Mayla looks at the mirror and smiles with satisfaction at her own image. She never considered herself a fashionable girl before, but a series of recent events have somehow changed her view. First time in her life, she thinks if money is no objection, she wants to be as fashionable as she can possibly be.
A month prior, when she’s standing in line to buy sweet rice donuts at Paris Baguette, a Korean bakery chain in Edison, New Jersey, she overheard two ladies talking about her outfits. The message was a little garbled since the place was noisy, but she got the gist of it. “Looks like she’s fresh off the boat.” “That kind of fake silk? That kind of faint green color? Not from here.”
It’s true. She’s still wearing the clothes she brought with her from overseas. She didn’t know that people were secretly judging her. She’s newly married. Mayla’s husband Mike Lim is a research scientist who works for Rutgers University. Before meeting Mayla, he experienced divorce and depression. His then wife, who’s an assistant professor in Asian studies in Rutgers University and also his college sweetheart, ran away with a young man more than 10 years her junior. Mike Lim was crushed. Girls around him are too independent and too adventurous. Mike concluded. His mother came from Penang, an island off the coast of Malaysia and they still have quite a lot of relatives living there. Trying to cheer him up, his mother encouraged him to travel to Penang to take his mind off things. So he did. And there he met Mayla, who’s the most dependent and submissive girl he had ever met. They got married within two weeks.
Mike Lim didn’t want a big wedding. He’s by nature quiet and reserved, and by experience bitter and suspicious. No wonder he didn’t opt for more human interactions. A big wedding with hundreds of drunken guests will be a repeat of his first wedding. He’s not against the concept of repetition, but he would do anything to avoid repeating his first marriage.
They settled down in Edison and Mayla cooks and cleans like a happy lark for a while. Then one day Mayla comes back, determined to throw everything away and replace her wardrobe with better American clothes. One overheard conversation can change a person completely. Mayla worked for ten years after high school before getting married–she has quite a bit of savings. Now she wants to use them to “upgrade” her looks. Nothing Mike can say will make any difference and he is very astonished that a girl as submissive as Mayla can be so strong willed. He has tried everything, attacking her decision from all angles, but to no avail.
She goes to Macy and Nordstrom, big department stores located in Menlo Park Mall, and comes back with scarfs, sweaters, shirts, and shoes. Among them, shoes are her favorite–she has acquired a new taste.
Two weeks later, she is in hospital. As she walks down the stairs in her new shoes, she slips and falls, fracturing her ankle. Fortunately it is not a very serious fracture. Mike is at first worried but then on second thought, he thinks it is a good thing. This will no doubt teach Mayla a precious lesson and dampen her spirit in chasing the ridiculous sartorial goals. Mike has already started to have nightmares of Mayla running away, and the accident is almost like a god send message to appease and comfort Mike.
Mayla comes back from hospital in crutches. Messages pour in from relatives on social media; Mike’s mom also comes to help. If there had been a conference on the evil of high heels, it could not have been more vehement than what Mike has heard since the accident. Mike is grateful for all the outpouring of support and his own thoughts seem to be vindicated and validated. Mayla is silent and she looks contrite, much to everybody’s satisfaction.
Time flies and two months later, Mayla is recovered and she is able to walk again.
“Where are the pair of high heels?” Mayla asks.
“I packed them up, ready to throw them away, since you don’t want them anymore.” Mike says.
“What are you talking about? I just need to learn how to walk in those shoes. I have beautiful feet–the shop assistant told me so. They were born for high heels.” Mayla says.
Mike stares at her in total astonishment.