Monday, October 21, 2019

Teething Problems

I’ve never liked going to the dentist. First of all, there’s the antiseptic smell that’s got a layer of ozone skirting under it. And don’t get me started on that whining sound which, to me, is exactly like the soundtrack of a Japanese horror movie, round about the time something the shape of a small child, all black with a lot of hair, emerges from the bathtub. 

But fundamentally, I don’t like going to the dentist for the simple reason that there’s something incredibly frightening about opening your mouth and letting someone wearing a mask approach it with sharp implements.

“You are such a baby!” Amanda said to me the other day as we sat in the waiting room of Dr Chan, our regular dentist.

“Seriously, thank you for coming with me,” I told her. My eyes were shut tight as I tried to breathe. “I really hate coming to the dentist!”

Amanda sighed. “Who doesn’t? But you’re not getting any drilling or scraping done, so what are you so scared about? It’s just a mouth-guard!”

A few weeks ago, during my regular six-monthly check-up, Dr Chan was prodding and scrapping inside my teeth with his scary hooked instrument while I was convinced I was about to pee in my pants from sheer panic. Eventually, he looked up and said, “Your back molars are quite worn down. You’re grinding your teeth in your sleep.”

“I most certainly am not,” I said automatically. Already, I didn’t like where this conversation was heading and I knew it was important that I stopped it in its tracks.

Dr Chan ignored me. “If you keep this up, your teeth will be all uneven which will cause you a whole world of problems. So, we’d better set you up with a mouth-guard. You can rinse now.”

As I bent towards the white porcelain bowl and slowly sloshed the icky peppermint flavoured solution in my mouth, I considered my options. Getting a mouth-guard meant I would have to come back and spend more time in this white torture chamber. But not getting one might mean I would eventually grind my teeth down to stumps, which would require an even longer period of time in here getting the problem fixed and God only knew what would be involved in repairing teeth stumps – although I imagined the process would involve a lot of needles and drilling.

By the time I’d spat out the solution and leaned back into the plastic-lined chair, I knew there was no way out of this. “I’ll give you an extra hour and that’s that,” I told Dr Chan firmly.

His eyes crinkled above his white face-mask, but for all I knew, he was sneering at me.

Which is why I now found myself back in the clinic, though this time, I had dragged Amanda along for moral support. 

“Honestly, you are such a baby!” she repeated as she pulled out her compact mirror and examined her make-up, moving her face up and down, and from side to side.

“You can talk, you have lovely teeth!” I said. “Mine are turning into stumps!”

“Well, if you get the mouth-guard, that’s not going to happen. The only thing about them, though, is that you’ll drool in your sleep!”

I sat up and stared at her. 

Amanda shrugged. “It’s true. Remember Roger? He had to wear one. Drooled all night. His pillow was soggy each morning. It was like sleeping with a bull-dog.”

“That’s really disgusting, Manda!” I said. 

She shrugged again. “Well, it’s that or have stumps for teeth. Not a good look. Anyway, part of the reason Roger and I broke up, I think, was because of the drooling. That and the fact he was so stingy! At one stage, I made him bring over his own set of pillows and pillow cases. I just couldn’t deal with the idea of him drooling all over my Frette linen!”

In the end, the fitting of the mouth-guard wasn’t as terrifying as I thought it would be. I basically had to bite into a metal mould filled with some kind of wet plaster that had the texture of chewing gum. “Not so bad, right?” Dr Chan said at one stage. “OK, bite one more time for me? There, all done!”

I massaged my jaw. I felt like I’d been chewing overcooked steak for an hour. “That’s it?”

“Yes! Come back next week for a fitting!”

Later that day, Amanda came home and presented me with a set of soft hand towels. “They’re Egyptian cotton and you put them on top of your pillow to protect the linen from your drool!”

Saffy says this is the beginning of the end. “First, drooling pads. What’s next? Plastic bed protectors? It’s over!”

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Job Satisfaction

When we were growing up, my mother always threatened us with a succession of increasingly bizarre career choices if we didn’t study hard enough.

