Ivy And Tom (Flash Fiction #79)

Image by Kiều Trường from Pixabay

“You know Tom just repeats himself so often. I really want to ask him to stop, but I just can’t do it.” Ivy says. She’s talking about her husband Tom Tsai. They’ve been married for twenty years now and have a good manageable relationship. Ivy’s idea of a good marriage is “manageable”, but recently she feels that Tom’s repetitiveness is becoming a little unmanageable.

Ivy and Tom run the “Ivy Training Center” at Edison, New Jersey. And Lulan, an unemployed anthropologist, is one of their employees.

“Can’t believe you say something like this. We all think you’ve got the best. Tom is a responsible husband and a cooperative business partner and very good tempered. What else do you want? I think you’ve dealt with a good hand in the marriage game. You should be the last person to complain. Just think about all those other women who have to deal with an unsuitable husband and can’t get out of the marriage–they struggle like a duck with its head cut off?” Lulan says.

“All my goodness. I love your metaphor. It’s a little bloody, but this is why I like you. You just talk like a fearless scholar.” Ivy says.

Whenever Ivy praises Lulan, Lulan knows it’s a sure sign that Ivy is going to ask her for a favor.

“Now can you use your fearlessness on my husband? Next time when he repeats something, just tell him to stop. Please save me, Lulan. If I hear ‘I love home cooked noodles freshly made from flour’ one more time, I am going to explode like a volcano.” Ivy says.

“Why can’t you tell him? You are his wife. I am just a friend and an employee.” Lulan says.

“I’m the wife and I don’t want him to be mad with me. You know. I have to live with him. You don’t have to. Also Tom always says that you are quite vocal and blunt. You always blurt out things that sound very smart but not quite polite. So you already have a reputation for being brave and rough in your language, while I have a sweet reputation and I want to keep it that way.” Ivy says.

Lulan is always amazed at Ivy’s ability to balance sweet politeness with business acumen. Lulan will never be able to do that.

“Well, Tom is my boss, you know, but of course you take care of the office, not him… Well, I guess I could if…” Lulan says.

“OK, how about fifty dollars?” Ivy asks.

“Make it sixty? I love a lucky number. But the problem is I usually don’t talk with Tom alone since he doesn’t take care of the details of the office. It’s usually in an office meeting or at a party with everybody around.” Lulan says.

“That’s true. Let me think. Wait for my signal. When I feel it’s an appropriate moment, I will signal you and you will say it.” Ivy says.

Lulan reconsiders the whole thing and has another idea. She doesn’t want to be singled out as the lone fighter against repeating, or against Tom. So she talks to two colleagues of hers, Sandi and Tak, giving each twenty dollars to back her up whenever the occasion comes.

The weekend comes and there ‘s a dinner party at Ivy’s house. Tom talks again about something he has talked about many times before, “The biggest cultural difference is that the sidewalk in New Jersey is too empty. If you go to Penang, that island of South East Asia where I came from, the sidewalk is always full of life, full of people.” Tom says, a little tipsy from the rice wine.

Lulan looks toward Ivy, but Ivy is not sending out any signal. So Lulan keeps her mouth shut. However Sandi is just a college intern, working 6 hours each week at the training center for some pocket money. Sandi doesn’t have the patience to wait for signals. She has something on her mind and she wants to express it.

“Tom, we’ve heard that many times and stop repeating yourself.”

Tak wants to date Sandi and he supports everything Sandi says. So he chimes in, “Tom, stop repeating yourself. What do you think, Lulan? We all think Tom should stop repeating himself, right?”

Lulan nods her head, but she can’t say anything since she is still waiting for the signal, which is not coming.

“What?” Tom says in a surprised voice. “Is that how you treat old Tom? I am old and talkative and boring. You all think so, don’t you? This is what one gets when one gets old. No respect. I get no respect. OK, I’ll stop repeating myself.” Tom says. He tries to stand up to deliver his speech, but a little too tipsy to manage that. So he sits down.

Ivy glances at Lulan, nodding her head approvingly. Lulan reciprocates. The two women smile at their unexpected victory.

“I am old and useless. People really want me to shut up.” Tom continues to murmur. Ivy comes over to sit by Tom and grabs his hand,

“You still have me, Tom. You always have old Ivy. I am here for you.” Ivy says.

“Oh, Ivy. Sweetheart. I am so lucky that I have you. I would go mad without you. When they all think I am down and out and boring as hell, you stand by me.” Tom says, gulping down another cup of rice wine.

“Of course, Tom. Now have more beef pineapple here, it’s good for you.” Ivy says, and scoop some pan fried beef with pineapple for Tom.

“You are so sweet, Ivy. I love home cooked noodles freshly made from flour? Can you make some for me tomorrow?” Tom asks.

18 thoughts on “Ivy And Tom (Flash Fiction #79)

    1. Hahaha. Actually I get the inspiration from Larry David’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm”. I just added a little Asian twist to it. I just can’t have enough of “Seinfeld” and “Curb”. LOL.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I am repeating myself and I even bore myself when I am talking. Still I keep repeating and there’s no cure for this illness of mine. I am doomed. People are kind enough to tolerate my existence. Thank you for listening to me, Geoff. You are wonderful, as always. You never repeat yourself on WP.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Poor Ivy. She loves her husband but she could never speak her mind in front of him. That’s a typical picture of a traditional woman, at least the traditional women in my family. However I don’t know how to present Ivy in a better way even if I am intrigued by women like Ivy.

      Liked by 2 people

        1. I really really wish that I can do a short story with a contrast between a traditional woman and a woman who tries to break away from the pattern the society imposes on her. I know many people have written this before, but I want to write it from a psychological and daily detail point of view, like a woman’s “Seinfeld” with psychological insights, but my writing is just not good enough to bring that out right now. I am still thinking and wish that one day I will get there.

          Liked by 2 people

        2. Wait whaaat? I was so excited when I first read that you were intending to try something of that sort but you think you aren’t good enough? How much more better do you want to get? You’re good enough already. Do try, it’s such an interesting idea and I don’t think I’ve read much like that. Would be so good and very intriguing. Plz plz plz do it like ASAP! 😀

          Liked by 2 people

        3. I love your enthusiasm. Passion is such a beautiful thing. If I have your passion, I could have overlooked my own defects and jump into it with abandon. That will be so wonderful. However my writing is still not sharpened and my plot about such a traditional woman is still vague and unclear. Thank you for having such a good faith in me, but I have to be honest that my skills are still lacking. For example, “Ivy and Tom” had the original intention of describing a traditional woman (without pointing it out explicitly) but it turns out to be something different. I’ve felt this for a very long time that I’m like a unskilled director of a movie who has an image in her mind, but she couldn’t bring it into fruition with his camera.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Ivy is a very traditional woman and she enjoys managing her family and everybody in it. She almost never speaks her mind for fear that it will undermine of her management scheme. I have been fascinated with women like her, but I don’t know how to present a character like her…

      Liked by 2 people

        1. Hahaha. I know. It is so true. Reality can be frustrating. Just imagine the scene is giving me a headache since I grew up in such an environment. He is telling something that he thinks she should be interested while she is pretending to listen.

          Liked by 1 person

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