!”

“But it’s such a dilemma. It’s not meat, but it’s meat. I love it, but I also know I shouldn’t!”

Sharyn pursed her lips. “Not easy being Dalai Lama, hor?”

Monday, August 26, 2019

Gift Rap

When I was a child, I would pass by one of those red slot machines whose Perspex cover held little plastic balls filled with cheap toys, and beg my parents to let me have some coins.

“The last one you got was a plastic toy car. The wheels didn’t work!” Mother would tell me.

“Please?” I moaned. “I want one!”

“He’s so whiny!” she later told my father. “He clearly gets it from your side of the family!”

And as I grew up, my avariciousness for cheap rubbish continued. I especially loved entering lucky draws at shopping centres. Even the third prize of $5 vouchers kept me thrilled for days.

And when credit cards started offering freebies for every dollar I put on the Visa, I was ecstatic. And impatient. I was never able to wait long enough to accumulate enough to buy anything worthwhile. Like, say, a spa treatment. As soon as I had enough points to get a free drink at Swensen’s, I cashed it in.

All of which explains why I ended up with drawers filled with random stuff. Hello Kitty Ezylink card holders. Batman coffee cups. Sachets of soap and moisturisers picked up from those persistent shop assistants at the Wisma tunnel. I had an entire drawer of tissue paper packets.

Another drawer was filled to the brim with stuff that family and friends had given me for Christmas and birthdays. Or people might come to dinner and bring a gift. I’d always be genuinely happy receiving these things, even if I had absolutely no use for any of it. Like salad spoons in the shape of hands. Or a book on bonsai plants. “Oh, I love this!” I remember saying and genuinely meaning every word. “I’ve always wanted to grow a stunted tree!”

Of course, I never used any of it, and yet, if you had suggested that I throw it all out because it was basically junk, I would have stared at you with mild amusement and incomprehension. “But these are presents”, I would say. “You can’t throw presents away!”

Every time I moved house, everything went into a box which I duly marked ‘Miscellaneous’, and they would be unpacked at the new home, and immediately forgotten about. 

Then, one day, Marie Kondo came into my life. I opened one drawer after the other, took one look at the magpie collection – a lifetime of patient collecting and filling out entry forms – and realized that none of it sparked any joy in me. So, it all went into the bin or was handed out to various kids in the neighbourhood.

And now I look back at all those years I spent filling drawer, and it feels like it had happened to someone else. It’s an odd sense of disassociation. But it wasn’t as odd as last weekend’s dinner party in our flat.

Things were proceeding as they generally do – in other words, most people were tipsy by the second cocktail Saffy had mixed up – when Amanda’s friend Jennifer arrived.

She held out a little paper bag at the door. “Here’s a little something!” she announced. “I made it myself!”

“Oh, how lovely!” I said automatically since old habits die hard. Peeking in, I drew out two white cubes, each the size of a clenched fist that was covered in what looked like white felt. “What are they?” I asked eventually as I turned the cubes over in my hand.

Jennifer tossed her long blue-tinted hair. “They’re my latest thing! I collect all the fur from my dogs and I mould them into these decorative cubes!”

Saffy, who was just passing by behind me, stopped dead in her tracks and peered around my shoulder. “Wait, what?” she said, pressing her bosom against my back. 

“Aren’t they lovely?” Jennifer continued. “I think they’re perfect presents for people who don’t have dogs. Plus they’re so environmentally friendly!”

“That’s dog hair?” Saffy asked.

“It takes ages to collect enough to pack into a cube.”

“Like actual dog hair?”

“I was thinking I could maybe make smaller ones like those dice cubes to dangle off the car’s rear-view mirror!”

“Made of dog hair?”

For days, it’s all we’ve been able to talk about. 

“Who gives dog hair as a present?” Amanda wondered.

“Well, to be fair, she didn’t just give a bag of it,” Saffy said in a rare display of balanced criticism. “It can’t have been easy moulding it into a cube!”

“I still don’t know how it’s all held together though,” Amanda said, turning a hair cube in her hand.