“Do you want to end up sweeping the streets? Is that what you want?” she asked my brother Jack when he came home with a red F for music theory. 

To which my sister, Michelle, who never met a button she didn’t want to push when it came to our mother, replied, “So what are you saying? All the street sweepers in Singapore are failed musicians?”

To which my mother, who never met a smart comment from her children she couldn’t shoot down with the precision of a heat-seeking nuclear missile, replied, “You got a C-plus for biology! You really think Harvard Medical School is going to accept you? Keep this up, and you’re going to end up an accountant!”

In the world according to my mother, being an accountant was way up there with being a dentist. To her, if you were an accountant, it just meant that you weren’t good enough to be a chartered accountant. Or, if you were a dentist, this must have meant you’d failed to become an actual doctor.

Which is why she’s always gone out of her way to stress to complete strangers that her daughter is a chartered accountant.

“Looking at her today, you really couldn’t tell that your mother was once such a hard ass!” Saffy said the other day. We were sitting on our sofa drinking tea and watching two guys abseil down outside our window, as they painted, one floor at a time, the exterior of our building. “She just seems so mellow.”

“Mellow, my ass,” I told her. “She still hasn’t told any of her friends that I’m no longer a lawyer!”

Saffy’s bosom stopped in mid-heave. “Wait. What?”

I pursed my lips. “Uh huh. Everyone still thinks I work at Ong & Ong! It’s ridiculous! And she tells everyone that Jack is on a retreat working on his symphony!”

Saffy frowned. “Isn’t he a dentist though?”

I shrugged. “An orthodontist, and a very good one, but Mother says she just can’t imagine why anyone would want to spend their lives looking into someone else’s mouths.”

“Better than being a gynaecologist!” Saffy said. “That’s surely got to be the worst job in the world. I’m a woman and even I get the icks thinking about it!”

“I think doing what these guys are doing is the worst job in the world,” I said, nodding to the painters swaying outside, strapped into their harnesses and, literally, hanging around. “Those harnesses look so painful!”

Amanda later said she’d spoken to one of them that morning, on her way back into the condo. “Apparently, after half an hour, they get quite numb in the crotch!” she reported, adding, “And not in a good way! The harnesses really cut off the blood circulation and it takes a while before they get any feeling back! Peeing isn’t fun, he told me.”

“Their poor girlfriends,” Saffy said, demonstrating, not for the first time, her ability to steer any conversation, even one about occupational health and safety, back towards sex. 

The subject of the world’s worst jobs occupied our attention for days. My sister said being a parent is probably top of her list. “Because children are so ungrateful! And I speak from personal experience!”

I sniffed. “Well, I was just talking to Jack and he says that the worst job in the world is the lab guy who examines stool samples!”

Michelle shrieked. “Oh my God! That’s so true! I mean really, talk about a sh** job!”

We fell about in hysterics. After a while, we picked ourselves up, still laughing. “Can you imagine?” Michelle said, dabbing at her eyes with a tissue. “Can you imagine if we’d come home from school and told Mother that’s what we’d decided to do with our lives?”

Amanda says she doesn’t know what the big deal is. “It’s no different from picking up dog poo, and we did that three times a day with Pooch, remember?”

“Yeah, but we never bent our heads close to look at it,” Saffy pointed out. “And I know I always held my breath. You couldn’t do that in the lab. You’d pass out!”

“Well, I’m sure it’s not done out in an open-plan office!” Amanda said. “Surely, it’s all in some kind of protective box?”

Saffy was unconvinced. “Yeah, but you’d still have to look at the stuff!”

Sharyn says it’s really weird what single people talk about. 

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Sleep It Off

A few Sunday mornings ago, I was sitting on sofa watching the latest episode of Dr Pimple Popper in which the good Dr Lee was grappling with a particularly difficult lipoma. 

“This woman is amazing,” I murmured to myself. 

Just then, Amanda walked in the front door, the sweat still shimmering off her dewy smooth skin. 

