Pammy and her husband Pan, the forever arguing and loving couple, come home from a dinner party at the house of Pan’s office manager of the financial company Pan works for.
“How nice Mrs. Marino is. She gives me her recipe for her risotto.” Pammy says.
“You praised that rice dish too eagerly, almost like forcing her to give you … Don’t tell me you don’t believe it. It’s a fact.” Pan says.
“Really? Am I too eager? You told me that I am either too silent to look reserved, or too eager to be almost tactless. I don’t know how to deal with this subtlety. You know only the native English speakers know how to behave in their subtle ways. We Asians don’t know how…” Pammy says.
“Oh, never mind. Don’t feel bad about it. We only go to such kind of party once a year. Well, even their food is too subtle, isn’t it? I mean the risotto is the only good dish I think. Do we still have some leftover from yesterday? I will add some chili sauce right now and eat it. I don’t feel satisfied if the food doesn’t give me a kick.” Pan says and opens the refrigerator.
“Haha, you just come back from a dinner. You make me laugh.” Pammy says, “by the way, don’t you think Mrs. Marino was a little startled when you called me by my full name? I mean you should call me ‘honey’. I told you many times.”
“I feel very weird to call you honey, sweetheart, or darling. It’s just a little too sweet for me. I feel like laughing whenever I say ‘honey’. We didn’t grow up with it and I feel unnatural saying it.” Pan says.
“We are Asian immigrants. We want to learn and emulate. Now just say ‘honey’ several times a day and you will get used to it.” Pammy says.
“Are you sure Mrs. Marino was startled? I think it’s your imagination.” Pan asks.
“How come your observation is a fact while my observation is an imagination?” Pammy protests. “I want you to say ‘honey’ three times tonight to me, you know like our neighbor Mr. and Mrs. Brian across the street. Do you know Mrs. Brain is a mixed race? She told me herself.”
“Really? I can’t tell. She just looks like any other Italian or Irish girls of New York area.” Pan says while munching on a piece of fried tofu with chili sauce poured on it.
“I think this is why they live in our mixed town. Otherwise they would have moved to South Jersey.” Pammy says. “Anyway, Mr. Brian is honey this and honey that all the time even if Mrs. Brian doesn’t cook much. What a nice husband Mr. Brian is. You need to learn something from him.”
Pan walks to the living room window to stare at the house of Brian across the street.
“Don’t take your food out of the kitchen. You know. The sauce can fall on the carpet. Also don’t step on the new rug. Can you walk around it?” Pammy walks after Pan.
“If you don’t want people to step on your rug, you should roll it up. Wait a minute. Look, Pammy, your model husband Mr. Brian is fighting with Mrs. Brian.” Pan says, almost gloatingly. “Do you still want me to learn from him?”
Across the street, Mrs. Brian is throwing something at Mr. Brian, who was carrying two suitcases to his car.
“I guess no more honey for the Brians.” Pan says and comes back to the kitchen to put the bowl in the sink. He starts to hum a little happy tune as if the Brians are putting up a performance just for him so that he can win his argument.
“That’s just a lover’s quarrel. I am sure.” Pammy stares out of the window and thinks that if this were in her hometown, neighbors would come to lecture them on forgiveness and help negotiate a peace pact. “Love is a turmoil and it is messy, you know. Fighting is better than false harmony. You hear me? Where are you going? You still need to call me honey.”
Pan has already disappeared to the bedroom upstairs and Pammy comes back to the kitchen fretfully. She knows this sounds absurd but she can’t help feeling that Mr. and Mrs. Brian are fighting deliberately to disappoint her.
“Pan, I told you not to put your dish in the sink like that. When the chili sauce dries up, it’s hard to scrub off.” She raises her voice to the direction of the bedroom, “Oh, I should have said, ‘honey’.”