Saturday, November 22, 2008

Jog Strap

Among the many great mysteries in life (why people insist on noisily dragging their feet when they walk being the least of them), the one that stumps me most is this whole business about jogging.

Really, it’s the most absurd activity. Never mind the fact that the guy who made jogging a world-wide phenomenon actually died of a heart attack while out jogging (which in itself should be a clear warning about how dangerous it is), but if God had ever intended us to jog anywhere, he’d never have invented the car.

The subject came out recently when my flatmate Saffy started dating Madison.

“Wait a minute,” Amanda had interrupted the first time Saffy brought up the subject. “His name is Madison? This is a guy?”

Saffy had the grace to look embarrassed. “I think he chose it himself. But I’ve got no choice! I can’t not date a guy just because he’s got a girl’s name!”

“Yes, you can!” Amanda yelled.

“I’ve not been on a date since Independence!”

I looked up from my cereal and piped up. “Isn’t Madison the name of that mermaid in ‘Splash’?”

Saffy turned around to look at me, her eyes narrowed into slits. I went back to concentrating on my cereal. “Are you sure he’s straight?” Amanda asked. “I don’t want to be the one to bring this up, but you’ve had quite a few dates with guys who really should have shopping at the MAC counter with Barney Chen.”

“Oh, who knows these days?” Saffy sighed. “The world has just turned upside down. Every guy I’ve dated this year has offered to carry my handbag for me in public. And the ones who don’t, love to play mah-jong with their aunties. At least with Madison, he does manly things jogging. That’s gottta count for something right?” she asked, with a pathetic plea in her eyes.

“Totally!” Amanda and I chimed loyally, though I secretly thought that anyone who voluntarily jogs has his own special set of mental problems, and judging by the look in Amanda’s eyes, I could tell she was thinking the same thing.

Things went well for a couple of weeks. Saffy and Madison went on a few dates. They went dancing at Zouk though Saffy came home complaining that everyone on the dance floor was a foetus and she felt like she was 102-years old. “It was awful!” she pronounced, her formidable bosom heaving with embarrassment.

One weekend, they visited his parents (“They live in a pig-sty!” was Saffy’s horrified verdict) and went to midnight movies. They made out in the back seat of his car, ate supper at hawker centres and did all the usual things that dating couples do. And then, a week ago, he finally popped the big question.

“Oh dear God!” Saffy said the minute I walked in the front door.

“Yes, my child?” I blasphemed as I took in the wild look in her eyes.

“Madison asked me to go jogging with him!” Saffy said in a rush, as if saying it quickly might help erase the full horror of the moment. I blinked several times and then reached for the phone.

“I’ll be home in twenty minutes!” Amanda said crisply. She made it in eighteen. “What do you mean he asked you to go jogging with him? What happened?” she demanded immediately as she marched through the front door, barely pausing to toss off her Prada sling-backs.

“Well,” Saffy began miserably. “We were just hanging out in Paragon window-shopping and then suddenly he turned and asked me to go jogging with him this weekend.”

“That’s just sick!” I said firmly.

“Who does he think I am?” Saffy asked, a little spirit creeping back into her posture.

“Do you even know how to run?” I asked.

“Can’t remember the last time I walked faster than a crawl,” Saffy replied. “But I was thinking that it can’t really be that bad, can it? I mean, lots of people do it every day. Barney Chen jogs every day and he’s...oh...” she trailed off.

Amanda and I exchanged glances.

“Well, I guess if you look at the bigger picture,” I began, “it’s really not that bad. You guys get on really well. You even hate his friends and you’re thinking about letting him carry your handbag, so it’s all looking quite good.”

“But now he wants her to go jogging,” Amanda pointed out.

“And I don’t want to!” Saffy pouted.

And so, right now, they’re in the lounge room breaking up. I can hear them through the thin door. “I’m becoming a nun!” Saffy tells Madison.

