Like most women close to forty, Yan had some troubling thoughts in her busy life. Yan has two lively, mischievous sons, the older one in high school, and younger one still in primary school. Yan's husband is a well-known Silicon Valley senior engineer. Yan herself had been laid off a few years ago when the company had to downsize because of the bad economy. She took the test for her real estate broker's license and is now a loan agent with a mortgage company. The laid off itself did not affect their quality of life at home, but hurt her sense of self-worth. Yan's husband is becoming more successful at his job and his income is rising. But this requires that he also often must work until late at night, sometimes as late as two or three o’clock in the morning. Whenever the company’s product line has a problem, a phone can call him away. Yan noticed that her husband’s monthly payroll figures and his grey hairs were increasing at the same speed, but her complaints could never be spoken aloud.
Yan had some troubling thoughts, but how could she express them? How could she tell him that she and him no longer communicated? She knew her husband was working to support the family! But when she saw other couples going to see a movie, she envied them. Once a year Yan went to see her gynecologist. This year at her annual check-up, her doctor asked her: "What method of contraception you are using now?" Yan always hesitanted, answered: "natural method, natural method." Doctors love to told: "coitus interrupts unsafe." In her mind Yan said: "once a month at most, and how can that be unsafe?"
Yan was very busy every day. In the morning, she had to get the two children up, ate breakfast and send them off to school before she went to the loan company to work. In the afternoon, she had to pick up the kids from school, drove them to their piano lessons , judo lessons and braught them home. Then doing housework and preparing dinner she also had to supervise the children’s homework. Usually around nine, the children went to bed, and Yan could find a minute to sit down and sip a cup of tea. It was during this time, she could turn on the computer, go on the Internet and look at news or blogging sites. When she finally heard the garage door opening, she knew her man had came back. She heated his dinner, after which he ate, showered, and then they went to bed. Yan’s day finally ended. She knew that tomorrow would be the same. Her life was just like that quiet peaceful and predictable. Yan did not think anything about her life was particularly bad or abnormal but she knew somewhere in her heart was missing.
Yan’s fortieth birthday arrives. Her husband did not get her a gift, but it was a rarity for him to come home earlier from work and to take the whole family to a restaurant for dinner. Yan did not feel anything special but the next day, Yan and several close female friends went to the teahouse at noon to celebrate. Her older friend asked: "What did your husband get you for a gift?" Yan shook her head, a little embarrassed. Her friends could not understand. "how come he did not buy you anything for such a big birthday?" One of them also added: "Chinese men usualy lack romance!" Her friend who owned a beauty shop, looked at the face in front of her, and said to Yan: "Forty, you better start to pay attention to maintenance of your beauty. If you come to my shop, I can help you to do your facial!" The eldest one told Yan:"For women over 40, only your age is still going up, all other things are going down now " Yan suddenly realized that she has officially entered the" middle-aged women "crowd.
That night, as usual, when the children went to bed, Yan sat before the computer again. And suddenly felt her house was sadly quiet and empty; the feeling of loneliness flooded her heart and she felt almost unable to breathe. No more could celebrity gossip news attract her interest as it had done before. Bored, clicking on different web sites almost unconsciously, her mouse accidentally clicked into a chat room. She was about to exit when a man with a baseball cap his flashing head signal jumped into her eyes. "Good evening, Miss, would you like to talk?" For a long time no one had called her “Miss”. Yan felt so good. She quickly typed: "I am Lonely.” The other side immediately responded: "Who isn’t? Me too!" Neither noticed that almost three hours had passed. Yan had not remembered what they said in detail but she remembered that he noticed her English had a foreign word pattern, and asked her nationality. Yan hesitated for a few seconds and then told him she is Chinese. Surprisingly he responded immediately: "Ni Hao!(Hello in Chinese)" Yan naturally asked: "Are you Chinese?" He replied: "I wish that I were but my grandparents came from the British Empire and I always dreamed of being an oriental lover!" Yan thought: oh yes sure! Just then she heard the garage door opening, so she quickly typed: "I’ve got to go now, good night!" He responded with a little disappointment: "Ok, Good Night!" Then added: "You made it a good night for me! I am sure that I will dream of a fascinating oriental woman tonight. "Yan said to herself:" Do not take it seriously, men sweet talk to women all the time." Off the computer, Yan could still feel a little thrill. So that night, Yan avoided her husband's eyes.
