Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Doctor's Orders

According to Saffy, one of the surest ways you know you’re growing old is when your gynaecologist looks up and asks you when was the last time you had a full physical.
            Of course, it doesn’t help if you’re a few pencils short of a full box and someone smart asks you that kind of question. Apparently, Saffy shifted up onto her elbows, looked down at Dr Wong and replied, “Oh my God, you can tell just by looking? Is it all dried up?”
            From behind her white face-mask, Dr Wong blinked. “What?” came her muffled reply.
            Saffy collapsed back onto the examination couch and stared at the ceiling. “OK, lemme see. My boyfriend was posted to New York in…June? And what is it now? November? So, June, July…” Saffy’s fingers moved. “Six months! It’s been six months!”
            Dr Wong sighed and if she hadn’t been so well trained in her bedside manners, she probably would have rolled her eyes. “No, Saffy, I meant when was the last time you had a full health check!”
            As Saffy later complained, as if life isn’t complicated enough already, but why do people have to make it more so by talking in euphemisms? “She said ‘full physical’! Why couldn’t she have just said ‘health check’ to start off with? Seriously, who says that?” she demanded as she blew on a spoonful of hot chicken congee at Crystal Jade.
            “Just about every doctor I’ve ever been to!” Amanda replied. Never having been trained in Bedside Manners 101, she rolled her eyes.
            Saffy ignored the moment. “Well, anyway, after we got all that sorted out, her secretary made a call to Gleneagles, and so I now have an appointment for next week.”
            “Oh, maybe I should come along and get one done, too!” Amanda said. Apparently, it’s not just the bathroom that women go to, together. 
            Saffy dropped her spoon and clapped her hands. “Oooh, that sounds like a great idea! Yay! What about you, Shazz, you want to come along?”
            Sharyn, at that moment bent low over her bowl of double-boiled chicken and lotus root soup, turned her fogged up spectacles slightly around in Saffy’s direction. “Doh wan! I very scared! Skali they find something, then how?”
            “I think that’s the point!” Saffy told her. “That if they find something, then they can do something about it before it’s too late!”
            “Doh wan!” Sharyn repeated. “My gran mudder, hor, she live to seventy fie, neber go once to see doctor. Then one day my mudder force her go because she say my gran mudder got pain her leg. She go in, neber come out again!”
            Saffy’s bosom inflated. “Oh my God! She died in hospital?”
            Amanda shook her head. “Tragic! So senseless”
            “Yah, lor!”
            “Speaking of senseless,” Saffy said, smoothly changing gears. “One of the things I’m meant to do before the health check is to give a stool sample. I have no idea what that is, and meant to ask you.”
            Amanda looked astonished. “You don’t know what a stool sample is?”
            “Well, at first, I though they wanted me to bring a chair from home, but that didn’t sound right.”
            “Well, we’re eating, so…” Amanda leaned over and whispered into Saffy’s ear.
            Saffy’s eyes bulged. “What? That’s what a stool sample is? How am I supposed to get that?” Amanda leaned in again. Her hands moved in a scooping motion.
            Saffy leaned away. “What?” she repeated. “That is the most disgusting thing I’ve heard of in my life! I’m not doing that!”
            “Well, that’s how they find out if you have bowel cancer!”
            “I don’t care,” Saffy said firmly. “I am not sticking my hand into the toilet bowl!”
            “But you use a spoon!”
            “I wouldn’t do it even with a shovel!”
            “Honestly, what is the big deal?” Amanda snapped.
            Saffy turned to me. “Did you know about this?”
            “Why do you think I’ve not had a health check in years? I cannot even look in the bowl after I’m done!”
            “Me, neither!” Saffy’s bosom inflated.
            “Wait, what?” Amanda said. “You don’t look?”
            “Why would you?” we sang in chorus.
            “So you can check the consistency!”
            “Seriously, I’m about to throw up!” Saffy exclaimed.
            “Ay, what are you all talking about?” Sharyn said finally. “You all don’t talk so cheem, can?”
            Saffy leaned in and whispered. Sharyn listened carefully and rolled her eyes. “Confirm you cannot have baby!” she told Saffy. “This one, no need see guy-nee!”

