Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Die Die Must Die-vorce

In life, Mother Nature loves creating things in pairs. Night and day. Sonny and Cher. Singaporean casinos. Assorted bodily parts like nostrils, eyes, ears, hands, legs…American Idol grand finale sing-offs. It’s a long list, but Mother Nature loves her yin and yang. For better or worse, the scales must be balanced. And lately, it seems to me that the natural pairing du jour is marriage and divorce.

News recently reached the little apartment I share with Saffy and Amanda that our friend Jonathan had just separated from his wife, Trisha.

“He’s so, so heartbroken!” Amanda reported the other day as soon as she’d put down the phone from her friend Ting in Bangkok where Jonathan and Trisha were based.

I was floored. “But they just got married!” I bleated. “Like last April!”

“Which is a lifetime,” said Saffy, who grew up in the Age of Britney. She shook her head with sadness and even her fabled bosom seemed a little deflated.

“Last April,” I repeated. “We were there! And it was such a nice wedding!”

“Apparently, it wasn’t nice enough,” said Saffy.

Jonathan had worked in my old law firm Ong, Wu and Yi where Trisha was the HR manager, a post she’d taken over from Saffy. According to Sharyn who still worked in the firm and witnessed everything at close range, it was like being part of a Bollywood movie. From the start, it was a match made in heaven. Both were tall, attractive and intelligent. We called them the Supermodels and secretly envied their blinding white teeth and dazzling smiles. Both came from old family money, drove around in matching Mercedes convertibles and took holidays in the Maldives. As Sharyn once penetratingly pointed out, “Wah liau, where got people like this one? Hor?”

So when the engagement was announced, no one was in the least bit surprised, though Amanda was a little miffed that Jonathan had never asked her out on a date. “I could have given Trisha a run for her money!” she whispered to me at the Bangkok wedding dinner.

I remember Saffy leaned over and murmured, “Is it wrong that I find Trisha incredibly sexy in that Vera Wang shift?” Amanda and I turned our head to stare wordlessly at Saffy.

From Amanda’s side, Barney Chen rumbled, “Girl, let’s divide and conquer! You take Trisha and I’ll take Jonathan! I’m sure he’s in the closet!”

“You think everyone is in the closet!” I said.

“I’m seen the way he looks at me!” Barney insisted.

Amanda moaned that our conversation was such bad karma, while I took another sip of my club soda and wondered how long we had to wait before the boring speeches were over and we got to the good bits, ie, the cake.

And now, barely a year later, through the reliable Bangkok/Singapore grapevine, came news of the impending divorce.

Sharyn was astonished when we told her. “Hah?” she yelped, her eyes rotating wildly behind her thick Coke-bottle glasses. “But just got married how can now sar-dun-ly get die-vorced, one?”

Barney was triumphant. “I told you! He’s coming out! But no one ever listens to me!”

Karl was upbeat about the whole thing. “The good news is that people who look like that never stay single for long. You watch, they’ll be hooked up with another partner before the ink dries on the divorce papers. You know,” he added, “Trisha and I once dated before I met Marsha.”

Barney rolled his eyes. “If you trot out that stupid story one more time, I swear I’ll strangle you myself! And it won’t be in a good way, either,” he added. Later, he told Saffy that he was sure Karl was in the closet. Saffy, who’d also grown up in the Age of Trashy Magazines, said she wouldn’t be in the least bit surprised. As she observed, “All the good ones usually are.”

Meanwhile, Trisha passed through Singapore. “I’m looking for a job,” she told Sharyn. “Jonathan and I are just taking a small break. We need some time to sort out some issues, but we’re not getting divorced.”

“Really, ah?” said Sharyn. “Good, lah! If die-vorce, hor, very sad, leh.”

Amanda wrinkled her nose when she heard the latest through a series of SMS’s that passed between Sharyn, Saffy and Barney. “I just wish they’d get it over and done with. It’s so pointless dragging out a marriage that is obviously going nowhere.”

I looked at Amanda’s innocent face. “You want to date him, don’t you?” She suddenly became absorbed with her cuticles. Saffy’s last word on the matter came last night. “I want a refund of my $180 wedding ang-pao plus the return air-ticket to HK!”

“I also say,” said Amanda, still trying to pretend that was all she cared about.

Friday, September 13, 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.”