I was surprised. “Oh, you’ve been out this whole time? I thought you were still in bed!”

Amanda came to stand next to the sofa, and put her right leg in a quad stretch. “No, I’ve been up since 6.30. I decided to go for a run! Ooooh, that is one huge lipoma! The woman is amazing!”

“Tell it! I love her. I wish she was my mother!” I said and added, “Six-thirty? That’s way too early to be doing that kind of physical activity.”

“It’s a perfect time. The streets are empty. The air is clean and I don’t have to dodge those nasty bicycles and electric scooters on the pavements! There really should be a law against those things!” 

It turns out there are two kinds of people in the world: those who wake up early, and those who don’t.

When I was growing up, my parents would complain to all their friends that their children were born lazy on account of the fact that we would sleep till noon. “The whole day is over!” Mother would tell me when I stumbled downstairs, rubbing sleep from my eyes. “You’ve missed breakfast and it’s almost lunch time!”

To my sister, she’d announce, “You’re wasting your life sleeping! You’ll have plenty of time to sleep when you’re dead!”

“But we wake up so early during the week!” Michelle would reply. “The weekend is the only time I can catch up on my sleep!”

“Well, if you went to bed early  at 10pm, instead of 1 am, you wouldn’t need to catch up on any sleep!”

Michelle, barely 17 years old, rolled her eyes. “Who sleeps at 10pm?” 

As it turns out, people who aren’t 17, that’s who. These days, by the time 9.30pm swings around, my eyes start to droop. I used to read in bed till all hours. Now, I read a page, and I’m out.

“That’s how you know you’re getting old,” Amanda said, as she stretched her other leg. “You sleep early, and you wake early!”

“Which must mean Saffy is still 17, because she’ll sleep till noon, if you let her.”

Amanda sniffed. “That’s because she’s up till 3am watching tennis or golf! I don’t know how she does it. The minute I get into bed, rub some moisturizer into my hands and I’m ready to call it a night!”

Saffy emerged from her bedroom shortly after noon. With her bloodshot eyes, wild hair and rumpled nightgown, she looked ready to star in the sequel to ‘The Ring’. She collapsed into a chair at the dining table. “Oh. My. God.” 

Amanda looked at her sideways. “You know you’ve missed lunch, right?”

Saffy turned a red eye towards her. “How does Jennifer Aniston do it?!” 

It turns out that Saffy had read an article about how famous people like Jennifer Aniston, Michelle Obama and Tim Cook only sleep four hours a night. The article didn’t come right out and say it, but the hidden message was that if you sleep four hours a day, you too could become intelligent, gorgeous, famous and fabulously wealthy.

Which is why Saffy got into bed at 11pm after catching up on ‘Big Little Lies’, set her alarm for 4am, and found herself utterly unable to sleep till 1am. When the alarm went off three hours later, she stumbled out of bed and then through the fog of her sleep deprivation, it occurred to her that she’d never really worked out, once she was awake at 4am, precisely what she was going to do.

“I mean, Tim Cook has an empire to run. Michelle Obama writes books and gives lectures. Jennifer Aniston does yoga and meditation and makes movies. I have a day job in HR!”

“You could check your emails?” Amanda suggested as she passed Saffy a cup of super strong coffee. 

Saffy moaned. “Wake up at 4am to check my emails about personnel redundancies? What kind of a life is that? So anyway, I tried to do some yoga, but I lost interest after two minutes. I couldn’t concentrate on my book. I couldn’t focus on the TV. In the end, I went back to bed at 6am!”

When Saffy recounted the story at work the next day, Sharyn said, “Wake up at 4am? You think so easy become rich and famous, issit? If liddat, I orredi billionaire!”

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

A Leg Up

My parents never told any of their children anything about the birds and the bees. They simply figured they were paying enough for our expensive education, so it only made sense that someone would teach it to us eventually; otherwise, what were they paying all that money for?

