Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Rain Delay

My mother always says that people are a generally unhappy lot. Given half a chance, they’ll find something to complain about. “See,” she would add, “my very observation about the human condition is a complaint! It’s a vicious cycle! Which reminds me, I must go scold Cook. My God, that congee she made for your father’s breakfast! Who taught her to cook?” she would wonder, completely oblivious to the fact that she had been the one who’d taught Cook to cook.
            I’m always reading Facebook posts about how we should try to get through one single day without complaining. When Saffy first read that on Sharyn’s wall, she commented – on that very post – that it was the stupidest thing she’d read all day. That comment scored 16 Likes which pleased Saffy no end.
            Of course, misery loves company which is why Facebook is always full with complaints. My cousin Darryl fills his wall with posts about the traffic jams he’s stuck in, which makes me wonder how he ever gets any work done if he’s always on a road somewhere and never in an office. It all got too boring, so I blocked him the other day, which then freed up some Facebook space for other friends moaning about the cost of groceries, tuition, COE and taxis.
            “If you keep blocking people, you’re going to end up with no friends!” Amanda told me.
            “Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing,” I said. “Everyone is so unhappy!”
            “Maybe you need to purge all your Facebook friends and start all over again?”
            “Oh God, no!” I moaned. “Do you know how long that would take? And then people will get upset that I’ve not responded to their friend request!”
            That’s what you’re worried about?” Amanda asked. “Listen, at last count, I had about 68 requests and I have every intention of ignoring them all!”
            “But that’s so rude!”
            “Whatever!” sniffed Amanda, Runner-Up Miss Caring and Sharing.
            The past few days, everyone has been complaining about the rain. The taxi drivers hate it because they get stuck in slower moving traffic. Commuters hate it because they can’t get taxis. Office workers hate it because they arrive at the office all soggy. Dog owners hate it because they can’t bring their dogs out to pee.
            “Roscoe is leaking all over the house!” Karen complained on Facebook, to which Saffy wrote, “That’s no way to speak about your husband!”  This got 12 Likes which really made Saffy’s day, but it also got her a private message from Karen complaining that this was no joking matter.
            Saffy picked up the phone and called. “Can’t he just pee in the bathroom?” she asked.
            “Cannot, lah! He’s been trained never to pee in the house, so the poor dear is bravely holding it in!”
            “I’m no dog expert,” Saffy said, “but it’s a very wet accident waiting to happen, if you ask me!”
            “I really wish it would just stop raining!” Karen sighed. “It rains every afternoon just when I have to take Roscoe out!”
            “You can’t take him out earlier?”
            “He doesn’t need to go then!”
            “I know, just don’t give him anything to drink!” Saffy said brightly. “That way he won’t need to pee!”
            A few minutes later, Karen posted on Facebook that some people are really very stupid, to which Saffy wrote, “Who are you talking about? Tell! Tell!”
            A few days ago, Amanda emerged from a very refreshing massage at her regular sight-impaired masseuse in Commonwealth to find that the heavens had opened up to a cracking thunderstorm.
            “Oh my God! What is going on with this rain?” she cried into the wall of torrential downpour.
            Grace stepped up alongside, cracking her knuckles. “Ay, you want umbrella?” she asked.
            “I have an umbrella,” Amanda pouted, staring with great dissatisfaction at the fat drops of water. “But it’s my shoes that I’m worried about. They’re Christian Louboutins! They simply cannot get wet!”
            Grace peered myopically at Amanda’s feet. “Maybe you wait till the rain stop?” she asked.
            “I can’t! I have a manicure appointment in ten minutes!”
            But Amanda didn’t come top in her year at Harvard law just for her Prada wardrobe. She rummaged through Grace’s pantry. A minute later, she had tied a Cold Storage bag tightly around each Louboutin-clad foot.
“Hah?” Grace said. “Are you sure?”
“Shut up, Grace. I thought you couldn’t see?”
“This one no need to see. Can hear!”
As luck would have it, Sharyn was coming out of Sheng Siong when she spotted Amanda squelching noisily up the road towards the taxi stand. Within seconds, a picture of Amanda’s footwear protection was on Facebook. It got 50 Likes and was Shared five times.
