“You know Pammy. I think your Pan is such a good husband. He is straightforward. His likes and dislikes are clearly displayed. He won’t pretend to agree with you on the surface and sulk silently afterwards. He is a little nerdy, interested in eating good food and watching soccer. He is happy when he’s satisfied. He is so easy to manage.” Pammy’s friend Yamei says.
It’s a weekend get together for the two families. Pammy’s husband Pan and Yamei’s husband Yang are taking the kids of the two families to play basketball in the small court at the end of the townhouse row, where a little park is nearby.
Pammy has never heard Yamei complimenting Pan before and she finds it a little odd. What is Yamei really trying to say? Pammy feels that she is called upon to say something to laud Yamei’s husband Yang in return.
“Pan is such a scientist and engineer type. A good honest nerdy one. However your husband Yang is sociable and popular. He can talk so well. He is rare among scientists who has the talent in both his own work and in human relationship.” Pammy says.
And the conversation goes back and forth as the two women cook the dinner for the whole party. Just as Pammy is thinking to herself what this conversation is heading–somehow Pammy has an ominous feeling about it–Yamei drops the bombshell.
“Yang’s company is likely to send him to Southeast Asia to manage a new branch there.” Yamei says.
“Wow, congratulations. It’s a promotion, isn’t it? Is he going to be called the regional director? So I guess your whole family will relocate. When are you leaving New Jersey? Are you going to sell everything before you leave? I would like to have your teapot.” Pammy says.
“What can I do? I went to see Yang’s Human Resource woman Grace yesterday. Grace contacted me directly. Yang didn’t know this. Don’t tell him.”
“Why did she call you?” Pammy is puzzled.
“She wants to show me those terms including kids school and everything. However I was surprised to hear what Grace has to say.” Yamei says.
“So… What did she say?”
“She says the company’s upstate New York branch has sent three guys to Asia in the last three years–they are expanding rapidly over there–and all three end up in divorce. She tells me that if I don’t want Yang to go, I can say no and they will listen to me. The decision is in my hand.” Yamei says.
“What are you going to do?”
“I don’t know. I can say no. That’s one choice. I can say yes and quit my job and go with Yang together. That’s the second choice. Or I can say yes and let Yang go and I stay in New Jersey. The third choice.”
“Oh, you sound like you prefer the third choice. So I can’t have my teapot.” Pammy says.
“Yes, I’ve been thinking of the third choice, but I want to divorce him the day before he leaves.” Yamei says.
“What? What are you talking about?” Pammy is puzzled.
“A preemptive strike.” Yamei grins pensively.
“Are you crazy? Just because the other three women are divorced, it doesn’t mean you are going to follow them.” Pammy says.
“I actually know one of the three and I called her already. She says it’s hell. She went with her husband together, but there’s no use. Half a year later, she’s back heartbroken, depressed, and completely destroyed. She also lost her own job and at her age, it is unlikely she can find one as good as what she had before. I mean losing your job is one thing, losing your spirit is much worse. Now she’s working on a temporary new job with terrible pay while her husband is enjoying his life with his new wife. Also since her own job is uncertain, the court has granted the kid’s custody to the husband. She lost everything.”
“Oh, my goodness. No wonder you said Pan is a good husband. He’s so unambitious and so nerdy and so reserved, he can never get promoted like your husband Yang.” Pammy says.
“Yes, enjoy Pan’s imperfections. You don’t know how lucky you are.”
“But you can say no, can’t you? You said the decision is in your hand.” Pammy says.
“I can’t say no. Yang is quite ambitious–I used to like his ambition but now I hate it. If he knows that I does this to him, he will never forgive me and will divorce me anyway. So what’s the point? We might as well enjoy his promotion. Also he has all expenses and apartment paid as the regional director. The kid’s tuition fee in the international school over there is also paid by the company. We can save a lot of money for the college tuition which will come in a few years’ time.”
“OK. So are you going to tell Yang about the divorce? Don’t you think it’s going to be a shock to him. I mean right now. Out of blue.” Pammy says.
“Oh, I haven’t thought about that. How to tell him? What’s the best way?” Yamei says.
“Just tell him honestly. Due to the unbelievable income inequality of this world, he is going to be chased by a lot of girls as a regional director and you don’t want to get into a rat race like that. I mean just say things plainly.” Pammy says.
“You are kidding me, aren’t you? Yang is not Pan. I mean Pan is a straight shooter, but Yang is not. Yang is suave and agreeable on the surface, but if you cross him, he will remember it like an elephant. I don’t want him to feel that I’ve abandoned him.” Yamei says.
“Wait. I have an idea.” Yamei says, “how about I tell him that this is a tryout divorce. If he still loves me three years being a regional director, we can remarry.”
Pammy shakes her head. “Yamei, this is not going to work. If right now you tell Yang you want a divorce, he is going to think you have a lover somewhere. He is going to be hurt and very angry.”
“You are right. What am I going to do?” Yamei asks rhetorically.
“There probably is a chance that Yang loves you more than anybody else. Believe in love.” Pammy says.
“Believe me, I want to be blindly in love too, but the reality is Yang is likely to yield to all those temptations. I know him. It will be reckless of me to turn a blind eye while my suspicion is so high. Well, I really don’t know what to do?” Yamei says.
“We are back.” Pan and Yang appeared in the doorway, together with two kids.
“What are you talking about? You look like you are stopping your conversation.” Yang asks.