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!”