Pammy and her husband Tan are attending a backyard harvest party at Ivy’s house in East Brunswick, New Jersey. Pammy didn’t plan to come, but Tan’s cousin Maylan is here for the weekend. She’s attending graduate school in Philadelphia and is writing a term paper on urban organic farming and sustainable economy. She expresses an interest to go. Pammy and Tan’s son Sam, about 15 years old, also chimes in since he wants to meet his friends. So the four of them arrive at Ivy’s house in the early afternoon. The party is in the backyard for the afternoon, which will be followed by a dinner party at night.
However Maylan didn’t stay for long. She doesn’t see anything worthy to be written for her paper and decides to leave. Tan drives her to the Edison training station, where she takes the train back to Philadelphia. It’s very convenient since the train stops right at the center of her campus. Maylan is the daughter of Tan’s favorite aunt, who took care of Tan when he was young, living in Vietnam. His own mother worked in a place far away and could only come home once a week–The salary was doubling what she could earn in a place close to home, and they needed the extra money desperately. Now decades later, Tan’s cousin Maylan has grown up, finished college, and worked in an international company in Singapore for several years. A graduate diploma will certainly help her career advancement.
Right before the dinner party starts, there’s a knock on the door and a long rude press on the door bell. The door is not locked and there’s no need to knock or press the bell. Ivy’s husband Tom Tsai opens the door and sees Wong’s ex-girlfriend Dandan outside. She wants to have a word with Wong.
Wong is one of the guests. He struggled for years as a post-doc working on physics projects. His wife left him. Then he met Dandan. Now Wong, at the age of 40, finally settles down on a job as a research scientist in Rutgers University. Everybody is happy for him, but everybody is worried about his relationship with Dandan. They break up recently.
Wong refuses to come to the door to meet his ex-girlfriend. He claims that he left all the furniture to her and paid three months full rent for Dandan. He doesn’t owe her anything. It’s over.
Dandan continues to bang on the door and press on the door bell.
“You are going to ruin my doorbell and knock a hole in my door. Can’t you come in?” Tom says to her.
“No, I don’t want to come in. I just want him to come out.” Dandan says.
Fifteen minutes later, Wong reluctantly comes to the door. The two start to argue. Dandan pleads with tears. In between her crying, she would scold Wong on his heartlessness, but Wong is not moved. They stand talking for a while on the driveway. Then they walk to her car and drive away.
Four hours later, when the dinner party has already started for a while, Wong comes back. His face and neck are marked by scratches and his shirt is torn. Otherwise, he looks ok.
Everybody stares at Wong curiously and Wong says, “I’m so hungry. Let me eat something. It’s over. I think she will be fine.”
Pammy and Pan exchange glances. Pammy wants to ask something, but Pan stops her. Wong sits down and starts to gulp down beer, and munch on veggie and stew and rice noodles.
“Slow down.” Women at the table say to him.
“You’ll be fine.” Men at the table say to him.
One hour later, Wong is finally back to normal. And each man takes turn to comfort him. When it’s Pan’s turn, Pan says, “Wong, you are in your prime. I heard that Dandan is two years older than you. Why settle down with an older woman? You can go for a girl twenty years younger than you. You are a strong healthy stud.”
“Thank you. Brother. These are comforting words. I have been down and out for so long, but now I will rally.” Wong says gratefully.
Pammy stares at Pan, shaking her head. When Pan walks to the restroom, Pammy stops him on the way and says to him quietly, away from others, “You don’t know what you are talking about. Wong is a gullible and naive scientist who knows little about life. You can’t say such unrealistic things to him. He needs to settle down with a suitable woman…”
“I know exactly what I am talking about. Men talk like this, partly as a joke partly as a dose of booster shot. Nobody takes it too seriously. This is like a loud rally cry before a big game. Men need encouragement and virility. Don’t force your women’s view on me.” Pan says and gives Pammy a stern look.
When Pan comes back from the rest room, Wong asks him,
“You think I still have it in me, right? I mean I am 40 years old.”
“40 is the best age for a man. You have maturity and vigor. You are the man. Women love you. Don’t settle. Go for the best.” Tan says.
“Thank you for saying this. How about Maylan? What do you think?” Wong asks.
“Excuse me?” Tan is so surprised that he almost spills his beer.
“Your cousin Maylan. I think I can drive to Philadelphia tonight to meet her. I mean to re-meet her since I already met her this afternoon.” Wong says,”And with your blessing, I think we will be happy together.”
“You, you, you.” Tan is so shocked that he starts to stutter. “You are…you are…. Just look at you. Look at your wrinkled face, your unpromising career, your messy relationship, your protruding stomach, your love for junk food, your saggy body. You are lucky to get a woman who wants to spend ten minutes with you. I mean any woman.”
“But, but, but you said I am in my prime and women twenty years younger would love me. And Maylan looks like she’s 27 or 28. I am only 12 years older than her. I thought by your standard I am overqualified.” Wong says, hurt by Tan’s cruel description of him.
“Don’t call me a hypocrite. Don’t call me a double-face. I don’t want to be cruel. I don’t want to hurt you. I don’t know what come over me. I beg you. I beg you. You are a wonderful man, but please don’t date my relatives. My aunt will kill me if you do…” Tan says.