Saturday, November 03, 2018

Silk Would (Not)

As some of you may know, Saffy and Amanda have been dallying with the vegetarian cause for some time now. Which is to say that in public, they delicately eat steamed tofu and brown rice, but in the privacy of our little flat in Toa Payoh, they basically inhale char siew and roast duck.
            “What is the point of telling people you’re vegetarian, then?” I complained the other night as I watched Amanda vacuum up a plate of lor bak. It was like a scene out of ‘Van Helsing’. 
            Amanda raised a finger as she chewed. After she swallowed, she dabbed the corner of her mouth and spoke. “I ama vegetarian, but I’m also an occasionalcarnivore. Besides, I need some meat in me, otherwise I’m at a higher risk of dementia! It’s a medical fact!”
            “Told to you by your aunt,” I reminded her, “who the last time I checked, was a tai-tai and not a trained gastro-biologist.” 
            “Yes, but she has children who are in the medical field and I’m not even sure gastro-biology is actually a thing.”
            As I later complained to Sharyn, it was like talking to a climate-change denier.
            From behind her Coke bottle-thick glasses, her abnormally enlarged eyes blinked slowly. “What is climate change denier?”
            “Someone who says it’s not true that our climate is changing because of human-caused pollution and habits.”
            Sharyn blinked again. “Who say?”
            I paused. “Uhm…they do? The climate change deniers.”
            She shook her head. “This world is so strange, hor? Ay, that remind me, I must tell Amanda about her silk scarf!” She whipped out her phone, tapped a few buttons and pressed ‘Send’, and went back to sipping her soya bean milk drink out of her plastic straw, looking like the cat that just finished licking the bowl of cream.  
             That evening, the minute Amanda stepped in the front door, she began waving her phone at us. “Did you see what Sharyn sent me?”
            I told her I had been there, but I didn’t know what she’d sent. 
            “It’s this horrific video about silkworms! Have you seen it?” Amanda asked Saffy, who sighed.
            “She sent it only to you! I really do wonder how Harvard ever gave you a law degree. Did you sleep with the dean or something?”
            Amanda ignored the jibe. “They boilthe worms!” she exclaimed in the same ringing tone one normally associates with a horror movie.
            Silence descended on the room as even Saffy hesitated, trying to connect the dots of this conversation. 
            “Uhm…” she said.
            Amanda sighed impatiently. She tapped her phone and passed it to Saffy.
            A few minutes later, Saffy put the phone down and sat back against the couch cushion. “Oh. My. God. Is thathow silk is made?”
            “They boil the worms!” Amanda repeated, her eyes glazed. You could tell her mind was now mentally cataloguing all the expensive silk scarves hanging in her wardrobe, some of which still had the price tag attached to them because they were just too beautiful and expensive to be actually worn.
            “Ay, I thought you know?” Sharyn said innocently the next day. “I thought you say you go to Har-vhat? Even Jason know, what. Hor, Jason?”
            I nodded virtuously, though I couldn’t help but be aware of a certain unspecified insult lurking beneath the question. 
            “I had a dream last night,” Amanda said, her eyes puffy, “that Saffy was in a bathtub, and Jason poured boiling water all over her and then pulled a silk thread out of her bum!”
            Saffy put down her folk and pushed her plate of zhee cheong funaway. “Seriously, Manda, that is really so gross!”
            “How did I not know that’s how they make silk?” Amanda shook her head of glossy hair. “I am so seriously disturbed!”
            “And you have an entire cupboard full of silk scarves,” I said, rather enjoying myself.
            “A cupboard full of death! Slow, screaming agonizing death by boiling!” Amanda pronounced slowly, like a woman in a trance. 
            “Aiyah, is ok, lah,” Sharyn went on. “You tink your fi-laymig-nyon oh-so die peacefully, meh? Confirm the cow not happy when he die, one!”
            As I later told Saffy, Sharyn’s performance really was a master-class.
            “I know,” she said, her bosom inflating. “It’s why she’s so good at firing people. A few choice sentences here and there and the person practically resignson the spot. I feel so sorry for her husband and children.” 
            “Amanda says she’s going to stop buying silk,” Saffy told me. 
