Friday, March 02, 2012

Old Timer

When we were growing up, we used to laugh at our mother for being such a stuck in the mud dinosaur.
            “You children are so rude to me!” she would complain indignantly.
            “You were snoring!” Michelle insisted. “The movie hadn’t even started and you were already snoring! Do you know how embarrassed I was?”
            Mother rattled her pearl necklace, always a sure sign that she was agitated. “I was sleepy! What do you expect? I’ve been up since 6am! You woke up half an hour before we left for the cinema!”
            We lost track of the number of times she marched in my brother Jack’s room to turn down the volume on his radio. “Seriously?” Jack shouted. “You expect me to listen to heavy metal at this volume?”
            “It’s too loud! It’s giving me a headache,” Mother replied calmly. “And you’ll thank me one day when you’re the only one in your retirement home who doesn’t need to wear a hearing aid.”
            “She is so weird!” Jack said to me, even as he slipped his ear-phones on and turned up the volume on AC/DC’s classic head-banger, ‘It’s a long way to the top’.
            Of course, years later, we practically have to use sign-language when talking to Jack, he’s that deaf. Meanwhile, I routinely take naps whenever I’m on the MRT. There’s something about the rhythmic rocking of the train that’s so soothing.
            But let me be the first to note that nothing says ‘Oh my God, I’m turning into my mother’ more than visiting the new Abercrombie + Fitch store on Orchard Road.
            When the poster of the half naked man on the storefront window first went up last year, it was all the girls could talk about.
            “I wish he’d just walk into my life,” Saffy told Amanda as they stood right under the poster board and looked up.
            “I wonder what he looks like,” Amanda said, lips pursed as she let her imagination run wild.
            “With a body like that, I won’t be spending much time looking at his face, let me tell ya.”
            “They’re not showing enough!” Amanda decided.
            And when a few party poopers wrote to the authorities complaining about the inappropriateness of showcasing a two-storey high topless male torso in the middle of Orchard Road, Saffy raged that some people had nothing better to do with their time than to spoil other people’s fantasies.
            And when the store finally opened and they lined up all those beefy topless boys in their red trackpants, Amanda declared that she’d never been so happy to have been born a woman in her entire life.
            News that there’d be a topless model at the entrance of the shop sent Saffy into a tailspin. She leapt into a cab with Amanda, swung by Bishan to collect Sharyn, and zoomed towards Orchard Road.
            “OMG, he is gorgeous!” she SMS’d me when they arrived.
            “Six pack and butt to kill for!” exulted Amanda’s SMS.
            Confronted with this perfect specimen of the male species, words apparently failed Sharyn, so she just sent a smiley emoticon. 
            Imagine my surprise when they returned to the flat empty handed and looking a bit put out.
            “What is with all that perfume they spritz in the air?” Amanda sneezed.
            “Suffocating!” Saffy wheezed.
            “Aiyoh, my asthma!” Sharyn gasped.
            Apparently, it didn’t help that the store was also really dark. “I couldn’t see a thing!” Saffy reported. “I wanted a pair of dark blue jeans because it looked really good on the mannequin, but then I couldn’t tell if it was black or brown or what! I pulled out five pairs at random and they all looked the same to me!”
            “You couldn’t ask someone to help you?” I asked.
            “Even if I had, I wouldn’t have been able to hear, the music was so loud!”
            “We might as well have been at a nightclub!” Amanda added.
            “But I take picture with the model,” Sharyn said as she whipped out her phone to show me the 45 pictures she took with the topless guy at the front of the store. “Wah, I even touch his stomach! Can be my son, but so handsome!”
            “Seriously, I think I’ve gone deaf!” Saffy said, sticking a finger into her ear and jiggling it.
            “God, we sound like our mothers!” Amanda said.
            Silence settled over the room, but if you listened closely, you could hear the echoes from the past.
            “Turn the music down!”
            “But Mum, it’s not loud!”
            “I can’t hear myself think! I mean it, turn it down!”
            Sharyn blinked. “Aiyoh,” she breathed out slowly.
Amanda looked horrified.
            “What? What did you say?” Saffy said, a little too loudly. “You’ll need to speak up! My ears are still ringing!”

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