I had a free evening last night since Lanying was going out for dinner with an Italian called Orlando. I was looking forward to doing some work on my novel but just as I was settling down to it the phone rang. It was Lanying.
“What’s wrong?” I asked her. “Hasn’t he turned up?”
“Grrrrrr! I hate this guy. He just called me and guess what?”
“I’m here in Chinatown and he’s just getting into his car to set off. How long he takes to get here will depend on the traffic.”
“Oh, how annoying! Doesn’t he know how to treat a woman?”
“I tell you, he’s a typical Italian. He’s in love with himself. By the way, I bought you some Malaysian coffee.”
“Oh, thank you! How thoughtful of you! You remembered I’ve run out.”
We normally buy my Malaysian white coffee in the Chinese supermarket but this week we didn’t go because Lanying had an optician’s appointment and wanted to keep our weekly shop brief. I was really impressed that she’d even thought about this while out on a dinner date. She really is the perfect wife.
When she got home I heard all about Orlando. He has just got back from a trip to Shanghai and has a lust for pretty Chinese women. He seems to have met quite a few while he was out there but was unable to slake his desires. “I’ve come back so full of lust and frustration,” he told Lanying. “And now here you are with your pretty Chinese face, reviving my memories of all those lovely women. I really need a Chinese girlfriend,” he said. “Tell me, what are my chances?”
Orlando is 48 but he has quite a trim figure. According to one of Lanying’s friends, he was showing off his flat tummy to a shop assistant in Huaihai Road. Lanying’s friend, Maisie, had to do the translation. “I was mortified,” Maisie said.
“Are you talking long-term or short-term?” Lanying asked him.
“Maybe both.” Orlando was brimming over with enthusiasm.
“How did you get on with them while you were out there?”
“Well,” he said,”I only really spoke very much to one. She seemed keen at first but when I told her I had a Japanese roommate who I really like because I really love Japanese women too, she took offence and said ‘Aargh! I hate the Japanese!’ After that she wouldn’t talk to me.”
“You have to be careful about racial issues,” Lanying said. “Chinese people are sensitive.”
“Sensitive!” exclaimed Orlando. “You’re all brainwashed by communism and Chairman Mao.”
“No!” said Lanying. “Things have changed.”
Orlando was getting very loud apparently. Everyone in the restaurant was staring. Orlando said that Maisie was loud. So loud that he couldn’t raise his voice up higher than hers.
“Yes,” I said, “Maisie is loud. But why does Orlando want to be louder?”
“Typical Italian,” she said.
As they parted he tried to kiss her. They were on Charing Cross Road. “No, no!” she said pulling away.
“Let me kiss your hand!” he pleaded.
“He has no sensitivity,” I said. “He doesn’t understand that Chinese women are conservative.”
This morning I had a cup of the Malaysian coffee. It was delicious!