Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Cold Front

Let it be said that Singapore has many conundrums.
            Like, why do guys still carry their girlfriend’s handbags? Though, as Amanda once pointed out, it’s only the young boys who do it. “You never see it happen when a guy is in his thirties. Have you ever noticed that? I wonder if it’s a hormonal pre-pubescent thing.”
            To which Sharyn replied, “Aiyah, you know why or not? Because, har, when the guy is young and he pak tor with the girlfriend, he want to please her, mah. Whatever she tell him to do, he do. But den, hor, after they mare-lee, no need to please her anymore. He or-redi got her, what, so you carry your own handbag, can? You dohn like, then die-vorce, lor!”
            Amanda looked at Sharyn in silence, a little frown forming on her otherwise flawless forehead. She later told us that Sharyn ought to be on Oprah. “When she says stuff like that, it just makes so much sense. Maybe it’s Singlish. If anyone else said it, you’d be laughed out of town!”
            “Hannor!” said Saffy, who is practising her Singlish.
            The other conundrum about Singapore is why it’s so cold everywhere you go.
            Just the other day, the girls and I went to watch ‘Suffragettes’.
            “That Meryl Streep is so talented!” Amanda said as she settled into her seat at Shaw Nex. “She can do anything!”
            “I wonder how much money she makes,” Saffy said, stuffing her face with popcorn. “Her children are so lucky.”
            I sat up in my chair and looked around. “Is it just me or is it really cold in here?”
            “It’s arctic!” Saffy said. “Thanks for reminding me.” She handed me her popcorn carton and pulled out a big woollen Muji cardigan from her vinyl G2000 handbag.
            “Oh, I brought mine too,” Amanda said as she fished her favourite Prada wrap out of her crocodile skinned Birkin.
            As always, Saffy gave the bag serious shade. “You know that your bag probably cost the same as this movie?”
            Amanda waved her hand and giggled.
            Meanwhile, I was seething with jealousy that the girls had brought warm outerwear. I could barely concentrate during the movie, I was so cold. My shivering may account for the fact that I practically missed Meryl Streep’s appearance.
            “Oh my God, she was in that movie for like two seconds!” Amanda complained as we filed out of the cinema.
            “Honestly, she shouldn’t even have been on the poster!” Saffy said, her enormous bosom struggling to emerge from beneath the cardigan. “She might as well have been an extra!”
Amanda turned to me. “By the way, you were very distracting! You kept fidgeting!”
“I was so cold! I think my bits have fallen off!” I told her.
“Please don’t talk to me about your bits!” Saffy said. “Especially not just before dinner!”
Well, you can guess what happened next. The restaurant was freezing cold, too.
“Why is your restaurant so cold?” I asked the waitress. She stared at me with the kind of blank horror one normally associates with someone watching an axe-wielding murderer approach her cabin in the woods at midnight. Slowly, she backed away and whispered something to a colleague. He stared over in my direction and advanced.
“Yes sir? How can I hep-choo?” he asked cautiously.
“It’s very cold in your restaurant!” Saffy piped up. “Can you turn up the temperature?”
You could see him relax. His face wreathed in smiles. “Oh, you are cold, issit? I’m so sorry, but the temperature is set by the building and we cannot adjust it. Can I bring you some hot water?”
“You really should bring a jumper next time,” Amanda told me.
“I just don’t know why everything needs to be so cold?” I complained, aware of a rising whine in my voice. “It’s ridiculous! Let’s eat quickly and get out of here. I am about to get pneumonia!”
And of course, the 105 bus from Serangoon to Toa Payoh had the ambient temperature of an igloo in high winter.
“You have got to be kidding me!” Amanda snapped. “It must be, like, 15 degrees in here! Is it always like this?”
“I’m so miserable!” I moaned.
Sharyn later said I should just stop wearing shorts and tee-shirts.
            “But it’s so hot out there!” I said.
“Aiyoh, hot outside, cold inside, how liddat? How come I don’t feel cold? Maybe because I so fat and no es-sersice!” She giggled good-naturedly.
“You are just skin and bone, Shazz,” Saffy said. “You should be colder than the rest of us!”
“Yah, I don’t get cold. At night, I sleep with air con set to 18 degree!”

Amanda wonders if Sharyn has heard of global warming.

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