Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Taiwan culture shock: It is hard being the superior sex III

Eric looked at Diane through the steam coming off the pot in the middle of the table. They were at a Korean barbeque -- Eat as much as you want. Eric was getting ready to be the superior sex.

It would be appropriate for his final memory of her to be in one of these restaurants because they had been to so many. At the back of the restaurant in refrigerators were trays of soft shell crabs, prawns, clams, squid; every kind of meat, blood pudding, tofu, dumplings, and vegetables which you went to collect and then either cooked in the pot in the middle of your table or on the grill surrounding the pot. Finally you dipped it in a mixture of barbeque sauce, spring onion, garlic, chilies, soy and egg white – which you stirred together.

“You are not eating too much tonight?” said Diane.

“I am taking it slow.”

Eric then put a couple more pieces of squid and bacon on the grill around the pot.

Diane certainly could eat. Experience had told him if you wanted your money’s worth you stuck to grilling because one mouthful of the soup kicked in the sleep fuse for an overloaded stomach. Not her, she drank the soup - which after an hour or so of vegetables, blood pudding, meat and seafood giving up their fat and nutrition to its saturated molecules could solve world famine – like she had a desert thirst.

They had been together for eight months now, but he was going to finish with her tonight. He should have finished with her a couple of weeks ago because he had started to date another girl, an introduction from John. Emily was stunning; beautiful and it seemed she wanted to be his girlfriend. He really couldn’t turn down that opportunity: That is why he had come to Taiwan.

He wondered why he was feeling so bad, considering he had never expected to marry Diane. He still planned to be out of Taiwan in now just over a year and he was young. It had been a relationship of convenience, and he had made that all clear. Suddenly, he couldn’t think of a reason why didn’t he just continue with her until he left Taiwan. She had done nothing wrong after all, apart from not being fantastically attractive. I am not a fucking jock. He looked back on days when he didn’t have to make those decisions.

“Are you finished?” That was a drawback of her eating skills, he thought, they had been in the restaurant for almost three hours. But he had to let her have her way today.
“Let’s go for a walk,” he said as they left the restaurant. He had brought her to this restaurant because he knew there was a community park one lane over. Somewhere neutral they could talk.

He found a bench as far away from the old men still playing Mahjong as possible.

“Diane, I am sorry. I think we should break up. I will leave in a while and I don’t want you to get too attached.”

She sat silent for what seemed like hours to Eric.

Presumably she doesn’t have to answer, he thought, but I don’t know I can just walk off.

“I would like us to remain friends. I should walk you back to your scooter….Sorry,” said Eric slapping his leg; regretting wearing shorts as there were a lot of mosquitoes in the park. “Nothing…” He wanted to say, “I always get bitten easily” but personal anecdotes were not appropriate.

“Wait. This is the shock. I need some time to think about this.”

He held back from telling her he didn’t need her approval.

“I know you don’t love me. If you wait until you leave I will be sad, but I can accept it - I know you are the American. Now it hurts because you finish with me for no reason. I don’t like to be finished with. I do nothing wrong.”

“What can I say? I am sorry.” Eric didn’t understand most of that, and was afraid to get an explanation he didn’t like.

“I get dumped, and what about my face. You have met my family and friends now.”

Why are you making it easier for me? he thought. You are giving me reasons to not feel guilty.

“I thought I was your English teacher?” he replied.
“You know the Taiwan family. They just call you that. They really know.”

“I don’t think they will feel so bad. Anyway, this is not a discussion, and I hope you can leave me with a good impression of you.”

They arrived and after a couple of minutes of standing around, she headed to her scooter.

“Hey…I’m sorry. I’ll give you a call,”

God, it was so crass and Neanderthal being a stud, he thought. He walked off thinking about how hard that had all been. How he really didn’t have the energy to do it again. How he wasn’t cut out to play the field. If he wasn’t going to do it again, then it had been pointless to do it this once. Diane was a nice girl, and this new girl was uncharted territory. Maybe, he should just call Diane back in the morning and say he had made a mistake. He would sleep on it.


Claudio said...

... and how did it end? Did Eric call Diane? Did he help her 'save face'? Did I miss the next episode of the story?

Paul said...

I wanna know too! I also wonder what she would have done if he would have told her that he's feeling more and more detached from her and would eventually have to split up... I mean because she seemed like a nice girl. :'( Screw Emily!