They say that you could be on the world’s most beautiful island – surrounded by nothing but Tiffany-clear water and a sky the colour of crushed sapphires – but after a while, you’ll start to get jittery. Let those jitters fester a little longer and you begin to go mad. ‘Island fever’, they call it.
But imagine what happens when you’re stuck inside a tiny flat with two bad tempered women and a hyperactive dog that’s not been out for a walk all day because, outside, it’s like Noah’s Ark: the Sequel.
“Seriously, how can there be so much rain?” Saffy complained as she peered out the window, her words almost drowned out by the loud clatter of rain drops against the glass. “I need to get out of here! I’m so late for my bikini wax!”
“I seriously doubt if anyone is making any of their appointments today,” I said, and was rewarded with a filthy look.
“You men always have an answer for everything, don’t you?”
I opened my mouth to reply but spotted the cleverly laid trap just in time, and shut up.
Sensing the spike in hostile emotions, my beloved mongrel dog Pooch looked up from under the dining table and growled softly. For a moment, I wished that I had a Doberman who was trained to leap and attack, and ask questions later.
Saffy looked disappointed her ruse had failed. She immediately turned on Amanda who was sitting on the lounge fiddling with her iPhone. “That’s very sociable of you, Amanda, to just sit there and not contribute to the conversation!”
“I’m watching a YouTube link Sharyn just sent me. Look at this, Orchard Road is flooded!”
Her bad mood generated by her meteorological captivity temporarily forgotten, Saffy bounced onto the sofa to peer over Amanda’s shoulder. “Turn it up,” she ordered.
The shaky image panned around for a 180 degree view of a flooded Orchard Road. Then the camera settled on the Hermès store in Liat Tower. Muddy water lapped against the shop and a disembodied voice announced, “Hermès kena!”
Saffy dissolved into squeals of laughter and for days after, at oddly inappropriate moments, she would suddenly say, “Hermès kena!”
Amanda wondered aloud whether she should station herself outside the store. “This might just be the time to grab a Birkin bag as it floats out of the store!”
At 3pm, it was still raining heavily and to make matters worse, our ancient microwave oven decided to call it a day and stopped working with a sad little ‘ping’.
Amanda who was in the midst of warming up her leftover prawn noodles when this happened spent a good five minutes screaming profanities at the machine. Saffy was endlessly impressed. “This is what they teach you in Swiss boarding school!” she whispered to me.
When Amanda emerged from the kitchen, her hair was a little mussed up, and she had a deranged look in her eyes as she picked up her phone to dial.
“Hello?” she snapped. “Do you sell microwave ovens? You do? Great. What model? Uh huh…uh huh…How much?...uh huh…mmm…yes…OK, and when can you deliver…uhm, what ‘s your name? Catherine? Cat-ereen? I’m sorry, I can’t understand you! How do you spell that? Wait, let me get a pen and paper. OK, go ahead…T…A…S…Uh huh…uh huh…Seriously? That’s your name?”
Sensing a welcome bout of diverting drama, Saffy looked at me.
When Amanda clicked off her phone, it was clear that her bad mood had lifted. “You know, I was sure she said her name was Katerine, like the Russian, but she pronounced it in such an odd way I had to ask her to spell it out. And it’s Taserine!”
I frowned. “As in Listerine?”
“Or tangerine?” Saffy said. “I’m just amazed at the names that Singaporeans make up for themselves. It shows such creativity!”
“It’s not creative, it’s weird!” Amanda said. “If she was African-American, I’d understand it, but this girl could not have been more Singaporean!”
“Maybe she’s an African-American who’s lived here her whole life?” Saffy suggested.
“Actually, she sounds like a comic super-hero,” Amanda said. “She’s Wolverine’s sister and her hair turns into deadly whips!”
And that’s how we pulled ourselves out of our cranky moods, entertaining ourselves for the rest of the day with strange names.
By the time the rain finally stopped, we were laughing again. We threw open the windows and the soft smell of a freshly washed earth wafted in. Sharyn came over with a da-pao dinner and listened earnestly to Amanda’s story.
“Wah!” she said, her glasses fogging up. “Lucky she not call herself Vaseline! Then, really kena with boys!”