Amanda has spent the last few months fighting with her mother. Not that this is anything new. For as long as we’ve known her, she has alternated between months of cooing, cloying affection characterised by endless phone calls and shopping sprees, and days when the air is frostier than a Game of Thrones set. This time, the bone of contention is the fact that she’s single and showing no sign of settling down.
Apparently, the subject came up over a Crystal Jade lunch after a particularly satisfying retail spin through Prada and Gucci.
“Girl, when are you going to settle down?” was the opening line. After that, lunch was pretty much over with daughter rising from the table and stalking out, and mother calling over the next few days to attempt to continue the conversation.
“Settle down?” Amanda spat, still seething from a particularly heated phone call during which Saffy and I had retreated to our respective rooms, but kept our ears plastered to the door. “What does that even mean? Why is settling down a life goal? Isn’t the fact that I’m a successful lawyer and not caught up in some seedy sex scandal enough?”
“I’m sure she just wants you to be happy,” Saffy began, but it turns out that was the wrong thing to say because it only set Amanda off on another tirade.
“Happy?! She’s not interested in my happiness! She just wants to show off to her friends that her precious daughter is getting married. Well, I’m not a show pony that she can parade around!”
Saffy sighed. “I don’t think people realise what a crap shoot it is to date in the 21st century. I mean, just between the three of us, we’ve been on literally hundreds and thousands of dates. Maybe even millions!” she added.
“And do you know what she asked me?” Amanda demanded. “She wanted to know if you and I were dating!”
Saffy and I blinked.
“Who…” we each began.
“You, Saffy, you!” Amanda snapped. Saffy squealed. “She thinks you’re my secret girlfriend! She’d just been reading about that new Whitney Houston bio and she wanted to know if you and I were having a secret relationship like Whitney and her assistant!”
Saffy’s bosom puffed up with pride. “Well, you could do worse than to date me!”, a comment Amanda later said proved once again that Saffy lives in a parallel universe.
“That’s it! This is the last straw. I’m not speaking to her again. We’ve had the exact same conversation about the same thing for nearly all my life and I’m done! It’s as if I’m not enough for her if I’m single! She can go bully my sisters for a change. I’m pretty sure my second sister dates women, anyway, so that should give my mother something to focus on!”
Saffy was astonished. “Really? Lauren is gay? Huh! Though to be honest, I have wondered about her fondness for cargo pants and flat shoes.”
“She’s not speaking to my mother, either!” Amanda added.
I remember a period when I didn’t speak to my mother and my American Jewish friend, Billy, couldn’t get over it. “How do you not speak to your mother?”
I looked at him blankly. “What do you mean?”
“Like… how do you not speak to your mother? I mean, she’s your mother.”
“You’re not Chinese. We’re always not speaking to someone at any given time. It’s our thing.”
Billy looked unconvinced. It was as if I was trying to sell him on Scientology. “I speak to, or text my mother at least five times a day. More if I’m away.”
“That’s just weird. You have serious issues,” I told him.
When I went home and told Saffy, she said Asian people just keep it real. “My mother and her 11 siblings have never been on speaking terms with one another all at the same time. It’s how we keep family gatherings down to manageable numbers. Can you imagine if all 12 siblings got along? Chinese New Years would be a total catering nightmare!”
Sharyn says she didn’t speak to her husband for four days after he kept her waiting for an hour for dinner.
“That’s pretty extreme, Shazz,” Saffy said.
“No, what. Is not the first time, okay? He always take his time to come home from office. And I already cook all the food and sit there waiting for him like a goon-du. ‘You think, what?’ I shout at him. ‘You think I am hawker stall, issit? Can anything show up, ah?’ Jialat! He deserve it!”
Meanwhile, Amanda’s mother has upped the ante by telling all her friends that Amanda isn’t speaking to her and she suspects it’s because of the seductive wiles of, in her words, “the gay flat-mate”. Saffy says she’s not sure whether she should be furious or flattered.