It seems impossible to imagine that the year is almost over. What happened to all those months in between?
I remember when 2012 first kicked in, I rang my parents to wish them happy new year. My father said the world was going down the toilet anyway, so why bother, while my mother immediately told me to stop wasting my money and hung up the phone while I was in mid-sentence.
“Really,” I said to my sister, “I could have been telling her about my incurable gall bladder disease and she’d never know!”
“Do you have an incurable gall bladder disease?” Michelle asked.
“I’m just saying!”
I’m really not good with events that mark the passage of time. Which is why I avoid New Year’s Eve parties like the plague. And while I will happily show up for a house warming or a wedding, I steer clear of anniversaries and I especially loathe birthdays.
The last birthday party I went to was my friend Shaun’s 35th. “He’s 35?” Saffy whispered to me. “Oh my God, he looks like he’s 45! What happened?”
“Bad skin care, clearly,” said Amanda as she cast an expertly critical eye over Shaun’s epidermis. “What is it with men?”
I imagine this is what people will say when they come to my funeral.
“Goodness,” they’ll say as they stand patiently in line outside the presidential palace, sweating gently in the sun. “He was 98?”
“I thought he was already dead!”
“He looked amazing for 98 though.”
“I know, right? He did not look 98!”
“What I can’t get over is how he went from writing that silly column for 8DAYS to becoming president!”
Saffy says I shouldn’t tell people this is what I daydream about in my spare time.
“It’s really weird,” she says firmly.
But my point is that the time just goes so quickly. Especially if you’re not paying attention. And it’s worse if you skip your skincare, because there’s nothing worse than being told you look 45 when you’re only 35. That’s ten years you’ve lost through no fault of your own.
“Well, it would be your fault if you don’t invest in some basic moisturizer,” Amanda pointed out.
This is the sort of dialogue I find myself having in the run up to Christmas. It’s also shattering to realize that you’ve only just paid off your credit card bill from the previous year’s presents and it’s already time to start making the banks rich all over again. Where did the year go?
The other day, Saffy asked me if I’d started my Christmas shopping list yet.
“Because I don’t want any more of that Body Shop gift baskets you’re always getting me,” she said, her formidable bosom trembling at the memory.
“So what do you want then?” I asked.
“Well, ideally, I’d like some sparkly jewel things from Tiffany, but I don’t know, really. Surprise me. Just nothing from Body Shop. And nothing from Victoria’s Secret either!” Saffy added. “I’m sick and tired of standing in front of the mirror in my underwear and knowing that I will never look like Adrianna Lima.”
“Noted,” I said.
“I wish I was 18 again,” Saffy sniffed. “I would have been so much less uptight!”
When I told Sharyn this, she snorted hysterically. “Aiyoh!” she hiccupped. “She already so, how you say, so garang, how to be less uptight? The other day, hor, she meet my husband and say that I say he go to gym a lot, and then she say, ‘Ay, show me your stomach!’ How like that? If she less uptight, then she ask him to show her what else, I don’t want to know!”
I sniggered at the image. “So, have you done your Christmas list yet, Sharyn?”
“This year, I’m going to donate my present money to charity. No need to worry about shopping! Very easy!”
“Well, that’s no fun!” Amanda said when the news floated back to her.
“I hate it when people do good deeds like that,” Saffy pouted. “It just makes me feel so bad! Which I guess is the point. But since when did Christmas become such a moral issue? I just want to get lots of nice presents and get drunk!”
I said I wanted to get the whole thing over and done with. “It’s the same thing every year! We get useless presents we don’t want. We spend money on people we don’t like. And we have to pretend we love it. And then, suddenly, it’s time to do it all over again!”
Sharyn says I could learn to be less uptight. I said at least I wasn’t asking to see her stomach.