I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted. It’s not even the end of June as I write this, but it feels like it’s been such a long year already. If it wasn’t Joanne Peh breaking up with her boyfriend, it was her getting on with a new one. Or people being slaughtered at weddings in ‘Game of Thrones’. Or the stress of watching Roger Federer lose yet another tennis match. And don’t get me started on the haze. We’re still trying to wash the stench of smoke out of our hair.
Really, it’s just been one thing after the other. I so need a break.
Of course, the big issue now is just where to go. Brighter sparks out there will probably observe that we should jetted out of Singapore before the horrible haze hit and that now is the time to sit back and enjoy the much cleaner air.
Like my friend Barney Chen.
Long before the haze was shooting up into the 400s, Barney had already packed a bag containing 15 pieces of swimming briefs, a bottle of suntan oil and made a beeline for terminal 3. A few hours later, he was lying by a pool in Bali, wearing the first of his briefs and Tweeting about the glorious clear skies and Instagramming pictures of his gin and tonic.
“This is what Superman must feel like when he’s flying up near the sun!” he said smugly on Skype.
Saffy snatched my phone away from me. “Listen, Barney Chen, if you were a real friend, you would have asked us to come along with you! It’s just completely vile right now. I can’t see two feet in front of me, but…oh my God, pan back, pan back! Who is that cute guy in the background?”
“That would be lunch!” Barney smirked and hung up.
Saffy was incensed. “It’s absolutely unbelievable. Why is Barney Chen living it up in Bali and breathing good quality air while I’m turning into a smelly piece of smoked salmon?”
That was a few days ago. The haze has lifted. For now anyway. For the first time, we’ve opened our windows and though we continue to sniff the air with deep suspicion, it almost feels as if the worst has passed.
And with that passing, comes a feeling of deep exhaustion. Amanda says this is probably what giving birth must be like, a comment that led to Sharyn to give her an earful about the difference between post-partum exhaustion and post-haze delirium.
“I tell you, ah, you think giving birth is like holding your breath, is it? Damn painful, ah! It’s like, it’s like…it’s like someone pull the top of your mouth over your head, ah!”
Amanda squealed. “Oh my God, that is so disgusting, Sharyn!”
Sharyn, a veteran of four violent births, preened. “Abaden?”
When even a simple conversation can suddenly turn so bloodthirsty, is it any wonder that I’m so drawn to the idea of just lying on a soft cushion of sand with the sun warming my face and a breeze tickling my toes? I’m in half a mind to get on the next plane to Bali and joining Barney Chen.
“You’re inviting me and Amanda to come along, aren’t you?” Saffy asked suspiciously when she saw me Google plane fares.
“Absolutely not,” I said firmly. “I’ve just spent the past week and a bit holed up in this flat with the two of you. All the windows have been sealed. We’ve been breathing in recycled air and eating tinned tuna and takeaway pizza for days. I need a break from you!”
Saffy’s fabulous bosom, newly liberated from the haze, expanded. “That is just so incredibly rude! Fine, go to Bali by yourself then. See if I care! I’ll…I’ll go and watch ‘Man of Steel’ instead! And at night, I’ll just fantasize about Henry Cavill!”
I turned from my laptop and looked up. “Look,” I said kindly. “It’s nothing personal. I need a change of scenery. Why don’t you girls go off to Penang or something and eat some char kway teow! Or check into a nice little hotel in Bangkok and get some cheap Botox injections!”
You could tell by the glint in Saffy’s eyes that she was taken with the idea. But like a dog with a bone, she wasn’t about to let me off the hook too easily.
“Excuse me,” she began, “but are you saying that I am looking wrinkly?”
“Oh, look at the time!” I said, standing up in a rush. “I’m late for drinks with…uhm…Stan.”
“Oh, you better go then. Wait, who’s Stan? Is he single? Can I come?”
Like I said, I so need a holiday.