Flash Fiction #154
“Do you know that most lunar calendars are actually lunisolar calendars since only the months follow the lunar cycle while the years are still largely in their solar cycle.” Pan says to his wife as they drive down to Atlantic City to celebrate the Lunar New Year.
Pammy smiles at him and murmured something that indicates that she appreciates the knowledge. Sometimes she would say, “really? Interesting…” but sometimes she just lets it pass. Half of the time she is not really listening to Pan’s brag about stocks or mathematical calculations. Pan is a master of calculations, and he can casually draw curvy figures to elaborate on their mortgage payment, insurance cash accumulation, stock fluctuations, bandwidth usage. Pammy sometimes wonder that after fifteen years of marriage, Pan still doesn’t understand which part of his own quality that has attracted Pammy — Pan’s honesty. Pan is probably a little nerdy and a little tactless, but he doesn’t try to hide things from Pammy; he doesn’t pretend he understands things that he doesn’t understand.
“Look, another psychic reading by the roadside. It really makes one want to have one’s fortune told.” Pammy says. In and around Atlantic City, there are many such little psychic places.
“Asians don’t go there. That’s probably an Italian or Eastern European lady who has never read Asian fortunes before.” Pan says.
“Yeah, Asians can’t do this; can’t do that; that’s not for us; you are trying to be white; you are listening to black music; you are Asians who hate Asians. You are an immigrant and a minority, who has to know your place. Otherwise, you are called ungrateful, or obsequious, or…” Pammy says warily.
“Come on, Pammy. I don’t mean that. What’s up with you?” Pan says and chuckles. “Are you still upset about what I said yesterday? I mean I was only trying to be candid with you. Your company’s compensation plan, which I studied carefully, is favoring only top sales and top managers. It’s a pyramid compensation plan. The top ones get everything while everybody else gets very little.”
Pammy is silent and Pan continues, “How can you work for this company as a saleswoman for several years without investigating its pay structure? There’s no point of working hard unless you can become the top sales. So that’s what I am trying to tell you. Try to relax and don’t work so hard. I am only trying to look out for you.”
“I know why I haven’t paid attention to the company pay structure. It’s because everybody has been negative on me. My parents, my teachers are all negative. Girls don’t do this; and that is not womanly. You can’t say this. Women don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t curse, don’t get angry, don’t speak up. Nothing is for women. So I become very negative on myself and have never explored anything.” Pammy says.
“OK, as your wonderful husband, I rescued you from your narcissistic parents and your tyrannical teachers…” Pan says proudly.
“You have been negative on me too…” Pammy says.
“What? When have I been negative on you?” Pan asks.
“Just five minutes ago. You said those psychics are not for Asians…” Pammy says. “Isn’t that negative or what? Wait a second, what are you doing? Why are you stopping?”
“There’s a psychic right here. Madam Giovani’s Reading. Let’s go to a psychic right now. I don’t want to be the negative one. I don’t want you to blame me for lost opportunities. Now let’s go.” Pan says.
“I am only trying to make a point. I don’t want to go to a psychic right now.” Pammy protests.
Madam Giovani is looking out of her window at the moment.
“Look, Nicola, come here. What are they doing over there? An Asian man is trying to drag an Asian woman out of the car?” Madam Giovani is speaking to Nicola, her East European neighbor who came over to fix the cracked tiles in the bathroom.
“Hmm, husband and wife, who’s the tougher one? She is a tough cookie for him to deal with…” Nicola comes over, looks out of the window, and says.