A few months ago at dinner, Saffy looked up from her bowl of spaghetti and meatballs and announced that she was going to become a vegetarian.
Her statement was greeted with the kind of scepticism that must have greeted Jesus when he said he was going out for a stroll on the sea.
“Why?” I asked.
“You wouldn’t last a week,” Amanda predicted.
“I love how supportive you are!” Saffy said stiffly.
“No, really, why?” I asked.
Saffy’s bosom shifted slowly as she thought. “Well, I read somewhere that eating beef is really bad for the environment. Apparently they fart a lot and all that gas is choking us to death!”
Amanda later said that if Saffy had been involved with Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth”, that movie would have sunk under the weight of her sloppy research.
“Not eating beef isn’t going to save the planet!” she sniffed with all the disdain that a Harvard law degree can generate. To which Saffy replied that if Amanda had to kill a cow to get her hamburger, she’d be a vegetarian too.
“That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard!” Amanda exclaimed. “What about vegetables?”
Saffy blinked. “What about them?”
“Well, you’re killing a carrot when you uproot it! Does that mean you can’t eat vegetables too?”
Saffy’s bosom inflated. “Vegetables don’t have feelings!”
Amanda snorted. “Just because they don’t moo or cluck or bleat doesn’t mean vegetables don’t feel things. It’s probably more traumatic to rip an onion from the ground than it is to put a bullet between a cow’s eyes!”
As I later said to Karl, if that horrific image didn’t make me want to become a vegetarian myself, I didn’t know what would.
As it was, Saffy said she didn’t care what anyone thought. She was going to give vegetarianism a go. And so, the next night, she struggled home from Cold Storage with bags of broccoli, spinach, tofu and tins of beans.
“Beans?” Amanda whispered to me. “She’ll be farting the whole night!”
I looked at all the food spread out over the kitchen counter. “Are you sure you know what you’re doing, Saf?” I asked. “Going cold turkey, pardon the expression, may not be the wisest thing to do, you know.”
“I’m doing this for the cows,” Saffy said.
“But it doesn’t make sense! Whether you eat them or not, they’re still going to be around and farting into the atmosphere.”
“Only if we keep breeding them for food! If we stop eating them, then they’ll all die off naturally and we’ll have a cow-free world!”
“So, you’d rather they went extinct?”
Saffy shrugged. “Better them than me!”
For days, her strange but oddly compelling logic haunted me and for a brief moment, I too flirted with the idea of making a vegan-burger a lifestyle choice. But by then, Saffy had turned into a raving lunatic.
Her body, so used to its daily infusion of char-siew, beef rendang, chicken tikka and sop kambing, and now so suddenly deprived, began turning on her. She trembled and became grumpier by the day and her eyes took on a glazed sheen whenever the perfume of fried chicken wings from our neighbour Lydia Kumarasamy’s kitchen wafted in through our window. She even began looking at the food bowl of Pooch, my beloved adopted mongrel dog, in a way that made him so nervous that he would gulp down his dinner of minced beef and rice with both eyes cocked in her direction.
“You’re giving that dog indigestion!” Amanda said one day.
“I think I’m hallucinating,” Saffy murmured. “Pooch keeps transforming into a hot dog!”
Which got us all so concerned that I took Pooch with me everywhere, even into the toilet. “I’m not letting him out of my sight!” I reported to Karl.
And of course, Amanda and I began eating our meals in hawker centres. We didn’t know what would happen if we ever unwrapped a packet of chicken rice in front of Saffy.
The breaking point occurred when Saffy was aimlessly flipping TV channels and suddenly, Nigella Lawson came on. “Now, I love spring!” Nigella chirruped in her provocatively posh English accent. “And for me, nothing says spring more than a juicy roast leg of lamb!”
Hypnotised, Saffy watched Nigella stuff the leg with garlic and herbs and by the time it emerged from the oven, brown and sizzling, she was dialing McDonalds.
“I told you it wouldn’t last,” Amanda said smugly. But I’m not taking any chances.
My bedroom door is still locked while Pooch is tucked in with me in bed.