Monday, July 10, 2017

Over the Moon

As I write this, it’s the day after the super moon, when the moon was the closest it’s been to the Earth since 1765.
            Amanda just told me that it was 1948, but I replied she should stick to her law books and leave matters of the occult and Black Arts to the experts.
            Amanda put her hands on her hips and struck a pose of irritation. “I don’t see how getting your facts wrong makes you an expert on anything, least of all the occult!”
            “It’s worked for Donald Trump,” I told her.
            “Well, the next time you marry someone who looks like Melania Trump, we can talk.”
            Thank goodness, I have Saffy on my side on this one.
            “Oh totally!” she just said. “I didn’t sleep a wink! Did you?”
            “The worst dreams ever!” I confirmed.
            “And all these people on Facebook posting pictures of the moon, like it was their best friend or something!” Saffy’s enormous bosom inflated, completely outraged at the lack of astronomical discrimination amongst some people.
Amanda sighed. “Seriously, do you know how crazy you guys sound? The full moon doesn’t affect your sleep!”
Saffy rolled her eyes. “Well, Miss Smarty Harvard Pants, tell me this: if the moon can affect the tides of the sea, why can’t it affect us? We’re 95% water and blood!”
“I think you mean 60% because...” Amanda began.
“Have you always been this annoying?” Saffy interrupted, but she could tell that Amanda was gathering steam, so she hurried on. “Anyway, my point is, if the moon can have such a powerful effect on the sea, what chance does the body have against it?”
Saffy later said it was so enormously satisfying to see Amanda stumped.
“She had nothing to say!” she told Sharyn over lunch at Maxwell Market.
Her best friend looked up from her char kway teow. “Wah, you all very free, hor? Like this oh-so can argue!”
“Well, what can I say? When it’s a full moon, I can’t sleep, and last night’s moon was so close you could practically touch it. It’s just so irritating when people say it’s all in my head!”
Sharyn clicked her chopsticks several times and picked up some rojak. “Yah, I oh-so cannot sleep when got full moon. Some more, hor, I must close the curtain. If got moonlight on my bed, I can feel it!”
Saffy stopped chewing. “Wait, you can feel the moonlight?”
Caaaan,” Sharyn drawled extravagantly. “Moonlight is very heavy! You don’t know, meh?”
“Seriously?” Amanda said when Saffy rang to tell her. “Who are you people? How can light have weight?”
“I don’t see why not,” Saffy replied. “If thoughts can have weight, why can’t light?”
Amanda was astonished. “What? Who said thoughts have weight?”
“Well, why do people talk about having things weigh on their minds, then?”
Amanda disconnected the phone call, just as her French boss walked into her office to talk about a case.
“What is ze matter?” Justine asked. “You look upset.”
Amanda waved her hands. “Oh, I’m just thinking I should be moving. My flatmates are driving me crazy. They’re going around saying they couldn’t sleep because of the super moon last night.”
“Oh, me too! It was terrible! My God! I had so many dreams!”
Amanda blinked. “Wait. You, too?”
Apparently, Justine shrugged her shoulders in that sexy way French women do. “But, of course! The moon is beautiful, huh?, but it also has great power!”
Amanda dropped her face into her hands. “Seriously, what is happening?” she moaned.
Justine shrugged again. “It’s why I always draw the curtains in my apartment at night. I don’t want the moon shining in. Direct moonlight can destroy furniture!”
            Amanda looked up. “What?”
“It’s just like sunlight, no?”
Of course, it’s all Amanda has been able to talk about since she got home.
“How can she believe that moonlight can fade furniture? She went to INSEAD!”
“Hah! Issit?” Sharyn said. “No wonder all my furniture change colour! Always got moonlight come in at night!”
“I think I’m going mad,” Amanda said. “I really am!”
“You know what you sound like?” Saffy told her. “You sound like a climate change denier! All the evidence is staring you in the face and you still refuse to accept it!”
“Yah, lor!” Sharyn said. “Tree people tell you dey cannot sleep when got full moon, and you still doan believe! You sure you got go Hah-vard or not?”
Amanda just posted on Facebook that she is starting to understand why Donald Trump won.


