Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Soap Opera

In my parents’ closet, there are about ten super plush bathrobes. All stolen from various five star hotels around the world, all with lovely embroidered monograms of the hotels on the left chest pocket
When I told my mother I was planning to write about her bathrobes, she begged me to stress that the collection was all from an era when taking a bathrobe home was like popping a box of matches or a notepad into the bag before you zipped it up and headed to the airport. Everyone did it, apparently. 
“This was back in the day before they had notes that said things like, ‘If you like this bathrobe, it can be purchased from our gift-shop’. I wouldn’t do it now, of course,” Mother said virtuously. A frown creased her forehead. “But really, why do you have to write about this at all? It’s going to cast me in such an unflattering light!”
I ignored her appeal to my better nature and pressed on with my investigative journalism. “Why did you take so many? You’ve never worn any of them!”
“Well, they’re so lovely and thick. Back then, hotels did proper bathrobes. Not like the paper towels they hang up in rooms these days.” Mother’s disapproval of the thread-count and quality of today’s hotel housekeeping was pungent.
Amanda says she’s seen a few hotel bathrobes she wouldn’t mind stealing. “The trouble is, they’re so bulky you’d need a whole extra suitcase to jam them into, and I’m always nervous the hotel will call me up one day and say they’re missing a bathrobe from their inventory.”
            “No one would bother calling you,” Saffy told Amanda. “They’ve got your credit card details, they’d just charge you for it. And anyway, why would you have a thick bathrobe in this weather? You might as well wear five sweaters and die immediately from heat stroke!”
“Wah, Jason, your parent so cheem!” said Sharyn, her voice moist with class envy. “Go hotel, steal bathrobe! I, hor, go to hotel and only take soap!”
Amanda paused. “Really? Soap?”
Sharyn’s eyes enlarged behind her Coke-bottle-thick spectacles. “Yah, I really like the hotel soap. At home, I have a whole box full of Loh-si-tane, lah, got Bool-gah-li, lah, got…got what else, ah…wait, let me tink!”
“What do you do with all that soap?” Saffy asked. “How do I not know about this part of your life?”
“Hai-yah…I like soap, mah. Every week, I use a new bar of soap in the bathroom and kitchen! Wah, first time use to wash hands or bath, so damn shiok, ah, I tell you! Now, hor, I cannot stand using old soap. So slimy and no more smell!”
Saffy turned to Amanda. “No really, just when you think you know someone, she turns right around and surprises you like this!”
Sharyn turned pink and waved her hands like an agitated octopus. “Aiyah, don’t liddat, lah!”
“I used to steal the hotel’s notepads and stationery,” Amanda said, “but I’ve stopped now. I have so much paper in my cupboard, I could open my own Popular outlet!”
“I don’t see why it’s considered stealing,” Saffy said in the tone of voice of someone who’s been giving the matter considerable thought. “We pay a tonne of money for that room and I’m sure it’s all factored into the room rate already!”
“Yes, that’s true,” Amanda said, grateful for the legal lifeline. “It’s like going to a restaurant and using the salt and pepper. How is that stealing?”
Saffy frowned. “Uhm…,” she began.
“Oh, I oh-so have a whole stack of laundry bag!” Sharyn piped up. Clearly, she was emboldened by our frank and honest group confessional of petty thievery.
“Seriously! Who are you?” Saffy said.
“I ever use them to sew back-pack for my chil-ren!”
We tried to imagine Sharyn’s kids going to school carrying back-packs made out of Sheraton laundry bags, though Amanda later said she could certainly imagine using one from the Four Seasons. “They’re actually quite nice,” she said with approval. “Thick cloth. Very sturdy. And quite attractive. I have a few myself that I use to store my shoes, but I’ve never thought of using them for backpacks!”
Meanwhile, Saffy remains troubled by Sharyn’s unexpected revelations. “I’m supposed to be her best friend and yet I find out, completely unexpectedly, that the woman is obsessed by hotel soaps and laundry bags! I mean, what else don’t I know about her?”
“It could be worse,” Amanda said. “You might suddenly discover she’s a big fan of Sun Ho!”
“Sun, who?”
“Not Hu! Ho!”

No comments: