And so it’s begun. Singapore has gone into “circuit breaker” mode.
Not that it’s going to really change, all that much, the lives we lead in the little flat I share with Saffy and Amanda. For weeks now, we’ve been gradually withdrawing from the world, avoiding crowds, and washing our hands every two seconds like a nervous Naomi Campbell.
“I swear,” Amanda murmured at one stage, as she vigorously rubbed her hands with sanitiser even though she’d touched nothing in the past hour except her magazine, “when this thing is over, I’m going to have the world’s worst dermatitis!”
In the kitchen, Saffy pulled her head out of the fridge. “When this thing is over,” she said, magnificent bosom inflating to full capacity, “I’m going to be the size of a house! All I seem to do is eat all day!”
To which Amanda observed we need to social distance ourselves from our fridge.
The prospect of now spending the next month at home isn’t thrilling anyone, least of all our friend Raquel whose family has been on unofficial lockdown for about three weeks now. “We’re starting to get on each other’s nerves,” she confessed over FaceTime.
Amanda paused. “Don’t you have, like, a huge two-storey house with a backyard and swimming pool, Arielle Charnas?”
Raquel rolled her eyes. “Rude! But we’ve never spent this much time together! The noise levels are off the chart especially when the kids are fighting or I’m homeschooling them! It’s not easy, you know, doing this 24/7 for weeks on end!”
Which, of course, made me wonder just how Anne Frank and her family did exactly that for years and years in the attic. And they had to be quiet the entire time.
“Oh my God,” Raquel sighed. “The Nazis would have found us and rounded us all up on the very first day!”
“It’s all just too much,” Saffy said, even as she sank back down into the sofa with her iPad Pro to resume watching Kingdom on Netflix.
“Is that any good?” asked Amanda, who is knee-deep in Crash Landing Into You.
Saffy looked up. “It’s Korean. It’s a period drama. They got some really hot guys in it. The costumes and stage settings are fabulous. And it’s got zombies. Seriously, what more could I want from a show?”
“Those Koreans really do know how to make a great show,” Amanda said with deep admiration.
And that’s how our days are passing. From dawn to dusk, each of us sits in a corner of the living room, plugged into a parallel universe, escaping into a world where good looking people meet and fall in love, zombie heads get lopped off, and, in my case, world famous chefs like Thomas Keller, Gordon Ramsay and Wolfgang Puck teach me to cook dishes that I will never actually cook. Ever.
“I don’t know how you can watch Masterclass,” Saffy said at one stage. “All that delicious food! I seriously think I would get fat just watching them roast a lamb!”
“You can watch other people,” I told her. “They’ve got people teaching you how to write a screenplay and negotiate. See here,” I held up my iPad screen in her direction, “Serena Williams teaches you tennis and Anna Wintour teaches you how to be an effective leader.”
Of course, none of the classes I’m taking on Masterclass has any relevance to me in my real life, but, then again, relevance has never been a pre-requisite for my entertainment needs. In fact, as Saffy points out, if relevance was a pre-requisite in any part of our lives, we would never had to study, say, physics or the rainfall patterns in South America.
Around mealtimes, one of us will either pick up the phone and order a home delivery, or, if even that’s too much of an effort, we’ll pull a frozen meal out of the freezer, defrost it in the microwave and eat that. In silence, and in front of our devices.
At one stage, Amanda wondered aloud if being stuck in a confined space for such a long time shouldn’t be an opportunity for us to communicate more with one another.
Saffy gave this some thought. “And what would we talk about? That we’ve not already discussed in great detail over the years? Just as an example, I mean.”
Amanda hesitated. “Well… I guess we could talk about… uhmmm…”
“Yeah, I thought so,” Saffy said, returning to her Korean zombie with cute guys period piece drama.
And so a month of this stretches ahead of us. All over the world, we’re creating a new reality for ourselves. Waiting it out and hoping for the best whilst our bank balances get progressively lower. Our new normal. And one day, someone will probably make a movie or a TV show about these times. And everyone starring in it will be fat.