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.