I was talking to my friend James the other day. He was a little upset on account of the recent revelation that his mother has been having an affair with her brother’s best friend. I was shocked for several reasons. I’ve known Mrs Roy since I was a child and thinking of someone who’s now 70 having an extra-marital affair in negative terms is admittedly ageist, so sue me. But the main reason I was shocked by James’s news was that I thought Mrs Roy had died years ago, which just goes to show how faulty my news sources are.
“But you know what really gets me?” James complained. “The man is twenty years younger than she is! I mean come on! Have some self-respect, woman!”
“Oh,” I said. “That’s what you’re upset about? That he’s younger than she is?”
James looked at me. “Abuden?”
As I later said to Saffy at home, it always surprises me what people are really thinking. “I mean, you’d think he would be upset for the reason that you would think he’d be upset about, but he wasn’t because he was actually upset for a whole other reason which was really surprising! Which is really weird, don’t you think because…well, you know what I’m saying, don’t you?”
You could see Saffy mentally replay the dialogue in her head, trying to make sense of what I was saying. She got there in the end because she said, “I know exactly what you mean. It’s like today, I was in Little India for a meeting with a client and I suddenly realized what amazingly white teeth he had.”
I blinked. “Who, your client?”
Saffy’s legendary bosom inflated. “Yes, my client!”
I blinked again. “What are we talking about?”
Saffy’s bosom deflated a little. “My client and his teeth!”
“What does that have to do with James?”
“Oh, I got bored with your story and decided to tell you about my day!”
“So anyway, I was so distracted by Mr Janatha’s teeth, I completely lost track of the point of the meeting!”
One of the things you learn about living with Saffy is to just go with the flow. I knew the tide had turned. Like Kim Kardashian’s virginity, the topic of Mrs Roy’s 50 Shades of Old was well and truly over. So I said, “Then what happened?’
It turns out that Saffy was so enamoured by the brilliantine white of Mr Janatha’s teeth that she actually asked him how he got it that shade.
“And to be honest,” she told him, “I’ve noticed that your people all have incredible dental work! What’s going on there?”
“Your people?” I asked incredulously. “That’s what you said?”
Saffy looked surprised. “Well, they’re not my people!”
Apparently, Mr Janatha was a kindred spirit, and understood exactly what Saffy meant because he told her that everyone in his family uses a special Ayurvedic herbal toothpaste called Sudantha.
“It has flower buds and fruit and bark extracts,” he said. “In fact, everyone I know in Sri Lanka uses it.”
“Really!” Saffy said. “How fascinating! And that’s all you do? Brush with Sudoku?”
“Sudantha,” said Mr Janatha.
“Why, what did I say?”
Saffy says that as soon the meeting ended, she immediately walked across the street to the Indian provisional store and bought a tube.
“It was the last one they had,” Saffy said with immense satisfaction, waving it in front of me. “I can’t wait to try it!”
“But there’s nothing wrong with your teeth,” I pointed out as I examined the tube of Sudantha. It looked like any other tube of toothpaste you’d find in Cold Storage, even down to the lettering. Squint and you could convince yourself it was a Colgate.
“But it’s not brilliant white like Indian teeth,” Saffy pointed out.
“Aiyah, is zher-ne-tick, lah!” Sharyn said the next day at lunch. “You not Indian, how to get teeth like that?”
Saffy bristled. “That’s just racist, Sharyn!”
“Aiyoh, where got lay-cist? Is true, what. We are talking about the same ting! I spend so much money on my children for dental work, ok? Some more, I got bad teeth. My mudder got bad teeth. My husband got bad teeth. We brush every day, still no use.”
“Jason’s friend James is a quarter Indian and he has fabulous teeth as well!”
But Sharyn was on a roll. “I tink also,” she went on, “because we, hor, are lactose intolerant. Cannot drink milk, our teeth sure lau yah, one!”
Saffy remains unconvinced. Every day, she diligently squeezes out a little dab of Sudantha and then spends ten minutes scrubbing away.
Amanda says it’s a real scandal Saffy was ever allowed to graduate from kindergarten.