It’s the same approach they applied to litter. Which is why when my sister Michelle’s primary school organized a ‘pick up litter at the beach day’ and tried to get the parents to also join in, they made a critical mistake in actually telephoning my mother.

When she put down the phone, she immediately turned to Father. “I’ve just had the most astonishing conversation!”

He stared at her over the top of his newspaper. “I don’t see how. You just said, ‘Hello’ and ‘No’ and hung up the phone. How is that a conversation?”

Mother sniffed. “That was Michelle’s school! They wanted me to pick up garbage at the beach! Why is that my job? I pay taxes so someone else can do that kind of thing!”

My father’s mother did not raise a stupid son, which is why he wisely refrained from pointing out that Mother, despite receiving a very substantial household allowance from him, did not pay taxes on account of the fact that she didn’t actually work at a job that required taxes to be paid. 

Mother was so affronted by the phone call that the next day, she pulled Michelle out of school and re-enrolled her somewhere else.

Years later, over afternoon tea of kaya toast at Toast Box, we were still talking about our parents’ division of labour. 

“I just don’t understand how your parents just palmed off the responsibility for sex education to the school,” Saffy said, shaking her head as she gently blew on her kopi-o.

“I know, right?” Amanda said.

“Oh my God,” Michelle said, “I’m so glad they didn’t! I can’t imagine a more awkward conversation!”

Saffy’s bosom inflated. “You know, I love your parents, but they’re really weird.”

“Tell them what conversation they had with you instead!” I told Michelle, who immediately rolled her eyes.

“So shortly after that beach litter phone call,” she began, “and I had just started at my new school, Mother picked me up one day. Which was weird, because she never picked any of us up. She never saw the point because otherwise why have a driver in the first place?”

“Which makes complete sense,” I said. 

Michelle nodded. “Yes. Which meant that her coming to pick me up from school was a big deal and it also meant she wanted to speak to me about something very private.”

“Which was?” Amanda prodded. 

“Which was to tell me that if and when I ever got married, I was not getting a dowry!”

Michelle sat back in her chair triumphantly. Amanda gasped.

Saffy blinked. “Wait…What?”

“Isn’t that just crazy?” Michelle asked. “She couldn’t talk to us about sex, but the subject of dowries was completely on the table!”

“What I never understand is why she didn’t get the lawyer to speak to you about it,” I said. “After all, that was his job!”

Saffy waved her hands. “Wait! A dowry? Is that still a thing?”

“Of course it is!” Amanda said. “Stanley Ho’s daughter just got $100m dowry when she got married!”

Michelle’s eyes widened. “She did? Cash or stock?” she asked, demonstrating, not for the first time, that here was a woman whose expensive education hadn’t gone to waste. 

Saffy was astonished. “What century are we living in?!”

The next day at the office, it was all she could talk about, though Sharyn, surprisingly, didn’t see what the issue was.

“Ay, if my parent give me dowry when I get married, today, I no need work, ah, I tell you!” Her already magnified eyes became even more enlarged behind her thick spectacles. “So shiok, stay at home all day and watch TV and shake leg!”

“Your parents aren’t that wealthy, Shazz!” Saffy pointed out.

“Who say? My fadder own the Toyota dealership in Muah, you know! Every year we go to Cameron Highland holiday! But then before I get married, he kena cheated by his business partner and lose all his mah-ney!”

Saffy blinked. “Oh, I didn’t know that. I’m sorry.”

“Aiyah, is old story. So now, like that, lor! Must every day come to work. Boh pian,” she sighed as she stared at the stack of HR reports on her desk. “Not like Stanley Ho daughter. That one confirm go on honeymoon, come back and shake leg, one!”

Saffy says she’s never understood the allure of shaking her legs as a way of passing time, but for $100m, she could probably learn to like it. 

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Tongue Twister

Amanda’s friend Jenny recently started dating again after a particularly nasty divorce. The ex-husband had emptied their joint bank account and run off with his secretary. When the money ran out, the secretary dumped him and he tried to come crawling back to Jenny. And when she refused to take him back, he claimed, during the divorce proceedings, that it was precisely this kind of unusually cruel treatment that had led him to have an affair in the first place. 

