Tuesday, November 15, 2016

I Wonder, Woman

I have a friend Jen. She just gave birth to her second child a year or so ago. She runs an enormously successful business. Tall and gorgeous. On Facebook, she posts pictures of cupcakes she makes for her son’s kindergarten parties. She runs a side business where she sells ceramic pots that she makes in a shed in the back of her enormous house in Nassim Hill. She and her husband show up at all the fancy parties around town looking impossibly glamourous.
            Amanda hates her with a passion.
            “That’s because you want her life and you can’t have it,” Saffy once told her. “Instead, you’re stuck in Toa Payoh Lorong One with me and Jason!”
            “Thank you for that reality check!” Amanda snapped.
            Saffy shrugged, her enormous bosom inflating helpfully. “Just keeping it real!”
            A few nights ago, Saffy and I bumped into Jen and her husband at a restaurant just as we were arriving and they were leaving.
            “We have to head out to the opening of a client’s boutique,” she said, her soft dulcet tones wafting over her Chanel No. 5. “And after that, I have to go home and bake a birthday cake for my sister.”
            Saffy turned from shamelessly admiring Jen’s six foot two Swedish banker husband to look at her. “You’re going to bake a cake at midnight?” Saffy asked in the kind of tone she normally reserves for people who say they’re about to run a marathon.
            Jen shrugged. “It’s the only time I have. I’ve been in meetings all day since eight this morning! And this dinner was with a client.”
            Later, as we settled in to read the menu, Saffy said that she really ought to hate Jen too. “But I just can’t! I love her! I really do!”
            “You are one short hair cut from turning into Ellen Degeneres!” I told her.
            Saffy giggled. “No, really. She’s just amazing. She’s our age, and she’s so incredibly successful and she does so much!”
            Of course, when we brought this up the next morning, Sharyn sniffed with all the hauteur of a heartlander working mother. “Cheh!” she huffed. “That Jen, she got two maid. You give me two maid, you think I oh-so cannot bake a cake at midnight, meh?”
            “She didn’t just bake any old cake, Shazz,” Saffy said, shoving her phone at Sharyn. “Here, look at this. She posted this on Facebook today. She baked this at two in the morning!”
            Sharyn inspected the picture of the pretty chocolate cake with tiny twirled ganache frosting. She sniffed again. “Hmm. I dohn like chocolate cake. Unless it’s Lana, but that one close shop soon, so then how?”
            My sister who went to school with Jen says women like Jen give women in general a really bad name.
            “I mean, how do you possibly live up to that kind of standard?” Michelle asked on FaceTime all the way from Sydney. “If I had two maids, I’d be at the spa all day! You know whose fault it all is? That bloody Beyoncé!”
            I blinked.
            “Oh, didn’t you see that post on Facebook? It kind of went viral for a while. It said something like ‘Beyoncé also has 24 hours in a day’, or something equally stupid. What does that mean?” Michelle went on. “Well, it means that we should all quit complaining about how busy and stressed we all are and how we have no time because Beyoncé, in the same 24 hours we complain is not enough, writes songs, records bestselling albums every two days, raises a family, does interviews, photo-shoots, runs side businesses, goes to parties, rehearses, travels for concerts, holds three hour concerts every day, holidays and just generally is Beyoncé. God, I hate her and Jen and women like them!”
Michelle sighed.  
“Well, when you put it like that…” I trailed off thinking of the two hours I’d just spent watching Dr Pimple Popper on YouTube.
“I know right?” Michelle said. “It really makes you feel so inadequate, like you’re wasting the air that could be oxygenating highly productive people like Jen!”
“And Beyoncé,” I said.
When I repeated the conversation to Saffy, she said Michelle has a point. “I really do waste so much time,” she admitted. “Just sitting on the loo takes me half an hour! And imagine if I didn’t have to commute each day! I bet Beyoncé doesn’t commute. And even if she does, she’s probably doing something productive and money making instead of reading other people’s Instagram posts like I do. Ellen Degeneres probably doesn’t waste time either,” she added.
 Amanda says she’s unfriending Jen on Facebook.


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