燕有两个活泼顽皮的儿子，大的上中学了，小的还在读小学。 燕的丈夫是硅谷一间著名的半导体公司的高级工程师，燕自己在几年前经济不好时被公司裁掉之后，考了一张房地产经纪的执照，现在一家贷款公司做贷款经纪。燕被公司裁员时确实很沮丧，但那大多是因为自我价值受到打击，并没影响到他们家里的生活质量。因为燕丈夫的工作越来越好，职位和工资都是越来越高，人却也是常常加班到夜深，有时深夜两三点，公司生产线出了问题，一个电话，男人就被叫走。 燕看着男人每月的工资单上的数字和头上的白发一样日渐增多，抱怨的话也就硬生生地吞回了肚子中。
燕的烦恼说不出口，怎么说呢：每天与丈夫说不上两句话，男人上班要养家呀；看见别人夫妻成双成对地去看个电影什么的，燕就特羡慕。 每年一次去看妇科医生，医生问燕：“用什么方法避孕？”燕总吞吞吐吐：“自然方法，自然方法 .” 医生总爱吩咐：“体外射精不安全的。。。。”燕就在心里说：“一个月一次最多了，怎么会不安全？”
燕的每天都很忙碌。 早晨，燕要弄两个孩子起床吃早饭，再送他们上学校，然后去贷款公司处理一些事情，下午，接孩子下学，先送他们去学钢琴，学柔道；接回家，再一边做家务准备晚饭一边看着他们做功课。通常晚上九点左右，两个孩子就上床睡觉了，这个时候，燕就可以坐下来泡杯清茶， 打开电脑上上网，看看新闻或是八卦。 直到车库门响，男人回来，燕帮着热一热饭菜，等男人吃好，洗完澡，夫妻俩上床睡觉， 那一天也早已过去了。 日子平平静静地过着，一直以来，燕也没觉得什么特别不好。
燕四十岁生日的那天，丈夫虽说没送什么礼物，却是难得的提早下班，一家子去外面的餐馆吃了顿晚餐。 燕也没觉得什么特别的。 倒是隔天，几个好姐妹相约为燕庆生，中午坐在茶馆里，一个嫁了老美的好友问：“你老公送了你什么？”燕有点尴尬地摇摇头，朋友愤愤不平：“那怎么可以？这么大的生日！”末了还加一句：“中国男人哪，就是缺少那点儿浪漫！” 另一个姐妹开了家美容店，对着燕的面孔看来看去，说：“四十了，你可要注意保养啊。 哪天到我店里来， 我帮你做做脸！” 好姐妹中年纪最长的那位老大姐，更是语重心长的告诉燕：“女人哪，这一过四十，你就看着除了岁数往上涨，那其它各样东西啊，都往下掉了。” 燕这才意识到，她已正式进入“中年女人”的行列了。
那天晚上，照例等两个孩子上床睡觉了，燕又坐到电脑前，忽然的，燕觉得家里特别的安静，寂寞象洪水一下子就把燕的心淹没了。 电脑里的明星八卦消息，一点也勾不起燕的兴趣，她百无聊赖地按着滑鼠，无意中按进了一个聊天室，她正要退出，一个带着棒球帽的男人头像随着一闪一闪的信号跃入她的视线：“晚上好，小姐，想聊聊吗？” 好久没被人叫做小姐了，感觉真好，燕想聊就聊呗：“ I am Lonely. ( 我很孤独 ) ”。 对方马上打蛇随棍上：“谁不呢？我也一样！”不知不觉，两三个钟头就过去了，燕已记不起那么久到底聊了些什么，只记得有几次对方看到燕英文中的外来的文法和用字，问她是哪国人。 燕犹豫了一下还是告诉他自己是中国人，没想到他马上就回过来：“ Ni Hao!” 燕自然就问：“你是中国人吗？”他又回答：“ I wish I am.( 我希望我是 ) ，只是我祖父辈从大英帝国来。我一直梦想有一个东方爱人！” 燕想：来了来了。正好听到车库的门响，赶紧下线吧，匆匆忙忙地打下：“我要睡了，晚安！”那边有些失望：“ Ok, Good Night!” 又加了一句：“你让我度过了一个美好的夜晚，我今夜一定会梦到一个可人的东方女人。” 燕对自己说：“别当真，甜言蜜语谁都会说。”不过关电脑时，燕还是觉得有点窃喜，说不上为什么，晚上对着老公的目光，燕就有所回避。