OK, here’s a pop quiz for the guys: How long does it take you to get ready to go out on a Saturday night? Quick! No cheating. I bet the answer is about two minutes.
You grab a shirt out of the drawer, check that it’s not too wrinkly and you’re halfway there. (Or, if you’re like my brother Jack, you will head to the laundry basket, rummage around and pull out a shirt, and sniff it to check that it’s not too rank). Next, you spritz on some cologne if you’ve not had a shower yet (because you’re going to be covered in cigarette smoke soon anyway, so what’s the point of getting too clean, right?), squeeze into a pair of jeans, run the fingers through the hair and you’re all set. Easy.
Meanwhile, when a girl gets ready for a night out on the town, it’s like she’s leaving the country forever, or going for the most important job interview in her life.
Take Amanda. The drama starts about four hours before we’re supposed to leave the house. She’ll stand in front of her wardrobe, purse her lips and flip through the hangers. She’ll take out a dress at random, put it up against her body and examine herself in the mirror. For aesthetic reasons that escape me (because I think she’ll look hot in that dress), she’ll sigh with dissatisfaction and put the dress back into the closet and pull out another one. I know that she’s going to look amazing in that one too, but she sighs again and puts it back.
This process will continue for a good half hour by which time she will complain that she has absolutely nothing to wear, but she’ll worry about it after her shower. And with that, she will disappear into the bathroom for two hours during which she will pluck, prune, pinch and preen before she exfoliates, trims, and oils. And then, she’ll take a shower.
After which, she will spend some quality time in front of the bathroom mirror examining her damp body for flaws and defects while massaging anti-cellulite cream all over her legs. She will mentally compare herself with every girlfriend of her’s who will be at the nightclub that night, Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Aniston and finally, she will contemplate plastic surgery.
(In between all this, our other flatmate Saffy is going through an identical ritual as she gets ready.)
I know all this is happening, because every so often, I’ll tap on the door of the bathroom and whine that it’s getting late and I’m really hungry and that it’s the rush hour and we’ll never get a taxi at this rate. From behind the door, one of the girls will say that she’s not ready yet and to stop bothering her.
Meanwhile, I’m already dressed, watched a DVD, finished checking my email, called my mother and eaten my way through an entire bag of corn chips.
An hour after we were meant to be meeting our friends, the girls have each changed outfits twice. And now, Amanda is checking her shoe closet, going through the same selection process she used for picking out her dress. In the other room, Saffy is giving herself a nice pedicure and says she needs another five minutes, she swears, for the nail polish to dry.
But I know better. Because there is still make-up to be applied. This involves the kind of transformation you normally don’t see outside of a Mission: Impossible movie. There are creams to conceal, oitments to highlight, salves to nourish, serums to guard against the environment and antioxidants, and little pots of glitter to help make skin and eyes just pop.
And all this under a special mirror that has different light settings depending on whether it’s a day or night event you’re going to. Because if it’s night-time, you need to use different make-up and different amounts of it so that your natural beauty is maximized, as Saffy once told me when I stupidly asked. It’s amazing what you learn living with high maintenance women.
By this time, I’ve already eaten all the leftover pizza and pasta in the fridge. Which means I’m no longer hungry and I’m already wondering if I should just change back into my pyjamas because what’s the point of going out to dinner now? It’s so late, it’s early. Almost time for breakfast, in fact.
And I swear to myself that next Saturday night, I’m just going to stay home with a book and a movie.
But that never happens. Why?
Because we’re guys, and we never learn.