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Nice but Naughty

Shen sensed Saanvi’s penetrating gaze drilling through him.

The summer sun reflected on the silver car as they entered it. The Perspiration and the Shiver trickled down his spine. Now what?

“What was that?”

“What was what?”

“Don’t be ridiculous. You know what I mean.”

“Care for a cold-coffee?”

“Not now. First, tell me why you repeated the phrase a million times?”

The PHRASE? Shen did not know, but dared not say so. Through years of practice, he resorted to the favourite technique. Beat around the bush.

“Isn’t that nice?”

“Yes, why did you keep repeating it?”

Walking down the Walmart aisle, they had bumped into Joe and Anna. Shen and Joe, the ex-colleagues, shook hands formally and awkwardly. Shen and Saanvi in their late sixties and the other couple in their early forties exchanged news and views.

“I am much younger than you, but we have already planned for our retirement.”

“Isn’t that nice!”

“My both the kids have condos in downtown. And we booked a three-bedroom penthouse suite in the upcoming building in Squamish.”

“Isn’t that nice!”

“The condo is next to the park and the joggers’ field. We plan to do lots of cycling, walking, jogging, and trekking.”

“Isn’t that nice!”

“We retire in four years.”

“Isn’t that nice!”

Saanvi stifled a yawn. Taking that as a cue, Shen blurted about an upcoming appointment with a supplier.

“My Joe never works on weekends. All his weekends are devoted to me!”

“Isn’t that nice!”

Outside Walmart, near their car, ‘Not so nice’ Saanvi grilled Shen.

“The oft repeated comments weren’t nice at all. Just because they are younger and stronger than you…”

Saanvi realized she had hit the raw nerve. Though Shen’s mind and body had divorced long ago, he continued to exercise with optimism and enthusiasm of a teenager.

‘I want to prove wrong the statement the mind is willing, but the body is not’ was his motto.

“I will take you up on that cold-coffee now.” Saanvi pacified Shen.

The couple cradled their ice-cold brew in the tall glass. Shen touched his frosted glass to his jaw and then his forehead.

“Migraine?”

“No, just a minor headache.”

“I am sorry. But why did you repeat that statement million times?”

Shen chuckled.

“Let me tell you a story. Two girls met twenty years after graduation. The conversation went like this:

“After graduation, I got married to a man with a royal background.”

“Isn’t that nice!”

“For our honeymoon, we went around the world.”

“Isn’t that nice!”

“For our first anniversary, he gifted me…”

“Isn’t that nice!”

This went for some time, till the first one realized she knew nothing about her friend.

“And what did you do after graduation?”

“Nothing much, just went to a finishing school.”

“Finishing school? What did you learn there?”

“Lots of cool things. For example, it was hammered into us not to say ‘I don’t give it a shit’. The polished way is to say ‘Isn’t that nice.’”

Saanvi burst into a loud guffaw and the gloom enveloping the couple evaporated. The cold-coffee was indeed delicious and sweet. And THAT INDEED WAS NICE!

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