Wednesday, September 01, 2010

American Beauty

A few months ago, my friend Anne sent me an email all the way from Tokyo saying that her best friend Mitsy was moving to Singapore from San Francisco.

“She’s our age, she’s cute and she’s single,” Anne wrote with the same kind of precision and conciseness that won her the Fulbright Scholarship. “I want you to help her adjust to life in the Tropics.”

“This Anne sounds incredibly bossy!” Saffy said when I forwarded the email to my flat-mates. “And she didn’t even ask how things were with me. What’s her problem?”

I sighed. “Number one, she’s never met you, so why would she ask after you? Number two, she’s very busy. She speaks fluent Japanese, works in a Japanese bank and has two children to look after. She has no time for chit-chat.”

“She sounds horrible. She can stay in a hotel if she ever visits Singapore!”

“Is she pretty?” Amanda asked.

I hesitated. “I’ve never met her. Why?”

Amanda pulled a face. “If it’s one thing this country doesn’t need, it’s another single woman competing for a very limited pool of eligible, straight men.”

Saffy looked up from filing her nails. “Oh my God, speaking of which, is it just me or were there a lot of girls holding hands with other girls today on Orchard Road? What’s going on here? It’s like ‘The L-Word’ just flew into town!”

You could tell by the way she was looking up in the air with a slight frown that Amanda was silently replaying the last few minutes of our conversation. “OK,” she said finally, “how did my sentence qualify as a ‘speaking of which’?”

As Saffy later complained on a private channel to me on Facebook, it didn’t surprise her in the least that Amanda was, with all her looks and money, still single. “She’s so literate!” she complained.

“You mean ‘literal’, don’t you?” I replied, unable to help myself, and that night, as we passed each other on our way to our rooms, Saffy gave me a dirty look.

We forgot all about Mitsy till a week ago when my phone rang.

“Hi! It’s Mitsy! Ah’m here!”

Turns out that Mitsy was originally from Savannah, Georgia and moved to San Francisco when she was 25 after she broke up with her fiancĂ©, Hank, whom she’d caught cheating with her identical twin sister, Arlene.

I know all this because Mitsy told me within five seconds of her greeting.

“He claims he got us cun-fuuused, th-aat rat! Ah was hearrrt-broken, lemme tell ya.”

That’s how girls from Savannah, Georgia speak.

Barney Chen, who’s never met a Southern girl he didn’t like and whose all time favourite fancy dress costume is Scarlet O’Hara from ‘Gone with the Wind’, has already fallen in love with Mitsy.

“Even the name is flawless!” he said. “And I do love a girl from San Pan Disco!”
“Mitsy is what you would call your poodle!” Amanda announced.

Leave it to Saffy to find a new perspective on someone she’d never met. “It’s funny how Americans will tell you their entire life story within seconds of meeting you,” Saffy said. “The same thing happened the other night on ‘Project Runway’ when all the contestants met for the first time. They just let it all hang out! Every little dirty secret.” Saffy shook her head in amazement at the trusting friendliness of the world’s most powerful nation.

“I hope she’s ugly,” was all Amanda had to say on the subject when I said I’d set up an afternoon tea to welcome Mitsy. Not wanting to miss a thing, Barney Chen invited himself along.

The day before the afternoon tea, we came home to find a message from Mitsy on our answering machine.

“Hi, y’all! It’s Mitsy!”

“And here I thought it was Michelle Obama!” Amanda said sourly.

“Ah’m just calling to say that Ah’m soooo sorry but Ah have to can-cel our ave-tur-nooon tea. Ah’m not feeling all that perky. It musta been sum-thin’ Ah ate last night! So do y’all mind if we reschedule? Ah really do want to meet y’all. Anne has told me sooo much about-chu. Well, al-right now. I better git goin’! Take care now, and make it a great day!”

“Did she just tell us to ‘make’ it a great day?” Amanda asked.

“She’s adorable!” Saffy said. “I want to take her to parties and show her off!”

Amanda replayed the message. “‘Make it a great day?’” she repeated. “Did she seriously just say that? Who says that? Seriously.”

And for once, we had no answer.

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