The Incomparable Comparison (Flash Fiction)

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Flash Fiction #164

“Can you believe this? A woman just dumped her boyfriend because he refused to pay $3 for cheese on his hamburger. ” Pan says to his wife Pammy. “I mean I wouldn’t pay three extra dollars for cheese either.”

Pammy comes over to watch the video with Pan and says, “it is a first date. Of course a woman wants to know if her man is, you know, willing to pay for this and that…”

“Women always want to find rich husbands. A poor man cannot even find a woman nowadays. It is so unfair.” Pan groans.

“My friend Lulan will say, ‘let’s build a matriarchal society, which will wipe out such unfairness once for all.'” Pammy says.

“Which explains why your friend Lulan is an unemployed and unemployable anthropologist. Anyway, I am talking about reality here, not fantasy.” Pan says.

“Well, the reality is that last week, you yelled at your little sister who wanted to marry an art school graduate. Remember?” Pammy says.

“I couldn’t help it. Marrying a poor artist? What was she thinking? He can’t even feed himself and how can he feed his family?” Pan says.

“So… when it comes to your sister, you don’t want her to marry a poor man either. The woman in the video probably has a elder brother who would yell at her if she dates a man who can’t afford $3 cheese… ” Pammy says.

“My sister’s case is completely different from this woman’s case… Wait a minute. This restaurant is quite expensive since the woman ordered branzino for herself. Here Google says branzino is an expensive fish. So this man brought his date to a very expensive restaurant, only to be told that even a little bit of cheese on a sandwich will cost $3 extra, and only to be reviled and dumped by his date. Poor man. You know men are under so much pressure…” Pan says.

“$3 cheese is not a big pressure. I think he really should pay for it. If I were him, I would have paid for it.” Pammy says.

“Really? You would? We didn’t even turn up the heat this past winter and I am sure you are going to keep the house at 85 degree (which is 30 degree Celsius) during the summer.” Pan says.

“You are forgetting that our son Sam is going to college in five or six years, which will cost us an arm and a leg. Even our local Rutgers University asks more than $20,000 a year for in-state tuition and $13,000 for room and board. Private colleges will double or triple that amount.”

“How can I forget it when you remind me every day?”

On Saturday, Pan’s family goes to a local dim sum restaurant, which they haven’t visited for more than two months. As soon as they sit down, Pammy notices that the laminated menu is new and the prices have increased by 10% on almost all the entries. Closer inspection also reveals that even the pot of hot tea, which has been free before, would cost $2 now.

“How can they charge people for hot tea at dim sum?” Pammy says. Looking at her husband, who’s smiling at her wistfully, Pammy adds, “This is very different from the $3 cheese, which is optional for a sandwich. Hot tea is a must for dim sum. Hot tea is not optional.”

“Whatever you say.” Pan says.

“What are you doing, Sam?” Pammy asks her son, who’s talking with the waitress, Sinsin.

“How much does it cost for a pot of hot water, Aunt Sinsin?” Sam asks.

“For a cute boy like you, it costs nothing.” Sinsin says and goes to fetch it for him.

“What are you doing, Sam?” Pammy asks again. “Dim sum has to go with hot tea, not hot water.”

Sam smiles and says, “I know. My friend Tony told me that he came here with his parents last week, and the $2 hot tea caused a big fight between his parents as to what should be paid and what should not be paid in an era of inflation. So in order to prevent you two from fighting today, I have brought two tea bags with me. “

12 thoughts on “The Incomparable Comparison (Flash Fiction)

  1. I don’t like when people talk like that. It reminds me of some men treating a woman like trash, when they don’t know them, the woman is just some random slut that shouldn’t be protected when they have a high body count but if someone dare treat their sister or daughter like that, they have a little crying fit…but you can’t tell them to see differently than that.

    He can sympathize with a guy with cheese, but not other stuff. He can recognize some people are broke and he wouldn’t want his family to marry an artist, but got mad and sympathized over cheese?

    Outrageous behavior, but I think it’s the human condition.

    Sam probably did what he did for the best.

    Liked by 1 person

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