Regular readers will know that when it comes to retail therapy, Amanda is the reigning Olympic gold medal champion. No one can touch her. And I mean that literally. Once, during a sale in Robinson’s lingerie department, Saffy absent mindedly reached out to get Amanda’s attention for her opinion on a bra. She found herself prodding the surprised breasts of her HR manager.
“It was hideous!” Saffy said later. “On so many levels! It was like poking soggy kueh lapis! Literally, one second, Amanda was standing right next to me, and the next she’d been replaced by Mrs Chan and I was poking her in the whatsits! Really, I'm surprised I’ve not been fired!”
“Maybe she enjoyed the experience?” I suggested.
Saffy told me I couldn’t be more foul if I tried.
Amanda, of course, had no recollection of the event simply because by the time Saffy’s fingers had reached Mrs Chan’s whatsits, she was already in the next aisle checking out the silk negligees.
“I dunno,” she said at the time. “I just kind of get totally in the zone, you know? Everything that’s not relevant to the sale is tuned out!”
Amanda says there’s something about the words ‘sale’ and ‘discount’ that triggers something very primal in her.
“Just reading those words gets me tingling with anticipation,” she said recently at lunch. “It starts as an itch at the back of the brain, then travels quickly to the pit of my stomach, and all the way to the tips of the fingers so that I itch ever to open my wallet. All my synapses are on fire, alert and vigilant!” she finished triumphantly, as she daintily stabbed her rojak for a peanut sauce coated cucumber.
Sharyn’s saucer-wide eyes were amplified behind her Coke bottle-thick glasses.
“Wah!” she breathed out, her glasses fogging up over her bowl of prawn noodles. “You know, ah, when you tok like dat, it’s like dat Fee-tee Shade of Glay, ah, I tell you!”
I have always harboured the suspicion that if Amanda was ever in a coma, all you needed to do to get her out of it would be to get up really close to her ear and yell Discount!
And if I was ever lost in the middle of deepest Sahara, all I would do is shout out Sale! and shimmying up over the nearest sand dune would be Amanda waving her platinum Amex card.
“I don’t know how she does it,” said Saffy the other day, after coming home from a shopping expedition with Amanda. “And by shopping, I mean that I just followed her around Paragon and watched her spend money. She’s amazing. She picked out things that I thought looked dog ugly on the rack, tried them on, and looked a million bucks!”
So here’s the thing. It’s not just that Amanda is a mad shopaholic, but it’s that she’s also incredibly good at it.
People like me and Saffy…well, really, we shouldn’t even be allowed to leave the house. We’re complete idiots. It’s not that we don’t try. We respond to ‘Sale’ the same way Amanda does. We can jostle and elbow our way to the discount bin with admirable stamina. We’re just as possessed as she is, but somehow, it’s like Amanda will, at the same sale, without even really trying, pick up a beautiful last-one-in-stock silk and cashmere sweater, and we’ll be proudly clutching, after a mad ten minute competitive scramble with Mrs Chan from HR, a Hello Kitty toilet brush. The difference is staggering.
Saffy says it’s like those top ten tennis players. They’re focused and coldly analytical, while everyone else is run ragged around the court, chasing down cunningly placed balls. “Amanda processes the same information differently,” Saffy told me, looking very put out. “She’s Serena Williams, and we’re Kumar!”
I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve proudly unpacked my sale purchases and found myself wondering what on earth possessed me to actually believe that I needed a handphone holder in the shape of cactus, or a bottle of lemon room scent which, after a few spritzes, Saffy said made her feel she was inside a giant toilet bowl.
Standing there in our lounge room, amidst the devastation of wrapping paper, shopping bags, crumpled receipts and a tacky plastic kitchen apron, it’s difficult to believe that I had anything to do with that frantic dash to the cash register.
Sharyn says she stopped going to sales after her second child was born.
“So sad, right?”
Amanda told her those kids have a lot to answer for.