Regular readers will know that I’m an incurable snoop. My idea of heaven is to excuse myself in the middle of a dinner party and go into my host’s bathroom and open cabinets to see what secrets they’re hiding. I like to know what medical ailments they’re suffering from. What moisturisers they use. Whether the bottles and tubes are nicely lined up by colour, size or even function, or if it’s all just a complete mess.
And on my way back from the bathroom, I might poke my head into a bedroom. Is it dusty? Is it tidy? Is the bed made? Are the clothes neatly stored away in a washing basket or strewn across the floor? Is there a smell of unwashed linen?
While eating, my eyes might stray around the room, carefully noting any layers of dust on light fixtures, or stains on the walls around electric switches. I will examine the children, noting if they’re cleanly washed, the condition of their clothes and their general demeanour around their parents. I will carefully note the behaviour of the domestic helper, wondering if she has a happy relationship with my friends. Do they give her Sundays off, I think as I help myself to another serving of the beef rendang.
And much later, when the party is over, and I’m safely tucked up in bed, like Sherlock Holmes, I’ll replay all the evidence in my head, in slo-mo, and piece together a brand new assessment of a friend that I thought I knew well.
There’s a serious side to all this snooping, of course. In my line of work, it’s the details that add colour to the stories. This is important because people – and by people, I mean Saffy – are always accusing me of making things up. I wish I was that talented. I find that it’s hardly ever necessary because just when you think you’ve heard and seen it all, someone comes along to show you that things can always get just a little bit weirder.
How could you, for instance, make up the conversation I overheard on the 111 bus the other day? As it turned out, when the two Australian women sat down behind me, I was making notes in my diary, which is how I managed to record the entire conversation.
Woman 1: So who’s your accupunturist? Is she expensive? I didn’t sleep last night again! I think it’s worse than usual at the moment.
Woman 2: She’s over at Choa Chu Kang. It’s only $15 per session, so it’s quite cheap. She has a really comfortable bedside manner.
W1: Hmm, I’ll have a think. Maybe I should try some meditation first.
W2: Can’t you do both? I don’t think they need to be mutually exclusive remedies. In fact, I think they complement each other rather nicely.
W1: True, true. She might also be able to help my Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
W2: Oh, totally. Hey, speaking of…do you wipe your dog’s bottom after she’s done a number two?
W1: Ew, gross! No! Why?
W2: I do with George. I always carry Wet Wipes with me.
W1: But dogs have a certain kind of anus that doesn’t need wiping down. There's nothing stuck there after Molly has done her business!
W2: You’d be surprised. I never thought about it until Tanya – even more of a germ freak than I am – asked if I wasn’t worried that George was leaving skid marks all over my floor.
W1: Well, the other day, I saw Molly dragging her bum across the floor which totally grossed me out. So I took her to the vet to make sure she didn't have worms or something and the vet said that dogs have anal sacks that can sometimes fill up! Apparently, most dogs release theirs when they poo, but sometimes it doesn't happen which means that it can get really uncomfortable, hence the bum dragging. So the vet stuck his fingers into her butt and squeezed and released them! The smell! He said I could just do it at home from now on. I'd rather pay $50 to visit the vet, thanks.
W2: Same with the bum wiping. Humans wipe down their bums for the same reason.
W1: Ugh, so gross! OK, I will give it a go. Although, Colin will think I'm ridiculous.
W2: Yeah, but do you want to have dog poo residue all over your clean floors and sofas?
W1: God, nobody would believe what we're talking about. I mean, dog anal sacks? Really?
W2: I’m sure the NSA are listening.
W1: They’re so dangerous.
As I got off the bus, I couldn’t help but think I was probably more dangerous than the NSA. Just ask my friends.