            Meanwhile, Sharyn says she’s waiting for the precise moment to send Amanda a video about how they make leather.


Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Pierre Pressure

So, this happened a few months ago.
            Amanda looked up from her latest issue of 8DAYS. “How am I going to read this thing once it goes online?” she asked the world at large.
            From the other end of the sofa, Saffy said, “Well, isn’t it going to be more or less the same content?”
            “Yes, but it’s not the same as flipping a page, is it?
            “I guess not. Apparently, flipping pages is very 90s,” Saffy sighed. Which then reminded her of the time she was in Boulder in Colorado for work. One day after a meeting, she and a colleague walked past a restaurant specializing in pulled pork, and she did a double take because it was called ‘Pork and Mindy’. 
            Saffy barked out a laugh. “Oh my God, that’s so funny! Nanoo, nanoo!!”
            Candi looked up at the awning and blinked. “Why? What’s so funny?”
            Still laughing, Saffy said, “What do you mean? That’s hysterical! ‘Pork and Mindy’! You don’t get it?”
            She was rewarded with a bemused look. The same one, she said later, you give your granny when she shows up at the dinner table wearing her bra on the outside of her blouse.
            Saffy sucked in her breath. “You’ve never heard of ‘Mork and Mindy’, that seventies show?”
            Comprehension broke on Cindi’s “Oh, ‘That 70’s Show’! Yes, of course, but that’s such an old show, lah. But was there a Mork and Mindy in it?”
            For days after, it was all Saffy could talk about. “How could she not have heard of ‘Mork and Mindy’?”
            “Hie-ah!” Sharyn said. “Young people today, where got watch seventy show, one?”
            Saffy’s bosom inflated. “But it’s where Robin Williams became famous! And we were in Boulder, where the show is set!”
            “How you expect Candi to know dat?” Sharyn shook her head. “She born in 1995, you know! The udder day, I ask her to help me trow out the old fax machine in the back room and half an hour later, she come back and ask me what does the fax machine look like! I almost vomit blood, ah, I tell you!”
            “It’s so awful how just when you’re getting used to something, it gets replaced,” Saffy said, casting a lingering look down her list of company employees.
            “Like books, lor!” Sharyn sighed. “My son tell me Eight Day is going online, oh-so!”
            “Yes, well, don’t bring that up with Amanda. She’s so upset by the whole thing,” Saffy said. “She says it’s ridiculous to expect anyone to read 8DAYS on a phone.”
            “Is liddat, one! Technology, mah! One day, a computer will be doing our HR job!”
            “Choy!” Saffy said automatically.
            “Yah, boy!”
            Amanda recently said she was considering starting a petition to keep 8DAYS as a printed magazine. To emphasize her point, she picked up her latest issue and waved it at us. “I mean, look at this. So useful! You can roll it up to bash a cockroach. You can sit on it when the chair is wet. You can…”
            “Oh my God!” Saffy moaned. She snatched the magazine out of Amanda’s hands and peered at the cover. “Is that Pierre Png? He is so gorgeous. I can literally feel my ovaries catching fire!”
“I’m sure you don’t mean literally,” Amanda began.
Saffy would not be derailed. “How has he not aged a single day?”
            “Isn’t it sickening?” Amanda said. “He looks like he’s 18!”
            Saffy brought the magazine closer to her face to give Pierre’s face the full benefit of her adoring gaze. “I bet you he’s been air-brushed! What is he now, 56? How do you look that good at that age?”
            “Alamak!” Sharyn exclaimed. “Pierre Pung where got 56?”
            Never one to be daunted by being called out for spreading fake news, Saffy changed the subject. “I mean, look at those eyebrows! Are they even real? They’re so thick! I swear, he’d be such a good spokesman for Browhaus!”
            “Did you see his stomach muscles in that ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ trailer?” Amanda sighed. 
            “Did I see it!” Saffy told her. “I paused the scene and practically lickedmy computer screen!”
            “Ay-yuhhhh!” Sharyn said, her mouth puckering up. 
Of course, a few days later, when Saffy and Sharyn were in the office collectively drooling over the same 8DAYS cover of Pierre Png, Candi happened to walk by and asked, “Hey, who’s this guy?” 
