Thursday, November 09, 2017

Face Off

After much vacillation and uncoordinated timing, Saffy, Amanda and I are now all officially off Facebook and signed up to Instagram.
            “Oh my God,” Amanda sighed the other day, “I feel so relaxed now! Honestly, I didn’t realise just how stressful being on Facebook was!”
            Saffy’s magnificent bosom trembled. “I know! No more reading rants about how stupid people are, or watching clips of people screaming at each other!”
            “Or scary American politicians saying scary things!” Amanda added.
            “And no more to-the-minute updates of some bomb going off somewhere that we can no longer go to!” I said.
            We paused a moment to contemplate our news lives free of the negative energy of Facebook.
            After a while, a thought occurred to me. “I am going to miss those cute videos of dogs though.”
            Saffy swooned. “Oooh, yes! I love those! Especially the ones with sleeping puppies or playing in the snow!”
            “And pictures of my adorable baby niece. My stupid sister isn’t on Instagram though I’ve begged her to,” Amanda sniffed.
            “Oh, that’s a shame!” Saffy said, her lips pursed into a moue of sympathy.
            “I’m also going to miss all those inspirational TED Talks! Instagram doesn’t have them!”
            Leave it to Sharyn to douse our wavering commitment to leave Facebook.
            “Aiyoh, you all, ah! One day, cannot tahan Facebook, next day change mind. How liddat? Good ting you not in charge of army!”
            Saffy stiffened. “I’m not sure there’s a rule that says we can’t have regrets, Shazz!”
            “Aiyah, what for have regret? Life so short, orredi! Regret is if you don’t order another portion of durian chendol, right or not? Jason, hor? Dis sort of ting no need regret, one!”
            Amanda later said privately that with this kind of life philosophy, Sharyn would make the world’s worst marriage counselor. “What kind of food analogy would she use for a divorcing couple? ‘Don’t bother, just have another round of laksa!’”
            “She’d probably add a ‘lor’ in there somewhere,” Saffy observed.
            Meanwhile, I’ve been exploring my new world on Instagram. It’s a surreal experience to peek into the private lives of people you only know about from reading trashy tabloid magazines at the hairdresser. The first time I watched Cindy Crawford cook burger in her kitchen, I had an out of body experience of the kind normally associated with…well, watching Cindy Crawford cook burger in her kitchen.
            “I never thought of people like her being real, if you know what I mean,” I said to Saffy. “She was cooking a burger! And looking really gorgeous, too, I have to say.”
            “I know. I’m following Ricky Martin and I think it’s so weird to see his rumpled morning face! I feel like he’s actually Facetiming me!”
            Amanda says she’s completely addicted to Instagram and wonders why it’s taken her so long to get onto it.
            “We’re really really late adopters, that’s why,” Saffy said the other day at breakfast as she took a video of her French toast, holding her phone with one hand and dribbling honey with her other.
Amanda leaned in. “But do you think people will judge me if they look at the list of people I follow and they find Kim Kardashian and The Specky Blonde?”
“I don’t think anyone cares,” Saffy said as she put down her jug of honey and then scrolled through her filters. “Now, I’m thinking I should use Perpetua for this one.”
Sharyn says she’s massively in love with Team Brando. “I doh no who he is but, wah lau, eh, he so handsome! His boyfriend lagi handsome! I tink hor, if dey have chil-dren, sure grow up and become supermodel one!”
“I want to have Ricky Martin’s children,” Saffy sighed. “I want to wake up next to him every morning and have his children!”
Amanda is obsessed with Peepy and Mother Lee. Well, to be accurate, she’s obsessed with Peepy’s ever changing collection of Hermes bags. “Does he work, I wonder?”
Barney Chen, who is also obsessed with the mother and son team, says they make their fortune selling gold leaf to temples in Thailand. “Isn’t that just genius?”
“Totally!” Amanda said. “Money w0uld just pour in every second of the day!”
All of which leaves us all with very little time during the day to do any actual work. Saffy said she spent all of Friday afternoon watching Dr Pimple Popper. “If only there was a job where I could watch her all day! I’d be so good at it!”
“Yes, if only,” Amanda said, as she scrolled through Justin Bieber’s feed.


