Flip open any women’s magazine these days, and every other page will have an article on how to dress to thrill, which shoes best accentuate your calves, how to take a day look into evening glam, what make-up to buy, and how to catch and keep a man.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out the sub-text here. If you’re not looking as good as the models in the magazines, here’s how you do it. And once you’ve done it, you’ll be so busy dating, you won’t have time to sit around on Thursday nights watching the American Idol results show. The sub-sub text to that is that you won’t be a loser. Any more.
The corollary is that if you’re not dating, that means you’ll still be single come Chinese New Year. Which means more pitying looks from relatives than you know what to do with. And nobody wants that.
See how you get from shoes to pity?
All this came up the other day over lunch with my friend, Janet. Janet is a successful, thirty-something lawyer. She’s smart, she’s sassy. She’s a banker. Owns her own apartment. She’s also well-travelled, well-read and, in the immortal words of my best friend Karl after meeting her at a party, “well-stacked”.
And she’s single.
“It’s ridiculous,” she said, munching vigorously on her chicken salad. “I wear all the right clothes and make-up. And I look hot in a bikini! Any mother-in-law would be proud to have me marry her son, but for some reason, I’ve not been on a date since Lee Kuan Yew was prime minister. What’s wrong with the men in this town?”
I ventured that maybe her CV scared men off. “If you were a man, I’m sure you’d be onto your third marriage and fifth mistress by now.”
“You know,” Janet said, “I never thought of it that way. If I were a woman, I know I’d marry me!”
And Janet being Janet, she’s decided that she’s taking matters into her hands. Shortly after our lunch, she went back to her office, shut the door, went online and signed herself up with a dating profile.
A few days later, she Facebooked that she’d been on two dates already.
Saffy was deeply impressed. “Really? With an actual real man?” she asked in much the same tones Mrs Moses must have used when her husband came down from the mountain and reported that he’d met God. “Huh. I always thought you only ever met complete losers on these dating sites.”
“Oh, you do!” said Amanda, veteran of the dating scene. “They’re all liars! Remember that guy I once met online? Said he was a doctor and it turned out he was a vet?”
“You are such a job-ist!” Saffy accused. “He was perfectly lovely! Well, except for his bad breath.”
“And his cross-eyes!” Amanda said, warming up to her theme.
I said that Janet’s first date had been a cinematographer with National Geographic. “He’s into wild life!” I said.
“That’s no way to talk about Janet!” Saffy said and for the rest of the day, amused herself immensely with this witticism.
“And her second date was with a lawyer!” I went on. “It went really well, she said.”
“I give that relationship two months,” Amanda predicted. “Lawyers make terrible boyfriends. They look good on paper, but they’re never around. They’re either working late or stuck in some stupid long distance, late night conference call with New York!”
“But you’re a lawyer!” Saffy pointed out.
“Yes, but I’m a woman. And that means I can multi-task. I can mentally draft a brief while having dinner. A guy can’t.”
Janet says that so far her two dates have been working out really well. Mr National Geographic is rugged, outdoorsy and tanned, while Mr Lawyer is rich, successful and looks like the Chinese version of Jude Law. And the bonus is that neither of them lives at home. “Do you know how difficult it is to find a guy in this town who doesn’t live with his mother? And I’m dating two of them!” she said, looking very pleased with her good fortune.
Saffy says it’s so unfair that Janet is dating two guys. “Maybe I should be using her dating site as well? After all, at the rate this year is disappearing, it’ll be Chinese New Year again soon!”
Amanda says Saffy is better off placing a bet at the casino, but last I heard, Saffy was online busy creating a profile. I just got an SMS from her: “If anybody asks, I’m a model with Victoria’s Secret!”