Anyway, the dust settled a few months back and quite unexpectedly, Jenny suddenly found herself agreeing to go out on dates organized by Amanda. “You have to keep on top of your game!” my flatmate said even as she organized another drinks party to which she invited all the single men she could think of who weren’t currently attached to a wife or a porn addiction. 

“How come you never did any of this when I was still single?” Saffy complained as she looked over the invitation list. “I mean, you’ve invited that super hot Sam! Did you see his Instagram post today when he did the splits? All I could think of was why the stupid camera was at the front and not to the side, if you know what I mean?”

Amanda sighed. “Well first of all, Sam only dates women who are over five feet eight, and you’re not. So there’s that. And secondly, you’re supposed to be happily in a relationship with Bradley, so why do you care who’s coming to the drinks party?”

Saffy’s bosom inflated. “Well, I think it’s just weird to have a height restriction when you’re dating. And –,” she hesitated, “I love Bradley and everything, but I kind of miss the excitement of dating. You know, that funny feeling in the pit of the stomach?”

“That’s usually your period,” Amanda snapped. 

Saffy shrugged, by now, long immune to Amanda’s jibes. “Not always! But you know what I mean. That butterfly flutter when you think, ‘Is he going to call? Oh, he’s calling me! He’s asking me on a date!’ I miss that feeling of the first date, and especially the first kiss!”

“Completely over-rated!” Amanda sniffed. “Especially if the guy is a lousy kisser and you have to spend the next few weeks coaching him how to kiss but without him knowing that’s what you’re doing, because if he ever knew, he’d be so offended!”

Saffy sighed, her bosom deflating on cue. “Oh, that bad kissing bit. There must be some school of bad kissing that guys go to. I can’t tell you how many bad kissers I’ve dated in my life. Even with Bradley, I had to quietly coach him.”

As it turned out, Jenny and Sam hit it off like Jon Snow and the Targaryen girl, and within four days of the drinks party, they were posing for wefies in front of the Jewel’s Vortex.

Apparently, later that evening, they took their dragons out of a ride and to hear Jenny tell it the next day at breakfast at Toast Box, it was amazing. “It’s so liberating to be with a man who knows his way around a woman’s body, you know? Not like that low-down scum sucking pig of an ex-husband of mine!”

Amanda was beatific. “You’re welcome!” she said.

“The only thing is,” Jenny said, leaning in. “The next morning, when we woke up and he moved in to kiss me, I nearly gagged!”

Amanda winced. “Morning breath?”

“The foulest!” Jenny confided. “I had to hold my breath and then make some excuse about needing to pee.”

“And I guess it’s too early to introduce him to the tongue scrapper?”

“Not till at least the third date, I don’t think,” Jenny said.

Saffy says that she really should start up a school of dating for men and one of the compulsory modules would be tongue scrapping. “What are mothers teaching their kids these days?” she wondered to the world at large. “That’s just basic hygiene and good manners! I mean, if we women make the effort to wash our bits and put on clean underwear before going on a date, the least the guy could do is to take a few swipes of the tongue in the bathroom before getting into bed!”

Amanda, who has higher standards, added, “And again first thing in the morning before they come near the woman!”

“See, that’s one thing I don’t miss about dating,” Saffy said. “The house training!”

Amanda pursed her lips. “Yeah, and after all that effort, they run off with the secretary!”

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Knowing Me, Knowing You

Saffy’s motto in life is: ‘Everyone will eventually disappoint you.’

Each time she’s been let down by someone, say her mother, she’ll announce in dolorous tones, “Everyone will eventually disappoint you.”

She says she came up with the motto when Jonathan, her first boyfriend in high school, cheated on her with the head girl. “I was devastated!” she told us once. “He was the first boy I ever loved. I thought we were going to get married. And then he had to hook up with that skank, Sarah Chan. Broke my heart.”

