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November 2, 1998   CONTINUED e-mail e-mail to a friend in need


Predicament of the Week
In which Breakup Girl addresses the situation that has, this week, brought her the most (a) amusement, (b) relief that it is happening to someone else, and/or (c) proof that she could not possibly be making this stuff up.

El Duderino Rides Again ... and Again...Now in Second Place for All-Time BG P/W Appearances

Dear Breakup Girl,

First of all, I have no intention to break the record on serial Predicament of the Week (Brad). So I'll try to keep this brief and relatively less colorful.

Second of all, you were accurate about the pitfalls of seeing life through tinted glasses. Very perceptive. However, I hesitate to peg Japanese Girl as one of those first decent meal after coming out from self-imposed exile. I don't think I have loss my common sense to have fallen for someone who just happened to "step in." JG is INDEED a truly righteous babe. My heart grins just thinking about her. It follows, of course, that I did not fall for the sake of falling.

And third of all, I don't have a third-of-all, but still.

From my angst/metaphor ridden letters, you would not have gotten the impression that, in "real life," I am basically this aggressive, devilishly mean, Newman/Brando-ish stockbroker. I don't think I have split personalities, may be I'm just a bit more in touch with my feminine side, two hard-core feminist sisters made sure of that. Frankly, this affair with JG deserves more delicate consideration as opposed to one of those million dollar trade, where you coldly calculate your beta, stare at your candle-stick charts, and say "well, this trade "SUCKS," lets cut it loose." If it was that simple, with all due respect, my sentiment and prose wouldn't have been this purple.

(This straight talk does not in anyway diminishes my respect for, and gratitude towards BG. But I digress)

Anyway, it's not really like that, is it? I mean like how do you rationally reconcile the fact that a mean and nasty schmuck like me can feel completely vulnerable and soft in front of this woman? (It's true, I so eat dudes like those in Glengary Glen Ross for breakfast and I'm so not purposely deprecating for the effect of juicing the script.) How then do you explain that a man, whose favorite phase is "that's not my problem," could spend hours mixing paint and rubbing them into the canvas to paint her portrait and then later argue with himself about hues in his sleep? How do you conjure the image of a normally serious adult who manipulates his facial muscles doing an impersonation of "The Boiling Pea Soup" to the beat of Harlem Shuffle, making a complete fool of himself in the process, for her amusement just to hear that glorious note of laughter?

How, pray tell?

So I pulled out my spreadsheet, called up the charts, and punched in the figures, and voila; this is what the computer says:

Of all the footprints he left on the jungle path in Sarawak and ancient steps of Angkor, of all the secret dreams that had been diverted to the wrong baggage carousel, "of all the curtained faces that had watched him pass down winding streets of twilight cities," it had finally become clear. And, like a dusty wanderer of old who has drifted far and wide and now sees the solitary light of his home and hears the wind chatting with the chimes on the balcony, his loneliness dissolved. Finally. As his hands held hers, with utter tenderness, otherwise reserved for week-old puppy, perfectly formed and unalterably complete in his love for her.

I did look up your column on Long Distance Relationships and your practical advice is, as always, sensible and insightful. But it left me feeling like I was reading the blueprint for some infrastructure project or the logistic planning for the next World Cup. Don't get me wrong. I like what you said, and there are certainly many different ways to skin a monitor lizard when herbal soup is on the menu. But I'm afraid I'm just a bloody sentimental bastard. And realistically, I can't forget about JG either. You are damn right it sucks! So totally sucks in a major way.

I am a Chinese and a Buddhist. To us, the concept of Karma and Fate is so not some new-age fad you acquire along with your Malibu beach house. Hence, you'll forgive me if I let JG go without telling her I love her. I have a feeling she knows that already. I'll bet my last dollar she's doing the same soul searching thang as I have been. In addition, negotiating LDR protocol will be a cultural nightmare for both of us. I will explain. Asian cultural protocol as such prevents us from verbalizing every thought. So we depend on subtle gestures, moods, contexts, and God knows reading what else between which lines. For example: yes, doesn't always means yes. "Yes" sometimes means "I hear what you say but it doesn't mean I agree with you." And no, well, like anywhere else in the world, means no. But "difficult" or "I'm not sure" sometimes means no. "I'll think about it" sometimes means exactly that but sometimes also means NO. See what I mean?

Sometimes you may hold her hand in public ONLY after you are a major item and talking marriage. But JG and I hold hands like lovers and we haven't even kissed (a first for me). It's not like we are prudes. There are so many "rules," and bending of rules, and old versus modern rules, it's not even funny. This is a very common navigational problem for Asians who are very westernized as we go through life, love, and loss. Trying to make sense of it all without abandoning 5,000 years of cultural indoctrination. Mamet can kiss my posterior if you ask me.

So, you may ask, why not be more straight forward like we Americans, make your own rules? I honestly don't know. It's a culture identity kind of thang. I think.I suppose I shouldn't complain about the pain but dear me, I feel like sticking my fingers through my eye sockets into my brain and swirling it around. I'll live, though, El Duderino ALWAYS does.

Lastly, I'm so back on the balcony, yet again. But this time, I stand stoic.

-- El Duderino in Malaysia

PS. I'm sorry, I'm sure there were some questions somewhere. If not, feel free to press "delete." Thanks again for letting me rant. You don't know how much I appreciate this.

Dearest Dude,

Welcome back. It is my pleasure to PW you again, especially because it gives me the chance to clarify.

First of all, I definitely don't think that you fell for JG just because she was there. I'm just suggesting that "Now that I have a new insight, this time it'll work!"-relationships ... don't always.

Second, my Mametian "it sucks" point was absolutely not meant as a dismissive "Get Over It!" wave of the hand. I simply meant to suggest that, for all intents and purposes, JG's departure -- even allowing for the true age-old concepts of Karma and Fate -- does not Mean Anything. All intents and purposes being, in this case, to drive yourself a little bit less nuts.

Also. Far be it from me to question your explanation of Asian protocol. But just one thing: Do Americans -- or anyone else -- reliably mean what they say when they say Yes and No and Not Sure and We'll See? Answer: NO. Meaning: No.

And. I totally forgive you for letting her go without speaking your heart. Your call. I just wanted to make sure you realized that doing so-- rather than being the mute martyr -- was a viable option.

Another And. While I do have a problem understanding some of your references to monitor lizards and ancient steps, I totally don't have a problem understanding how you can be ruthless by day, Romeo by night. Actually, I think it's great. To paraphrase psychoanalyst Adam Phillips, quoted in a previous Predicament, people are complicated. We are not, as he wrote, "all of a piece." Phew.

So. Rant and write and paint and balconate and Angkor away, Dude. I know you're in pain, and I know that stuff helps. Usually. Make sure that when you High-Artify your life, as we've discussed, you're actually clarifying -- not complicating -- things for yourself. Be stoic for now if you must, but remember this: in your first letter, you were basically wondering if you'd ever love again. Now you know the answer is Yes. Meaning: Yes.

Breakup Girl



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