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Hometown Visit (2) - Are you from Mars?

Popularity 3Viewed 11185 times 2016-3-13 12:05 |System category:News| something, carrying, already, quarter, opened

I opened my eyes, jumped off the bed, and rushed to the bathroom, and almost bumped into my mom carrying a bowl of sweet sesame-stuffing rice dumplings.
"Watch out!" Mom spoke loudly.
When I finished brushing my teeth and washing my face, it was already a quarter to eleven.
"Holy! I might be late for the re-union party."
"Party?" Dad was asking.
"Oh no, it's just a sit-in or eat-in or something like that. Why didn't you guys wake me up early?"
"We thought jet-lag hit you hard."
"Well, I'm fine. Actually I had a weird dream, like, uh, I was in the middle of Shanghai Battle fighting Japanese. I was almost killed. Holy! My pee saved my life."
"Told you not to watch TV too much, especially those TV series of Resistance War, too violent." Mom reminded. "Here. Be careful. The sweet rice dumplings are very hot. Eat slowly."
"Wow! It's hot." I blew one puff after another at the rice dumplings floating with dried osmanthus flower and dried wolfberries in the bowl.
"Go to bed timely so you won't sleep over. Told you many times. And going forward, try not to watch those war movies and TV series, too bloody. So you won't have bloody dreams, all right?" Mom joined in with Dad in the couch to watch livecast table-tennis match after the words.
I puffed and puffed, but they were still hot. "Bloody or not, as long as there's a girl in my dream, I'm all fine."
"What are you saying?" asked Dad.
"No, it's not my saying. I just quote a line from a TV show."
"Which TV show is that?"
"Uh, Animal's World. Why is it still hot? Mom! Can I put the rice dumplings into the fridge for a minute?"
I swore to Confucius and Monica Bellucci that I had loved pizza even more than any Italian had. In addition to macaroni this, spaghetti that occasionally, I used to eat pizza almost 8 times every week for a long period until one day in the week right before I came back to China for vacation, I had suddenly felt like throwing up when eating it. Since that day, I had said goodbye to my long term favourite food although pizza shouldn't be supposed to be the direct reason for my vomiting.
Every one stopped chatting on the topic of travelling now and the sitting room burst into cheers though my emotion stayed unchanged when Pizza Hut delivered our order to Ling's home. Scratch that. Their order and Ling's parents' home. Regardless, I was still moved because I knew they had ordered that just for me. Of course, who else didn't like pizza in this world after halal pizza and Buddhist pizza (veggie pizza) were invented?
"Bye, Uncle and Auntie." We said, all standing up when Ling's parents waved back to us and closed the door.
The last time I had said that to Ling's parents or any of my classmate's parents was like a century before, as in the country where I currently lived, I only said something like "goodbye, Mr. and Mrs. McGuire" to my colleague's parents or "goodbye, Mr. O'Connell and Mademoiselle de Chénier, have a nice day" to my buddy's father and the father's common-law, but not "bye, uncle and auntie". Furthermore, my buddy's father's common-law Miss Françoise de Chénier was too young to be an auntie to me. My buddy always complained in front of me that his father's woman was weird because she started drinking Cognac or Scotch from 8 o'clock almost every morning, and she didn't work, and she was only 5 years older than my buddy, and she always stared at him, and the way she stared at him was very unusual, and one day ...
"Are you all right?" Tingting turned off my meditation.
"Yeah." I nodded.
"You really looked lost just now." She smiled and gave a pat on my shoulder.
"When did you find he didn't look lost last time?" Zhen asked ironically, as usual.
"But at least not lost very long this time, right?" Yang tilted her head to ogle at me.
"It's very nice of you to notice that. So touched am I. But why do you always keep a close eye on me? Take a break."
"Because ..."
"Because we both have a secret crush on you." Yang butted in Zhen's mid-sentence.
I instantly rolled up my left sleeve a bit and pointed at my forearm. "See? See? Goosebumps, goosebumps."
"Okay, we need your help." Ling pulled me aside.
I joined in with her and Tingting to move a big table to the centre of the sitting room and to make it ready.
This re-union lunch was organized to welcome my hometown visit by my classmates - the 4 girls of Ling, Tingting, Zhen, Yang, and the 3 boys of Nipple, Fatty, and Skinny,  at Ling's parents' apartment, because this was the most convenient location to every one and it even had extra parking space around the building, which was quite rare nowadays.
"Thank you so much! Thank you guys! Appreciated!" I sat down and tried to look as excited as they were as well in front of American Special (a new name for pepperoni in China), Hawaiian, Garden Veggie, and Cheese Lovers, none of which I had appetite to eat this moment.
