I can’t be the first one in the world to say this, but really, this whole business with COVID-19 is a real drag. And not, as my pal Barney Chen would say, the good kind.
What gets me is that 2020 started out with such promise. We went down to Marina Bay to watch the spectacular fireworks and a few days later, quite unexpectedly, Amanda got a promotion, Saffy negotiated a pay-rise, whilst I landed a plum new client.
We celebrated with a dinner at Jewel's Shake Shack, braving the ridiculous queues and, because we’d waited so long, we ordered everything on the menu and gorged on cheese fries, burgers and milkshakes so thick, the straw stayed upright in the cup.
“This is going to be such a great year,” Saffy mumbled through a mouthful of burger. “I can feel it in my waters.”
As Amanda recently said, clearly Saffy’s waters had gone stale by then, because suddenly, we were watching the sky over Sydney turn red, and crying for the screaming koalas.
“I can still hear them!” Saffy moaned for days.
And then, of course, COVID-19 came along and we’ve forgotten all about the poor koalas, because, now, we find ourselves starring in our very own real-time, real-life version of Contagion — a movie about which I remember saying at the time, “Gosh, imagine if that sort of thing actually happened in real life!”
Amanda was especially devastated when her boss told her that her business trip to Paris was cancelled. “But…,” she began. She’d spent the better part of the last two years cultivating a relationship with one of the local executives at Chanel whom she’d met at a party, enduring long boring lunches with her and attending a few of the woman’s kid’s school concerts. But it had all paid off when Madeleine asked if she wanted to attend the Paris fashion shows — coincidentally, in the week after her meetings.
For days, Amanda floated around, her eyes glazed over at the prospect of bumping into Anna Wintour in the loo.
“I’m sure Anna Wintour won’t be going to the loo,” Saffy said firmly. She’d just watched Anna’s ‘Masterclass’ on leadership and was even more convinced than ever that the woman is an alien from outer space. “She doesn’t even look like the type of person who would actually pee!”
“That’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever said,” Amanda told her, “but, whatever. I’ll be in the same room as her and breathing the same air!”
"World War Z is such a good movie!” Amanda mumbled as she crunched, her mood clearly lifted. “The upside of this COVID-19 virus is that people aren’t turning into zombies! Can you imagine if that happened?”
That evening, after her boss had cancelled her Paris trip, Amanda came home, changed into her pajamas and curled up on the sofa to mope.
Saffy later told me that she took one look at the sad sack, and went into the kitchen to make big bowl of popcorn in the microwave.
“Here,” she said, settling down onto the sofa. “Let’s eat popcorn and watch World War Z! That’s your favourite movie!”
From beneath a pile of blankets, an eye peeked open. “I do love a zombie moment,” Amanda murmured.
Which is how I found them both when I came home — two grown women consoling themselves from reality by watching a sea of virus-mad zombies swarm up the walls of Jerusalem.
“This is such a good movie!” Amanda mumbled as she crunched, her mood clearly lifted. “The upside of this COVID-19 virus is that people aren’t turning into zombies! Can you imagine if that happened?”
“If you died and turned into a zombie, I would shoot you and, just to be on the safe side, I’ll decapitate you and then drive a stake through your heart!” Saffy promised her, vampire movies being her other favourite obsession.
A few days later, our friend Walter’s brother died suddenly of a heart attack. He was just in his 30s and was playing a friendly football match when he literally dropped dead on the field.
“Don’t come to the funeral,” Walter told us when we rang to offer condolences. “With this virus going around, it’s just the sort of thing we’re avoiding. No one would want to come anyway. We’re not even having a wake.”
“Really?” Saffy said, a little disappointed as she’d always had the hots for Walter and his brother’s wake had seemed like a great opportunity at which to put her arms around his broad shoulders to console him.
Amanda, a genuine credit to her etiquette teachers at her Swiss finishing school, said, “But we need to give you a white envelope…"
On the other end of the line, Walter paused to turn to his mother. “My mum says there’s no need, but if you’re really hark-hey, you can just use PayLah.”
As Amanda later observed, “Wow, is this the new normal for funerals? PayLah?”
“Which reminds me,” Saffy said, “we should stock up on toilet paper! Have you noticed how in these virus apocalypse movies, no one ever goes to the loo? That’s not normal.”