The other night, Saffy hit pause on the TV remote control and, with eyes still firmly fixed on the frozen screen, asked, “Would it be politically incorrect of me to point out that American can be really strange?”
Amanda sighed. “I was literally just thinking that. These people are so completely messed up!”
‘These people’ were people who, for reasons that who escape the rest of us, allowed cameras to film them doing and saying really dumb things on Netflix — specifically, the ones starring in Tiger King.
“I was just amazed that feeding a tiger cost so much money, to which Saffy said, clutching a pillow tight to her bosom and squinting through half-closed eyes at the screen, “Forget the tiger, what would you feed a snake? Oh my God, why are there snakes on this show? And why would you ever keep snakes?”
It all started during one of Saffy’s daily lockdown FaceTime calls with Sharyn.
“Ay, I ask you, ah? Why we dohn use Zoom, hah, like udder people?”
Saffy’s bosom inflated. “It’s just awful malware, Shazz. All sorts of horrible things happen on it. Didn’t you hear the Ministry of Education banned it because the trolls suddenly flashed a guy’s whatsits in the middle of a class?”
“Ayy, how come I neh-ber hear?” Sharyn’s thick glasses fogged up. “Was it Asian or angmoh?”
Saffy paused. “What was?”
On screen, Sharyn flapped her hands. “The man lah!”
“Oh! I think it was a white guy. Why?”
“I neh-ber see an ang moh before, mah! Dey say hor, ang moh man very big!” Here, this grown woman, and mother of three teenagers, giggled like a 12-year-old girl.
“Shut up!” Saffy told her. “You’ve never seen a naked ang moh?”
Sharyn shrugged her Hwa Chong-educated shoulders. “Yah, only Chinese man! No, wait, got see Indian man. I forgot I pak-toh with Rajiv once!”
“Whore,” Saffy said automatically, but her heart wasn’t in it, as her mind was preoccupied by the vagaries of human nature. As she later said to Amanda, “What is it with people who would do something like that? Flash themselves on a public platform, I mean. To children!”
“You don’t have to tell me, I’ve just watched the first episode of Tiger King and everyone on it is cray cray!”
“Oh, Sharyn’s watched that. She said she couldn’t tell if it was a real documentary, or if it was like Modern Family.”
“Oh, it’s real all right. The main character is called Joe Exotic, and right there,” Amanda said, shaking her head, “is all you need to know about the guy.”
Saffy, whose main passion in life, besides cheesecake and spaghetti aglio olio, is taking part in other people’s craziness and drama, needed no further encouragement. She pulled out her iPad and by the time we sat down that night to watch episode 2, she was all caught up.
“Seriously, this Carol woman is just as crazy as Joe Exotic!” Amanda observed at one point.
“Well, that wild hair isn’t doing her any favours,” Saffy said, as she munched on her bowl of popcorn.
I was just amazed that feeding a tiger cost so much money, to which Saffy said, clutching a pillow tight to her bosom and squinting through half-closed eyes at the screen, “Forget the tiger, what would you feed a snake? Oh my God, why are there snakes on this show? And why would you ever keep snakes?”
Amanda sat up on the couch and turned to Saffy. “Remember that story about the woman who woke up one morning to find her baby pet anaconda stretched out rigid next to her on bed?” she asked. “And she rang and told her vet, and her vet said it was basically measuring itself to see if she would fit when it swallowed her?”
“Still having nightmares!” Saffy said.
“Well, that woman should also be on this show!”
It later occurred to me that Netflix should have filmed us watching Tiger King because, quite frankly, our commentary was gold. “Why any of these people ever agreed to be filmed is beyond me,” Saffy repeated as midnight approached and we had just begun episode 5. Apart from toilet breaks and replenishing our snacks, we’d basically not moved from the couch. “I bet Netflix didn’t pay them anything!”
By the time we finished episode 7, we were stunned.
“Those poor tigers!” Amanda said. “Can it be true? There are more tigers in captivity in America than there are in the wild?”
“Poor Carol’s husband!” I said.
“Which one?” Saffy asked.
“Both of them!”
“These Americans are just crazy!” Saffy sighed. “I mean, think about it. These are real people! And they live in America!”
Later that day, during their FaceTime chat, Sharyn said her takeaway from Tiger King was that there are actually people in the world — specifically, Joe Exotic — who go out in public without wearing underwear.
Saffy was astonished. “That’s what you learnt from the show?”
“Yah lor. You think other ang moh man also like that? If I not married and got no CB, I sure go and find out!”
Amanda says Sharyn should have been on Tiger King. “I just can’t believe a person like her actually exists.”