I strain to hear his reply.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Back in Vogue

I don’t know about you, but in the little apartment that I share with Saffy, Amanda and my beloved adopted mongrel dog, Pooch, the biggest news right now is not the state of the world’s financial markets or even if the new American president should have surgery to pin his ears back.
No, the news that grips the fevered imaginations of my flatmates is Madonna’s divorce from Guy Ritchie.
This is how Saffy broke the news as Amanda walked in through our front door. “Oh God, Madonna!”
Amanda later said that for a confused minute, she thought that Saffy was having a mystical vision. As she said, “You never know with her.”
In this increasingly cynical world we live in, it says something that all of us so thoroughly bought into Madonna’s apparently fairy tale married life. Here was this rough New York girl with the unshaved armpits and the freakish ability to wrap her legs around her head (“Imagine sex with her!” as Saffy once observed with penetrating insight) who got married in some Scottish castle and basically packed up home for cold, drizzly, grey London where she then proceeded to have a multitude of children with the buff, no nonsense Guy Ritchie.
“He’s hot!” Amanda has said, with approval, on more than one occasion.
For her part, Saffy couldn’t get over how good Madonna was at multi-tasking her life. “How does that woman do it? A career, bazillions of dollars, abs of steel, Shambala and a great husband!”
“Kabbalah!” I said.
“Bless you!” Saffy replied from her parallel universe.
Not even the gossip that the Material Girl had been having an affair with that baseball player could tarnish her reputation.
“It’s all tawdry lies!” Saffy exclaimed at the time.
“Where got?” her good friend Sharyn said over a teh-o at Lau Pa Sat. “I read on Yahoo, you know. Must be true, lah!”
“You can’t believe everything you read, you numbnut!” Saffy said uncharitably, while hoping that Sharyn wouldn’t notice the latest copy of US Weekly peeking out over the edge of her handbag.
“You know for sure, is it!” Sharyn said whose coke-bottle glasses rarely allowed her to see anything beyond a feet anyway. On a clear day.
“It’s all lies. Madonna would never cheat on Guy!” Saffy replied with the kind of authority that hinted that she’d just that morning had coffee with her best friend Maddie.
The calm that followed the little storm with the baseball guy was, to the girls, proof that it was all the media trying to cause problems in a stainless marriage. “I swear, some people have nothing better to do!” Amanda said, as she stretched out on our lounge one Sunday afternoon and scrutinised the Enquirer’s report that Guy’s mother was denying that there was trouble in paradise. “They’re just jealous that some people can have a happy marriage. Such bad karma!” she pronounced.
Of course, shortly after came the official announcement that the Ritchies were splitting up.
For a few days, Saffy was convinced it was a late April Fools day joke and refused to believe a word she read in US Weekly. Even Amanda, normally so unflappable, had the same wide-eyed wild look that Miss Venezuela normally has a split second after she’s been announced Miss Universe.
“How did that happen?” Saffy asked.
Sharyn was triumphant. “You see, lah! Yahoo was right!” Saffy told her that if she kept this up, she was going to be pushed down the nearest flight of stairs and then struck off the Christmas card list.
Barney Chen, who’s always had a major crush on Guy, announced that he was buying plane tickets to London. “I know it’s probably blasphemous to steal the Goddess's husband, but I think I just might have a chance with him!” he growled happily. “I’ve always had my doubts about that marriage!”
“How could you? Poor Lourdes!” Amanda cried.
Our best friend Karl, who’s been unhappily married to the unlovely Marsha for years, says he wishes he had to the guts to get divorced. “I don’t think Marsha will let me,” he said the other night after listening to Saffy and Amanda mourn about the end of an era.
“I could push her down the stairs,” offered Saffy, who’s never liked Marsha. “It’s a little crowded at the bottom right now, but I’m sure I could make room.”
“Seriously,” Amanda said. “If Madonna, with all her fame and money, can’t make a marriage work, what hope do the rest of us have?”
That night, she programmed her iPod to play ‘Vogue’ on reloop and popped a sleeping tablet.