Monday, April 24, 2017

Dead Beat

It may have escaped your attention – perhaps because you’ve been too absorbed with your Pokemon Go – but the world is not a very nice place to be in right now. Especially if you’re famous. As Saffy pointed out the other day, if you’re famous, the probability of you dropping dead is exponentially higher in 2016.
            “I’m so glad we’re nobodies,” she said the other day as she read the obituary of Queen Anne on her phone. We were in the doctor’s clinic waiting for Amanda’s name to be called. She’d awoken in the morning complaining of a headache, which Saffy immediately diagnosed as a potential brain tumour.
            “Choy, where got such thing one?” Sharyn had said when she showed up at our flat with breakfast she’d da-baoed from Tiong Bahru Market.
            “That’s how it all starts, Shazz,” Saffy said gloomily. “Look at Muhammad Ali!”
            Sharyn blinked. “Why, what happened?”
            Saffy gave Sharyn the kind of look my mother gave the waiter at Per Se in New York when he confessed he was a big fan of Donald Trump. “He’s dead!”
            “But not from a headache, right?”
            “You don’t know that,” Saffy told her. “We might be having a memorial for Amanda soon!”
            “Aiyoh…” Sharyn moaned. “You are too much, lah, I tell you!”
            But if it’s one thing that unites us all, it’s a firm belief that you can never take anything, least of all your health, for granted. Especially since that time Saffy thought she was having stomach cramps because it was, as she put it delicately to HR when she phoned in sick, “her moon cycle”, and it turned out she had a ruptured appendix.
            A quick phone call later, and Amanda had an appointment with Dr Lee in the clinic across the road.
            “Queen Anne?” Amanda asked. She reached for her iPhone and started tapping.
            “Of Rumania,” Saffy confirmed, her bosom trembling with loyalist grief. “Seriously, they’re dropping like flies!”
            “Ay, I ask you, Rumania is where, ah?”
            Amanda looked up from her screen. “She was 92!”
            “Still. This was the year her number was up! Like the UK and Brexit! And the next thing you know, Donald Trump will be president of the United States. I probably won’t be allowed over that wall he’s building either! This is such a messed up year! I seriously can’t wait for it to be over!”
            “He’s building that wall along the border of Mexico, not Singapore,” Amanda pointed out.
            “I don’t trust his geography,” Saffy said. “Remember that one time when we were in New York and every other person asked me if Singapore was in China?”
            “Which is a good thing because China already has a wall!” Amanda said. The quip has us in stitches and we were still giggling when Amanda’s name was called and she disappeared into the doctor’s room.
            While we waited, Saffy said it was incredible how much time we seemed to spend in doctors’ clinics and hospitals. “It’s just one thing after the other!” she said. I told her I didn’t think the Zika incident a few months ago should count.
            “Hannor!” Sharyn piped up. “Most people get mosquito bite and at most they think, alamak, I have dengue, but you, ah, must so drama and tell everyone you have Zee-kah!”
            Saffy was unrepentent. “Where do you think Patient Zeros come from?” she said stoutly. “Someone has to be the first victim!”
            By the time Amanda eventually emerged from the doctor’s room, Saffy had managed to convince herself that there was every possibility she might actually have a misdiagnosed case of Zika. “You don’t know that!” she repeated while Sharyn rolled her eyes.
            “What did the doctor say?” I asked Amanda.
            She tossed her luxuriant hair and beamed. “He said it was either a pinched nerve in my neck or a hangover from the whiskey shots we had last night! Though he said it was probably a combination.”
            “What kind of a diagnosis is that?” Saffy wanted to know.
            “The more important thing is that he’s asked me out on a date!”
            We all stopped dead in our tracks.
            “Shut up,” Saffy commanded. “Dr Lee just asked you out?”
            “Eeee!” Sharyn added.
            “No, it wasn’t Dr Lee. He’s off sick. It was a new guy – Dr Chen. He went to Harvard and he’s super cute. I gave him my number.”
            “I’m not sure that kind of behaviour is allowed,” Saffy said primly.
            “Wah, you go see doctor can also get date,” Sharyn said with admiration. “Champion!”
            “What? Cannot, meh?”
            If you ask me, this is way more entertaining than Pokeman Go.