Sharyn told Saffy she was convinced dried dog saliva was involved. “How can you give such a present?” she complained. “So kiam siap!” 

Saffy shook her head in amazement. “Dried dog saliva!” she repeated.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

House Visit

Amanda has always said that of all the free websites out there, the only one she would voluntarily pay money for is YouTube. 

“It really is the best!” she marveled the other day as she watched a decades old interview with the then crown prince of Thailand after she read about it in the newspaper. “I mean, back in the old days, I don’t know how I would ever have gotten my hands on this video.”

“Some dusty library, probably,” Saffy said as she peered over Amanda’s shoulder. “Goodness, his English accent is so posh!”

“Expensive boarding schools,” Amanda said with the kind of knowledgeable authority you can only get from months of ruthlessly following every single aspect of the king’s coronation.

“The new queen is pretty. I wouldn’t mind being a queen one day,” Saffy said as she allowed her imagination free rein to gallop. “Her Royal Majesty, the Serene Queen Saffy of Monaco. That’s got a ring to it, don’t you think?”

“They don’t have kings and queens in Monaco,” Amanda murmured, demonstrating, not for the first time, her encyclopaedic grasp on European royal heads of state.

Saffy paused. “Oh, well, in that case, I should marry the king of Bhutan, or something. He’s so hot!”

The idea of her royal Bhutanese nuptials occupied Saffy’s fevered fantasies for days, until Sharyn told her that Bhutanese winters are dire. 

“I ever saw a documentary on YouTube,” she said. “Wah, dey all, ah, look so damn cold! Minus sick degree in January! My husband set our air con to 22 degree, I or-redi cannot tahan!”

“Minus six?” Saffy said, her eyes wide. “No way!”

“Confirm, cannot,” Sharyn said. “You want to marry, must marry someone who live somewhere warm. Like Bel Air!”

Which is how Saffy found herself trawling through YouTube videos of Bel Air, a suburb that, until the death of her dream of being Bhutanese royalty, she’d given absolutely no thought to at all. 

One day, shortly after lunch, she was randomly clicking through the videos that YouTube’s algorithms had generated, and found herself watching a real estate video of a house that had just come onto the Bel Air market.

She immediately forwarded the link to Shayrn who sits next to her. “Ohmygod, Shaz, you’ve got to watch this. This 22,000 sqft Bel Air house costs $88 million! Eww-ess dollars! And it’s on the market!” she said in tones that suggested this was an absolute steal. 

Sharyn immediately clicked on the link. “Siow, ah! Must be for Chinese market, if asking price is eighty-eight! Ang-moh where got so much money?”

“It’s got nine bedrooms, seven guest-rooms, 15 baths, and something like eight bars!”

“Wah, got hair salon and spa room!”

“Did you see the car elevator?”

“Aiyah, Singapore oh-so got what!”

“The one on Scotts Road? That can fit only one car, I think. This one fits six!”

For days, it was all the girls were able to talk about. What boggles the mind, Amanda observed recently, is that you don’t just buy an $88 million house and call it a day. “You need a full time staff of, like, 20! You can’t have one part time maid cleaning a 22,000 sqft house! It’ll take you two days just to mop the floor!”

“I don’t even know what 22,000 sqft means!” Saffy pointed out as she scrolled through YouTube. “Ooh, what’s this?”

She clicked on it and gasped. As if the Bel Air mansion wasn’t sufficiently OTT, she’d just stumbled on a 38,000 sqft, 12 bedroom house. 

“How much is it?” Amanda called out from the kitchen.

“$188 million!” Saffy shouted back.

There was a clatter in the sink. Amanda’s head popped out. “Seriously?”

“It’s available for rent, and it comes with its own helicopter!” Saffy reported. 

Amanda sidled up behind Saffy’s chair. “Who are these people?” she demanded.

“And why are we not married to them?” Saffy added.

It turns out the house also has a $300,000 quartz sink in the guest bathroom, 350 built-in speakers, a $250,000 onyx garden wall, and a $2m staircase. But what’s captured everyone’s attention are the fire extinguishers that are literally made of bottles of Dom Perignon. 

