The world is divided into two camps: those who are clean and those who are not.
Of course, there are degrees of clean. Some people think having a part-timer visit their home once every two months to vacuum and dust means they keep a clean house. By my tone, I’m sure you can tell where I stand on this. And yes, Phyllis Chan, I am talking about you.
I once had lunch with someone who confided she washed her bed-sheets once a year. “I sleep on one side for six months and then on the other side for six months,” she told me. “It’s OK, what!”
“No wonder she’s single!” Amanda said when I got home and recounted the story, to which Saffy, merrily adding fuel to fire, said, “In that case, why are we still single? We wash our sheets every week!”
“We have other issues,” Amanda snapped before flouncing off to aqua-aerobics.
“I wonder,” Barney Chen growled in his rumbling basso while he admired his bulging biceps in the mirror, “if she realizes that it doesn’t help her dating opportunities if she exercises with a bunch of old ladies in a pool in the middle of the day?”
“She says she’ll stand out more if she surrounds herself with older, more wrinkled women,” Saffy said.
“But all the ang-moh bankers will be at work!” replied Barney, the original male SPG.
“Ugh, you just reminded me,” Saffy said as she trudged into the kitchen to open the cupboard where we store the cleaning products. “Ah Luan is about to show up. I better clean the toilets!”
Barney paused in mid-flex and stared at Saffy’s reflection in the mirror. “Uhm,” he said eventually. “Why?”
“Why what?” Saffy’s muffled voice asked, her head buried inside the cupboard. “Why am I cleaning before Ah Luan comes? You mean, you don’t?” Her head emerged. “We always clean up and tidy up first. We don’t want her to think we’re complete slobs, right? Even if we are really.”
Barney turned around to give Saffy the full weight of his attention. “Wait a minute. Let me get this right. You clean up. Before the cleaning lady arrives?”
Saffy’s fabulous bosom deflated. “I know. It’s so sad.”
“What’s the point then of having a cleaning lady in the first place?”
“I know,” Saffy repeated in the same resigned tone mothers everywhere use when confronted by undisputed evidence that their daughter is never going to marry some billionaire’s hot eligible son.
Barney later told me I was living with a bunch of complete loonies. “I’ve never heard of such a thing!” he said.
Loyally, I rose to the defence of my flatmates. “Well, it’s not as if we…” I trailed off, realizing that I’m just made a tactical error.
“‘We’? You mean you do it too?”
“Only a little bit! You know, I just clean the rim of the toilet bowl and…and…maybe give the sink a bit of a rinse…”
“You are such a girl!” Barney announced. “And not in a good way!”
A few days ago, Amanda was in the Japanese supermarket in the basement of Isetan hoping to bump into a hot Japanese banker when she fell into conversation with a Japanese tai-tai in the household cleaning aisle.
She came back with a packet of white sponges. “Mariko said this stuff is amazing! It cleans everything, she said!”
Saffy opened the packet doubtfully. “It feels like those Tempur pillows!” she said, picking up a tea-stained cup. “Let’s see how it works with…oh my God!”
“Does it work?” Amanda said.
With bright shining eyes, Saffy held up the cup. “Look at this! Just one swipe and the tea stains came right off!”
“Huh!” Amanda said. “Mariko said it cleans anything!”
“I wonder if it will work on this filthy floor,” Saffy said, squatting down. She rubbed at a grey patch and instantly, a white patch appeared beneath.
“Oh my God!” Saffy and Amanda breathed.
“Our kitchen floor is white?” Saffy said.
“I always thought it was slate grey,” Amanda said. “That’s what I’ve been telling everyone. Rub some more!”
Which is how the girls spent the next hour on their hands and knees scrubbing the kitchen floor. “How is this possible?” Saffy said at one stage. “It’s just a sponge!”
Amanda moved onto the cupboards which now revealed themselves to be the colour of light grey which surprised us all since we’d long assumed it was volcanic grey. “It’s a miracle!”
“That’s what it says on the package!” Saffy said. “I’m going to scrub our bathroom now!”
We’ve not stopped scrubbing for days. Tomorrow, Mariko is coming over for tea. The girls plan to ask her what other cleaning products she recommends.