Apparently, Jonathan eventually married the skank, but on their seventh wedding anniversary, she ran off with her remisier with whom she’d been having a torrid affair. Some time later, Saffy bumped into Jonathan when he was coming out of the local 4D shop. “He’s grown so fat!” she later reported with immense satisfaction. Her bosom strained with happiness against her tee-shirt. “You can barely see his eyes! Which just goes to show. Everyone gets what’s coming to them.”

Amanda arched an eyebrow. “Is that another life motto?” she asked.

Saffy’s bosom inflated. “Yes! It’s the yin to the yang of motto number one!”

A couple of weeks ago, she stormed back into the flat, her face black as night. 

Amanda and I were on the couch weighing up our Netflix options – a Marie Kondo re-run or a slasher flick. We looked up at Saffy’s entrance.

“What happened?” Amanda asked.

Saffy’s bosom inflated. “I am never going out again with that Melissa!” 

Amanda sucked in her breath. “Oh my God. She ditched you again?”

Saffy flopped onto the sofa next to us. “I just never learn!”

Amanda later told me that she’d been friends with Melissa first and had introduced her to Saffy. “She’s the absolute pits, but she and Saf seemed to hit it off, so I couldn’t wait to palm her off.”

I’ve met the woman a few times. She’s a transplant from New York, and a lawyer in one of the Big Four firms in Raffles Place. The first time I met her, I was in the midst of my obsession with Dr Pimple Popper and Melissa said that was the most disgusting thing she’d ever heard, so that was the end of that potential friendship. 

But to hear Saffy now tell it, the woman is actually very nice company. 

“When she shows up that is,” Saffy sniffed. “First of all, she does this ridiculous thing of never replying to messages about going out. I have to ask her, like, five times, ‘Shall we catch up?’ before she says, yeah sure! But she never suggests a date, so I have to do that, and then she doesn’t reply. So I follow up. Several times.”

“I’m exhausted already,” I told her.

“It gets worse,” Amanda piped in.

Saffy rolled her eyes. “So if I suggest any day, she’ll say, ‘Oh, my sister may be visiting then. Can I let you know closer to the day?’ Once, she actually said that she might be having her moon cycle on the day we were supposed to meet. ‘Can I let you know?’ I mean, what do you say to that?”

Amanda pursed her lips. She’d been down this road before. “Nothing.”

“We’ve made so many plans to meet up for coffee, for a movie, for drinks and lunch and dinner and manicures. And it’s always, ‘I’ll let you know?’” Saffy went on, working herself up into a simmering rage. 

Amanda asked, “And does she still do that thing where about a week before, she says, she thinks she can make it, and so you start making plans before and after you meet her?”

Saffy’s bosom stiffened. “Totally. I will have the whole afternoon planned out. And she confirms on the day and about half an hour before she’s due to meet, she’ll text and say, ‘I’ve got a headache, I’ll have to cancel lunch!’”

I gasped. “After all that?”

“Well, today, it was a sudden headache. Two weeks ago, she double booked herself. And before that, she had a stomach ache. And before that, her mother was in town. And she would have known about her mother’s visit ages ago. So why string me along? It’s ridiculous! Every. Single. Time.”

Amanda sniffed. “It’s no wonder she’s still single. What man will put up with such crap?”

“I had to have lunch by myself, too!” Saffy’s mouth curled into a pout as Amanda rubbed her back. “Seriously, people are so disappointing! Though why am I surprised?”

“Come on, I’ll take us all out to dinner. It’ll cheer you up.”

Saffy sighed. “I’m not sure I’m up for dinner after all that. Can I let you know?” 

Monday, September 09, 2019

Meat and Eat

It’s been a year or so since Saffy and Amanda turned vegetarian and life has finally settled down. 

The first few months were a little challenging, especially for Saffy who had never met a cut of meat she didn’t like. She was the ultimate carnivore, an approach very much informed by a complete lack of protein prejudice. Anything that mooed, crowed, oinked, slithered and crawled was fair game. We once watched her crunch her way through a heaped bowl of deep fried crickets in Cambodia. She went on a camping trip in Australia and came back a confirmed fan of grilled snake.

