This morning, news reached the little flat I share with Saffy and Amanda that our serial dating friend Adeline Chen had broken up with her boyfriend.
“My God,” Amanda said, “what is that, the fifth break-up this year?”
“At least,” Saffy said, as she scrutinized the text message, analyzing it for hidden clues and shameful subtexts. “I actually had high hopes for this one. He had amazing abs!”
“How does she have the stamina?” Amanda wondered.
“Which means she’s back on the market and dating again,” Saffy added. “Ugh, how horrible. Can you imagine being that age and still dating? It reminds me of the Rainforest Incident…”
In a lifetime filled with disastrous dates, the Rainforest Incident ranks way up there for spectacular dating trauma. We’ve heard it a million times. Amanda is convinced it should be inscribed on Saffy’s tombstone.
It happened years ago when Saffy worked in the same office as Amanda and before we’d all started living together. She arrived one morning and announced to the entire office that she was never going on another date again.
“I’ve never been so humiliated in my life!” she told the pool of breathless secretaries. To a woman, they were all married but happily relived their Singleton days vicariously through Saffy’s riveting dating traumas.
Apparently, the date had started so well. He was a charming and handsome remisier Saffy had picked up in the line at Starbucks. An ACS boy from a wealthy family. Spoke French on account of having spent two years working in a French vineyard after his stint in the army. Perfect manners.
“He stands up every time a woman approaches or leaves the table! Who does that these days?” Saffy asked in a penetrating aside to the circle of shaking heads. And the piece de resistance? He had a holiday home in Bali.
“Are you liking it so far?” Saffy asked, looking around at her captive audience. There was a collective nod. “I was ticking all the boxes in my head. This was a great date!”
The food was excellent. “I practically inhaled the spinach tart! It was so good!” Saffy swooned, hands clasped in ecstasy over her bosom. The music was muted. The wines flowed and cutlery tinkled gently on white flatware. By the time dessert came around, Saffy was already mentally fitting into her Vera Wang wedding dress and planning who she wasn’t going to invite.
“So then I excused myself to go to the bathroom because I had to, you know, touch up and, yes, he stood up when I left the table,” Saffy said to a collective sigh. By now, the entire office – everyone from Sanjeep, the office boy to Mrs Yi, the senior partner – had gathered, pulled in by the sheer force of Saffy’s dramatic narrative. There is something tremendously gripping about an impending dating mishap.
“And there I am putting on lipstick and you know how you do this–” Here, Saffy leaned towards an imaginary mirror, pursed her lips together while rubbing them once, twice and then bared her teeth in a grimace. The women nodded knowledgeably on account of having performed this very ritual since the day they were born; while the men looked blankly at one another.
Apparently, Saffy’s gasp at what she saw in the mirror was so loud that several women felt compelled to poke their heads over the toilet cubicles to see what the matter was.
“I had a huge chunk of spinach wedged in my front teeth!” Saffy said, one hand clutched to her bosom which, by now, was heaving with remembered distress.
“What, through the entire dinner?” Amanda asked, eyes wide in horror.
Saffy nodded. “Well, I must have because I had that tart for an appetizer!”
“Aiyoh!” Sharyn moaned in distress as she rocked back and forth in her chair.
“And he didn’t say anything during the entire dinner?” Amanda went on. “How could he not say anything?”
“Damn suay, you know! Why he like that, one?” Sharyn wanted to know, somehow comforted by the fact that she would never have to go through an experience like this since she was already unhappily married with two children and a mortgage, and dinner dates tended to happen to other single people.
“It was awful. It was the size of a rainforest!” Saffy continued, by now really getting into the swing of her story. She was so mortified, she slipped out of the restaurant and SMS’d her date to say that she was ill.
“I’ve never been so traumatised in my life,” Saffy now said.
“Maybe you should put that on your tombstone!” Amanda suggested brightly.