When my grandmother was in the firm grip of senility, she lost all her social inhibitions. She said and did whatever popped into her head.
If she felt like standing up in the middle of a movie and shouting, “He doesn’t love you! He’s having an affair with his secretary! He’s going to kill you!”, she would do just that. If she felt like taking her plate of fried beehoon up to the bathroom and throwing the whole thing into the toilet, she would.
My mother remembers a particularly mortifying occasion when Grandmother suddenly spoke up in a restaurant, “May-ling, look at that girl at the next table. She has the biggest ass I’ve ever seen!”
“She said it in very loud Cantonese, too!” Mother moaned at the memory. “And you know how crude the word ‘ass’ sounds in Cantonese! I wanted to die!”
Saffy says that we could all learn from my grandmother’s example. “People are just too uptight these days!” she remarked recently. “They take offence at the most innocent things people say.”
I hesitated. “And by ‘people’…”
“I mean me!” Saffy replied promptly. “It’s all such a lot of fuss about nothing, really!”
A few days earlier, Amanda had been invited to the home of her boss for a birthday party he was throwing for his wife.
“Bring your partner or a friend!” her boss had encouraged, so Amanda brought Saffy, an act she later conceded had not been properly thought through.
“What was I thinking?” she shouted when they came home after the party.
Saffy trudged through the front door, following Amanda. She looked unrepentant. “Seriously, what’s the big deal?”
Amanda shot daggers behind her as she headed for the drinks cabinet. “If murder didn’t carry a death penalty in this town, you’d be dead by now!”
The full gory story only emerged after three stiff gin and tonics.
At the birthday party, one of the surprises was a violin performance by the 8-year old son of Amanda’s boss.
Apparently, he played ‘I Will Always Love You’, which even Amanda admitted was a kinda creepy song for a son to play to his mother on her birthday given that Whitney Houston sang it to her injured lover slash bodyguard as a farewell dirge.
By the time the kid had played the first bar, it was clear even to Saffy, who is severely tone deaf, that he should be encouraged to take up another hobby. Something, anything, that doesn’t require the production of a sequence of musical notes.
“It was awful,” Amanda sighed.
“I could actually feel my panties tightening around my waist!” Saffy reported.
But, of course, when the kid was bowing his last note, all the guests clapped enthusiastically. His mother was weeping, though, on reflection, no one could be a hundred percent sure if it was from pride and joy, or sheer relief that it was finally over.
Amanda was the first to rush over to her boss to gush about what a wonderfully talented son he had.
“Hypocritical ass-kisser!” Saffy muttered.
“I am gunning for the promotion!”
“Yes, but still!”
Amanda said what happened next was like watching a car accident happen in slow motion. Just as she was wrapping up her congratulations, Saffy materialized by her side, a champagne flute in one hand and prawn roll in the other.
“God, why is there no food at this party?” she began. “I had to fight off a woman for this last prawn roll!”
Amanda’s smile stiffened. “We were just talking about Joshua’s performance…” She never got to finish her sentence because Saffy’s bosom inflated and sucked up the surrounding air.
“Oh my God! Is that his name? That kid was terrible! He really should be playing another instrument! I mean, I’m tone deaf and everything, but really…Amanda, why are you looking at me like that?”
Apparently, the next thing Saffy knew, Amanda had bundled her into a taxi and spent the entire trip shouting.
“Seriously, how was I to know he was your boss?” Saffy bleated.
“Because he introduced Joshua at the beginning of the act with ‘My son’!” Amanda yelled.
“Listen,” Saffy said urgently, “nobody is doing that kid any favours by pretending that he’s good! He needs to know the truth! Back me up here, Jason!”
“Oh God,” Amanda moaned. “You should have seen the look on my boss’s face. I might as well kiss that promotion goodbye now. I’m going to be sorting out mail for the rest of my life!”
Saffy later told me that she doesn’t dare tell Amanda that the woman she fought off for the last prawn roll was the boss’s wife.