Sharyn later reported that Saffy’s jaw dropped open. “Wah, damn funny! She look like a steam fish!”
“It’s ridiculous!” Saffy puffed. “That Candi has the IQ of a blood-clot!”
“Wah, so cheem!” Sharyn said.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Date Line

Some weeks ago, Amanda’s friend Gwen came home from an overseas trip to discover that her boyfriend of six years had left her. 
            “She walked in her front door and the apartment was completely empty,” Amanda reported. “Like, he’d literally stripped it bare. He took everything. The curtain hooks, the aircon remote controls. He even took the toilet brush.”
            Saffy gasped. “The toiletbrush?”
            Amanda nodded significantly. “The toilet brush. He left nothing behind. Not even a note. But that’s probably because he also took all the pens and paper.”
            “The toilet brush?” Saffy repeated. “Who takes that?”
            “Poor Gwen,” Amanda sighed. “She says she didn’t see it coming. Just before she went to Shanghai, they’d been making holiday plans to go to the Maldives. He took all her clothes, even her bikinis.”
            “That is so weird,” Saffy pronounced, her breasts pumping pneumatically. “I never did like him. He always looked like he had something to say, even when he was actually talking to you!”
            Of course, Gwen is still in shock, though to hear Amanda tell it, Gwen’s mother is taking it the hardest. As it turns out, she and my mother play mah-jong together every second Sunday afternoon after church.
            “It’s so tragic,” Mother told me over the phone. “Hwee Meng keeps saying Gwen gave that man six of the best years of her life. And now what does she have to show for it? Nothing! Not even a diamond engagement ring. Sucked dry and kicked to the kerb. Those were her exact words.”
            “She went to Harvard, but which man is going to marry her now?” Auntie Hwee Meng said to everyone last Sunday and promptly burst into tears. “My daughter is second hand goods now!”
            “Gosh, that’s progressive,” Amanda told Gwen. “Does your mother know which century we’re in?”
            “Oh my God,” Gwen moaned, sinking her head into her arms. “You know what fills me with dread?”
            Amanda blinked. “You mean other than you being literally cleaned out by your boyfriend of six years?”
            “Yes, other than that!” Gwen said, her voice amplified by the crook of her arms. She looked up, eyes red from days of crying. “I’ll get over this eventually, I know that. But what scares me,” she paused, gathering courage to speak, “what is scaring me witless is that I’m going to have to start dating again!”
            There was a brief silence as Gwen’s words settled in and made themselves comfortable. “Oh,” Amanda said eventually.
            “I never even thought of that,” Saffy said later, her eyes blinking in horror. “Can you imagine dating again at this age? Ellen says it’s awful once you turn forty!”
            Amanda sniffed. “Forty! It’s horrible even when you’re 20!”
            “Yes, but it gets worse as you get older,” Saffy insisted. “Ellen says when you’re past forty, the only guys you meet out there are scammers! They’re just preying on your loneliness.”
            Amanda looked doubtful. “That’s not true!” There was a moment of hesitation. “Is it?”
            According to Saffy, Ellen’s best friend Gina got divorced at 42, and got straight back into the dating game with the same kind of determination and gutsy ambition that had made her the youngest partner at her investment bank. Apparently, she met a guy online, they met, fell in love and got engaged. “He was a lawyer,” Saffy said. “He moved in with her and everything was hunky dory and they were planning their wedding in Bali and stuff when one day, she got a call from this woman who said she was this guy’s wife!”
            Amanda sucked in her breath. “He wasmarried?”
            Saffy nodded. “With two kids! And still living with them the entire time he was with Gina!”
            “But how…” Amanda began.
            Saffy was already at the end of that sentence. “He told both of them he was travelling! So, when he said he was in Shenzhen for work, he was with Gina, and when he was supposed to be in Beijing, he was with the wife and kids! He’d say he was exhausted from work and travelling, that’s why they always stayed home and never went out where…”
            “Where he might be seen by the other woman.” Amanda sighed at the deviousness of the scheme. “But it must be so stressful living a double life like that!”
            “Wait,” Saffy went on. “When the wife went through his phone, she discovered the guy had two othergirlfriends!”
