Friday, August 17, 2012

Shop Talk

Aren’t the Internet and technology such wonderful things? They’ve got everything you need and they’ll do anything you want.
Want to watch a blockbuster movie? It’s on iTunes. Want the latest New York Times bestseller? It’s on Kindle. Need a new pair of shoes? It’s on Net a Porter. Want to ask your mother about a recipe? Skype her. Not on Skype? FaceTime her. Don’t want to talk to her? SMS her.
Need to research something? Google it. Can’t be bothered typing out your question? Ask Siri. Hungry? Order a take-out online. Need cash? Transfer funds with online banking. Or SMS your mother.
There are entire days when I literally do not have to leave my apartment. I know this because a few days ago, Saffy asked me, “When was the last time you left this flat?” and I replied, “It’s been days. Why?”
“You’re been wearing the same pajamas since the weekend. I’m just wondering if you’ve noticed.”
I smiled smugly. “As long as I’m hooked up on the Internet, I don’t have to move out of my comfort zone.”
Saffy stared, her magnificent bosom barely trembling. “When my friends and I get together and we talk about our weird flatmates, I always win.”
For me, I reached Nirvana when I discovered the joys of Internet shopping. The idea that I could just buy things without having to get dressed, schlep down to the bus and then navigate all those horrible shoppers who all had the same idea at the same time…well, that was just heaven. Whoever thought up that idea should be given a harem of nubile wenches in string bikinis who feed him peeled grapes all day.
            Of course, there are some people who like the human contact when it comes to shopping. And by people, I mean, of course, Amanda.
            The woman is on first names basis with all the shop assistants in every single major store along Orchard Road with an Italian or French name. She surprised us all when she waved to Muna on the street (“She does the weekend shift at Prada!”) and she surprised even Muna when she showed up uninvited at Muna’s wedding.
            “How did you even know she was getting married?” Saffy asked.
            “Jane, her friend at Louis Vuitton, told me!”
            Saffy sighed. “Of course, she did.”
            For Amanda, it’s more than just about buying a Birkin. It’s the whole village community thing that she loves of walking in Hermes and striking up a chummy conversation with Wendy, whom you soon learn is a mother of two and whose husband has been having problems of late in bed.
            Saffy was astonished. “People tell you these things?”
            “Well, not immediately,” Amanda said. “I’d bought three sweaters and two bags from her before she told me about her first kiss. But by the time I’d bought my second Kelly bag, she was telling me about the love life of the other shop assistants! You certainly don’t get that kind of social interaction on-line!” she added.
            Later, over coffee with me and Sharyn, Saffy said that with such a busy retail social life, it’s a miracle Amanda manages to spend any time at the office at all. “It’s exhausting keeping up with just the friends I have!” she exclaimed.
            “Don’t forget, hor,” Sharyn added, “some more must remember which shop the person you’re talking to work at. If you see that Mooo-nah on the street and you s’kali say, ‘Hey, Mooo-nah, I ask you, Fendi got sale or not?’, chiam ah! No more discount at Prada, some more! Right or not?”
            Saffy swallowed her coffee with a grimace. “Totally!”
            A few days later, at breakfast, Amanda looked up from her newspaper and said, “It’s terrible what they’re doing to Pussy Riot!”
            Saffy hesitated. “The fashion label?” Later she told me that she’d actually wanted to ask if Pussy Riot was a drag queen but judging from the serious look on Amanda’s face, she’d concluded it had to do with a calamity in the fashion world.
            As it was, Amanda rolled her eyes and announced that Saffy’s general knowledge of current affairs was an utter disgrace.
            “I don’t like to read the newspaper, it’s full of bad news!” Saffy said stoutly. “And anyway, can you please stop reading the New York Times in front of me? It’s very difficult for me to pigeon-hole you as a mindless shopaholic bimbo if you’re also talking about Russia’s unstable political whatever it is you just said!”
            I was barely listening. Having quietly Googled Pussy Riot, I was already watching the highlights of the Olympics closing ceremony while paying my telephone bill online and buying a new set of pajamas. 

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