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Wedding Wows

For a few months now, Saffy has been quietly staging a campaign in her office. The goal: to get what she’s calling a long overdue pay rise.
            “Two years,” she said stoutly the other day. “I’ve not had a pay-rise for two years. I wonder if it’s because I’m a woman.”
            Amanda lifted her chin, the better to catch the light falling on her flawless cheekbones. Even in the midst of discussing sexual discrimination in the office, she is always conscious of her best angle. “But didn’t they give you six months bonus last year?” she pointed out.
            Saffy sighed. “Yes, they did,” she said slowly, as if talking to someone who’s just emerged from a coma. “But I’m talking about a pay-rise. A bonus and a pay-rise are not the same thing.”
            “But no one else got a pay-rise, right?” Amanda asked.
“And, some more, hor,” Sharyn added, “you got the highest bonus in the office! I got one month!”
“That’s because I worked harder than you, and if I had had my way as the firm’s HR director, you wouldn’t have even have had a month in the first place!”
“Aiyoh! So bad!”
“Honestly,” Saffy snapped. “Attacked on all sides! This must be how Donald Trump feels!”
“We’re just saying it’s probably just a sign of the bad economic times that you’re not getting a pay-rise, and not because you’re a woman!”
“Yah, lor!”
“It’s sexual discrimination,” Saffy insisted, “and I won’t stand for it! Don’t people know how expensive it is to live in Singapore, these days?”
A few days later, Amanda was walking home from the supermarket. She took her usual short cut through a block of HDBs. A Malay wedding was being held in the void deck of one of the blocks. The buffet tables were lined with hot plates mounded high with curries, satay sticks, and fried goodies. On a dais at one end of the space sat the newly weds, resplendent in their batik wedding outfits.
Amanda slowed her pace down, smiling at the happy couple and feeling a little wistful. She was making a mental note to herself to be a little more active on her Tinder account when her smile froze. She stopped in her tracks and waited for some people to move out of her sight-line. And when they finally did, there was no doubt about it.
There, sitting at one of the tables, almost lost amidst all the colourful baju kurungs, was Saffy – eyes down as she tucked into her heaped place of nasi goreng, fried fish and beef rendang.
Amanda pursed her lips as she fished her handphone out of her purse. She dialed a number. Twenty metres away, Saffy looked down at her phone, swallowed her mouthful of nasi, and slid her finger across the screen.
“Saf, where are you?”
Amanda watched Saffy cock her head at her plate. “Uhm…I’m…uhm…I’m at…uh…City Hall…uhm, MRT. It’s very noisy here!”  
“Really! I didn’t realise they served satay and beef rendang at the station!”
Amanda later reported that it was so incredibly gratifying to watch Saffy literally drop her fork and jump in her seat. “Priceless!” she said back at the flat. Saffy sat sullenly on the couch, radiating injured pride.
“What were you doing at a stranger’s wedding?” I asked.
Saffy’s bosom inflated. “Well, if you must know, I was trying to see how much money I can save!”
Amanda paused. “But why?”
“Well, in case you haven’t noticed, the world is going to the dogs!” Her bosom swelled magnificently. “I could be out of a job tomorrow and then what would happen to me? How am I going to live?”
“So you decided to experiment at a Malay wedding?” I asked. “Didn’t anyone ask who you were?”
“No one cares! So many people come and go at these events. They sit down with food, eat, and leave! Which was what I was planning to do until I got busted by Miss FBI here!”
“Did you at least give them some money?”
“I asked the macik sitting next to me, and she said, and I quote, ‘Five dollars enough!’ So that’s what I gave.”
Sharyn whistled. “Wah, so expensive, ah? You go eat chai beng downstair in my flat, only four dollar!”
Saffy blinked. “Really?”
Amanda threw her hands up in the air.
The next day, at the office, Saffy’s boss asked her how she knew Nasruddin Mohammed.
“Who?” she asked.
“Nas,” he repeated. “I saw you at his wedding yesterday!”
Saffy leaned in, her bosom inflating. “So, listen. About my pay-rise…”