            Apparently when she heard this story, Gwen announced she was going to become a nun. My mother says Auntie Hwee Meng had to be sedated.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Who Wants to be a Billionaire?

Saffy says that if she had her life all over again, she’d never listen to her parents on the subject of studying.
            “I mean, what was the point?” she said recently at breakfast, holding up her phone at us. “I mean, lookat this! Just look!”
            From across the table, Amanda squinted. “Seriously, even when I had perfect vision, which I don’t now, I wouldn’t have been able to see that.”
            Saffy’s enormous bosom expanded. “It’s Kylie Jenner!”
            “Love her!” Amanda replied unexpectedly.
            Saffy paused. “You do?”
            Amanda arched an eyebrow. “What’s not to love? She’s young and pretty and rich. I should hate her, but that just leads down a slippery slope of having to hate the other sisters, and I really don’t have the energy for that. Anyway, why, what’s she done?”
            Saffy sucked in her breath. “Well, according to Forbes, she’s about to become the world’s youngest self-made billionaire!”
            Even Amanda was impressed. “From what?!”
            “Her make-up line! Her company is worth a billion dollars! How did that happen?”
            “I can’t decide if you’re happy or upset by this news,” I piped up as I went onto the internet on my phone.
            “A little bit of both,” Saffy admitted. “I mean, she’s barely twenty and she’s running a billion dollar company. When I was that age, I was dating inappropriate boys and trying to get through my stupid commerce degree.”
            “It says here she runs the company mainly through her phone and a handful of staff,” I read, speed-scrolling through the article. 
            “My point exactly!” Saffy huffed, turning pink. “How come some people are so smart?”
            I remember when I was growing up, my mother seemed to spend her whole life telling us we had to study hard because that was the only way to avoid the fate of our drunken Uncle Lee Siong who dropped out of school when he was fifteen and washed dishes for most of his life. 
            “What’s wrong with washing dishes?” my little brother Jack once asked.
            I remember how the room suddenly went still. My mother’s head rotated around to stare at her youngest offspring. “Whuh….”
            Jack shrugged. “No stress, and it’s a steady living,” he said, demonstrating, not for the first time in his life, his ability to find a silver lining even when confronted by a stack of dirty pots. 
            “He had a point though, your brother,” Saffy said, years later. “I mean, we spent a million hours trying to get to grips with algebra and trigonometry and valence tables and crap like that. For what?”
            “Well…” Amanda began.
            “When was the last time you had to know the co-sine of ninety degrees?” Saffy interrupted. “And how has knowing the capital of Algeria ever helped anyone in their life?”
            Amanda suggested perhaps the pilot of the plane flying to Algeria.
            Saffy rolled her eyes. “That’s like one kid in a class of 35. It sure hasn’t helped the restof us! And certainly not Kylie Jenner! I bet she’s never opened a grammar book in her life!”
            Even Amanda was unable to disagree with that kind of brutal assessment of our collective education.
            “I’m telling you, going to school was a complete waste of time!” Saffy went on, warming up to her theme of total educational anarchy. 
            Meanwhile, Kylie Jenner’s impending billionaire-hood has obsessed us. It’s all we’ve been able to talk about. 
            “Can you imagine how wealthy Kris Kardashian is?” Amanda said recently. “Even if she gets ten percent commission as agent’s fee from each of her daughters, she’d never be able to spend it all for the rest of her life!”
            “I don’t think Kourtney is making much money though,” Saffy observed, putting to good use the intel she’d gathered from all the National Enquirer magazines she’d read in her life. “Or Khloe. It’s those other three daughters who are minting it.”
            “That’s probably enough,” Amanda sighed with aspirational greed as she imagined how, if she had as much money as Kris Kardashian, she’d probably just move into Gucci.
            Not for the first time, Sharyn wondered what a billion dollars would even look like. “I think, hor, the box in my internet bank statement got not enough space for all those zero, ah, I tell you!”
            “And she didn’t do her ‘O’-levels either, Shazz!” Saffy said, still very much on a mission to sabotage the very foundation of Singapore’s education system. “Orstudy Chinese!”
