As Niuniu approaches 30, she finds herself spending more time with middle-aged women friends, including Shula, a 42-year-old schoolteacher. Recent events in Shula's life reveal what it means to be a middle-aged divorcee with a 15-year-old son in modern China. 'Being a wife in China gives you no security,'' Shula warns Niuniu. 'If, career-wise, you are more successful than your husband, he will feel pressured and uncomfortable. His friends will tease him and he will take it out on you. If your husband has the better career, you still won't be happy. 'There are so many younger women who want to compete with you for your position as wife. They will try all kinds of ways to destroy your marriage. Either way, you're a loser.' Shula's 'no-security for married women' theory is based on her own painful experiences. When she married 16 years ago, her husband was a factory worker with no college degree, whereas she was a promising schoolteacher. Because of her busy work schedule, she was considered a career woman. Her husband - who spent more time taking care of domestic chores - was teasingly referred to as her 'servant' by his friends. He was unhappy. To save their marriage, Shula opted for a more traditional role: she spent less time at work and more time at home. Then her husband was promoted and he became happier. Eventually he became the head of the factory. Then Shula discovered her husband was having an affair with his secretary. She filed for divorce. Like many state-owned agencies, Shula's school has an archaic policy that provides housing only to male employees. Female workers are not eligible for this benefit. For 15 years, Shula had lived in the house that her husband's work unit had assigned to him. After their divorce, she had nowhere to stay and now rents a small apartment to share with her son. Some of her friends see her struggling and try to set her up on dates. But Shula tells Niuniu that the results are heartbreakingly sad. 'Men like me,' Shula admits, 'but after a few passionate encounters, they leave me. I dated a former classmate and our relationship lasted only one week. My next relationship lasted only a month. Neither explained why they left, but Chinese men think it's humiliating to raise a kid that is not their own'. Many of Shula's colleagues and friends told her she should forgive her former husband and try to get back together with him for the sake of their son. 'In ancient times, women had to put up with concubines,' they argue. 'It's not that big a deal that he had an affair. Men are men.' 'Should I listen to them?' Shula asks Niuniu. 'Of course not,' Niuniu says. 'Well, what should I do then?' 'Why don't you focus on your career for a while, instead of on men?' Niuniu suggests. 'I've applied to all the jobs that I can think of. All these companies prefer men to women, young to old, English-speakers to non-English speakers. I'm a 42-year-old Chinese woman who doesn't speak English. I'm on the road to nowhere.' 'I can help you,' says Niuniu. 'I can teach you English in my spare time.' Shula thinks for a while, before looking up. 'I have a better idea,' she says. 'What is that?' asks Niuniu. 'I've heard that foreign guys can't judge a Chinese woman's age. And often they don't care if a woman has a kid or not. So why don't you hook me up with a foreign man that speaks Chinese? Then my problems would be solved!'