Monday, January 10, 2011

Second Chances

If you ever needed proof that men and women come from different planets, look no further than my friend Joanne.

A year ago, Joanne was happily engaged to Wen, a rising banker in an investment bank that couldn’t have been too badly hurt in the financial crisis because it was still giving out healthy bonuses – some of which ended up on Joanne’s neck in the form of sparkling diamonds.

“My God, he gave you Tiffany princess cut diamonds for your birthday?” Amanda said when she bumped into Joanne at the Ion.

“Aren’t they pretty?” Joanne said. “Eighteen carats, some more!”

“I hate her,” Saffy said that night. “How did she manage to hook such a smoking hot rich banker? Meanwhile, I’m still spending my Saturday nights dancing at St James with you two!”

As Amanda later said to me, she should have felt outraged at Saffy’s insult, but she just couldn’t find the energy to disagree. “It’s so depressing.”

You can imagine the frisson of excitement that swept through our little flat when a few months later, Joanne called Saffy and told her in ascending notes of hysteria that she and Wen had broken up.

“He was two-timing her with the sister of his brother’s best friend!” Saffy reported the minute she got off the phone with Joanne.

“At least it wasn’t with the mother of his brother’s best friend!” Amanda said with a pinch on her pretty face as she remembered the saga involving one of her ex-boyfriends.

“What gets me is why, if you were fooling around with someone else, you would even bother to give your girlfriend such expensive diamonds?” I asked.

“According to Wen, that other woman was just a mistake,” Saffy replied with the kind of authority that comes only after years of practicing relationship post-mortems, “and that Joanne was really the one he wanted to spend the rest of his life with. But Joanne isn’t buying it for a second because the day he gave her those diamonds, he’d just come back from a romantic weekend with the other woman in Bangkok! So clearly, the diamonds were a guilt buy!”

Amanda gasped. “Men!”

The following months followed the predictable course whenever girlfriends suffer a traumatic experience. It was an intense period of tears and maudlin dissections of the failed relationship as Joanne waded through the pain while Saffy and Amanda rose magnificently to the occasion as priestly confessors.

“So now, Joanne is looking at all the presents Wen’s given her over the years with suspicion,” Saffy said grimly. “She thinks they may all have been given right after he’d seen the other woman.”

“Assuming it’s the same woman!” Amanda added darkly.

A year has since passed and Joanne still bears the end of the relationship with stoic calm. Through mutual friends, she gets updates on Wen though Saffy and Amanda have tried to tempt her with other men. But no one was prepared by the recent bombshell delivered, by of all people, the woman Wen had cheated on Joanne with – the sister of Wen’s best friend.

Apparently, they’d bumped into one another in Gucci and the sister had suddenly burst into tears right next to the latest handbag collection.

Within an hour, I was getting text messages from Saffy and Amanda.

“OMG!” said Saffy’s message. “Guess wot?”

“OMG!” Amanda’s message pinged. “Wen is engaged to his sister’s best fren! He was cheating on the girl he cheated on Joanne with!!”

Needless to say, Joanne is devastated. “All this time, I was hoping he’d come to his senses and come back to me!” she wailed.

Saffy is impressed that while Joanne was pining for Wen, not only had he dumped the second woman, he’d met a third woman and convinced her, in less than half a year, to marry him.

“I cannot believe he moved on so quickly!” she said. “It’s only been a year since they broke up! How do you guys do it?”

“It’s like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie all over again!” Amanda said, a Hollywood parallel never far from her imagination.

“What about me?” Joanne shouted the other night during a speaker-call with Saffy and Amanda. “That bastard! I need a man, too! I need some loving! Do you know it’s been a year since I’ve been with anyone? I have needs!”

At which point, Saffy put the call on mute and turned to Amanda. “Seriously, I haven’t been with a man for two years, but do you see me making such a song and dance about it?”

“Some people can be so self-absorbed,” Amanda agreed.

“Hello?” Joanne’s static voice asked. “Are you girls still there?”

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