COMING HOME TO AN ASIAN WOMANt was Friday evening. I had knocked back a quick Chivas with a buddy suffering through a bad stretch in his marriage. In that half hour I had learned more than I had ever wanted to know about the sordid details of his misery. I was damned glad to be out of the bar, and as I drove home a tidal wave of gratitude crashed over my consciousness.
I could have been the guy sitting in the bar looking for a sympathetic ear while drinking himself senseless! As a matter of fact, couple of years ago I had been that guy. Like him I had been married to a blonde beauty with a dazzling saphire smile and the kind of figure that inspires grown men to salivate uncontrollably.
I met Babs* while she was a secretary at the firm. The senior associate she was working for grumbled that she was lackadaisical in her work. My own secretary whispered that her path was littered with broken men. Who cared? Babs seemed to have taken an interest in me. The fact that I was Asian didn't seem to matter. She giggled at my one-liners, shone her smile on me every chance she got. But hey, I was a level-headed guy who had dated my fair share of good-looking girls. I resolutely withheld judgment until our first date.
Some women are born for seduction. I didn't have a chance, as I look back on that date. Her dress, hair, makeup, life story -- everything was calculated to make me see her as a purebred beauty raised to make a wonderful wife for some lucky guy good enough to deserve her. By dessert I was convinced that the woman who sat gazing into my eyes was my one and only chance at happiness. What's more, she was the babe I used to fantasize about as a zit-faced teen with a hidden stash of Playboys.
"You're so different from other guys I've dated," Babs told me. I had a high enough opinion of myself to believe that was a good thing. I also believed that race didn't matter. Or better yet, that she preferred me because of my race. What could be better? My fantasy blonde with a special thing for Asian men. On our next date would I let her cook for me. That clinched it for me. Call it a powerful appeal to my latent sexist tendencies. A dream girl who could cook!
We were married six months later. By then Babs was already two-months pregnant and had quit her job as required by the firm's fraternization rules. I was the toast of my buddies, especially the Asian American guys who delighted vicariously in my score in that sexual rivalry between white and Asian men. We all had white friends who had scored a trophy Asian wife. I was helping to even the score, a hero for the brotherhood's cause.
To this day I can't put my finger on the precise origins of the downward spiral of our marriage. Maybe it was the nights she didn't have dinner ready, pleading a headache or some pressing engagement. Maybe it was the way she always booked us into the most luxe hotels available. Maybe it was my alarm at the rate at which our lifestyle had depleted my savings. Or maybe it was a nagging sense that some spiritual dimension was missing from our relationship.
Let me just say that it wasn't the sex. That was one of the best parts of our marriage. Babs was always a willing and energetic partner and was great at the frills that made our sessions memorable. As far as I can tell, she was never unfaithful, though who can say for sure? She was a good conversationalist and was superb at making guests feel welcome and cherished. Even my parents liked her, despite their well-founded suspicion that we were living beyond the means of a young lawyer in his early thirties and that Babs had something to do with that. Somewhat reassuring to all was the fact that she was a loving mother to our daughter. And yes, there was the undeniable ego gratification of attending functions with her on my arm. It helped to make up for a lot of the crap this society imposes on the Asian brotherhood. So, as horrible as it may sound to some, yes, I saw a part of the rationale for our marriage as striking a blow for the cause.
It took less than two years for me to conclude that the marriage was over. The momentum toward that decision probably began building within a few months of the wedding, but I can fix the precise date and time I told her, "I'm moving out." It was the day I learned that we had a negative balance in our checking account, about three hundred in our savings account, then came home to a Dominoes pepperoni dinner for the second time that week. That was topped off by learning that on that very day Babs had booked us three months in advance for a week in Aspen, at one of its poshest lodges. Oh yeah -- and there were no vegetables in the house, not even a sprouting potato.
* Names have been changed to protect both the innocent and the not-so-innocent.