            “Yah, lor,” Sharyn said. You could tell she was thinking of all the money she was now spending on her kids’ Chinese tuition. 
            “A billionaire,” Saffy repeated, shaking her head. 

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

En Vogue

With all the fuss about Justin Bieber’s engagement and England winning against Sweden, you might have missed the other big news event that’s currently making the rounds: the condo I live in with Saffy and Amanda may be going en-bloc.
            It’s a possibility that fills us with existential dread.  
            “They can’t make us move!” Saffy had moaned when the first newsletter arrived from our management office. “I don’t want to move! I hatemoving!”
            “Well, I don’t want to move either, but realistically, if the landlady sells, what can we do?” Amanda had pointed out. “And besides, we can’t live here for the rest of our lives.”
            Saffy’s bosom had inflated like a life-jacket demonstration on a plane. “I don’t see what not! Lots of people die alone in their apartment and no one knows about it for years!”
            Amanda stared. “And that’s what you want to happen to you?”
            Saffy shrugged, her face the very image of bo-chap
            A few days later, she bumped into the estate manager Warren who has long fancied her from a distance.
            “Yah, hello, Miss Saffy!” he said, immediately turning pink from the unaccustomed proximity to the object of his nocturnal desire. 
            “Are we really going to go en-bloc, Warren?” Saffy said, getting right down to brass tacks. “And it’s all so confusing. We keep getting these nasty anonymous letters from the people who want to sell bitching about the people who don’t want to! I mean, what’s going on?”
            “Aiyah, these people, they all very free, lah. We’ve tried to put a stop to it. But, you know, lah,” he added, the mole above his right eyebrow trembling, “when you’re talking about nearly two million dollars per apartment, people can get very emotional!”
            Saffy gave the matter some thought. Warren took the opportunity to let his eyes drop innocently, past her straining bosom and then back up.
            “Well, I guess I would get emotional too,” Saffy said eventually, “if someone offered me two million bucks!”
            “But is only on paper, lah!” Warren said. “Even if we get the 80 percent, we still have to find a developer willing to pay that much money. But to be honest, even if you get two million, where are you going to go? My HDB is almost a million dollars already, you know! You buy, must still do renovation work and there goes your profit margin! Right or not?” he declared to Saffy’s breasts. 
            Meanwhile, the vote for en-bloc is currently at the 75 percent mark which apparently is throwing the real estate agent in charge of the process into a real frenzy. When Amanda was paying our monthly rent to our landlady, Mrs Chen, she seized the opportunity to size up the situation.
            “So, are you voting for the sale, Mrs Chen?” she asked with as much disinterest as she could muster. 
            Bedecked in fake Versace and Gucci, our landlady sniffed. “Chay! They’re only offering one point seven million for the flat. Hardly worth my while! I bought it off your previous owner for one point one a year ago and if I sell it now, I have to pay the stamp duty! It makes no financial sense for me to sell!”
            “We keep getting these letters from a group that’s desperate to sell!” Amanda said. 
            “I know, and the real estate agent is always hounding me. I have blocked his phone number. Such a pest. Just like my ex-husband!”
            A few days ago, Saffy came back from another conversation with Warren who had updated her on the situation with the apartment a few floors above us. “You know the one with that old man, Mr Wong?”
            “The one in the wheelchair?” Amanda asked.
            “That’s the one. You know how he died four months ago, right?”
            Amanda was shocked. “He did? Of what?”
            Saffy paused. “He was like ninety! Of old age, of course!”
            “Anyway, apparently, his executors told Warren’s office that they are signing up for the en-bloc!”
            “Oh crap!” Amanda said. “Why’d he have to go and die?”
            “He was ninety-five!” Saffy said, giving in once again to her unvarnished love for fake news. 
            “Still. It’s really selfish. He might have voted against it in his will!” Amanda told her. 
            Sharyn later said old Mr Wong must be kicking himself for dying so early. “Imagine, hor, if he get two million. Wah, so shiok!”
            “He was a hundred years old, Shaz,” Saffy said. “How was he ever going to spend two million bucks?”
            “Ay, you don’t anyhow say! Two million dollar can buy a lot of a-dultPamper, you know!”

