The other day, I was killing time in Kinokuniya, as one does, when I came across one of those horrible books with the title “1000 Places to See Before You Die”, or something equally vile.
I hate those books because they always make me feel so inadequate and unaccomplished. They’re like a thick 250 page taunt that reminds you that you’re a nobody just because you’ve not been to Granada, or is it Grenada, which, thanks to a single displaced vowel, is apparently in a different part of the world? Or to Niagara Falls, or some dingy old 15th century castle in the middle of a cold nowhere.
Of course, on Facebook, friends who should know better are always posting endless links that exhort me to do a whole list of things before I die. Like read “War and Peace”, or cook a cassoulet, or something equally stupid.
The truth of the matter is, I’m just bone-lazy. Picking up anything heavier than a straw exhausts me. Nothing makes me happier than to lie by the pool and think about what I’m going to have for dinner which, ideally, would be brought to me on a tray. Like on a plane. That’s my idea of heaven. If I could outsource chewing and blinking, I would.
My mother has always said, with a surprising degree of approval, that I’m the laziest person she knows. Apparently, when I was born, she barely felt a thing. “You just slipped right out. It was like you couldn’t even be bothered to cause me any pain,” she will say to me fondly whenever she’s within earshot of my sister. “Michelle, on the other hand, my God, I thought I was going to die! The labour went on for nearly two days! Can you imagine the pain I was in?”
Michelle once said to me, “You know how they have those books with dumb titles like ‘1000 things to do before you die’? Well, I know what one of those things might be, and it involves Mother and a pillow!”
Recently, Amanda and I were at home on a Friday night watching a mindless action movie in which the hero, running away from crazy sword-wielding ninja assassins in downtown Los Angeles, smashes the window of a random car, jumps in, fiddles with some wires under the steering wheel and zooms off in a cloud of dust into the night.
“I’d like to learn how to hotwire a car,” Amanda said after a while. I stared at the screen in silence for a few seconds. As the hero was weaving his stolen car in and out of traffic, I couldn’t help but wonder how painful it must be to sit on a seat covered with shattered glass. It says something about how commonplace I thought it must be to be attacked by ninjas in LA.
“His bum must hurt,” I said, then added, “but why would you want to hotwire a car?”
“Well, it’s better than reading ‘War and Peace’! And potentially more useful!”
When I told Saffy about Amanda’s wish the next day, she said she wasn’t the least bit surprised that a shadow of petty crime lurked beneath that pristine Prada-clad exterior. “All that prissiness is just an act that’s not fooling anyone,” Saffy pronounced in much the same tone she’d used when watching Kim Kardashian’s marriage to that tall, dumb basketball player whose name nobody remembers now.
I told her that I’d given the matter considerable thought during the night and concluded that if I really wanted to learn one thing, it would be how to pick a lock and handcuffs. Saffy later told Sharyn it was like living with the cast of “Nikita”.
“I mean, in what world of reality would he ever need to know how to pick a lock?” Saffy asked.
“Maybe he got kinky bondage session and the S and M mistress sah-dun-ly die of heart attack, and he still handcuff to the bed-post, then how?” said Sharyn, veteran connoisseur of bootleg porn DVDs.
Saffy’s magnificent bosom inflated to its maximum capacity. “Seriously, who are you people?”
Sharyn flapped her hands. “Aiyah, people make joke cannot, meh? Ay, I ask you, if you had to learn something, what would it be?”
“Oh, that’s easy,” Saffy said, thoroughly pleased that the conversation had turned to her. “Ever since I watched Cameron Diaz do it on the car windscreen in ‘The Counselor’, I’ve wanted to do the splits. Don’t ask me how that’s even remotely useful to my life, but I do!”
Sharyn later confessed to me that a useful thing to learn would be to pretend she didn’t know us.