There are days when you realise you really should have just stayed in bed and binge-watched an entire season of ‘Orphan Black’. These are the days when nothing seems to work, when everything goes wrong, and when everyone comes bearing bad news.
For Amanda, it was a Thursday that had ben Fed-Ex’d straight from Hell. The day before, she’d been having her monthly meeting with her stockbroker, Peter. Expressing concern that she was holding quite a bit of cash, he’d suggested a diversification of her portfolio.
“Buy the pound sterling. It’s very low now,” he counseled with the kind of confidence that can only come with an expensive degree in Economics from Yale. “I think it will go down a bit, but when the Brexit thing calms down, the value will rebound.”
Amanda later said that she should have left Peter’s office at “the Brexit thing”, on the grounds that anyone who talks about an epochal political, social and economic event as “thing” can’t be all that good. “And he’s from Yale!”
“I think he’s hot!” said Saffy who’d once gone on a couple of dates with Peter. “And he’s a great kisser!”
“He’s just kissed goodbye to a lot of my money!” Amanda sighed. Because the very next day, the pound sterling crashed, basically wiping out 6% off the value of her holdings.
When Sharyn heard about it, she rolled her eyes and shook her head. “Aiyoh, why you buy pound sterling? Siow, ah! Now, so unstable. Some more, hor, that Theresa May or-redi say she want hard Blex-it, and you go and buy her money. Confirm go down some more! You want to diversify, must buy gold, mah!”
Saffy coughed, causing her bosom to tremble like firm jelly. “Who’s Theresa May?”
Sharyn moaned. “How am I friends wirh you, hah? The UK prime minister, lah!”
Saffy turned pink. “Oh. I honestly thought you were talking about a Hong Kong pop star!”
“Aiyoh, that is Teresa Teng! But that one die long time ago!”
Completely despondent, Amanda dragged herself to the office. On the way, she stopped by her favourite dao zhui stall in Golden Shoe. Standing in line in her immaculate new Prada blouse, her mind returned to obsessing about how much money she’d lost, and how many bonuses she needed to get it all back.
Just as she had begun mulling the pros and cons of the gold index, someone behind her coughed and sneezed in phlegmy succession.
Amanda later described the moistness that settled over her exposed arm as the same coolness you get with the mist fans at some outdoor cafés. “Except with this one, you knew there was every chance you could catch the bubonic plague and your face starts to melt and you die a horrible, painful death!”
Saffy pulled a face at the graphic description. She put down her spoon and pushed away her chicken congee. “Seriously. You’ve just made me lose my appetite! So, what happened?”
Apparently, Amanda turned right around and looked the bespectacled auntie in the eye. “Excuse me, but you just coughed and sneezed all over me!”
The woman coughed up a wet glob. Amanda said you could tell she was considering whether to spit it out onto the floor right there in Golden Shoe. She reconsidered, and put a tissue delicately to her mouth. “Where got?” Auntie Phlegm rasped, finally. “I neh-ber sneet on you! You siow, issit?”
Realising she was having her own personal Donald Trump moment, Amanda silently weighed her options. What tipped the scales in favour of taking the high road and shutting up was that out of the corner of her eye, she spotted someone whipping out his iPhone and pointing it in her direction.
“Can you imagine it?” she later said. “Screaming at an Auntie and being caught on camera? I could have been the latest YouTube viral sensation!”
“Why do these things keep happening?” Saffy wondered. “Didn’t this happen to you years ago, Jason?”
I nodded. “At the Toa Payoh wet markets! Two days later, I came down with a flu! Maybe it’s the same woman?”
Of course, just to prove that all bad things happen in threes, as Amanda headed back to the office with her plastic bag of dao zhui, the string broke and the bag splashed its white liquid all over her new Prada pumps. With no tissues, she squelched to the office, arriving just as her secretary put down the phone and told her she’d just lost her case in the high courts.
Amanda turned right on her heels and went home. What was the point, she thought. Two days later, she woke up with the flu.