About ten days ago, Tal K. observed that Rachel is, in many ways, a very conventional Chinese woman, as befits one who had left the mainland in her late twenties. As in the aforementioned event, the triteness of his observation failed to mitigate its eye-opening effect. Michael is grateful to Rachel and Alisa for filling in the nauseating details.
Alisa provides an outside perspective. She would prefer to stay out of Rachel’s relationship with Michael, because she knows enough about it to assume that:
- In some very sick and twisted way they both enjoy what both of them are doing.
- Neither one of them is planning to make any changes.
- They are a perfect match because they both like to be victims while holding a lot of power over the other person.
Meanwhile, Rachel is of two hands. In one hand, Michael is like real family to her. In the other hand, she doesn’t think they can be wife and husband.
She came to USA, like most Chinese, to pursue success. She admits that the definition of success has been changing along the time. She has been striving to be accepted and be respected by the society here. She is from a very different culture. She has no relative here. Her Chinese friends had long gone to different directions in life. Her ever-changing life has made her attached little relationship with school-mates and co-workers. So, she has a strong need to either blend in the American society or go back to China. Being accepted and respected by the society, and having a peaceful environment to prepare myself are the basic conditions for her to establish and then succeed in the United States. It is not an easy thing. She has found it especially difficult to achieve them while trying to share a life with Michael. Although Michael hase great knowledge on so many fields, including classic western theories and American popular culture, he has very different ideas and style of life than hers.
Like we all know, Michael is a great person, warm, deep, tough and pure. Rachel knows that she will kick herself someday for letting their relationship go. But she thinks it is for the best to do so now. She sincerely wishes all the best for Michael. If he ever needs a friend, she will be there for him.
The Kid: Santa!Between all her hemming and hawing, Michael discerns a request for a counteroffer in Rachel’s kissoff missive. When they last met, Rachel asked Michael whether he would like to move to a small town together. Michael liked the idea. Life in the big city has been trying. Everywhere he goes, he is reminded of his father’s suffering. His home is a refuge that can be easily replicated elsewhere at a fraction of the cost. He has enough money to set himself up in perpetuity amidst displaced city dwellers in Marfa, Texas. But there is something desperately strained about Rachel’s pitch. Her tortuous attraction to Michael bespeaks her incapacity to blend in. She cannot exude common airs by a fiat. As for going back to China, she would not be the first to discover herself unable to go back home again, let alone to do so with her tail tucked between her legs.
The Kid: You’re bringing my present early?
The Kid: But I never told you what I wanted.
Willie: I said I didn’t bring it, dipshit.
The Kid: Okay, good. I want a stuffed elephant. A pink one.
Willie: Well, wish in one hand, shit in the other one, see which one fills up first.
The Kid: Okay.
— Bad Santa
Michael is no stranger to deviance. He knows how to enjoy it in its proper place. The main obstacle is elsewhere. Rachel is unfit to lead and unwilling to follow. Her life plans add up to nothing productive. She falls back on expecting to be bailed out by a conventional man, knowing full well her inability to play the part of a conventional mate. He offer of friendship rings hollow. Michael has plenty of wishing on hand. He needs no more of that. Friends do things for each other. Rachel is unclear on her capacity for doing. Her most cherished asset at the moment is an easy job she can do without thinking. If that makes her happy, so be it.