Monday, April 17, 2017

No Lee-Way

Much against her better judgment, Amanda has become a fellow fanatic of Dr Sandra Lee, aka Dr Pimple Popper. “It was just a matter of time,” Saffy said with grim satisfaction. Which means that in our little flat, at any given time, one or all three of us can be found glued to a computer screen watching a particularly graphic excision of everything from an epidermoid cyst to a pore of winer.
            “What I don’t get,” Amanda said recently at lunch, “ is how you would ever let something get that big! By the time it gets to the size of pea, you’d be rushing to the dermatologist, no? Or is that just me?
            “No,” Saffy said. “I am totally with you on this.”
            “Me, too,” I mumbled into my rojak.
Amanda shook her head. “I mean, did you see the recent YouTube clip of the Alaskan girl with that ginormous lipoma in her arm?”
            Saffy dropped her fork of mee rebus back into the bowl. A few drops of red gravy splashed onto the table. “Oh. My. God. The one that just popped out of the arm like a skinless chicken breast?”
            Amanda reached across the table to grasp Saffy’s hand. “Wasn’t that just amazing?”
            “Ay, hallo!” Sharyn moaned. “I’m eating. Can we please not talk about pimple?”
            “It wasn’t a pimple, Shaz,” Saffy explained patiently. “It was a lipoma. They’re different dermatological conditions.”
            “Aiyoh, next time you talk about Dr Lee, I am not coming to lunch with you all!”
            A few days later, during her bi-weekly facial, Amanda remembered the conversation and brought up the topic with her facialist.
            “Oh yah, my cousin told me about Dr Pimple Popper and I’ve been addicted ever since!” Jeanette said as she carefully aimed the steamer on Amanda’s tee-zone. “I think I’ve seen every single clip. She’s amazing! Such a nice bedside manner!”
            “Doesn’t she just?” Amanda murmured. “Sometimes when I can’t sleep, I just watch the clips of the Masked Man, where all she does is extract his black heads and they’re just chatting away. It’s so incredibly soothing. It’s better than a cup of hot milk!”
            “Oh, I love that old man. And she’s so gentle with him. After watching that, I tweaked my extraction technique and my clients all tell me they love my extractions.”
            “Oooh,” Amanda sighed. “Really? You’re extracting me, right?”
            “Sure, but, to be honest, there’s really no point because you have such tight, clean pores – there’s just nothing to extract.”
            Amanda later said that of all the disappointments she’s faced in her life, being told that she has no blackheads to extract ranked way up there. “I was so looking forward to it!” she reported.
            Saffy’s bosom inflated like a life raft. “This afternoon, during the board meeting? I was sitting next to the CFO and all I could do was stare at the huge blackheads on his nose. I just kept thinking why doesn’t his wife say something? How do you let the man you swore to honour and cherish and love to step out of the house with all that gunk embedded in his nose?” Saffy paused and shook her head at the feckless infidelity of spouses. “And the more I stared at his blackheads, the more I could almost see myself using a comdeone extractor to press down on every single one of those blackheads and have the stuff just ribbon out of the pore! It was such an out of body experience!”
            Amanda hesitated and then, unable to contain herself, blurted out. “OK, this was going to be a surprise to all of you, but if I don’t tell you now, I’m going to burst. I just ordered a set of those extractors for us from Dr Pimple Popper!”
            “Shut. Up!” Saffy told her.
            My eyes widened. “The ones that have the Dr Pimple Popper logo stamped on the edge?”
            “Shut. Up!” Saffy repeated.
            Amanda blushed. “No, really. She only delivers within America, but I got it all sent to our New York office, so it’s on its way to Singapore!”
            Saffy clapped her hands, practically bouncing in her seat.
            Who knew that Marilyn Monroe had it wrong all along? As it turns out, it’s not diamonds that are a girl’s best friend, but rather, a metal instrument with a loop at the end of it for pushing out blackheads.
            Sharyn says she’s never been more disturbed in her life.
            “You’re going to be the first person I use my comedone extractor on,” Saffy told her. “I’m seeing some huge blackheads on your nose!”
            “Eeeee! You so sick, one!”