“Wait, you’re extinguishing fires with actual champagne?” Amanda asked.

By this stage, Saffy was so numb by the excesses of the house, she just shrugged. “You know what’s depressing is that I shop at Sheng Siong. And the owner of this house probably doesn’t even know what the inside of a supermarket looks like! I’m going to die poor,” Saffy decided.

Sharyn says the owner probably isn’t a Passion Card holder either, an observation that, days later, still has us all in stitches. 

Monday, August 12, 2019

Fortune Selling

I grew up in a traditional family in the sense that we always greeted our elders with a “Hello, Auntie Wai” or “Hello, Uncle Shiong”. When we sat down for meals, we would chorus in Cantonese, “Papa, eat! Mama, eat!” 

Once when he was eight, my brother Jack was diagnosed with anemia. For a few months after, he was fed with a daily broth made of ginger and boiled liver which our Amah swore would boost his iron count, and nobody, not even my mother, ever dared disagreed with anything that came out of that woman’s mouth. 

Years later, Jack said that broth with its floating grey liver bits reminded him of the final scene in ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ when everyone disintegrated after Thanos’s finger snap. It was also one of the reasons why he turned vegetarian. “So incredibly gross.”

Anyway, my point is, we were that kind of family. We may have looked modern, we may have been dressed in the latest fashions, and we may have spoken like Michelle Yeoh, but we might as well have been characters in ‘Growing Up’. 

I especially remember the yearly visits of Master Fu to our house. A short man with thick glasses and bald head, he was a fengshui expert who, every December, would arrive, slightly disheveled from his long drive from Kuala Lumpur. After being plied with hot tea, cold towels and cakes and polite conversation, he would then wander around the house with his bak-kwa, stopping every so often to scribble into his note pad.

He would murmur under his breath. Behind him trailed my anxious parents, straining to make sense of what he was saying. After that, he’d sit down again and chat some more, asking whether there’d been any new staff or children since his last visit. And if there were, he’d want to see them and interrogate them about their family history and birthdates, and he’d peer at their faces, and make more notes.

And then Master Fu would ask if there’d been any major events in the house over the last year. Had anyone close to us died? If so, how did they die? Had there been an increased number of quarrels? How was Father’s business? Had we lost any friends or made any new enemies?

Eventually, he would sit back with a sigh and announce all the things that needed to be done to the house. Usually, this involved nothing more than putting a mirror here, moving a pot there, planting a new tree outside a window…that kind of small cosmetic thing. Once he wrote out an incantation on a piece of white cloth and pinned it to my bathroom entrance. Another time, he suggested the kitchen door be moved two inches to the left, and the front door removed and a new one be placed facing a few degrees inwards.

And that would be that. Another cup of tea. A fat red packet would be discretely handed over, and that would be the last we saw of Master Fu till the next year.

“God, I wish my fengshui master was that easy!” my cousin Lin said recently. After a few months of bad dreams involving her running away from Freddy Krueger who kept screaming “Mummy!” while loping after her, falling ill with dengue, losing her diamond bracelet when she was snorkeling in the Maldives, and the discovery that her husband was having an affair with his secretary, she decided that she needed professional help.

With great diligence, she tracked down Master Fu’s son who said he was really busy and couldn’t make a house-call, but to WhatsApp him her house plans. Within 20 minutes, he FaceTimed her and told her she needed to move house. 

“He said in all his years of practice, he’s never seen a house this bad!” Lin reported morosely. “Normally he said most houses can be fixed, but this one is unsalvageable. If I stay, more disasters will happen to me.”

“Not even a pot plant?” I asked.

“Not even if we demolished the house!” Lin sighed. “Everything about the site conflicts with me!”

Amanda was horrified when I told her. “But Lin lives in Nassim Hill! Where would she go?” As far as she’s concerned, being told to leave a Nassim address is like having losing your PPS status, a catastrophe not to be wished on your worst enemy.