Monday, November 06, 2017

Cow Sense

For those of you who came in late, in the little flat I share with Saffy and Amanda, we’re all caught in a severe existential crisis.
            As Saffy recently posted on Facebook: “To eat meat, or not to eat meat, that is the question!”
            To which Barney Chen replied, “If u’re serious, I’m unfriending you!”
            And Jeremy added: “So much at STEAK here!”, a comment that attracted 50 likes and ten laughing face emoticons.
            I blame it all on Michael Pollan book “Omnivore’s Dilemma”. Before that Devil’s Handbook came along, we were all happily getting on with our lives, chowing down on fried chicken, happily slicing away on big juicy cuts of pork ribs, and swooning over braised beef stews.
            But then Amanda read it on a trip back from Tokyo and by the time the captain had instructed his cabin crew to disarm the doors, she’d given up meat. The book next went to Sharyn and within two days, she had told her bewildered meat-eating maid that there’d be no more beef hor funs at home. “From now on, hor, we eat tofu and dau-gay!”
            Berna’s eyebrows knitted together in a wrinkle. “But, mum, Ah Boy hates tofu and sir is allergic to dau-gay!”
            Sharyn was unimpressed by the medical diagnosis. “Dey doh wan to eat, den they own self cook! I don have time to cook so many dishes!”
            By that stage, “Omnivore’s Dilemma” had been passed onto Saffy who later said she was so glad Bradley had taken her to Morton’s for their T-bone steak before she’d turned the first page.
            “Because I am telling you, by the time you finish reading that book, you could never look at a cow in the eye ever again!” she told me, her enormous bosom trembling with a carnivore’s regret.
            “And when was the last time you looked a cow in the eye?” I wanted to know.
            Saffy exhaled. “I’m not kidding. There’s black magic in that book!”
All her life, Saffy has looked at vegetarians with the kind of deep prejudice not seen since the Egyptians chased Moses into the Red Sea. There was that time we invited Mark and Jane to dinner and Saffy had slaved all day making a chicken Caesar Salad only to be told as we were sitting down that Jane was a Buddhist vegan.
            “What does that even mean?” Saffy had snapped, her nerves already shredded from having to make the dressing twice because she’d added too much garlic the first time round.
            Jane shifted nervously in her seat. “Uhm. It means that I can’t eat meat. Or…or eggs.”
            “But how is a Buddhist vegan different from an ordinary vegan?” Amanda asked, leaning forward, a glint in her eye.
            Jane looked panicked. “Uhm…It means I can’t have garlic or onions.”
            Saffy sucked in her breath. “But this is a chicken Caesar Salad! It’s got eggs and garlic!”
            Raw eggs!” I added helpfully. “And chicken!”
            Saffy’s eyes shifted from me back to Jane.
            “It’s ok!” Jane said, flapping her hands. “I’m sorry, I…I thought Mark had said something to…Never mind, really! Here, look, I’ll have some of your bread! Mmm! It’s delicious! Where….where did you get it?” Jane’s jaws chewed rhythmically, the hunted look never leaving her eyes.
            And that was the end of that friendship.
            But now, it’s Saffy’s turn to look at the menu of our local diner and purse her lips. “You know,” she said recently, “I’ve never realized just how much meat there is in everything!”
            Amanda frowned as she flipped the page. “Quinoa and zucchini and lemon for $25? Isn’t that like a side-dish?”
            I shut my menu. “I think I’ll have the hamburger with foie gras.”
            Saffy shut her eyes and moaned.
            Amanda was outraged. “You can’t have hamburger with foie gras while I have quinoa grains!”
            I turned my nose up. “I can because I’ve not read ‘Omnivore’s Dilemma’! And I’m not going to, either!”
            “But that’s not fair!” Amanda protested.
            “Those poor cows!” Saffy bleated.
            “Jack, Margot and Su-ching say they’re not eating with us anymore because of your vegetarianism,” I said severely as I gave my order to the waiter. “They say it’s too difficult especially since the next group outing is that fabulous wagyu kaiseki place in Tanjong Pagar. We’re social outcasts now!”
            “I wish I’d never learnt to read,” Saffy sighed.
            “Twenty-five bucks for quinoa!”
            “Medium rare, please,” I told the waiter.