"You are welcome." They said and then placed three bundles of beer, 1 bottle of red wine, 1 bottle of white wine, and two bottles of liquor on a tea stand beside the table. The sight of the drinks instantly made me on tenterhooks.
"See? We didn't order Kung Pao chicken pizza, Korean style beef pizza, or seafood pizza, because those are too Asian while you are from Northern America. And we don't wanna go too fancy." Tingting explained.
"Thank you. Thanks a lot. But wait, Pizza Hut has Kung Pao chicken pizza, Korean style beef pizza, and seafood pizza?"
"Yes," Fatty replied, "not only those. They even have Sautéed broccoli with oyster saucer, stewed meat lettuce, Hongkong style fish ball rice noodle, roasted duck and preserved vegetable rice noodle, and Laksa seafood rice noodle."
"And Singapore style chicken steak rice, Sichuan spicy beef rice, Korean style spicy pork chop baked rice, seafood rice in scallop sauce, fried rice with roasted duck," added Skinny.
"You are sure your order went to Pizza Hut? Holy! I wonder if they have soya milk and deep-fried dough stick."
"Soya milk? Yes. Deep-fried dough stick? No, but they have preserved egg and shredded lean congee."
Zhen's answer continued to surprise me on this American company's operation in China. "It's Pizza Hut or a restaurant in Chinatown after all?"
"Oh actually, there's Chinatown here, it's on Fifth Avenue West, no, sorry, it's on West Street."
"What?" I could tell my eyes must be opening bigger at Yang's words. "A Chinatown in China?"
"Holy! That's totally hilarious. By the way, whose idea is it? I mean, pizza."
"Mine." Nipple unbundled the beers and passed one over to me. "Are you fascinated?"
"Uh, yeah." I didn't want to disappoint my friends.
"Ha! I knew it. See?" he elbowed Ling, "I told you how he would be when seeing these and you didn't believe me."
The most intelligent girl in our class and my high school confidante - Ling, on the opposite seat across the table, didn't reply to him, but merely cast me an I-know-he-is-wrong smile. Accordingly I knuckled the table twice.
"So it snows often in winter, especially between December and February, right?" asked Zhen sitting beside me on the left.
"Yeah, I also heard about that." Yang on my right echoed.
I knew they couldn't check internet through their cell phones this moment. Every one's cell was collected away and locked up in a drawer by Ling when the pizzas were delivered. She claimed that every attendant had to abide by the new rule - to get totally disconnected. Only Ling's parents had the access to the drawer, but wouldn't be back in hours. Her parents didn't have computer at home - they only linked themselves to internet by cell phone.
"Who said it often snowed in winter there?" I put down the spring roll Ling's parents had cooked for us as dim sum and stood up, looking ticked off.  "No! Fabricating rumours is illegal in China now. This is foreign hostile forces' unvaried tactics to smear Canada."
"Sorry, sorry." The two girls said.
Shocked by their apologies which could hardly be heard before, I sat down and cleared my throat a bit. "That's okay. You know what, it doesn't snow often in Canada's winter at all. It only snows twice a week. The first snowfall of the week lasts four days. The second, only three days."
Zhen and Yang instantly punched me when every one else at the table laughed loudly.
"Ouch!" I dodged and tried to look hurt. "How old are we now? We are not teenagers any more."
My words didn't stop them and caused another two punches instead.
"My pee was discontinued at your words." Nipple came back from the bathroom.
"Don't you close the door while peeing or you've already soused?" Tingting asked.
"Don't worry," I explained, "as much as I remember, the sound Nipple's pee hits the urinal or the toilet is always very feminine. That's why we heard nothing from the bathroom just now even though the door was open."
"I closed it, I just didn't lock it. And my pee sounds very masculine." Nipple defended.
"Oh come on. Every body knows the way you pee is more civilized than the way we girls do." Zhen shot him an eye-blink.
"No shame on that," echoed Yang.
"Hakuna matata, buddy." Fatty gave a pat on Nipple's back when he returned to the table after turning the TV volume a little down with the remote control on the couch.
Right on the second Nipple was about to open his mouth, Ling demanded, "hey you guys, like, what are we doing here? Are we using the bathroom or are we eating and drinking now? Change the subject, people."
I felt like talking to Ling about quite a number of things, so I waved to Nipple. "Can we switch the seats, buddy?"
"No way," Yang opposed.
"Unless, you finish this, this, and this." One by one, Zhen pushed 3 bottles of beer over in front of me.
