Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Wall for One

When I was growing up, I had plans. My friends had dreams. I had plans – the difference being that dreams are fluffy, sugary wishes that just sit there in your mind and nothing actually happens because deep down, you know it ain’t never gonna happen. Like my dream to be astro-physicist was a fluffy, sugary wish because I had no head for maths and by the time I got to high school, I could barely count to ten without tripping and falling.
            My other dream was to be the world’s number one tennis player but according to the coach my mother hired one summer, I had the hand-eye coordination of an epileptic beagle. It was an analogy that puzzled my brother Jack for ages, and then the day he actually saw an epileptic beagle at our Aunt Soo-ling’s house, he was so inspired he incorporated the movement into his next heavy metal performance. You see, that’s a plan.
            The thing about plans, Mother always said, was that you had to work out the steps you needed to accomplish to get to the goal. Like anyone can dream of having an Ikea Pax wardrobe for their bedroom, but when you open the box, you need to lay out all the parts, screws and washers and bolts and then work out how to put it all together.
            So, I had plans and most of them weren’t terribly ambitious. They mainly involved not failing my exams. Which is another thing about plans. It all depends on how you frame them. If your plan involves getting straight A’s, needless to say, that involves round the clock studying, stress and sleepless nights. On the other hand, if you plan not to fail your exams, then really, you only need to swot just enough to get 51% which, as I saw it, was a much more efficient way to study and freed me up to dream about my overhead smash.
            Imagine our surprise then when Amanda recently announced her plan to drive across America from New York to San Francisco. As plans go, never mind dreams, this was quite a big one. Most people never plan beyond driving to Ipoh for noodles.
            Sharyn, for her part, was unimpressed. “Cheh! She meet Don-er Trum, then how? Confirm he throw her outside the wall!”
            Saffy frowned. You could tell she was struggling to say something but seeing as her grasp of American politics is about as firm as her grip on reality, she hesitated. But the woman is a trouper. She tried anyway. “But…”
            “Amanda isn’t Mexican, Shazz,” I told her. “Donald Trump only wants to build a wall to keep out Mexicans.”
            Sharyn was unmoved. “To-mollow, maybe he add to his list!”
            Saffy turned to me. “The American elections haven’t happened yet, right?”
            Meanwhile, Amanda has been scouring the internet for road routes, car rentals and hotels. The other day, she asked if we might be interested in going with her. Saffy pointed out that none of us drives. “So you’d have to hire a chauffeur!”
            Sharyn pursed her lips and she considered the logistics. “Like this fun, meh?”
            “What if we ask Barney Chen? He loves cars,” Saffy said.
            When Barney heard about the road trip, he immediately imagined a Thelma and Louise kind of glamorous trip across the desert. “How fabulous would that be?” he growled, his voice like boulders colliding underwater. “But wait, when are you planning on going?”
            Amanda looked at her diary. “I’m thinking around mid-September?”
            “Oh, I can’t then, doll! The F1 is in town and Kylie is singing.”
            “Kylie Minogue?” Amanda said.
            “What is it with straight people and their need for surnames?” Barney wondered as he looked down at his arms and admired his biceps.
            “Can we go earlier or later?” Saffy asked.
            “But I can’t go any other time! All my deadlines are set till the end of the year!” Amanda pouted. She tried another tack. “But you’ve seen Kylie Mi…so many times already! Can’t you just miss her this one time?”
            Barney stared at her. “How could you say that to me, her number one fan? That’s like me saying you should stop buying Chanel! Kylie is my life!”
            “I thought your mother was your life?” Saffy asked.
            “I can compartmentalize,” Barney said stiffly.
            And that would have been that, but the very next day, Amanda signed up for driving lessons. She says she’s going to get her driver’s license by September if it kills her. That’s what you call a plan.

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