Saturday, October 23, 2010

Year today, gone tomorrow

I don’t know about you, but it frightens me that 2010 is almost at an end. It’s like I’m stuck in one of those horrible dreams where I suddenly realise I have a very important exam to sit in the next half hour and I haven’t studied and I just know I’m going to fail.

And in this case, I’m haunted by the suspicion that I’m meant to have done something this year, but I can’t for the life work out what it is and time is running out.

It’s freaking me out, especially when I know that somewhere out there, someone is getting ready to put up the Christmas decorations on Orchard Road.

So, here’s the other thing – why is the Christmas build-up in Singapore so freaking long? While the rest of the world is still working its way through Thanksgiving and Guy Fawkes and assorted pagan worship, the streets of Singapore are festooned with fairy lights, fake snow, plastic reindeer and Christmas trees. In November. For those of us already traumatised by the rapidly depleting year, this is not comforting.

I remember I started 2010 with such high hopes and expectations. I was going to make an effort to brush up my French. It’s telling that the only phrase I’ve learnt all year is “Je m’en fou!” which, in polite conversation, roughly translates to “I don’t give a crap!”

I was going to go to the gym more often, and I’ve been only once.

Leave it to Saffy to see the brighter side of laziness. “Well, seeing as in 2009 you went to the gym zero times, going once in 2010 is essentially a 100% improvement! So, well done!” Her bosom, already straining beneath a tight tee-shirt that read “My eyes aren’t down here!”, heaved with approval.

“But I don’t think I’ve done anything of importance all year!” I said. “I said I wanted to do more charity work and I haven’t. I was going to call my mother more often and I haven’t!”

“Well, who can blame you considering that she’s basically disinherited you and your siblings!” Saffy exclaimed. “I wouldn’t talk to my mother either, not that she has any money to disinherit me from in the first place.”

“But don’t you feel that the year has just slipped by too quickly? It’s like I’ve been sleepwalking since January and suddenly I wake up and it’s Christmas!”

My Auntie Wai-ling says it gets worse as you get older. “One day, you’re going to wake up and find you’re drooling in a wheelchair like your Auntie Ching-ling! And then you’ll really wonder what the hell happened!”

She invited me to lunch and told me all about her recent horror mah-jong session. “One minute, Ching was winning like mad, then she dropped one of the tiles, bent down to get it back, and because she’d been sitting at the table for five straight hours, all the blood suddenly rushed to her head and she collapsed with a stroke. Aiyoh, such bad luck, I tell you!” Auntie Wai-ling crooned in horror. “When we were young, where got scared of such things? I think I’m going to sign up for yo-gah classes. I can’t touch my toes to save my life, but I need to start doing something!”

Amanda says she wishes she’d saved her money instead of buying another Birkin bag. “If I had bought Aussie dollars, I’d be sitting on a tidy profit now! I’m so stupid!”

So, I’ve started to write down my resolutions for 2011, but even before the ink is dry, the list already reeks of doom and failure. Because many of the resolutions look very familiar. Every year, I promise myself to go to more museums. To be nicer to people. To spend more time with my aging parents. To read more books and go to less boozy parties.

Then I look at my beloved adopted mongrel dog Pooch who spends his days flat on his back, all four furry paws stuck up in the air, dreaming sweet doggy dreams of his poodle girlfriend and chasing our neighbour Mrs Kumarasamy’s evil black Persian. His days revolve around hanging out with me, having a good old hearty poo a few times a day and a nice dinner. It’s all so simple. He wouldn’t know a new year’s resolution if he peed on it. And yet, he’s content and happy.

“Are you seriously going to base your life on that dog?” Amanda asked. “He licks his own balls!”

Saffy says if she could ever lick her own balls, it would definitely count as a very good year.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Hmmm, according to Blogspot, I had 4000 page views last month, but only 41 followers. Something is not right with these numbers!
Sign up, you lazy bums!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Deal Breaker

So our friend Jessie is getting married at the Ritz-Carlton. Her thick glossy invitation arrived in the post a while back and while the nuptials may be filling the Chan-Wong households (and the Ritz-Carlton’s finance department) with immense joy and celebration, in the little flat that I share with my two flatmates and my beloved adopted mongrel Pooch, it’s causing a great deal of angst.

“Someone needs to tell me how that fat midget is getting married before me!” Amanda vented recently.

Saffy coughed. “Please don’t use that term in public, Amanda. It’s seriously offensive!”

“I know it is. It’s a huge insult to all the fat midgets out there!” Amanda snapped.

For those of you who came in late, Jessie is a lovely, perfectly charming Peranakan chick. She’s a highly successful lawyer in a big glossy Raffles Place firm. She’s smart. Gets on with everyone. Always stops and donates to those annoying kids jangling their tins along Orchard Road on a Saturday morning. She’s always been very pleasant to me when I bump into her at a party. Guys like her. More importantly, their mothers like her.

Her only defect, if you could even call it that, is that she comes up to the level of my armpits, even when perched in her trademark Manolo Blahniks. She’s also on the plump side on account of the fact that her father is an amazing cook and who can go on a diet when there’s a sensational chicken buah keluak waiting for you for dinner every night? But I wouldn’t call her fat. Which technically does not make her a fat midget, but you don’t get too hung up on technicalities when you’re angry about the fact that everyone in the world seems to be getting married. Except you.

“I don’t think I can bear going to another wedding!” Amanda sighed. She’d calmed down a little after the initial shock. “This will be the seventh wedding I’ve been to this year, and all the brides are younger than I am! What is wrong with this picture?”

“How much do we have to give, do you think? For the ang pow, I mean,” Saffy piped up, demonstrating once again her ability to completely derail any conversation. She picked up her phone and called her best friend, Sharyn.

“It’s at the Ritz-Carlton…In Singapore…Uh huh…Shut. Up. $150! Are you insane?...Well, I was thinking more along the lines of $100!...Well, what if I don’t want to eat sharks fin goop or rubbery abalone? That stuff is so revolting anyway! Can I give less if I cut out some dishes from my dinner?...Hey, don’t you dare call me cheapskate! I’m not the one who asked for a discount at Giordano! Seriously, Sharyn, you are asking for two tight slaps!”

As Amanda later told me, it’s always a source of amazement to her that Saffy has any friends at all, let alone someone so incredibly loyal as Sharyn.
But for days, all the girls could talk about was how expensive wedding dinner ang pows have become.

“I remember when it was $80!” Amanda said.

“I remember when I went on a date!” Saffy sighed tragically, her bosom heaving in sympathy.

“Could you please stay on track for just one conversation?” Amanda snapped.

Meanwhile, my mother thinks the whole idea of giving money at weddings is so incredibly tacky. “If you can’t afford to have a wedding at a fancy hotel in the first place, then hold it at home!” she once told my sister Michelle whose first assignment in her Accounting 100 course was to create a wedding cost spread sheet. “It’s like inviting people to your housewarming party and then expecting them to cough up for the mortgage repayments! Your father’s parents gave me a Tiffany necklace and matching ear-rings when we got married. Now, that’s classy!”

Later, Michelle said to me that she’d much rather have cash. “If you compound the interest on the capital investment for those blood diamonds, by the time you’re 65, you’d be sitting on a very nice nest egg!”

Our brother Jack said recently this was exactly the kind of reasoning that has led to Michelle still being single.

Which still doesn’t take the sting out of handing over $150 to two people you don’t really have good wishes for. “If the three of us go, surely that doesn’t mean we each have to pay $150?” Saffy said the other day. “Why can’t we do a three for two deal or something? I mean, Borders does it all the time!”

Sharyn Facebooked me and said she’s seriously reassessing her friends list.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Old Age Benefits

Dating is so easy when you’re in your twenties. You go to a party. Meet someone cute. Ask them out for a coffee. Maybe a movie. Followed by dinner. Another meal and before you know it, you’re a couple. If you’re the girl, you get to cast pitying looks at your single girlfriends, and if you’re a guy, you get to carry your girlfriend’s handbag in public.

Of course, if it never gets to the movie or dinner stage because there’s just no chemistry or you find her laugh very annoying, it’s no big deal. You call up your friends and head out to the next party where you will probably find someone interesting. And the process starts all over again.

Then one day, you realise that you’re spending a lot more time at home on the weekends. And when you can muster the energy to drag your sorry ass off the sofa to go to a nightclub, you find that everyone who is even remotely interesting is chatting to someone else and not even looking in your direction.

And then you notice something else: everyone is younger than you are.

And you notice something else: you’re no longer in your twenties. But everyone else is. Which then makes you wonder if this is the reason why you’ve not been on a date since the first season of ‘Lost’.

See what a vicious downward spiral it is?

“God, imagine what’s going to happen when you hit 40!” Saffy said the other day while examining herself in her new dress in her bedroom.

On the bed, Amanda looked up from her latest copy of Vogue. Her eyes narrowed. “Why did you just use the word ‘you’?” You could feel the temperature in the room drop a few degrees.

“It’s a generic term!” Saffy said hurriedly. “‘You’ doesn’t mean ‘you’! It means ‘us’! Like ‘you’ and ‘me’ ‘us’! We’re nowhere near 40. Well, I know I’m not. But my point is,” she went on nervously, “when we hit 40, the dating pool will have literally dried up. And we’ll all die of dehydration!”

“So, you think I’m going to still be single when I’m 40?” Amanda asked, her eyes now the size of narrow slits.

“I’m going to shut up now,” Saffy murmured. “And try on this new dress.”

Amanda, never one to hold a grudge in the presence of a new outfit, instantly brightened. “When did you get that? It’s so pretty!”

“Oh, I got it at a Club 21 sale the other day. You think I can afford Armani on my salary? I thought I needed something nice to wear for my date but it’s so hard to find time to shop these days so I really had to rush over on the weekend and battle through all the aunties and this one I had to really fight hard for I’m babbling aren’t I why are you looking at me like that Amanda say something please you’re scaring me oh Jason help…”

The other thing about dating when you’re no longer in your twenties is that you now understand why people who get stuck up on an icy mountain, dying of starvation, eventually start eating one another. It’s a matter of survival: if the only thing standing between you and another night of going insane with hunger is your best friend’s forearm, you put aside your vegetarian scruples and start chewing.

