It won’t come as much of a surprise to regular readers of this column that there’s been a bit of a drama recently in the little flat I share with Saffy and Amanda. In restaurants and on the street, complete strangers come up to me and ask me how it’s possible that three people can generate so much angst and trouble in such a confined space.
Invariably, my first response is to run away. “Imagine having to deal with this all the time!” I said to my best friend Karl after I was accosted in the cereal aisle of Cold Storage by a pimply teenager carrying a Goyard bag. She wanted to know if Saffy and Amanda were real people.
“So, how? Got picture of Saffy’s boobs?” she asked, pressing close.
“Uhm,” I said, “you’re really close inside my personal space.”
“Wah,” she replied, “real life, you also very cheem, hor?”
“Where do kids get the money to buy Goyard!” Karl later wanted to know.
I stared at him. “I was just verbally assaulted by Single White Female and all you can talk about is her accessories? Really? How do Madonna and Brad Pitt do this?””
My point is: my life is full of drama. None of which has anything to do with me. And it’s wearing me down.
The latest episode began on Saturday morning at the Standard Chartered bank’s ATM machine in Raffles Place. On her way to brunch at the Fullerton Hotel, Saffy suddenly realized that she was down to her last ten dollars which, as she later pointed out, won’t get you two cup cakes these days.
She inserted her card, in her head humming the theme song to Hawaii Five-O, and her fingers began dropping onto the keypad to tap in her PIN. The music stopped. As it were. Saffy blinked. Then frowned.
Meanwhile, across town, Amanda was getting her hair washed at the hairdresser when her handphone rang.
“Oh. My. God!” Saffy announced.
“I’m getting my hair washed and I don’t want to be electrocuted, so this had better be good.”
“To the day I die,” Saffy said without missing a beat as she detoured into a parallel universe, “I will never understand people who pay someone else good money to wash their hair when they can just as easily do it at home in the shower. Why don’t you pay me to do it?”
“Is this what you rang me for?”
“Oh, my God, no, thank God you reminded me! I’m at the ATM and I’ve completely forgotten what my PIN is. Do you know what it is?”
“Saffy, why would I know what your PIN is?
“Because I once gave it to you for safe keeping!”
“And I told you that I wasn’t your secretary, gave it back to you and told you to write it down somewhere safe!”
“Oh,” Saffy said. She paused as she marshaled her thoughts. “So, did I ask Jason to keep it safe?”
“Again, I’m not your secretary!”
Needless to say, the drama ratcheted up several notches when after Saffy had mindlessly punched in random five digit numbers three times, the machine sucked up her card and refused to give it back to her even after she kicked it a few times and yelled “No!” at it for ten minutes.
As she later complained, as if modern life wasn’t already complicated enough, you now basically needed to have the memory capacity of a 50G hard-drive just to remember all your access codes. “I have a PIN for three bank accounts. I have user IDs, PINs and passwords for my online banking, Yahoo, three Gmail addresses, health insurance, Apple, PayPal, eBay, Amazon, New York Times, Singapore Airlines, British Airways, Qantas, Twitter, Facebook! It’s all too much! How am I supposed to remember it all?”
“Write it down somewhere,” Amanda repeated.
“I did that, but I lost the sheet of paper and now I’m petrified that someone’s found it and is wiping me out! Haven’t you heard of identity theft?”
Amanda said to me privately that the identity thief would be really scraping the bottom of the barrel to steal Saffy’s identity. “She has a total of $100 in her bank account!”
I was impressed. “How do you know?”
“It was one of the random security questions the Stan Chart woman asked over the phone when Saffy had to prove her identity because she couldn’t remember her NRIC number! Can you imagine not knowing your NRIC number in this country? You might as well not exist!”
I can’t help but wonder if Madonna or Brad Pitt ever have this problem.