Thursday, October 26, 2017

Veggie Might

You have to watch out for karma. It’s always ready to pounce, just when you’re at your most unsuspecting and vulnerable.
            For years, Amanda has been waging a bitter war against vegetarians, sniffing at the slightest hint of a preference for green leaves instead of slabs of red meat, or cold cuts of left over roast pork.
            Whenever we’re at a restaurant and the waiter asks her if she has any dietary restrictions, her answer will be: “Yes, bad food.”
            “Why on earth would anyone prefer to eat a broccoli salad when you could be cutting into a thick juicy cut of wagyu?” she once asked the world at large as she allowed a strip of said wagyu to dissolve on her tongue. “God, isn’t this so good?”
            Saffy looked at Amanda sideways. Her ample bosom trembled like a pot of water on simmer. “I think you and that sixty dollar steak need to get a room!”
            And then one day, a few weeks ago, on a plane from Tokyo back to Singapore, Amanda, having finished her satay sticks in Business Class, fished out from her handbag a book her friend Janet had insisted she read.
            “It’s life-changing!” Janet had said a few days before, thrusting “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” into Amanda’s reluctant hands.
            “But I don’t need to read this, I have no dilemma!” Amanda had protested as she tried to push the book back at Janet, but she was no match for a hard-core TRX practitioner. Defeated, she dropped it into her voluminous Herm├Ęs Birkin and forgot all about it until she was on the plane rooting around in it for a wet-wipe. With nothing else worth reading, she settled back, turned to page one and started.
            By the time SQ631 landed in Singapore, Amanda had not only finished the book (“I’m a speed-reader,” she told a skeptical Saffy), she was literally trembling.
            The first person she called was Janet.
            “Oh. My. God!”
            Janet was smug. “I told you! Didn’t I tell you it’s life-changing?” she said in her crispest Katong Convent accent.
            “Is it all true though?” Amanda asked as she marched through immigration towards the taxi-stand. “About those poor cows and those poor chicken?”
            “Of course it is! It’s all documented! That book is why I became a vegetarian in the first place! I cried for days!”
            “But…but…isn’t the solution then to just eat organic meat?” Amanda’s mouth started watering at the idea of a steak tartare.
            “Well, that’s what I thought as well, but then my yoga teacher started telling me about how when a cow is slaughtered, they are flooded with adrenaline and fear and panic and anger and pain and it all goes into their flesh, which we then consume and it all manifests in our own emotions and behaviour!”
            “I guess that’s that then…” Amanda sniffled.
            Of course, when Sharyn heard that Amanda had decided she was going to be a vegetarian, her response was to the point. “Aiyoh, you siow, issit?”
            “Those poor cows, Shazz. You don’t…” Amanda began.
            Sharyn waved her hands. “Aiyah, you become vegetarian, how you expect people to invite you to dinner? Or-redi so difficult to cook, now must cook extra dish for you! You think I very free, issit?”
            “But your maid does all the cooking!” Amanda pointed out.
            “Yah, but I have to direct her, you know!”
            “OK, but before you totally condemn me, I want you to read this,” Amanda said as she pushed “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” across the table at Sharyn.
            Sharyn pursed her lips and looked at the book in much the same way a cow probably looks at Aston’s. “Ay, I very busy, you know…” she began uneasily.
            “Just read the first three chapters,” said Amanda in her silkiest sultry voice that has been the downfall of many a married man.
            Two days later, Sharyn announced on Facebook that she was giving up meat. She ended her announcement with “Aiyoh!”
            Saffy was astonished. “Really? Just like that? Whatever happened to all that stuff about having to cook extra dishes and stuff?”
            “For udder people! But if for myself, then OK, what! Saffy, ah, you must read dat book. The England very powderful some time, but hor, easy to read. So scary, I tell you! The poor cow and pig.”
            “And chicken!” Amanda chimed.
            “Yah, and chicken! Aiyoh, the poor chicken!”
            All of which has made Saffy extremely curious about the book. “But I can’t read it now. Bradley is taking me to Morton’s this weekend. I’ll read it after.”
            Me, I’m staying well away from the Devil’s Handbook.