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Popping Out

News that Dr Sandra Lee – aka Dr Pimple Popper – is about to debut her very own television show has filled our little apartment with joy. 
Amanda says it’s amazing how an obscure dermatologist in an equally obscure Californian suburb has been able to get 2.5 billion views of handphone videos of pimples being popped and then piggy back off that into a TV show on a major American channel.
“Well, to be fair, what really got her famous were the epidermoid cysts and lipomas,” said Saffy, Dr Sandra’s No. 1 Fan.
“I just love that she’s Singaporean slash Malaysian!” Amanda said, her heart still warm from the glow of pride that of all the countries in the world that could have hosted the North Korean and American nuclear summit, Singapore had scored the winning goal.
Personally, I said, it’s a crying shame the Singapore Tourism Board hasn’t hustled over to California to sign up the woman for its campaigns. 
Saffy nodded grimly. “Yes, and before the Malaysians get to her. That would be the absolute pits. They’ve already got so much good press since their last elections, they don’t need to also get her.”
“She doesn’t sound Singaporean though,” Amanda said doubtfully the other day as we watched the latest YouTube installment of a particularly gruesome extraction of a humungous lipoma from a Filipino guy’s back. “Her accent is so strongly American.”
“Well, so are the accents of half the radio DJs in this town,” Saffy pointed out. “At least her’s is authentic!”
Meanwhile, when the trailer for the new show hit the airwaves, Amanda was in her office, supposedly working on complex legal documents for a case that she swore was giving her hives. Her phone pinged with a message from Saffy: ‘U have GOT to watch this!’
Amanda tapped the attachment. Two minutes later, she was speed-dialing Saffy.
“Isn’t it just the best?” Saffy said immediately. 
“Oh. My. God!” Amanda moaned. “Did you see that guy’s nose? It was literally coveredin bumps! What the hell are they?”
“Probably an extreme case of steatocystomas!” Saffy diagnosed. “And the guy with the massive lump on his knee! How that thing doesn’t burst every time he puts on his pants, I don’t know.”
“Where does she findthese people?” Amanda wondered to the world at large. “I mean, how do you go through life with that kind of stuff growing on you?”
“There’s a guy in my office?” Saffy said, lowering her voice. “He’s got this bald patch at the top of his head with a bump the size of a longan growing on top of it! You can see it from a mile away!”
“Oooh, a pilar cyst!” Amanda said immediately.
Saffy sucked in her breath. “Totally! But here’s the thing. Sharyn says his fengshuimaster said to him that he can’t get it taken out as it’s bringing him good luck!”
“Is it?”
“Not that I can tell,” Saffy sniffed. “Sharyn says his appraisal is coming up and management has noted him down for no bonus orincrement!”
“I know. So if that cyst is bringing him any luck, it’s sure not happening in the office.”
A few days later, over lunch at Din Tai Fung in Paragon, in the middle of biting into a particularly juicy xiaolongbao, Sharyn was prompted to suddenly remember the latest piece of office gossip. Huffing through her open mouth because of the hot meat and soup, she announced that Pilar Cyst Man had won $50,000 at 4D.
“Huh!” Saffy said, putting her soup spoon down. 
“Yah, and den, hor, dur nexday, his condo go en-bloc!” Sharyn went on, chomping noisily on her dumpling. “You know how much or not? Two poin tree million!”
            There was a collective silence as we sat there, imagining what it must be like to suddenly have $2.3m in our bank account.
            “And den, hor,” Sharyn went on, ‘today, he come and tell me he give his fengshui master fiethousand dollar as bonus and he oh-so tender his resignation!”
            Saffy’s bosom inflated like a life-raft. “Wait, what? Eng Leong has resigned?”
            Sharyn nodded solemnly. “Now must hire new systems manager!”
            Saffy says it’s just not fair that Eng Leong’s good fortune means she has to go through the whole tedious process of interviewing for a replacement. “I’m so busy as it is!” she pouted this morning. 
            “And all because of that pilar cyst of his!” Amanda said, half jokingly.
            “My God! How many millionaires has Dr Sandra Lee bankrupted?” Saffy wondered. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Class System

A few weeks ago, Saffy was at the airport in Beijing, waiting patiently to check-in for her flight home. It had been a long business trip. She was tired and cranky. The Economy line stretched on and on and everyone had on their ARBF. 