Saffy said she needed to get the number of Master Fu, Jr., to which Sharyn said that was a terrible idea. “Skali he say if you ever move out of the flat from Jason and Amanda and you have bad luck forever, den how?”

Amanda says she wishes she’d taken a picture of Saffy’s face. 

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Class Action

Amanda says that if she ever had to go through her schooling again today, she would just, to quote her directly, “do things a whole lot different!”

“You mean ‘differently’, don’t you?” Saffy asked the other day. 

Amanda paused. “Do I?” she asked eventually, a question that led Saffy to later say privately, and not for the first time, that it’s an absolute scandal that Amanda was ever allowed to step foot into a classroom at Harvard, much less graduate from it.

Aside from that grammatical point, I told her, I said that I did see Amanda’s point.

Looking back, I remember long days and long nights that stretched literally into years of me just sitting at a desk. Just me with a pile of books in front of me, scribbling and reading. Reading and scribbling. Sitting back in the chair and sighing.

I sweated blood and tears getting to grips with calculus and valency tables. I struggled to memorise the capital city of Czechoslovakia and the speed at which a falling object dropped from a great height would hit terminal velocity. I went cross-eyed trying to understand the subjunctive in French while I barely understood how to conjugate the verbs.

Oh, I passed all my subjects eventually, but what good did any of it do me, I now wonder? Czechoslovakia doesn’t exist anymore, so what was the point of knowing the name of its capital? As a lawyer and later as a journalist writing about hotel rooms, I’ve never ever had to use algebra. Ever. Or calculate the density of water at 10 atmospheres of pressure. And I have literally never had to discuss with anyone the rainfall patterns of the Sahara in July. 

So, beyond learning how to read and write, and do basic maths, I don’t see how much of anything I ever studied in all those long years of primary school, high school and university was beneficial at all.

What I wish I had learnt in school was how to pick a lock and hotwire a car.

“Really?” Saffy asked when the subject of wasted education came up again the other day.

“Totally,” I said firmly. “I can’t tell you how many times in my life, I’ve locked my keys in the car. Of course, that was back in the day when you could manually click the lock from the inside and then shut the car door. But still…”

“And hotwiring the car?” Saffy asked.

I shrugged. “Oh that. I always thought that would be a cool trick to know. They do it so casually in the movies!”

“Well, if I had to do my schooling all over again,” Saffy said, “I would have learnt yoga instead of stupid netball. Eight years of netball and only because I liked the outfits! Being able to do a headstand like you can now would have been so much cooler than stomping so pointlessly up and down that court!”

I preened, pleased to be reminded that after years of fruitlessly slamming myself up against a wall, I am now able to wobble up to an unassisted headstand. Next on my bucket list is the handstand which, in terms of utility, is probably not very useful, but then again, neither was the ability to work out when and where two people would meet if they started out from opposite directions and moved towards one another at different speeds. 

At least a handstand has the advantage of being a great party trick. 

The other day, Sharyn’s mother-in-law fainted in the bathroom. To hear Sharyn tell it, there was a great deal of screaming. “My maid found her. She scream. My husband go in to see why she scream, and he saw his mudder on the floor, he start screaming. Den I go in and have to scream at him and my maid to stop screaming! Wah liau!” she sighed, shaking her head at the memory.

Saffy’s bosom inflated. “What happened then?”

Sharyn shrugged. “Like dat, lor! Must call ambulance! We all doh-no what to do! My husband say must put pillow under the head. My son says must lift her leg. My maid say must put Tiger Bum! My neighbour come in and say must turn my mudder-in-law on the side. We all like Doctor Quack. Lucky ambulance come so quick.”

The long and short of it is that Sharyn says she wishes comprehensive first aid was a mandatory subject in school. “What for learn about what year Raffles arrive in Singapore? Better you learn what to do if your mudder-in-law faint or have heart attack, right or not?”

Amanda says she wishes schools taught girls what to do when boys say they’ll call and then they don’t. Saffy says she’s practically got a PhD on that subject.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Tall Tales

So, the other night, we were watching reruns of Game of Thrones and there’s a scene in the throne room with Queen Cersei and her hulking mountain of a bodyguard. And this being Game of Thrones, his name is literally Mountain – which is helpful because there are so many hard pronounce names in the show, it’s such a relief when a character gets one that’s a simple, easy to remember.

