Arjian is a local hairdresser, but his true passion is poker. He’s very skilled in women’s hair and very good at following the latest trend of South Korean singers and actresses. Consequently he’s always in high demand. There are women who would travel all the way from Eastern Pennsylvania to come to Edison, New Jersey–about 100 miles–to see Arjian. He is so good and so popular. Other hairdressers just can’t compete with him.
He’s been a hairdresser for twenty years and anybody else, as sought after as he is, would have had an established life by now with a modest house or a modest hair salon. However, Arjian is not a man who can manage his life very well. At first, he started a salon with his wife, who helped him with all the appointments and other business side of things. However he couldn’t stand working with his wife. Not that he doesn’t love his wife. He loves his wife, but he couldn’t stay with her 24 hours a day 7 days a week. That’s just too much for him to bear. So he and his wife ended up working separately in two different salons, and financially it’s not the best arrangement.
After that, he got himself into a partnership with another hairdresser. They jointly owned a salon, but before long arguments about finances and work responsibilities arose. It became so bad that they had to split. Somehow Arjian was the one who had to move out and the moving is more costly than he originally thought.
And finally Arjian is quite fond of poker, which grew from an occasional visit to casinos to a systematic participation in competitive poker games. He often starts with the game of $500 entry fee and works his way up to the second round and then the third round. Several times he even reached the fourth round, where the professional gamblers would come in, each with $20,000 entry fee.
“Look, you’ve got blotches on your skin and you are losing a lot of your hair recently. It must be the stress from the gambling.” His wife says to him sternly in the morning.
“Oh, come on. I am not stressed. Poker keeps me alive.” Arjian says.
“You call it alive and I call it stress. You can’t go on like this.” His wife insists. Arjian often wonders why Asian women have the stereotypical reputation of being submissive and agreeable. In his life, he’s never met one Asian woman like that. If anything, he’s always been the peacemaker in his relationship with his wife.
“OK. I hear you.” He says.
“So you are not going this time, are you?” His wife stares at him.
He doesn’t say anything. When his wife turns around, he swiftly moves towards the door. He steps out and gets into his car. As the engine starts, his wife emerges.
He rolls down the window and feels that she wants to pierce him with her stare.
“OK, this is the last time. I promise. The last time.” He smiles awkwardly. Then he looks at himself in the visor mirror–the blotches his wife talks about–and sighs. “I am getting old. Don’t be mean to me. Be nice.”
His wife throws up her arms and makes a helpless gesture.
The car drives away instantly. Arjian wonders to himself how many “last time” he can pull off before reaching the limit of his wife’s tolerance.