Animals are seasonal creatures. Every winter, the birds head south for sunnier temperatures, while furrier land-bound creatures hole up in their little homes, try to stay warm and hibernate. Then, with the first hint of sunshine and spring, they start to stir and stick their noses out into the air. The salmon struggle upstream to breed while the birds come home to roost.
In the little flat I share with Saffy and Amanda, the beginning of each year marks the opening season of American Idol and as Ryan Seacrest yells out “This is A-mer-ican Idol!”, you just know that life is going to be, once again, bright, harmonious and fun again.
“I love this show!” Amanda said the other night as we settled in to watch the auditions aboard an aircraft carrier docked in San Diego.
“There aren’t enough deluded tone-deaf people singing and behaving badly this year,” I noted with a seasoned critical ear.
“I want to have Steven Tyler’s baby!” Saffy mumbled through a mouthful of popcorn.
“You have a boyfriend, Saffy!” Amanda said from the other end of the couch, disapproval etched into every syllable.
“I know that, but there’s no rule that says you can’t have a boyfriend and still have Steven Tyler’s baby. He’s such a wrinkled old man, but there’s something so unbearably sexy about him!” Saffy’s bosom inflated with enthusiasm.
And that’s the thing about American Idol: It encourages you to dream. It doesn’t matter if you’re a waitress, a single mother, a mechanic, a coal miner, an unemployed kid, or a college student – if you dream big, anything could happen. Even having a baby with Steven Tyler.
And especially if you’re Jim Carrey’s daughter - who actually auditioned and was sent to Hollywood.
Amanda was shocked. “Jim Carrey’s daughter is a waitress? Why is Jim Carrey’s daughter a waitress?”
“Maybe she’s a high-class waitress?” Saffy offered as she peered into the depths of her bosom looking for a stray popcorn.
“Yes, but he’s worth bazillions. Would you be a waitress if your father was worth bazillions? I’d be at the spa all day! And this girl can sing, too,” Amanda added, in the dark, her face bathed with the flickering TV light. “You’d think her father with all his connections would pull a string or two to get a recording contract.”
“Yeah, like Priscilla Presley!” Saffy said.
After a moment’s silence, Amanda pointed out that Elvis was dead.
“You think his name didn’t open doors? Really?” Saffy asked with her usual penetrating insight.
In a world where even someone like Paris Hilton can release a studio album, it seemed to us very strange, not to mention unfair, that Jim Carrey’s daughter had to go through the humiliating TV experience of an audition just so she didn’t have to be a waitress for the rest of her life.
“Well, at least she can sing. She has talent,” Saffy said. “I don’t have any talent. No, really, I don’t. I can’t cook, I can’t sing, I can’t dance, I can’t write. I have no hand-eye coordination. Which means we can immediately rule out a career as Martha Stewart, Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez, JK Rowling or Serena Williams!”
The idea depressed Saffy for days. “Amanda can live on her retirement loot as a lawyer and you,” she said, dejectedly lifting a nose in my direction, “you’re going to inherit from your parents, but what am I going to do? I have no talent for anything!”
“Well, you’re a very capable HR manager!” But even as I said those words, I knew how hollow they sounded.
“Everyone hates the HR manager!” Saffy said. “People see me walk down the corridor and they tense up. The other day, this secretary told me that after she had a meeting with me, she couldn’t pee for six hours.”
Nothing we said could change her mind. Not even the prospect that her adoring boyfriend Bradley would one day earn enough money to be able to support her in the lifestyle to which she’s become accustomed in her fantasy world.
“Oh, please. He’s an accountant who’s in charge of payroll. Where’s the money going to come from?”
“He could embezzle?” Amanda said helpfully.
“Great. Thank you, Amanda. Now, I’m dating a potential con-man.”
“I’m just saying!”
Saffy’s eyebrows wrinkled. “Do you think Changi prison provides its inmates with spousal conjugal rights?”
“Aiyoh, why you like that, one?” Saffy’s best friend Sharyn exclaimed. “You got no talent, got no talent, lor. You’ll have beautiful children, lah!”
“Oh great. I’ll be the world’s most talentless mother. And I’ll be poor. It’s no wonder my kids will be auditioning on American Idol!”
“Or worse,” Sharyn added darkly, “Singapore Idol!”