They say that you can never please everyone, and by ‘they’, I mean, of course, my mother. She usually says this when she’s just won several rounds of mahjong and people are starting to mutter behind their jeweled hands that they wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if, one day, Mei-ling Hahn is found to have been crying out ‘pong’ when she really shouldn’t have, if you catch my drift.
In the little flat I share with Saffy and Amanda, harmony is a state of mind rarely found outside of a fresh stack of magazines and a steaming cup of Darjeeling on a rain-soaked Sunday afternoon.
Something is always simmering.
Once it was the time Saffy discovered Amanda had been secretly getting her nails buffed, without telling anyone, by the very expensive but very hot French manicurist at the St Regis spa. On another occasion, Amanda came home one day to find Saffy trying on all of Amanda’s prized first edition Victoria’s Secret underwear.
The most recent bone of contention between the two girls has arisen over their Easter holiday plans.
Every year, Saffy has gone home to Melbourne to see her aging grandfather while Amanda flies off to a remote beach resort on the other side of the world to work on her tan. There was every expectation that the same thing would happen this year, but a few days ago, Saffy’s 92-year old grandfather rang to tell her that he’s met someone at his nursing home and that he would be spending Easter with her family.
As earth-shattering news goes, this little bit of revelation ranks way up there with the possibility that Bruce Jenner might be turning into a woman any day soon.
“She’s 95!” Saffy announced the instant she got off the phone.
Amanda put down her latest copy of 8DAYS. “Who is?”
“My grandfather’s new girlfriend! I am beyond shocked!” Saffy’s fabulous bosom trembled like a pumpkin pie emerging out of the oven. “He says he met her at Thursday night bingo and apparently they just clicked.”
“Isn’t that good?” Amanda asked.
Saffy looked astonished. “Good? How is that good?”
Amanda hesitated. “Uhm, doesn’t he deserve to be happy in his old age? I mean, his wife died, like, twenty years ago. That’s a long time to be alone!” she said.
Saffy was unmoved. “But what if they get married and he leaves everything to her? My God, this is just like Anna Nicole Smith, but in reverse! They just clicked, my foot,” Saffy muttered. “That was probably the sound of their arthritic hips!”
“Speaking of which, do they have sex, do you think?” Amanda wondered with the kind of forensic curiosity that won her the prize in criminal law at Harvard.
“Seriously, if that doesn’t put me off lunch, I don’t know what will!” Saffy said urgently.
All of which means that for now, Saffy’s annual Easter plans have been scuttled and Amanda, more out of a guilty conscience than anything, has suggested she come to Barbados.
“That’s a long way to go for a suntan, isn’t it?” Saffy said.
“Sure it is, but the beaches are lovely, the waters are crystal clear and we could always round off the trip with a few days in New York!”
Saffy still looked doubtful. “How much is all this going to cost?”
Amanda waved her hand and spoke a number.
Saffy later told me that, for a minute, she was convinced that she’d misheard. Either that, or she’d passed out and had an out of body experience.
“Who pays that kind of money to lie on a beach?” she demanded. “She is completely insane! You could buy your own little patch of sand on Sentosa!”
“So are you going?” I asked.
“Are you crazy? She insists on going business class, so just the airfare alone is twice my monthly salary!”
Amanda thinks Saffy is exaggerating. “It’s really not that much more expensive,” she said this morning while Saffy tried to ignore her by reading all about Ebola in the newspaper. “And I just love all the extras! Especially the satay trolley!”
Saffy looked up from her newspaper. “Satay? They have satay in business class? What, those SQ girls are actually fanning an open flame in the galley?”
“Oh, I don’t know. For that kind of money, do you honestly think I’m going to be hanging out in the kitchen? Oh, and they also have soya bean drinks!”
“Wow!” Saffy said, genuinely moved by the privileges of Singapore Airlines’ business class cabin.
Sharyn says it kills her that Harvard actually allowed Amanda to graduate and that she’s best friends with Saffy. And when I told my mother, she said, “You just can’t please everyone.”