“Hey, snap out of it. Are you dreaming?” Fu-Rong stood next to the table where Xin-Xin sat in deep introspection. She was dressed in casual sportswear with no makeup and looked very relaxed, as if she had just finished bathing.
“Damn, you scared me! What took you so long to get here Fu-Rong?”
“You didn’t see me coming through the door? What are you thinking about so seriously? You look just like a teenage girl infatuated with her first boy friend!”
“That’s nonsense! What the hell do you think? I’m bored, waiting for you forever!” Xin-Xin glared at Fu-Rong. But then her anger dissipated immediately when she remembered that, although Fu-Rong had whined at first about meeting her on such short notice, she was the only one of her friends that had agreed to cancel their date and meet with her. She was suddenly touched by this thought. It is hard to find a friend to spend time with you once they have a relationship she thought and it seems truer for women than for men. A woman is a fool for romance.
“I’m going to order before we start chatting. I’m starving!” Fu-Rong had already started toward the counter. She returned with her order placard and said, “OK, my order is in so we can talk while I wait for it. So, how have you been lately? How come the bad mood? Is everything OK with your job?”
“Work has nothing to do with it. How are you and your boyfriend getting along? Don’t you have a date? It’s Friday.”
“We were going to see a movie but when you called you sounded so strange that I decided that you seriously needed someone to talk to. When I cancelled the date he complained that he was always the lowest priority for my attention. So, I had to spend a little time with him to soothe his ego. I didn’t have time to change into some nicer clothes. I’m kind of embarrassed for you to see me like this, and for making you wait so long.”
“Didn’t you have to go to work today? I thought you were in the office when I called.”
“No, I was on leave today. It’s that time of the month and I was uncomfortable. I wasn’t in the mood for working in a hot stuffy office and besides, I have to use up my personal leave days or I will lose them.”
“I’m sorry! If I had known that, I would have come to your house so you didn’t have to go out. Xin-Xin was moved. Fu-Rong was an exception to the typical friend that isn’t interested in spending time with you unless there is something to be gained; a true friend.
“Don’t worry. If I hadn’t come to see you, I would have gone out with my boyfriend to see the movie anyway. Men don’t care if you have a period or not. They expect you to indulge their fancies. If we could change it around so they suffered like we do, maybe they would be a little more considerate! Speaking of which, I should drink something hot to help lessen the pain. ”
At that, she went to the counter to pick up her meal and then sat down to dine with Xin-Xin. After they had finished, and only empty dishes and a few scraps remained, Fu-Rong let out the traditional belch, indicating that she was fully satisfied. “So what do you want to tell me about? Your boyfriend?”
“Today I just want some quiet time to think.”
Fu-Rong was really confused now. “What? Why would you ask me to meet with you if you want to be alone?” The atmosphere was suddenly tense; so thick you could cut it with a knife.
“Well, to be honest, I am confused.” She could barely conceal her excitement when she blurted out, “My boss asked me to marry him!”
“What? Who? Say that again!”
“Our law offices’ founding partner, Mr. Li. Do you know him?”
“Yes, but how can that happen? Didn’t you tell me he is married?”
“He told me he would get a divorce for me if I would give up my boyfriend.” Xin-Xin could no longer conceal how delighted she was.
“So are you going to do it?”
“Well ... I don’t really know for sure. He has a lot of attractive qualities and good assets.”
“Have you told this to Mo-Fan?”
“Of course not!”
“What are you going to do?”
“I don’t know. That’s why I wanted to talk to you.”
Fu-Rong was inwardly pleased that Xin-Xin was actually asking her for advice. “Don’t agree to it. You are so young, why are you looking for a divorced man?”
“But Mo-Fan is divorced.”
“That is a totally different situation from the lawyer. He just offered divorce out of passion to get you exclusively for himself. You should tell him that you won’t decide until his divorce is final. Then you will see how sincere he is. ”
“But wouldn’t it be unscrupulous for me to choose my boyfriend after he gets the divorce?”
“If his marriage is really the problem, then he would get a divorce regardless of you.”
“He said he only wanted a divorce because of me!” Xin-Xin was a bit annoyed and thought to herself, is that so hard to understand? Why should he get a divorce if he didn’t want to have me?
“You should have refused right away. His passion probably clouded his judgment. After a while when he has had enough of you he might leave you too. Or go back to his wife and ask forgiveness. There are plenty of examples like that to be a cause for concern. Mo-Fan is so good to you and will do anything you ask. You’ve been together for so long that it would be a pity for you to break up.”
Xin-Xin was unhappy at the advice her friend gave her. No one likes, she thought, the insinuation that they have poor judgment by having someone imply that what they want to do is not a good choice. “Mo-Fan compares to Mr. Li in appearance, family position and social status but he is slow and indecisive and has no plan for our future. We’ve been together for so long that I understand him completely and know he will do what I ask. But, I worry that if I marry him, we will end up poor and have to struggle for a living. If he is so great, why can’t he provide me with some security for my future?”
“But, he has two very wealthy brothers. One is even the CEO of his own company.”
“Yes, but they don’t give Mo-Fan any allowance to spend. If he had half of their ambition, I would be satisfied.”
“Have you discussed this with him?”
“It’s so hard for a woman to talk to a man that way. I have to be careful not to damage his self esteem.”
“Well, if he has so many short comings, maybe it’s better to break up!” Fu-Rong scoffed. She smiled at Xin-Xin with a hint of ridicule just to see her reaction. “My God, this is your plan? Keep him until you find someone better and then discard him?”
Xin-Xin scowled at this insult from her friend but was also somewhat embarrassed. She was momentarily speechless. “Isn’t everyone looking for something better? And when you find it seize it? What’s wrong with that?”
“What if the ‘something better’ is worse than what you have? If you are riding a donkey and see a horse, you can’t assume that the horse is the better choice. Before you untie your donkey you better be sure that the horse is a good one!”
Both were silent for a moment. “Haven’t you and your boyfriend ever had a problem?” Xin-Xin asked with surprise in her voice.
“We’ve been together for a long time, how could we not have quarreled? But we are not quick to suggest that we break up. We always tell each other what’s troubling us and then we face it together going forward. That is why we are still together after all these years.”
“If he loves me he will try to anticipate my needs instead of waiting for me to ask for what I want. I would feel like a beggar asking for sympathy. If there is no surprise in a relationship then it is in jeopardy isn’t it?”
“He isn’t a part of your body so how can he guess what you want? He loves you and I think he will do what will make you happy, so if you ask him to marry you, he will agree immediately to take care of your life. If you love him then work together with him to plan your future.”
“He will do whatever I ask so that is an advantage. But a relationship can’t survive with only love.”
“True, love only is not enough; you need to trust each other. Do you trust him? And as for the lawyer, how well do you understand him? Do you trust him?”
Xin-Xin was sullen and resentful of Fu-Rong’s condescending tone, feeling that these questions were naive and ridiculous. She looked out the window to avoid revealing her feelings to Fu-Rong. I don’t need anyone to teach me how to manage my love life, she thought. Although she had to admit to herself that she had never paid much attention to how little she really knew about Mr. Li.