Women who Lunch

Hmm, Jones the Grocer today or PS Cafe?

Stacy was my MBA student when I was lecturing in Hong Kong. We’ve maintained contact since.

After her MBA, Stacy held a couple of senior management positions with corporations in Hong Kong but resigned earlier this year because she found it difficult to work with her new boss. (Well, it’s true when they say people don’t quit companies, they quit bosses.)

After a few months’ break, Stacy told me she yearns to work again because she’s not comfortable spending her husband’s money.

Don’t get me wrong – Stacy’s independently wealthy; her family owns properties all over the world and in Hong Kong her parents’ home is a mansion at the Peak.

She didn’t really need to spend her husband’s money.

But Stacy has principles and is a morally upright person.

Stacy makes me think of women who are different from her – mainly the tai tais among us – women who don’t work and depend on their husbands’ money for spas, lunches and shopping.

You can find these women at some of the chichi eating places in town.

When she was young, Eva was told that marrying a rich husband should be a priority – not just any rich husband, mind you, but preferably an educated one too. So Eva reckoned the best place to meet such a husband would be at the university. Eva struggled but couldn’t make it to the local uni. She eventually went abroad and true enough this manipulative, conniving woman snagged her man.

They came back. (He graduated, she dropped out, but what the heck, she got her man anyway.)  They got married, raised a kid. They drove a SLK each (she changed to another SLK after three months of getting hers because she didn’t like the color of the upholstery.) They lived in district 10; ate at every new restaurant, flew first class for skiing holidays, stayed only in suites. He worked, she went for facials, detox, nibbled at organic salads at Marmalade Pantry, TWG, Jones the Grocer and PS Café, (all those places in town where the waiters and waitresses are known for their shitty attitudes), went to all those restaurants operated by celebrity chefs at the integrated resorts with other tai tais like her, and shopped at Prada and Louis Vuitton. Wore only Christian Louboutin and Manolo Blahnik shoes. Even their little kid was decked up in designer togs. Yup did the tai tai thing; the whole nine yards indeed.

Then the economic crisis hit, money became tight; golf and polo lessons for their little boy had to be stopped, causing her much embarrassment to the extent that she stayed away from other tai tais; only to compound the problem. “Where did Eva disappear to? I mean she was on first-name basis with chefs like Justin Quek you know?” The husband got bored with her (“We had nothing to talk about, she’s a bimbo with zero practical intelligence; and she thinks she can cook but I’d rather eat laksa at the food court” he told a mutual friend) so he found someone else. “Men need mental stimulation too, not just sex, it’s refreshing to be able to discuss the Arab Spring with Bernice; besides, Bernice’s younger and prettier, and her folks are not condescending, pretentious snobs,” he confided. Bernice, his new love, is an investment banker. Eva? Just a housewife. Eventually he walked out, leaving their kid with her. After the sums were done, she actually got very little in the end – the SLKs had to be paid up, ditto the mortgage. And there were all those credit card bills she chalked up.

Eva’s alone today, all dressed up and nowhere to go.

She tried giving tuition to students, but years of not working, and unfamiliarity with current school curriculum meant that she lasted all but three weeks as a tuition teacher.

No longer insulated by what money could buy, Eva crashed.

She’s now a patient at Woodbridge, has suicidal ideation and has been put on suicide watch 24/7.

Not all women who lunch will end up like Eva, of course.

When I look at women like her, very unflattering thoughts come to my mind. I also feel a tinge of pity too. But didn’t they get themselves into this state? It is always their own doing!

Parasitic women like Eva who lead decadent lives like hers, living off their husbands, featherbedding themselves using money they’ve never earned, undermine the efforts of ordinary men and women who struggle every day to meet the demands of family and working life. They are also not good role models for the younger generation.

Women like Stacy tells me that there are still good women in the world today.

When they grow up, I hope my two sons will marry someone with Stacy’s qualities.

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