The other day, in a rare burst of perceptive insight, my flatmate Saffy observed that you could tell there was a credit crunch going on because our other flatmate Amanda was now picking up her underwear and other delicates from M&S.
“If I hadn’t seen the packaging in her rubbish bin myself, I wouldn’t have believed it,” Saffy said, nodding to herself with satisfaction as she scanned the TV guide.
From the comfortable depths of the couch, I looked up from my book (Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth, an Oprah Book Club selection if you must know). “I suppose there’s a perfectly good reason for this, but what were you doing going through Amanda’s rubbish bin?” I asked.
Saffy waved her hand around. “Oh you know,” she said vaguely as she continued to read the TV guide. “Someone needs to explain to me what the hell the big deal about Little Nonya is. I don’t know any Peranakans who speak Chinese so well.”
“You don’t know any Peranakans,” I pointed out.
Just then, Amanda emerged from her bedroom. “Has someone been going through my rubbish bin?” she asked, lifting a perfectly drawn eyebrow and staring straight at Saffy who immediately bristled.
“What, what? Why are you looking at me? Just because –, ” and because it always took a while for anything to register on her consciousness, she paused and blinked. “What are you wearing?”
Amanda beamed. “You like it? I got it today at This Fashion. It cost less than a Starbucks cappuccino!” she said, though I couldn’t help but think that these days, most things cost less than a Starbucks cappuccino.
As Saffy later said, “It was like she wearing a zipper!”
I said technically, Amanda was wearing a dress but Saffy replied that that would be really stretching the idea of a dress, like saying that Cheezels is a food group.
But for the moment, she was shaking her head wildly. “Wait a minute, wait a minute. You were at This Fashion? How do you even know about This Fashion?”
“Excuse me, I wish you would stop making me out like I’m a fashion snob or something!”
“But you are!” Saffy said.
“Well, I was just passing by after my meeting and I happened to notice the dress on the mannequin in the window. Why have I never ever noticed that shop?”
“Because your ensuite bathroom leads directly into Gucci’s dressing room?” Saffy suggested.
Amanda trilled with laughter and disappeared back into her bedroom.
“If that dress was one millimetre shorter, the world would have been her gynaecologist,” Saffy said later to Karl over afternoon tea. She pursed her lips with disapproval while his eyes turned moist.
“You guys lead the best lives!” he said earnestly. “I miss being single!”
“Seriously, you are one bedpan from turning into a dirty old man,” she told him severely. “But the more shocking thing is she’s now actually shopping at This Fashion! She can go on as much as she likes about how great that dress is, but I can sniff a money-saving strategy a shopping mall away. What is the world coming to?” Saffy said, shaking her head.
“It’s a credit crunch,” I said, reaching for another pressed sandwich. “We all have to make sacrifices.”
“Yes, but still. And she’s wearing M&S underwear!”
Karl choked on his scone. “How do you know?” he asked goggle-eyed.
On our way home, Saffy said that Karl must really not be getting any from his dreadful harpy of a wife, Marsha. “Did you see how hot and bothered he got just by the mention of Amanda’s underwear?” she sniffed as she stared down, with affection, at her fabulous bosom as if to point out that Karl had clearly been getting hot and bothered about the wrong woman.
Meanwhile, the kitchen cupboard where we store plastic bags is growing with bags from This Fashion which leads us to wonder if Amanda is single-handedly keeping the store in business.
“I just happen to like their stuff,” she said stoutly the other day. “I wish you’d stop making such a big deal about it.”
But what is annoying Saffy no end is just how good Amanda looks in a $15.95 dress. “The other day, I told her I really liked her skirt, thinking that it was a Miu Miu or something and that she’d let me borrow it and she said it was This Fashion! I bet you if I got into it, I’d look like that woman who sells me fried beehoon! Or, ” she paused and thought, “a cast member from Little Nonya.”