The floorboards hummed, the walls vibrated, the building rumbled. The epicentre of this eruption: the apartment’s lone bedroom. I crouched, placed my ear on the wooden door. The female shrieked, yelped, and let out a succession of high-pitched elongated moans, “Aiiii, ohhhh,” all delivered with detectable without actual words used a clear Asian accent. It was her, undeniably her, the woman I called ‘Mom.’ As for the one who drew out the sounds, the elicitor, he made only a few noises; an occasional grunt, a ragged exhale, a small shift of his frame like a whip cracking the air. That was Mike, the white man, the owner of the store downstairs and the apartment above it, unloading himself into his tenant.
This union came as a surprise.
Before this moment, I’d not seen them so much as hug, their contact limited to handshakes. Oh, Mike and Cathy were friendly towards one another, but only in a professional capacity, ‘thank you’ the most affectionate words they shared. Now, when I look back at those old tapes, pause, rewind and zoom, I could see that there were subtle signs which seemed innocuous at the time but now hint at the direction their relationship was going in. What I remember most was their lack of personal space, Mike and Cathy frequently standing very close to one another. When they’d look over their financial books, he’d be right by her side, her elbows brushing into his sides, her shoulders in constant yet light contact with his pectorals. Their intimacy was expressed further by how they spoke almost exclusively in soft hushed tones. What they said was not particularly salacious – “Profits could rise here,” he’d say.
“Yes,” she’d reply. “Especially if you focus on the cost of rent” – yet how they said it, the tone of voice, made it all sound like pillow talk. So, when I came home at 8pm, saw them standing by the shop counter, looking over the books, talking in hushed tones, nothing was amiss. I waved, said hello, went to my room/the living area, went to my designated sleeping spot, the couch, and crashed out.
After an indeterminate amount of time, I heard sounds that were previously confined to well-worn VHS cassettes. After confirming to myself this was not a dream, I tried to wrap my fuzzy mind around what was going on. How… how did a business meeting end like this? Shouldn’t they have been dating, kissing, holding hands before progressing to full-on sex? How did they skip over so many steps? As a westernized kid reared on romantic movie tropes, this was all so very odd. Wrong. Then I looked at it in a different way. The anti and ‘ist way.
The logical path.
Mike stayed late and was hungry. Cathy made dinner for him and herself. It was late, so she offered him the bed. That bed contained her and her promise to give him comfort. Simple. Woman rewards Man. But… why would Mom do something like that? A proud strong woman giving her body herself as a show of appreciation? As my liberal pal Christy would put it, it’s all so medieval, so against a woman’s right, a slap to all the suffragettes. Society might deny it, but I knew I’d stumbled onto the right answer. If you took away all the PC hoopla, Cathy and Mike’s midnight dalliance made all the sense in the world:
He’s a white man and she’s an available Asian woman. The question is not why, it’s why not.