“This is GOLD!” Saffy posted.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Days of our Lives

I remember there was once a show called ‘Children Say the Darndest Things’. They would interview all these little boys and girls saying obnoxiously cute things that had everyone falling off their chairs laughing. I’m sure the audience wouldn’t be laughing so much these days, considering the host of the show was a certain Bill Cosby.
            My point is this: the show was funny, though my mother eventually stopped watching it because she said all that laughing was giving her premature wrinkles.
            “I wish I had recorded what you children would say to me when you were growing up,” she told me once. “You always made me laugh!”
            When I repeated this to my sister, she said she only ever remembered being scared all the time. “I’m sure Mother’s got early senility! When did she ever laugh?”
            Which is harsh, but I can see why Michelle might remember her childhood this way. “You were always rebelling,” I said. “Like that time when you were 15 and you bugged Mother for an entire year for a tattoo!”
            “Of a butterfly! How could anyone possibly object to a butterfly?”
            “On the back of your neck!”
            Michelle was astonished. “Well, where else would you tattoo a butterfly?”
            See, if Michelle was five years old, that comment would have been cute and everyone would have laughed for ten minutes and said how precocious and adorable she was. Now, I just looked at her, all grown up and sullen, and shook my head.
            The second point is this: adults say the darndest things, too.
            A few nights ago, I was having dinner with my Uncle John and his wife, Auntie Mary. They were visiting from Sydney, so I took them to a local Chinese restaurant.
            “So, who are you writing for these days?” Uncle John asked me.
            I tried to think. “Uhm…” I began. “I still write for 8DAYS…”
            Auntie Mary looked up her chrysanthemum tea. “Ooh, I love that magazine!”
            I coughed. “You read 8DAYS?”
            Saffy stopped chewing her Peking Duck and stared. “Why?” she asked. “I mean, you’re not exactly the right demographic are you? Oww! Did you just kick me, Jason? What I meant was they don’t even live here! Quit with the evil eye! Oh my God, that really hurt!”
            “Auntie Mary gets Jason’s cousin Sue to buy it every week and she sends it over in a big package every month,” Uncle John told Saffy, his rheumy eyes trying hard not to focus on her straining tee-shirt that said in big bold red letters, ‘My eyes aren’t down here!’
            “It’s like Christmas every month!” Auntie Mary said brightly. “I especially love the page with all the half-naked men!”
“Huh,” Amanda said. She stared hard at the ceiling, trying to choose her words carefully. “So, uhm…it’s true then that age doesn’t, in any way, limit…uhm…the…uhm…you know…uhm…the urge to uhm…”
Auntie Mary looked at Amanda, her shrewd eyes missing nothing. “I’m seventy-five dear, not dead!”
“Well, that’s really good to know!” Amanda said brightly.
“So, let me get this straight,” Saffy piped up. “Are you telling us that you and Uncle John are still having se…Owww! Seriously, did you just kick me again, Jason? Oh my God, what is wrong with you tonight?”
This is what it must feel like to have a stroke, I thought. Or be Stephen Hawking. There was so much I wanted to say, but my brain couldn’t connect to my mouth.
            Much later, in the cab zooming back home, Saffy was still ranting. “I think my shin has turned blue black! We were just having a perfectly normal conversation!”
            I was astonished. “Normal! There was nothing normal about that conversation! There is seriously nothing more disturbing than when ancient grandmothers discuss the virtues of a pectoral definition and treasure trail of a half-naked men three quarters of their age!”
            “Especially when you’re involved in that conversation!” Amanda told Saffy.
            I nodded. “Yes, exactly. What she just said!”
            It says something about the titanium grade caliber of Saffy’s self-esteem that she was completely unruffled. “I think you’re both just being ridiculous. I think it’s wonderful that we have examples of senior citizens who won’t let age be a barrier to their exuberant love lives!”
            Nothing spurs on a hypochondriac more than a discussion on advancing decrepitude. “I’m seeing adult nappies and life support systems in my future as a senior citizen,” I said morosely
            “Mine, too,” Amanda said. Misery loves company.
“Seriously, I hope my juices will still be running when I’m your Auntie Mary’s age!” Saffy declared, caught firmly in her parallel universe. “And I hope 8DAYS will still be running that ‘Shirtless Guy’ page! What, why are you looking at me like that?”