“I have not been on a date for so long!” Amanda moaned much later when she’d had a moment to overcome her sudden fit of jealousy. “I don’t think I have it in me anymore to keep fighting for a date.”

“Didn’t you go for dinner last week with that lawyer?” I asked.

Amanda sighed. “Oh God, all he did was talk about his stock portfolio and SMS all night. If he’s like that on the first date, and mind you I was wearing vintage Versace so there was a lot of cleavage showing, what’s he going to be like two weeks into the marriage? Which leads me to think that maybe he was gay.”

Two days ago, we received a big fat glossy envelope in the post. It was a wedding invitation from our friend Jessie.

“What!” Saffy yelled.

“I thought she was still single!” Amanda shouted.

“Seriously? That four-eyed midget? How did that happen?” Saffy vented, really getting into the spirit of the occasion.

Things have calmed down a little since then, especially when Sharyn pointed out that there are always single eligible guys at weddings. “There’d better be,” Amanda threatened.

Saffy says Amanda’s mood swings are killing her.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Talking Cock

They say that if you want to know what that gorgeous girl you’ve been lusting after will look like thirty years from now, just take a good hard look at her mother. And by ‘they’, I mean, of course, my mother.

When my brother Jack brought home his first girlfriend, the first thing Mother did was to invite Mrs Jansen over for tea and mahjong. That evening, Mother said to Father that Marisa Jansen was never going to work out.

“Joyce Jansen looks like she’s a sausage roll! Imagine what Marisa is going to look like after she’s popped out a couple of children! And,” Mother added with gloom, “her mother can’t play mahjong for nuts. Anyone who doesn’t know how to pong properly will not be having any smart children.”

Jack never quite worked out why or how, but shortly after that, Marisa was transferred to another school. And that was that.

I was reminded of this recently while having lunch alone at PS CafĂ©. Next to me sat two thirty something women. Obviously BFF. I guessed SCGS followed by university in America. Tall, thin, long haired, Birkin bags and expensive manicures. I knew I was in for a great session of eavesdropping when one of them asked the other, “So, how was your date with Dutch Boy?”

BFF2: Oh, we had a lovely dinner. Bottle of wine, good conversation, great food. He’s super-fit. He’s training for a marathon.
BFF1: Did he pay?
BFF2: Of course, lah! He immediately reached for the bill when it came and I didn’t fight him for it. For once. I kept remembering what you said about my control and power issues.
BFF1: So…did anything happen?
BFF2: No! But we’ve kissed.
BFF1: Seriously, what’s with you? This is like, what, the fourth date? And all you’ve done is kiss? Isn’t it time to take it to the next level?
BFF2: I would, but I think getting me into bed is the one goal he's zoned in on right now. And I’m not quite sure I want that to happen just yet.
BFF1: Oh my God, Clarissa! What are you, your mother?
Clarissa: Choy, Cindy! I just think that he's one of those guys who will lose interest the minute I put out. Call me paranoid but I am just trying to suss things out.
Cindy: So you both just went home after dinner?
Clarissa: Well, he wasn't a pleased puppy when I called for the driver after dinner.
Cindy: What is your problem? It’s not like you’re looking for anything serious now anyway. You’ve broken up with Mark for like, what, two months, so clearly, Dutch Boy is your rebound. You can get what you want from him, move on and let another girl get a crack at him.
Clarissa: But…
Cindy: No ‘but’. If you keep on this road, you’re just wasting everyone’s time. We’re not getting any younger, you know.
Clarissa: Why am I friends with you?
Cindy: Look. It’s like you try on a dress in a shop. You can dither and dither, but after a while, you either get to the cashier and pay for the dress, or you put it back on the rack and move onto the next shop! You have to date the way you shop! Efficiently!
Clarissa: Well, he’s gone to Taipei for work and he’s back this weekend. Let’s see if he calls.
Cindy: No, no! You can’t wait for him to call you. You ended the night, so you have to make it up to him. Just say you had a great night, sorry about the early night but you had had a long day, but could you make it up to him with dinner at your place? That’s a clear signal that the hunt is back on.
Clarissa: I did text him today to tell him we need to celebrate when he's back. He didn't really respond to that, but I think he's still brooding. He’s a bit petulant by nature, I think.
Clarissa: God. Welcome to my world and Dennis. He’s exactly like that. Last night I told him I had a headache and he acted like I’d siphoned off all his CPF money! So today, I had to manja him like hell!
Cindy: What’s wrong with men?
Clarissa: I remember my mother telling me that all men are petulant by nature. And it’s the woman’s job to get what she wants by mothering the guy a little. It’s a sick Freudian stereotype, but it’s so true.

Saffy says she wants to have lunch with me more often. “I swear, you get the best conversations!”