Friday, August 30, 2013


It’s funny how, sometimes, your life can change in just a few seconds. One minute, you’re calmly minding your own business, eating your cornflakes and the next thing you know, you’re busy taking your temperature twice a day, thinking up chic ways to wear a surgical mask and tossing back the Vitamin Cs like a professional drug addict.

Just the other day, I was at the dentist, flipping through a men’s magazine and trying hard to ignore the piercing whine of the drill that flooded the waiting room in full stereophonic splendour, when I came across a full page ad of a man’s stomach muscles. Ordinarily, I would immediately flip the page on point of principle. I mean, what kind of a sick world do we live in that people actually have to torture themselves and do sit-ups just so that they can have funny looking bumps on their stomachs?

But this ad was different. Next to the picture of the bronzed stomach, glistening with sweat, was a small bottle of lotion. “Ab Rescue!” it said proudly on the ad. It promised firmer, tighter, smoother looking abs in just 8 weeks. Just by rubbing the stuff on your stomach, Ab Rescue promised a 20% immediate improvement in skin tightness. All thanks to the product’s special thermogenic formula. I had no idea what a thermogenic formula did – the ad didn’t say – but it sure sounded impressive.

And just like that, I was sold. (Hey, I never said that I was against stomach muscles. I’m  just against the mind-numbingly boring exercises you have to do to get them in the first place.) So anyway, I cancelled the dental appointment and rushed out to get a bottle.

When I got home, my flat-mates, Saffy and Amanda were in the lounge-room in front of the TV, working out to Amanda’s home-exercise video. “And now, clench those glutes!” the woman on the TV exhorted. “Feel those muscles! Four more, and three, and two and one…”

“Oh, God!” Saffy moaned. “I could clench these glutes till the cows come home and got milked dry and I’d still never look like her! Oh, I’m in such pain! Did you take your temperature, Jason?”

“I’m not even sure I’m clenching the right muscles,” Amanda complained. “Where are the glutes anyway? Jason, what are you doing? What’s that you’re rubbing on your stomach?”

I held up Ab Rescue proudly and told them that exercising was now a thing of the past. “This stuff is miraculous!” I told them. “You just rub this on and you get abs like these,” and here, I held up the magazine page, “in eight weeks!”

“Really?” Amanda said, immediately stopping clenching her glutes, and wandered over to the sofa where I’d beached myself, slathering the lovely smelling lotion all over my fat tummy. “Are you supposed to be using so much?”

“Well, you see, I figured that if I doubled the dosage, I could reach my goal in four weeks!”

“What’s thermogenic?” Saffy asked, reading the label.

“Dunno, but it sounds impressively scientific! You want to try some?”

So, cut to two hours later and the three of us were sitting on the couch, intently studying our respective exposed stomachs, half expecting the fat to evaporate in slow motion, like a Discovery channel special, to expose the rock-hard six-packs that we knew was there and half disappointed when that didn’t happen.

“Well, at least it’s glistening like in the ad,” Amanda said after a while.

“I never knew my stomach had so many layers,” Saffy said as she lightly dabbed more Ab Rescue in between the crevices. More contemplative silence as we imagined how much more spectacular our lives would be with defined abs.

“You know,” Amanda announced, “it says here, in very small print, that this stuff works after eight weeks of use with regular exercise. But what’s regular?”

“What’s the point of this stuff then if we have to exercise?” Saffy huffed.

“Brisk walking is exercise,” I offered. “We could walk to the hawker center now and get dinner and if we did that every day, that’s regular right?”

“Absolutely. And I could do with some char kway teow,” Amanda exclaimed, brightly, struggling to get up.

“I want oyster omelete!” Saffy said, considerably cheered now that we’d defined exercise. “But wait, let me dab some of this stuff on my thighs. I want to see if it works on cellulite as well.”

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