Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Poor Thing

People are always going on about how annoying the Kardashians are, and by people, I mean my mother.
            She was on a plane recently and having finished lecturing my father on the perils of not taking his heart medication, she turned her attention to her screen. For some reason, she randomly picked an episode of ‘Keeping Up With the Kardashians’ in which Kim decides to X-Ray her butt just to prove to the world that it’s all natural and that she didn’t have any implants to make it that big.
            As soon as the plane touched the runway at Changi, she was on the phone. “That’s what you watch all the time?” she asked me. “That’s what your daddy and I spent all that money sending you to university for?”
            “Excuse me,” I said. “But Daddy just texted me to say that you watched five back to back episodes of it, so it can’t have been that bad!”
            In the background, I heard the sound of someone being hit. “Oww!” my father yelled.
            He later told me that Mother was glued to the show all the way from Indian airspace to Singaporean territorial waters. “She kept saying what strange lives these rich Americans lead. At one stage, she paused the show and asked me why there were no housekeepers in any of the residences. Her other question was why all the sisters drove their own cars.”
            Which just proves my point that nothing excites rich people more than seeing how other rich people live.
            “So why are we addicted to the show then?” Saffy asked.
            “Because we’re poor,” I told her, “and nothing excites poor people more than seeing how rich people live!”
            Saffy blinked as she worked through the logic. “Oh my God!” she concluded. “That means they’re covering both ends of the market! That’s pure genius!”
            “Why do you think they’re so rich! Did you see that episode where they got on a private plane to Vegas? See, that’s the way to travel.”
            Of course, the reverse sometimes does happen. It doesn’t happen all that often, but it does happen. The other night, Saffy looked over at Amanda on the sofa and asked, “What are you reading? What is that? Is it new?”
Amanda looked up. “Oh, it’s this new cookbook by my friend, Elaine. It’s so good!”
“Why are you reading a cookbook?” Saffy wanted to know. “You don’t cook.”
Amanda waved a hand. “Oh, I know that, but I got it because Elaine wrote it. We were in high school together and while the rest of us went to law school, she lived in a commune in Montana. During the winters, she waitressed, and in summer, she hiked with her gorgeous guitar-playing boyfriend. She has had such an amazing life! And now she writes fabulous cookbooks! I’m so jealous!”
Leave it to Sharyn to put things into perspective.
“Aiyoh, like that also can be jealous!” she said, her plump lips drawing into a thin disapproving line. “So many cookbook out there today. How to earn money? She writer, you big shot lawyer. You compare your bank balance, enough, lah! No need jealous! Confirm you win, one!”
            “Not everything is about money, Sharyn…” Amanda began. She was waved into silence.
            “You know, ah, only rich people ever say such rah-bish! No poor person will ever say ‘Not every-ting is about mah-ney!’ Siow, ah! Every-ting is about mah-ney, ah!”
            Amanda opened her mouth to argue, but you could tell her heart wasn’t really in it. Whatever else you might say about the woman and her penchant for short skirts and expensive hair products, she didn’t get to be second in her class in Harvard and a tough as nails lawyer by being a wide-eyed optimist.
            Still, she was big hearted enough to send Elaine a congratulatory note on Facebook.
            “Loved your new cookbook!” she posted on Elaine’s wall.
            Apparently Elaine wrote back on Messenger and said that she’s had a lot of great publicity. “But sales are slow. It’s been four months since it launched, but I’ve only sold 1,200 copies. We had a first print run of 2,000 copies. I spent three years writing this. It’s a bit depressing.”
“She should be depressed!” Sharyn pronounced in ringing tones. “Her life is, how you say, ah, Saffy, oh I know, her life is a hot mess! So old or-redy and still share room with tree other people and not marry and got no money! How like that?”
“You should meet my mother, Sharyn,” I told her.
Sharyn’s glasses fogged over as she turned pink with pleasure. “Really, ah?”
Saffy whispered to me, “She knows that wasn’t a compliment, right?”

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