“Gosh, I’d forgotten how tall he is!” Saffy said, while stuffing her face with popcorn.

“The Mountain?” Amanda asked, currently curled up under a light shawl in the armchair. 

“He’s enormous! How tall do you think he is?”

Amanda pulled out her phone and tapped. There was a pause. “His name is Hafthor Julius Bj√∂rnsson. He’s…uhm…186 kilos and he’s six feet nine!”

Saffy sat up, and hit pause on the remote control.

“Wait, what? 186 kilos? And six feet what?”

Amanda’s eyes flicked back to her phone. “Six feet nine.”

For days, it’s all the girls have been able to talk about. 

“Six feet nine!” Saffy told Sharyn. “The guy is literally twice your height, Shazz. If you stood next to him, you’d come up to his navel!”

Behind her Coke bottle thick spectacles, Sharyn’s eyes bulged. “Wah!”

“I know! I wonder what meal times with him must be like?”

“He’d probably have to eat ten roast chickens or something,” Amanda said. “I read that he eats six to eight times a day!”

Sharyn sucked in her breath. “Hah? Sicktime a day?!”

“Well, you don’t get to be that size by eating carrot sticks, Sharyn,” Saffy pointed out.

“Wah liau. Then when he go toilet and do number two, how? Must flush tree time, I think!”

The girls fell about and shrieked. Later that evening, Saffy was still cackling at the idea of The Mountain sitting on the loo and doing a dump. “That Sharyn kills me. The things she says!”

Amanda lifted her lovely face to the ceiling and stared into the corner. “But you know…I have to wonder…what…” She trailed off and turned pink. 

Saffy glanced at me, her eyes flicking back to Amanda. “What?”

Amanda hesitated. “Well, you know…He’s so…big. Do you think…do you think everything is in, uhm, in proportion? You know? Down there?”

Comprehension finally dawned on Saffy’s face. Her bosom inflated. “My God, you know, I never even thought of that! Well…I guess he must be. And he’s an ang moh as well!”

Two of Saffy’s ex-boyfriends have been American and Swedish, and to hear her tell it, if they were a statistical sample, Western men are tremendously gifted. Which is also why, apparently, the relationships never lasted very long. “Oh, the whole thing was impossible!” she told her friend Suzanne after she broke up with Matt, the Citbank trader from Dallas. “I literally cannot walk straight the next day! And let’s not even talk about the state of my jaw!” she added with a pout.

Suzanne had been bug-eyed. “Really? Like…how impossible are we talking about?”

Saffy didn’t hesitate. “Like that you tiao you just had with your soy bean drink! Only twice as big!”

And as Amanda now pointed out, Matt had been six foot two and played quarter back in college football. “Imagine someone who is six foot nine!”

“He’d be packing a mutant cucumber!” Saffy said firmly, shaking her head at the violence and damage that could be inflicted by a vegetable that size on a petite five feet seven girl like herself. 

A few days later, at a party, Amanda’s friend Anna brought along her new German boyfriend. I wasn’t there, but apparently, the guy is literally six foot nine, the same height as the Mountain.

“He’s huge!” Amanda reported later. “I got such a neck-strain looking up at him that I finally had to ask him to please sit down. And even then, I still had to look up!”

Saffy frowned. “But Anna is, what, like five feet five!”

“She literally comes up to his navel,” Amanda said. “I don’t know how that relationship is ever going to work!”

“Has she, uhm…” Saffy coughed gently. “You know, tried the salad bar…”

“That was the first thing that crossed my mind” Amanda said. “But there were so many people at the party, I didn’t get a chance to ask! But really, how could she? It would just be anatomically impossible! Oh, speaking of, Anna did say that Johann can only travel in business class and even that is super cramped. He literally can’t fit into an economy seat!”

Saffy says if that isn’t a metaphor for her love life in general, she doesn’t know what is.