“What’s going on with Justin Bieber these days?” Amanda wondered aloud the other morning at the breakfast table, shaking her head as she caught up with the latest groundbreaking news in her latest issue of US Weekly.
I barely paused on my way from the kitchen to my bedroom with a mug of hot water seasoned with a slice of lemon.
“All yours, Saf,” I said as I smartly closed the door.
Saffy later cornered me in the corridor and practically pinned me against the wall. For someone so small, the girl is freakishly strong.
“Seriously?” she hissed, pressing her trembling bosom against me. “You wanna leave me at a moment like that? I had to talk about Justin Bieber for ten minutes with her. You know what she’s like when it comes to that little rug-rat!”
I’ve learnt from bitter experience that in moments like this, the best thing to do is tell a lie that resonates. “I had to do a number two urgently!” I said.
It worked. “Oh really?” Saffy said, letting go of me. “I’m so jealous! I’ve not gone in days! I’m so blocked up! How do you people do it? Sharyn says she does a number two at least three times a day!”
That evening, the topic came up again during an episode of ‘Orange is the New Black’, our current favourite TV show about a women’s prison.
“Can you imagine the state of my bowels if I was ever sent to prison?” Saffy said, her feet up on the coffee table, balancing a big bowl of rojak on her lap.
From the other end of the sofa, Amanda looked over. “Watching you eat that, I’m thinking exactly the same thing!”
“No, really! All these crazy women! I mean look at her! She’s completely loony running after Piper like that. And toilets with no doors? What’s that all about? I would be so stressed the whole time. My bowls would seize up completely!”
“You do realize this is make-believe, right?” Amanda asked.
“The script maybe, but the situations won’t be,” Saffy said, munching on a peanut encrusted cucumber. “And the setting won’t be. I’m pretty sure that’s what a real life women’s minimum security prison in America looks like and I’m not liking it one bit!”
“I dunno,” Amanda mused. “It looks quite cosy to me. It looks a bit like the dorms in my boarding school.”
Saffy threw a look at me that said, “This explains so much.”
By now, Amanda was firmly lost along memory lane. “The cafeteria is the same set-up,” she went on. “We all sat in our little groups. I was in the popular group, of course, and we always made fun of the girls who played chess or the clarinet. And I remember I used to have the biggest crush on Mr Jones, our Maths teacher who ended up marrying Miss Da Silva, the phys ed coach who, fifteen years later, left him for another woman. Gosh,” Amanda paused, eyes blinking, “I’ve not thought of them in years. But I do remember it was all we could talk about at our school reunion! And also how fabulous my Manolo Blahniks were!”
Saffy later said that it’s really chilling to think that someone at Harvard actually thought Amanda was someone worthy of a degree while, she, Saffy, ended up with a degree in commerce from the University of Western Australia – the intimation, being, that if Saffy had been lucky enough to go to Harvard, she’d probably be the first female Prime Minister of Singapore by now.
“Assuming you hadn’t ended up in jail, you mean,” I said.
“Choy, choy, choy! Don’t say such things!” Saffy said, shuddering with such vigour her bosom trembled like a jelly pudding. “I really would not survive two seconds in a prison. I’m too pretty! I’d probably be the resident prison wife, if you know what I mean! I’d never be able to take a shower without being molested!”
Of course, when Saffy invited Sharyn to come over that evening to watch ‘Orange is the New Black’, Sharyn, who once worked as an admin assistant in one of the prisons in Singapore, laughed all through it.
“Ay!” Sharyn said, wiping the tears from her eyes. “Dey think people in prison very free, is it? Always walk around and chat and moh-lest udder people, is it? And where got prison guard so han-sum, one? This show all bluff one, lah! If got prison like that, I oh-so want!”
Saffy says she can’t help but wonder how Justin Bieber might have turned out if Sharyn had been his mother.