            “Their what?” Amanda had asked when she’d first heard the term. “What’s that?”
            “Airport Resting Bitch Face,” Saffy translated.
            Amanda put down her cup of tea to give the matter her full attention.  “And what does that look like?” she asked.
            “Like this.” Saffy’s face went slack. The spark in her eyes dimmed and then died. The lines on the side of her face slid downwards, and the muscles in her forehead tightened. The effect was remarkable.
            “You look like you’re on Day 25 of a carrot stick diet!” I told her.
            Saffy turned pink, and looked pleased. “It’s my new party trick!”
            “I’ve never seen that look at the airport!” Amanda said.
            Saffy sniffed. “That’s because you only ever travel Satay or Wedgewood Class!” she pointed out.
            To her credit, Amanda shrugged, completely unapologetic about her One Percent Frequent Flyer Status. “I guess.”
            “Trust me,” Saffy added. “This is how people look when they travel Bee Hoon Class.”
            Anyway, there she was waiting in the Bee Hoon line in Beijing, well aware that her face has also slacked into a first-rate, Meryl Streep Oscar-winning impression of the ARBF when she suddenly realised that somehow she’d actually made it to a counter.
            “Good afternoon,” the steward said as she tapped a few keys on her keyboard, eyes flicking back and forth between Saffy’s passport. She paused and stared, then tapped again with the kind of great efficiency that had led her ancestors to build the Great Wall.
            She looked up. “Miss, our economy section is fully booked, so you’ve been upgraded to our first class cabin.”
            Within micro-seconds, Saffy’s ARBF morphed into the look of someone in Oprah’s audience who’s just been told she’s won a car.
            “Better than sex,” she later told us.
            “What’s it like in Wedgewood Class?” I asked, completely envious. The closest I’ve ever come to First Class is when Amanda comes back from a trip and hands me the pyjamas and toiletries kit.
            “Ohmygod,” Saffy said in a rush. “It’s a whole different world! The lounge is like a hotel. The lighting is so sexy. There’s champagne and wine and lovely showers. And the cabin! Ohmygod, the cabin! When I die, I want to be buried in First Class!”
            This being Saffy, it all went wrong an hour into the flight. She had reclined her seat to forty-five degrees, put her feet up and selected a movie when there was a sudden commotion in the seat across from her.
            Stewards ran up and down the aisle and there was a lot of urgent whispering. Saffy poked her head around her seat and gasped.
            “The guy was just sitting there, shaking in his seat,” she later reported. “His head lolled to the left and his eyes stared straight ahead. Then suddenly, he started vomiting thick green goo! I swear, it was like one of Dr Sandra Lee’s epidermoid cysts being squeezed.”
            Amanda moaned and pushed her breakfast congee away from her.
            I was agog. “So what did you do?”
            Saffy’s bosom inflated. “That’s the thing! He was clearly having a seizure, but I’m not a doctor so there wasn’t any point me hovering and freaking out. So, all I could do was go back to my meal and movie, but then how can you sit there and watch Hugh Jackman sing and sip champagne when the guy next to you is dying in a pool of muck?”
            Both Amanda and I gave the matter some thought and agreed that it was a conundrum.
            “God, I was so angry that he’d put me in this moral dilemma,” Saffy huffed, oozing dissatisfaction. “His seizure totally sucked the joy out of flying Wedgewood Class!”
            Ever practical, Amanda asked if the plane was diverted.
            “No, because after fifteen minutes of fussing, he was fine and laughing with everyone!”
            Amanda was astonished. “What kind of a seizure is that?”
            “Exactly!” Saffy rolled her eyes at the poor quality of medical ailments suffered by First Class travellers. “By that time, my Lhasa Apso had gotten so cold, I had to get a new cup.”
            Amanda rewound the sentence in her head. “Lapsong souchong,” she said.
            Saffy blinked. “That’s what I said.”
            “Lhasa apso is a breed of dog.”
            Saffy later complained to Sharyn they even change the name of their teas in First Class.
            “So cheem, hor?” Sharyn marvelled.