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by Kathleen
Stephanie Wu invited Jane and Liam to dinner. And Jane eagerly accepted, well aware of the Wu’s struggle to fit into US suburbia. Stepping inside their Tudor home, however, she braced herself for rich food. Meat and alcohol triggered her migraines.

“Even filet mignon? Even Cotie Rotie?” Lawrence Wu hadn’t heard of migraines, but he sympathized—Jane’s ailment eliminated everything tasteful. His wife corrected him, “Tasty.”

It turned out that Lawrence and Jane both worked free-lance, while Stephanie, like Liam, provided the main income.

“From where,” Lawrence asked over apricot tart, “does the custom come requiring one to move the chair closer to the interviewer?”

His wife sighed. “In the US, you must engage the person. Sit close and make eye contact.”

“Strange,” Jane said, “but true.”

“Rearranging the furniture in someone’s office?” Lawrence stirred sugar into his coffee. “To me, it’s rude.”

“In China,” Stephanie said, “it would be offensive. But here? The contrary.”

Liam nodded, “The balance is tricky on purpose.”

In the Wu’s vast living-room, a grand piano stood magnificently in a corner. Gesturing, Lawrence asked, “Shall we sing?”

Jane couldn’t sing.

“No meat, no alcohol, and no singing equal no fun.” She blushed almost painfully as Lawrence suggested that Stephanie play Schubert. While Liam savored cognac, Jane rested against the piano. Quietly, Lawrence pressed hard into Jane’s bottom. But the grinding must be her imagination. It lasted a second, but returned when the music swelled. How ridiculous Jane was! How stupid and confused.

Soon Stephanie invited them for another dinner and Jane apologized for having failed to reciprocate. “Such manners.” “Please,” Stephanie said. “Our pleasure.”

The second lavish meal featured chicken. But Jane hadn’t stomached chicken for years. Her parents, she explained, had forced her to eat when she had no appetite.

“Odd. Not enjoying eating,” Lawrence said. “Yet it keeps you slim.”

After tiramisu, which Jane ate carefully, Lawrence proposed playing bridge.Too bad the Morrisons hadn’t a clue about bridge.

“So, what do you do?” Lawrence asked—Stephanie signaling him, bad question.

They discussed the school system. Here, at least, Jane could offer suggestions: Say this to the principal, not that.

Lawrence retrieved their coats, managing as he helped Jane into her jacket to brush his fingers over her breasts, and even, accidentally—she was positive—to direct her hand onto his trousers. For a second. So it seemed. Perhaps Jane was a racist.

Finally, to entertain the Wus, Jane invited them to see their azaleas (spindly or not.) “Saturday?” Stephanie sounded gleeful. “Thank you.”

When Lawrence requested another beer, he followed Jane into the kitchen. She opened the refrigerator and he opened his fly. She held a Heinekens. Lawrence held a stiff penis. “Will you hold it?”

“No, thank you.” Obviously, no cultural divide here, Jane hurried into the main room. Certain men acted out, worldwide.


Anonymous said...

Oh my! Maybe that's how they shake hands where he comes from? But no...
What a hilarious story.

Unknown said...


Mike French said...

O sorry, I stumbled into some strange women only area of the magazine. I'll get my coat.

Paul Burman said...

Good to see Pan making an appearance. :-)

Unknown said...

Mike, please stay. But now that you've got your coat on, might as well keep it buttoned.

Thanks, Paul. Pan, much as we all love him, works in strange ways.
(PS. Your book arrived today!)

Paul Burman said...

He's lucky she didn't slam the fridge door. That might've cooled him down.

And The Snowing and Greening has made it to the States! That's great. Thanks, Kathleen. I hope you enjoy it.