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 like...like 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.