Some weeks ago, Amanda’s friend Gwen came home from an overseas trip to discover that her boyfriend of six years had left her.
“She walked in her front door and the apartment was completely empty,” Amanda reported. “Like, he’d literally stripped it bare. He took everything. The curtain hooks, the air-con remote controls. He even took the toilet brush.”
Saffy gasped. “The toilet brush?”
Amanda nodded significantly. “The toilet brush. He left nothing behind. Not even a note. But that’s probably because he also took all the pens and paper.”
“The toilet brush?” Saffy repeated. “Who takes that?”
“Poor Gwen,” Amanda sighed. “She says she didn’t see it coming. Just before she went to Shanghai, they’d been making holiday plans to go to the Maldives. He took all her clothes, even her bikinis.”
“That is so weird,” Saffy pronounced, her breasts pumping pneumatically. “I never did like him. He always looked like he had something to say, even when he was actually talking to you!”
Of course, Gwen is still in shock, though to hear Amanda tell it, Gwen’s mother is taking it the hardest. As it turns out, she and my mother play mahjong together every second Sunday afternoon after church.
“It’s so tragic,” Mother told me over the phone. “Hwee Meng keeps saying Gwen gave that man six of the best years of her life. And now what does she have to show for it? Nothing! Not even a diamond engagement ring. Sucked dry and kicked to the curb. Those were her exact words.”
“She went to Harvard, but which man is going to marry her now?” Auntie Hwee Meng said to everyone last Sunday and promptly burst into tears. “My daughter is second-hand goods now!”
“Gosh, that’s progressive,” Amanda told Gwen. “Does your mother know which century we’re in?”
“Oh my God,” Gwen moaned, sinking her head into her arms. “You know what fills me with dread?”Amanda blinked. “You mean other than you being literally cleaned out by your boyfriend of six years?”
“Yes, other than that!” Gwen said, her voice amplified by the crook of her arms. She looked up, eyes red from days of crying. “I’ll get over this eventually, I know that. But what scares me,” she paused, gathering courage to speak, “what is scaring me witless is that I’m going to have to start dating again!”
There was a brief silence as Gwen’s words settled in and made themselves comfortable. “Oh,” Amanda said eventually. “I never even thought of that,” Saffy said later, her eyes blinking in horror.
“Can you imagine dating again at this age? Ellen says it’s awful once you turn 40!”
Amanda sniffed. “Forty! It’s horrible even when you’re 20!”
“Yes, but it gets worse as you get older,” Saffy insisted. “Ellen says when you’re past 40, the only guys you meet out there are scammers! They’re just preying on your loneliness.”
Amanda looked doubtful. “That’s not true!” There was a moment of hesitation. “Is it?”
According to Saffy, Ellen’s best friend Gina got divorced at 42, and got straight back into the dating game with the same kind of determination and gutsy ambition that had made her the youngest partner at her investment bank.
Apparently, she met a guy online, they met, fell in love and got engaged. “He was a lawyer,” Saffy said. “He moved in with her and everything was hunky-dory and they were planning their wedding in Bali and stuff when one day, she got a call from this woman who said she was this guy’s wife!”
Amanda sucked in her breath. “He was married?”
Saffy nodded. “With two kids! And still living with them the entire time he was with Gina!”
“But how…” Amanda began.Saffy was already at the end of that sentence. “He told both of them he was travelling! So, when he said he was in Shenzhen for work, he was with Gina, and when he was supposed to be in Beijing, he was with the wife and kids! He’d say he was exhausted from work and travelling, that’s why they always stayed home and never went out where…”
“Where he might be seen by the other woman.” Amanda sighed at the deviousness of the scheme. “But it must be so stressful living a double life like that!”
“Wait,” Saffy went on. “When the wife went through his phone, she discovered the guy had two other girlfriends!”
Apparently when she heard this story, Gwen announced she was going to become a nun. My mother says Auntie Hwee Meng had to be sedated.
This story first appeared in 8 DAYS issue #1450 (Aug 2, 2018).