Saturday, March 21, 2015

Falling Behind

In the little flat I share with Saffy and Amanda, few issues divide us as deeply as the Kardashians.
            For those of you who came in late, Saffy and I are devoted fans of the entire family, or, as Saffy wisely points out, the entire franchise.
“Because it’s more than just the family,” she said once. “It’s the side freak shows of skanky girlfriends, dopey basketball boyfriends and drunk husbands, the parties, doctor visits, paternity tests. And let’s not forget to give thanks to Ryan Seacrest for having the foresight to produce the show in between his insanely busy schedule hosting a daily radio talk show and his multimillion dollar gigs on American Idol!”
So, to say we are fans of the Kardashians is like saying NASA is a fan of deep space exploration.
Meanwhile, Amanda is sitting on the fence. The Kardashians’ jet-setting lifestyle sucks her in like a Death Star tractor beam, but somehow, she feels that admitting, even casually, she has more than a passing interest in Kris and Bruce might mean society will turn against her.
“People judge!” she once observed with penetrating insight.
Saffy, who has never given a single moment’s thought to what people think about her, shrugged. “Who cares? It’s not like they’re paying your bills!” she replied with the kind of acumen that has been the motto of gold-diggers around the world since time began.
Amanda remains unconvinced, though this hasn’t stopped her sneaking in back episodes of ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians’ and ‘Khloe and Lamar’. She hasn’t quite made her way through to the Miami spin-off yet, but you can tell by the haunted look in her eyes she’s dying to know what Kim and Kourtney get up to.
“You know who you remind me of?” Saffy asked the other day. “You remind me of that Heath Ledger character in ‘Brokeback Mountain’! You know you want it, and you want it desperately, but you don’t want other people to know about how desperately you want it, and it’s killing you!”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about!” Amanda said, icicles practically forming around her words.
“Oh,” Saffy said, an evil glint in her eyes, “so you won’t be remotely interested in the pictures of Kim from her latest photoshoot then?”
“You mean the ones from Paper maga…” Amanda trailed off, recognizing she’d made a tactical error.
Saffy crowed in triumph. “Aha! That story only broke late last night and you knew about it already! I rest my case.”
To be fair, I pointed out, it was really hard to miss that story. Saffy pulled out her iPad and clicked on the link. And there she was. Kim Kardashian West in all her naked, full booty glory – gleaming with body oil in one shot, balancing a champagne flute on her legendary badonkadonk in another.
“How is she doing that?” Saffy asked with undisguised admiration.
“It’s got to be Photo-shopped!” Amanda said.
“You think? I remember that string bikini picture she Tweeted and that looked very similar to this one!”
No one has a behind that you can balance a champagne flute on!” Amanda said firmly. “Even if you arch your back like that. And, by the way, that is not a natural pose!”
Of course, Saffy has never met a challenge she’s not risen to with enthusiasm, which is how she spent the next hour standing in front of a mirror, practically bent over as she pushed her bottom out while Amanda tried to balance a plastic cup on it.
“I’m getting a backache!” Saffy complained.
“This is the stupidest thing we’ve ever don't in our lives,” Amanda announced. “You are forbidden to talk about this to anyone. And you also can’t write about this, Jason!”
I nodded solemnly.
“I mean it!” Amanda snapped.
I nodded again.
Of course, Barney Chen thinks the whole thing is a hoot. “I love that woman!” he rumbled, his voice like colliding rocks. “That’s how you stay relevant! I wanna be her best friend and get our manicures done together!”
“That bum must be fake!” Amanda said, as we all looked at the photos again for the millionth time.
“Aiyah, sure fake, one, lah!” Sharyn pronounced once the fog on her Coke bottle thick spectacles had cleared up. “Where got bwat-bwat so big, one?”
Saffy was unconvinced. “But, Sharon, why would you Photoshop your ass to that size?”
“Because it’s quite nice, what! I like the shape of it! Wah, if I eh-ber come home with a bwat-bwat like that, my husband will be so happy, he sure die, one!”
Saffy, who has never liked to think of her best friend as someone with sex appeal, said if that image doesn’t put you off your char kway teow, nothing will.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Weight Watcher

This is a post I wrote last year just before Christmas but forgot to put up. So, sue me. 