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Clean Sweep

Saffy says the main reason she’s so addicted to Dr Sandra Lee aka Dr Pimple Popper is that it appeals to her sense of cleanliness.
            “Think about it,” she said the other day as we watched on YouTube Dr Lee excise a particularly huge lipoma out of a woman’s right arm. “Nothing makes me happier than a clean, disinfected surface. And what does this woman do, really? She excises infected, icky stuff out of people and leaves them clean and lipoma-less. What’s not to love?”
            I gave the matter some thought. “I bet she keeps a clean house, too.”
            “Spick and span,” Saffy told me.
            And just to prove that the Universe is always listening, on her recent birthday, one of her presents was Marie Kondo’s ‘The Life Changing Magic of Tidying’.
            “Oooh, I’ve always wondered about this book!” Saffy cooed as she gave Sharyn a hug. “Thank you, I love it! You always know what to get me!”
            Sharyn turned pink. “Yah, I know confirm you like, one! And hor, after you read, you can come over to my house and practise!”
            The days following her birthday, Saffy was unusually quiet as she dived into the book, emerging every so often to look at her surroundings with vague dissatisfaction.
            “I’m not sure I like my personal space!” she said at one stage. “KonMari says I should ask if this is how I want to live, and I think the answer is, No!”
            “What’s wrong with the way you live?” I asked.
            Saffy pursed her lips. “Well, she says I’m supposed to hold something in my hand, like…like…” She picked up a crystal paperweight from her dresser table. “Like this, for instance and you ask yourself, ‘Does this give me joy?’”
            Saffy stared at the crystal in her hand. “Nope. Not feeling anything.”
            “Your mother gave you that for your birthday,” I reminded her.
            “Well, maybe that’s why I’m not feeling anything!” said Saffy, poster girl for daughters with residual childhood issues. “This is going into a throwaway pile!”
            She’s spent days like this, standing in front of her wardrobe and holding each dress, each tee, each Victoria’s Secret panty. Next she moved onto her little bookshelf piled high with EL James erotica. After an hour, she had three books left on the shelf – her personal journal and two first editions of my novels.
Meanwhile, the throwaway pile gets bigger and bigger.
“At this rate, you’re going to have nothing left!” Amanda observed.
“KonMari says I have to visualise the life I want and actually see what I want it to be filled with!” Saffy said, blowing a strand of hair out of her face as she heaved a drawer full of tax papers onto the throwaway pile. “There, I feel better already!”
Amanda later whispered to me that IRAS might have a few things to say about the state of Saffy’s mental well-being. “And I hope ‘audit’ is not one of them!”
By the time, Saffy was done tidying, she’d hauled six huge black bin-liners down to the communal rubbish tip. She practically floated back up and into her bedroom.
“It echoes in here!” Amanda said as she looked around the suddenly empty space.
“Isn’t it fabulous?” Saffy said, her bosom rising majestically. “I feel so light! Honestly, how did I spend all that time in this room feeling so burdened by all that stuff? And now, I have to organize!”
Sharyn came over with da bao lunch from Tiong Bahru markets. “Wah, so clean and tidy!”
Saffy glowed. “Well, it’s not really tidy yet, I’ve only just thrown stuff away. Now I have to fold everything.”
Which KonMari has dictated too, and it basically involves a lot of folding of corners into rectangles so that everything stands up on its own and things are line up in neat rows where you can immediately see what each item is without having to flip.
“So lay-chay!” was Sharyn’s verdict. “I think if I teach my helper, tomorrow confirm she quit, one!”
“But look how pretty my drawers look now!” Saffy said, pulling out one drawer at a time.
Saffy’s cleaning and tidying up has been such a success that she’s offered to work on Amanda’s and my room.
“I feel joy everything I walk into my bedroom now!” she told us in a tone that Amanda later said reminded her of a Sunday session at City Harvest church.
“As long as she doesn’t start singing,” I told her.