My friend Janette recently embarked on a long distance relationship.
To hear her tell it, the whole thing is entirely uncharacteristic of her. “I don’t like surprises and long distance relationships are so risky, not to mention expensive!” she said recently over lunch, adding, “I like predictability and stability. It’s why I became a chartered accountant.”
Later, Saffy said it’s also why Janette has been single for so long. “Who dates chartered accountants?” she asked rhetorically, managing to both insult millions of otherwise inoffensive career number crunchers while completely side-stepping the fact that her own dating track-record has been far from earthshaking.
But back to my lunch.
Janette met Joshua at Zouk. “We were with different friends, and we were dancing on the dance floor and somehow he ended up stepping on my Jimmy Choo’s. It was so romantic!” she said. (“Who goes to Zouk these days, unless you’re a fetus?” Saffy asked.)
Amid the deafening thump-thump-thump of the music, Janette gave Joshua her phone number and went home that night to dream of their first kiss. The next day, he called, which, according to Saffy and Amanda, breaks every single rule of dating.
“You’re meant to wait at least three days!” Amanda said with disapproval in her voice.
“He was only in town for two days!” I pointed out.
“Then he should have called from Hong Kong. That shows he’s serious. If a guy calls you the very next day, it just means he wants only one thing from you, and it’s not going to be to borrow your ‘Mad Men’ box-set!”
Joshua asked Janette out for coffee. They did the usual exchange of CVs. He’s English, went to a posh boarding school and works in an American law firm in Hong Kong.
(“So, he’s filth!” Amanda said.
“That’s a bit harsh, isn’t it?” I said.
“No, no. All caps. F-I-L-T-H. Failed in London, Try Hong Kong!"
“Janette says he’s a partner. And that he’s gorgeous.”
“So, why is he still single?” Saffy wanted to know. “He should have been snapped up by now by any number of Hong Kong SPGs. What’s wrong with him?”)
“We just clicked, you know?” Janette said as she picked delicately at her salad. “We like so many of the same things. He’s back in Singapore next week for work and we’ve been talking or texting every day. And the best part is that I’ve got that funny butterfly thing in my stomach every time I think about him. Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve felt like that?”
That was six months ago. Since then, Janette has been heading up to Hong Kong every month, while Joshua pops down to Singapore every other weekend. A few days ago, on one of his visits, Janette threw a party at her home and finally introduced him to her friends.
The first thing Saffy said to us was: “Oh my God, she met him at Zouk? There are single straight guys that look like him at Zouk? Why are we not there more regularly?”
Amanda sighed into her gin and tonic. “Because every time we go, it’s just a bunch of post-high-school children. Maybe we leave too early?”
“It’s so unfair!” Saffy said as she sent a beady look beaming across Janette’s living room at Joshua who was cuddling Janette. You could tell Saffy was mentally inserting herself into his brawny tanned arms.
All of which has led me to conclude that dating is no different from playing the lottery. You could buy 4-D religiously every week for your whole life and have nothing to show for it except a pile of broken financial dreams. Then, one day, someone who’s never gambled in his life decides to try his luck on a single ticket and ends up winning $10m. None of it makes sense, and if you did try to make sense of it all, you’d probably go mad with anger and frustration.
A few days ago, Janette announced that she’s packing up and moving to Hong Kong.
You could practically hear Saffy’s scream across the island. “He’s proposed? Already?!”
“No, but Janette said it’s pretty clear that the relationship is going somewhere, so she might as well give it a go,” I said.
Janette’s news has fully occupied the girls’ attention for days now. A small part of them burns with jealousy, while a larger part is thrilled at the fairy tale romance quality of the relationship. As Amanda says, it’s proof that love can strike in the most unlikely of places and that there’s always hope. Just when you least expect it.
Which also explains why she and Saffy recently renewed their Zouk club membership.