Anyone who bothers to open the newspaper or turn on the TV or tune into a radio will know that these are dark days. Everywhere we turn, danger and doom lurk. Get on a plane or in a lift, and you start stressing about people coughing Ebola all over you. Have an early morning meeting and you worry about how crowded the MRT is. Meanwhile, the Middle-East is a mess, Russia is a head-scratcher, and in America, the Kardashians are still at large.
            In the little flat I share with Saffy and Amanda, we lurch from one First World crisis to another. Last Saturday night, pandemonium reigned when Amanda woke up to find a gecko crawling very leisurely over her face. Her screams woke us all up in varying degrees of panic.
            I grabbed my emergency bag containing my laptop, passport, credit card, phone and cash, and ran for the door.
Saffy, thinking that we were being burgled, decided to throw open her window and shriek, “Help, fire!” When questioned later by the police, she said she’d read somewhere that if you’re ever being attacked and you yell, “Help, rape!” or “Help, murder!”, no one will come to your rescue on account of self preservation instincts to avoid a similar fate. But if you yell, “Help, fire!”, your chances of being rescued increase dramatically.
You could tell the policemen were struck by Saffy’s faultless logic, though Amanda later said it really helped that Saffy was still wearing her 2013 season Victoria’s Secret negligee during the interview, a comment that made Saffy turn pink with pleasure.
This week’s crisis involved the sudden realization that Christmas is just around the corner.
In most homes, Christmas is an event regarded with joy and the anticipation of lots of presents, feasting and drinking. Add two women into the mix and the whole cocktail suddenly becomes perilously volatile.
It began with the bathroom scales.
From behind the closed door, Saffy shouted, “How did I just put on two kilos between breakfast and now?”
“Uhm,” Amanda said, “maybe it had something to do with the two packets of nasi lemak and roti prata?”
“But they were tiny portions!” came Saffy’s muffled reply. The bathroom door opened. Saffy popped her head out, distraught. “They were practically a child’s serving!”
“A big fat child!” Amanda replied as she chewed delicately on a sliced apple which, these days, is her breakfast.
Saffy’s eyes narrowed. “Oooh, you’re hateful!”
All of which then led Saffy on a rampage through our Miele fridge. She rummaged through the shelves and threw out anything that might add even another gram to her weight. Left over chicken rice, bottles of mayonnaise and ketchup, cold-pressed fruit juices, chunks of cheese and the delicious containers of fish congee that Sharyn had made…they all went.
By the time Saffy had finished her Miele Massacre, the only thing left was a sad stalk of celery which Saffy said didn’t pose any imminent danger because she’d read somewhere that celery has no calories and you lose more calories from the simple act of chewing it.
“Where do you read these stories?” I asked her.
Saffy shrugged. “You can’t have fire without smoke!” she said firmly.
When that was done, she moved onto exercise, an activity she’s always put in the same category as UFOs, Big Foot and the Lochness monster: fine if you believe in it, she’s not judging, just don’t talk to her about it in public.
I found her standing by the window staring down at our condo’s swimming pool. “You know, I really should do some exercise.”
I blinked. “You’ve successfully avoided it for years. Why start now?”
Saffy turned to me. “Listen, between 7 am and 11 am, after consuming just a tiny child’s serving of nasi lemak, I put on two kilos! At this rate, I’m going to look like Oprah from the bad old days in two seconds! I can’t show up at Christmas parties looking like I should be buying two seats on the plane! And while we’re on the topic, it completely sickens me that Amanda can ingest three times as much food as I do and still fit into a size zero dress!”
Last night, Sharyn came over with murtabak from her favourite stall.
“I am not eating that!” Saffy announced even though murtabak is her favourite major food group after nasi lemak.
Sharyn dumped the packets on the dining table. “I go to toilet first and argue with you later!”
When she came out, she announced that our bathroom scales were faulty. “How can I be 57 kilos? I have been 55 my whole life!” She paused. “Ay, Saffy, why you cry? Alamak! Ay!”

