One of the greatest mysteries of the world is not why Julia Roberts keeps making such forgettable movies or why people still take up both sides of the escalator, but rather why we fall in love with the people we do.
A few nights ago, my flatmates and I were invited to a cocktail party at our friend Mary’s house. “Very casual, one, so don’t dress up too much!” she’d instructed over the phone earlier in the day. As it turned out, everyone we knew was there at the party and by the looks of it, they’d all followed Mary’s dress code to the letter.
“Seriously,” Amanda, in full Miu-Miu, murmured out of the corner of her mouth, “I wouldn’t go to the wet market in anything these people are wearing! It’s disgraceful. Sharon!” she suddenly exclaimed, her bright eyes sparkling as she leaned over to kiss. “So lovely to see you! I love your denim shorts! Is it vintage?”
Meanwhile, on the other side of the room, Saffy was busy mixing herself a particularly lethal gin and tonic. Her recipe, which she claims has been handed down to through the generations, basically involves a full glass of gin, and a teaspoon of tonic water. You could unclog a drain with the stuff.
“That looks like a strong drink,” said the girl next to her.
As Saffy later told us, the girl looked like she’d just stepped off a Victoria’s Secret fashion runway show. “She was just missing the glitter and the wings!” she reported enviously.
And as girls do at parties, they got to talking while silently sizing each other up. (“Su-ann has such lovely skin!” Saffy noted with approval.) First, it was about innocuous things like the outfits they were each wearing. Weekend plans were next, and by the seven minute mark, they had moved onto boyfriends.
“I’m here with my boyfriend,” said Su-Ann. “He and Mary went to university together. Oh! There he is over there talking to that...girl over there.”
Saffy, the world’s foremost expert on the pregnant pause, immediately swivelled her head in the direction of Su-ann’s finger and found herself looking at Amanda talking to a guy she would later describe on Facebook as a fat Borneo monkey.
“How is this world fair?” she posted. “A pretty girl dating someone so fugly!”
In turn, Amanda posted a comment that one shouldn’t judge someone on his looks and that Fat Borneo Monkey was actually quite interesting.
“He is fugly!” Saffy repeated. “No man would ever date a woman who looked like FBM. It’s a man’s world, I tell you!”
Of course, what really killed Saffy was the fact that someone who looked like FBM had actually managed to convince someone so pretty as Su-ann to go out with him. And, in her books, what was even more astonishing was the fact that Amanda had actually found FBM interesting enough to talk to him.
And the underlying rant here was this: if gorgeous girls like Su-ann were dating Neanderthal apes like FBM, what did you have to look like to date the actual good-looking men in this town?
“There’s no hope for me!” she wailed later that night in the cab home. Amanda made soothing but ultimately ineffectual noises. “And there’s more! They just got engaged. They’re getting married next month!”
A silence fell over the cab. After a while, a nagging thought finally managed to get Amanda’s attention. “Uhm,” she began slowly. “She hasn’t invited you to the wedding has she?”
“She’s asked me to be one of the freaking brides-maids!” Saffy screamed out loud, nearly causing the poor uncle taxi-driver to swerve dangerously on the CTE. “Oh. My. God. First of all, how do you fall in love with someone who looks like that? And secondly, why would you ask someone you just met to be a bridesmaid? Don’t you have any friends? Oh, speaking of which, Amanda,” Saffy added, looking a little guilty in the strobe-light of the street lamps, “uhm, you’re not invited to the wedding.”
Saffy later said that she was so relieved that Amanda hadn’t asked why. “Because if she had,” she told me, “I would have had to lie. But can you imagine that Su-ann was actually jealous Fat Ugly Borneo Monkey was talking to her?”
“That’s what he’s called now?” I asked. “Fat Ugly Borneo Monkey?”
“Well, I think the ‘ugly’ is essential, don’t you? The only problem is that it only makes Su-ann’s engagement to him all that more incomprehensible. God, I’m so depressed.”
Recently, Saffy changed her Facebook profile. In her “Relationship” status, she’s now put “Doomed to be discovered by the smell seeping from under her flat’s door”.