A quick conversation between Zoe Tay and Pan Lingling while waiting for a rehearsal has blossomed into a beautiful friendship.
In the latest episode of the Mediacorp talk show The Zoe and Liang Show, Zoe and guest star Lingling shared with Guo Liang, 54, how their friendship of over 26 years came to be.
“It was during a rehearsal for a show that we first started chatting,” Zoe, 55, recalled. “We started talking about wedding rings like two vain women, and we were like, ‘Oh, that’s so beautiful!’
“We kept talking until the rehearsal began, and I realised that I could keep chatting with her.”
But for Zoe, it was only when she was pregnant with her first child that she really felt her friendship with Lingling, now 52, deepen.
Said Zoe: “During that period of time, my husband was busy with work, and this lady (pointing at Lingling) said, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll go with you to your check-ups!’
“She really did go with me every time, and was even earlier than me, all the way until I gave birth — this went on for all my three children, so how could I not be touched?”
It wasn’t just Lingling who went above and beyond to help Zoe; even Lingling’s husband, Huang Shinan, stepped up to the plate.
There was an instance where Zoe felt her baby kick and she was deeply worried that she was about to give birth.
Zoe contacted Lingling for advice but the latter didn’t have any to offer. However, Shinan, now 61, was prepared to do all that he could.
“The next day, Shinan told me that he had planned to drive his car to my doorstep and wait for me there… if I needed any help, he would immediately give assistance. I was so grateful and emotional knowing that I have friends like them,” Zoe said.
Lingling’s perspective on their friendship
After listening to Zoe’s recollection, Lingling also shared what she felt was the turning point for their friendship.
Lingling told Guo Liang: “I was about to get married so I asked Zoe if she would be my ‘aunt’ for my marriage — and this was during a period where she was very popular.
“She immediately agreed, and I was surprised. I told my husband about it and he said, ‘Are you sure? She’s really busy right now!'”
On the day itself in 1996, Zoe was the last to arrive, but made a very flamboyant appearance with a beautiful outfit, Lingling reminisced.
What moved her, however, seemed to have been her participation in the traditional wedding gate-crash, where she would interfere with Shinan’s attempts to marry Lingling.
Lingling shared that Zoe had shamelessly “haggled” with Shinan, likely as part of the wedding festivities.
She said: “Zoe didn’t care how she looked or how popular she was during then… I realised then that this friend of mine (Zoe) is really one of the best that I have.”
‘It’s not that I don’t need a lot of friends, I just don’t want misunderstandings’
The number of close friends in showbiz that the three stars have aren’t that many, they said.
But they might also have very stringent rules about what it means to be close friends, as Zoe revealed.
“I feel like true friends in showbiz will need to pull each other aside to really talk to one another if something ever goes wrong,” she said.
“If there are any misunderstandings, it’s best to work them out immediately… if it can’t be resolved, then there’s the hope that it can be dealt with one day.
“It’s not that I don’t need a lot of friends, I just don’t want misunderstandings, that’s all,” Zoe added.
As Guo Liang listened to Zoe, he expressed that he’s never experienced any complications like that before.
Zoe then teased: “It’s because you have no friends!”