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Law and Order

The other day, Amanda looked up from her latest issue of Vanity Fair and said, “Poor Jennifer Lawrence!”
            Saffy blinked rapidly. “You know, I always get momentarily confused between her and Jennifer Lopez! This must be what it’s like to get early Alzheimers.”
            Amanda stared hard at Saffy in much the same way a hungry lion might look at a passing gazelle and sees breakfast.
            Saffy shifted in her seat. “Anyway, what about Jennifer Lawrence?”
            “She had those sex photos leaked all over the internet! Poor thing.”
            Saffy sighed with the delicious horror of it all. “Gosh, if pictures of my va-jay-jay ever got out there, I think I would just die!”
            “But why would you take pictures of your va-jay-jay in the first place?” Amanda wanted to know.
            “Why do we take pictures of ourselves at parties or by the beach? To celebrate the moment! So that when we’re seventy-five and wrinkly and saggy, we can look back and remember what it was like to be young and taut and everything was a few inches higher!”
            Amanda later said that just when you think you’ve got Saffy all figured out, she turns around and surprises you with a penetrating insight like that.
            “Of course, that doesn’t mean it was a smart move to take that kind of picture!” she went on. “It’s such a dangerous world out there, these days.”
            “You’re beginning to sound like my mother,” I told her.
            Jennifer Lawrence’s predicament haunts Amanda. “You just can’t trust anyone anymore!” she said over lunch at Maxwell Market. The air was thick with the greasy smell of smoky fried yummies. “I mean, these hackers are just looking for any opportunity to hack into our private lives and broadcast it for all the world to see!”
            Leave it to Sharyn to put things into perspective.
            “Aiyoh, you very rich and famous, is it?” she asked, her Coke-bottle thick spectacles fogging over from the steam rising from her laksa. She dabbed at her mouth with a tissue. “If hacker got hack into your phone, what will they find? Phone number for Prada shop at Paragon, pic-ture of the salad you eat for lunch, and Ang-lee Bird app! They want to hack, go ahead and hack, lor!”
            Amanda turned to Saffy whose face was currently buried in a mound of mee goreng. “How is this woman your best friend?” she demanded.
            Sharyn giggled and waved her orange-stained tissue at Amanda. “Aiyah, friend cannot joke, meh?”
            Saffy came up for air. “She keeps me real! But she’s got a point. I’m just thinking of what privacy I’d be losing if someone hacked into my phone.” She fished her iPhone out of her handbag and began flicking the screen. “I mean, here’s a picture of me drinking a glass of Chardonnay. Here’s me and you at Esquina. A picture of a bowl of ramen. A selfie at the fish stall at the wet market. Me pointing to a cake. Picture of my shopping trolley at Cold Storage…Hmmm, there seem to be a lot of pictures of me eating and drinking.”
            “My point, lah!” Sharyn said. “Nobody care about us, one, lah!”
Amanda wasn’t giving up so easily, especially not against someone who hadn’t gone to Harvard. “But it’s the whole issue of privacy!”
“Aiyah!” Sharyn interrupted. “No doubt must have privacy, but you must also be – ay, what’s the word, ah, Saffy, you taught me the udder day…”
“Tossed salad?”
“No, the other one.”
“Tonsil tickler?”
“Discovering the oyster?”
“No, the other one.”
“Long Dong Silver?”
“No! Aiyah, ne-ber mind. What I’m trying to say is, if you are famous, hor, why you must go and take neck-ked picture on your phone? Ask for trouble, right! Aiyoh!”
Amanda pursed her lips. You could tell the debate with Sharyn wasn’t going the way she’d hoped. “Well, all I can say is that if I ever have a daughter and her naked pictures end up getting splashed all over the internet, I will just die!”
“Yah, true,” Sharyn said. “But if my Jeanette like that, I will kill her first, and den I will die!”
Of course, Barney Chen thinks the whole iPhone hacking thing is just so overdramatic. “Even for me!” he growled.
“But the issue of privacy…” Amanda began. Barney placed a huge hand on her shoulder.
“Girl, please! JLaw is, like, 23. Her body is never going to look so good than it does now. Imagine if she was 93 and she was still taking nude pictures of herself and those got leaked!”
“Aiyoh!” Sharyn said.