But a combination of YouTube clips of Esther the Wonder Pig and an endless daily barrage of news articles about the environmental and ethical problems about meat consumption started wearing her down. The final straw came when, at a yoga retreat she and Amanda attended in Bali, the teacher said Saffy couldn’t ever really become truly spiritual if continued to eat meat.

Sharyn, who was at the same retreat, snorted. “Aiyah, what for you want to become spiritual?” she asked. “You think you are Dalai Lama, issit?”

For Amanda, the bigger psychological obstacle to becoming a full-blown vegetarian was that she would have to give up leather and silk, but she comforted herself with the knowledge that she could now shop exclusively at Stella McCartney. 

But at the beginning of their vegetarianism, well-meaning friends provided plenty of unhelpful advice.

“Where are you going to get your protein?” asked Mabel, whose family runs a steakhouse. 

“From pulses and tofu,” Amanda replied, serenely beautiful in her new Stella McCartney dress. 

Mabel looked unconvinced. “I read somewhere that people who don’t have enough protein in their diet are more likely to get Alzheimers!” she went on. “I think you should still have a little bit of meat. Just eat the skin of the roast pork! You don’t have to eat the meat if you insist on being a vegetarian!”

Amanda couldn’t wait to get on the phone to tell Saffy who squealed.

“She did not say that! Eat the crackle but not the meat?”

“Apparently, you can still be a vegetarian that way,” Amanda reported. She hesitated. “Though I can kind of see the logic of what she’s saying…”

“Don’t you dare!” Saffy warned. “I need moral support. You cannot abandon me when we’re already in week three!”

Amanda sighed. “I know, but I feel so left out! Last night at dinner, everyone was sucking up the crab claws and cutting into their medium rare filet mignon, and there I was stabbing away at my quinoa salad. It was a little sad!”

“Think of all the poor Esthers in the world!” Saffy insisted, having just spent the past hour cooing over Instagram posts of Esther the Wonder Pig. 

Amanda sighed again. “Oh, alright.”

Then, a few weeks ago, we found ourselves at Cut by Wolfgang Puck for dinner. 

“This is such a lovely restaurant!” Amanda said, looking around.

“My God, why are we at a steak restaurant?” Saffy moaned, her eyes having attained the glassy stare of a recovering crack addict who was looking for the loo and accidentally wandered into a meth lab. 

“Because Sharyn says we need to check out the Impossible Burger!”

Saffy eyed the woman at the next table cutting into a thick cut of sirloin. “Sharyn is the Devil!” she pronounced.

“How can vegetable protein taste like meat?” I wondered aloud. “Not even those mock meats at Chinese vegetarian restaurants taste like meat.”

“Apparently, the ones here are amazingly realistic. They even bleed like real meat and…Ooh, here they come!”

Saffy looked at her plate with deep suspicion. 

Because the Impossible Burger looked just like a burger. Right down to the patty, which had the texture, colour and glistening sheen of a well-charred slab of minced beef.

The girls looked at me as I lifted my burger to my mouth. I took a bite, chewed, swallowed and paused. 

“Well?” Amanda said finally, gulping down her saliva. I picked up my phone.

“What are you doing? Why are you calling someone now?” Saffy demanded.

“We need to buy shares in this industry,” I said. “This is the future!”

“Oh, you’re so dramatic!” Saffy said as she gathered her courage and took a bite. “I mean, how can this be…” There was a silence as she chewed, her eyes closed in utter bliss. 

As meals go, that Impossible Burger was transformative. Even now, we’re talking about it.

“You really can’t tell!” Saffy told Sharyn.

“Yah, lah! I told you!”

“But it’s such a dilemma. It’s not meat, but it’s meat. I love it, but I also know I shouldn’t!”

Sharyn pursed her lips. “Not easy being Dalai Lama, hor?”