Readers' Submissions

Delightful Ning Back In Farangland 6 – Now, Discover Your Strengths (1 of 2)



Over lunch we hear a painful noise from the basement.

"What is this, my dear?"

— THE BROKEN WASHING MACHINE —

Down in the cellar, the washing machine creates sounds it is not supposed to create. Is it broken? A broken washing machine would be the ultimate disaster for me.

“This would be terrible”, I comment to Ning – “what could we do with no functioning washing machine?” – Don't say that to a Good Asian Girl from a hard-working family: “Why? I can wash everything by hand, my dear. No problem!"

Ah, I don’t want to see her hand washing all my shirts. She'll fly out soon anyway. And yes, we climb down to the basement to find out, it is the washing machine, literally screaming for care.

Service is called and arrives just an hour later. Ning and I stand by to watch his efforts. First the guy cleans a few filters, then there is the funny moment when he dives deep into the barrel (it’s a front loader), as if he wants to disappear somewhere. His whole upper body is inside the drum, only his backside looks out. Then he re-emerges with a red head, turns a few screws, removes the front panel, dives in again, his backside stuck out looks funny again, he comes back out and – nothing is funny any more.

The service guy comes back with two twisted metal frames. I’ve never seen a structure like that, but they do look like parts from a torn bra.

These metal things clearly caused the painful noise. They look like bra parts. Metal frames to fortify bras for a very impressive bust indeed. They are clearly not Ning’s size. So HOW did they get into my machine?

"These look like bra parts", Ning observes – "but not from me".

Brusquely she turns around and walks back up.

"Some swimming suits have these", comments the handyman. He didn't even notice Ning's upset. He test-starts the machine, which now doesn't produce any more noise, the problem is obviously solved, so he says goodbye. Everything fine one might think, but not for me – I have a fuming lady upstairs. Now she can wash hourly at 30, 40, 50, 60 and 90 degrees, with or without pre-wash programme, but she might as well ponder early departure or even worse.

At first I have no idea why these bra parts materialized in the machine. Really not! Then, slowly, I get a clue.

We meet on the stairs. Seeing me, she turns around and wants to dash off.

"Ning!"

Her face is cold and questioning.

"You wonder about this bra?"

A small nod.

"The service guy said this can be from a *swimsuit*, too."

Oh, not a good argument? Her face remains cold and questioning.

"You remember last winter I stayed some time with you in Asia? The neighbors had my key, and later they told me they had used my washing machine when theirs was broken for a week."

Her face remains very very sceptical. But I am not even lying here.

"You know the neighbor lady, very strong here…" – I mimic buckets at my chest – "I guess these metal pieces are from her bra or swimming dress?”

This must pacify her. I know she does not see our neighboress as a threat to my assumed monogamy.

Her faces switches in thinking-mode. "But WHY do we have this problem NOW?? And not right after last winter?"

"How can I know? How can I prove something?" Now I even get a bit upset and angry. I crank up the voice. Somehow I feel more convincing in higher pitch: "These machines turn around all the time, 1,200 times per minute in spin cycle, then some day the problem comes up."

Her face is still cold.

"Ning…."

She softens slightly.

"This *must* be from the neighbor lady, what else can it be?"

Her face gets hard again.

She wants to turn away again. She wants to fume more.

But I can’t have a dragon in the house. I need a peaceful environment for my work and for my general happiness. How can I function otherwise. I don’t realize it at this time, but what happens next is a pattern for the upcoming weeks / submissions: I force her into an amenable mode, and though resistant, she finally lets me steer her.

I softly touch her shoulder and move her towards me. She wants to reject me, she wants to move away, but I keep a firm grip.

I caress her shoulder. She wants to slide off, but I don’t let her go.

“Ning!”

She wants to move away, but I keep her with sheer physical force. Tiny girl.

Her resistance weakens. What can she do anyway.

“Ning! What can I do that you believe me?"

“Oh, everything ok, ok, ok, of course I believe you.” She relaxes and hugs me. She remains extra-mild for some days.

Stickman's thoughts:

It is this sort of shit that I personally will not tolerate. I don't just crank up the voice when I get the cold shoulder over something as ridiculous as this…