Monday, March 09, 2015

Time and Again

I am a punctual person. In fact, I am so punctual, you could set a clock by me. I know this because whenever I show up at my boss’s office for a meeting, he’ll look up at me in surprise and say, “Oh, is it 10 o’clock already?”
            You could probably count on one hand the number the times I’ve ever been late in my life. And invariably my lateness is the fault of someone else. Like the time I missed my connecting flight home to Singapore because the plane was sitting on the tarmac in London for three hours.                  
“I want compensation,” I told the counter staff when I finally arrived in Dubai. “My entire day’s schedule in Singapore is now ruined because of you.”
“But sir, it’s not our fault!” the woman bleated helplessly. “The plane was delayed because of a snow storm! We can’t be responsible for a snow storm!”
“I don’t care! I am never late and now I am because of you! Do you really want me to Tweet about this?”
Which is how I ended up with an upgrade to Business Class.
Saffy was impressed. “Really?” she asked when I finally showed up in the little flat I share with her and Amanda. “That’s how you get an upgrade?”
“It wouldn’t work with you, of course, because you are always late,” I told her, “and people can tell when you’re fibbing! Like that time you missed your flight home from Hong Kong!”
Saffy opened her mouth but her heart wasn’t in it. Her formidable chest deflated.
She’d arrived early, feeling really pleased with herself. With so much time to spare, she decided to nose around the bookshop. Somehow, she found herself in the soft-core porn section of the bookshop. Which, in the general scheme of things, is kind of like given candy to a diabetic. Unaccustomed to this kind of reading material at any of the terminals at Changi, Saffy proceeded to rifle through the magazines. “I swear, if my daughter ever ended up in porn, I would just kill her!” she told us later.
She was so engrossed she completely missed the boarding call for her flight. When she arrived at the gate, puffing and red-faced, she hotly denied that any public announcement about CX739 had ever been made. “In English or Canto-pop!” she emphasised.
For reasons that remain unexplained to this day, the airline put Saffy on a plane to Sarawak where she overnighted before catching the Singapore-bound flight the next morning.
She missed three committee meetings and an important presentation to the board.
“They never announced my flight!” she told anyone who would listen while swearing Amanda and me to secrecy about her porn fix.
Of course, if I’m always early, everyone I know is always late.
“I’m just ironing my shirt now!” Barney Chen once said cheerfully to me over the phone.
“You were meant to be here half an hour ago!” I shouted.
“I’ll be there soon. Just go ahead and start without me! My God, it’s so stressful meeting up with you!” Barney growled. In the background, I could hear the spritz of the ironing water bottle. “Why are you always on time?”
My mother says it’s in my genes. “You were born on exactly the same day my gynaecologist said you would! I think you got it from your daddy. Remember that time we were on our way to that concert and there was a traffic jam and he literally got out of the car to start directing traffic?”
So, that’s my excuse. My father. He’s the one who made me the way I am today, I say to myself resentfully every time I’m sitting in a cafĂ© or in a board-room or at the cinema waiting. And waiting.
Messages pinging on my phone slowly build up into a simmering rage. I’m so sorry. Running l8! Just leaving the office now. Stuck in traffic jam. PIE is backed up! Go ahead and order first, am almost there. Am 10 min away. Sorry! R u there yet – am on my way! 5 min away. Am walking there now. I see the restaurant! Am here! Where are you?
 Amanda says a traffic jam is a legitimate excuse for being late, to which I say people should factor that in before they leave their office.
As Ellen Degeneres once pointed out, "How do you think I got here on time? Helicoptered in?"
Sharyn says only single people with no children talk like that. “I tell you, ah, you have children, you always late, one! Con-firm!”
I look at her with pity. Clearly she didn’t have superior time sensitive genes to pass onto her children in the first place though Amanda says I should never say such things in public.
Too late.