I was told that Zhen and Yang had experienced a lot since our graduation from high school. Many things including their hair styles had been changed, but never their characters. Externally, they tried to look girly; internally, they still stayed as what they were during teenage - tomboy. To copy Washington Irving, if sitting beside a tomboy might in certain aspect be considered a special blessing, I was twice blessed. I wondered how Zhen's husband and Yang's boy friend stood them in their daily lives. But of course, people were different and it would be a completely different case if they were born to be intoxicated with tomboys.
"With you beside makes me more than myself," Zhen grinned to me.
"Shall I will go back home and tell my mom?" I rubbed my arms to fight back another wave of goosebumps attack.
"Oh yeah." Yang gave a high five to Zhen across me. "It reminds us of those sweet high school days. Every day I saw you, I forgot whom I was."
"Monkey King's mother, help!" I murmured.
These two girls, to quote Fatty, were not only tomboys, but also liked to be tigress, shrew, and Xanthippe. They used to bully us boys and the home-class teacher had never said a single word just like nothing had happened. In our class, there wasn't a solid occurrence that any boy had fought back against them verbally and physically, simply because amongst us boys was there a common rule to abide by - girls are not worth a true boy's bickering with.
Ling took a sip of beer and was speechless in the whole course but only looking at me and smiling.
Tingting, sitting between Skinny and Nipple, lip-talked to me, "they are a bit high."
"How's your English now, buddy?" Fatty asked me.
"In terms of listening comprehension, speaking, and reading, it is good, I think, but not as good as I wanted it to be. Writing is still what I've been working on to improve."
"So how's your Chinese now?" Skinny picked up a slice of Cheese Lover.
"What kind of question is that?" Zhen tapped the table.
"Yah, what made you inquire of him that kind of question?" said Yang.
"No, no, it's actually a good question. Serious. A right question. Honestly, my Chinese language turns worse and worse year by year. This visit, I found that I misunderstood many Chinese expressions while talking to the people. Moreover, there are so many words, phrases, and expressions I don't understand or I haven't heard of, like 'bu ming jue li', 'shi dong ran ju', 'huo qian liu ming'. And it was my parents who explained to me last year, the meaning of 'louzhu', which had absolutely nothing to do with 'superintendent of apartment building' as I had thought. And also 'wumao' (half yuan). So if you guys find that I make mistakes again, just go ahead and correct me, even make fun of me, so that I will know where I can find myself back. I think I shall make a plan to keep my Chinese up, or to get it back up."
"Okay," Zhen laid her index finger on my shoulder, "wherever you are, or no matter how bad your Chinese language will be, never ever forget the most important line. Under no circumstances should you forget it. If you were to forget it, then you wouldn't eat well, sleep well, walk well, stand well, sit well, and live well."
"What's the most important line?" I was confused.
"Our party is a great party, a glorious party, a correct party."
"R-i-g-h-t! How is he supposed to forget that?" Fatty spoke to Zhen. "We all were raised up by Mama Party's sweet milk-feeding."
"But I kind of forget when was the last time Mama Party fed me with her milk. I'm so sorry." I apologized.
"The last time I saw you drink milk is when we were 17. Yah, that afternoon, after you had had a soccer game with a bunch of boys from another school."
Yang's reminder was truly funny. But at the same time, she even remembered the last time she had seen me drink milk? That's kind of unusual.
"Look, that milk was not from Mama Party, but from Mama Cow." I clarified.
"Hold on!" Skinny cried out. "Is Yang innuendoing our great party is a cow? Oh my god! Guy, guys, against our party is the class enemy launching another furious atta..."
He didn't even finish the word 'attack' when Yang's fist had already fallen on his knee. Yang was never less violent than Zhen. The two tomboys matched perfectly.
"Haha! Doesn't hurt, doesn't hurt, doesn't hurt at all." Skinny smiled first and then suddenly began to rub his knee with both hands and shouted, "oh my god! Call 120! My knee! Ambulance! Ambulance!"
"Is this the way you refuse to grow up and old?" I asked Yang.
"Oh yah! Of course." Zhen also said.
"Guys, knock it off!" said Ling. "Any one needs more spring rolls? There are plenty more in the kitchen."
"Do you guys watch Hollywood movies or American TV series here?"
"Sometimes. But yes, I watch." Ling replied to me.
"I watch them all the time," said Nipple.
"Me too." Fatty echoed.
"I want to. But I can't. Honestly, I have tons of housework to do, like endless. Otherwise, my mother-in-law would go quack, quack, quack on me again." Tingting puffed a long sigh.
"How is your hubby?" Zhen inquired after Tingting's husband. "I mean, can't he help?"
"You think I can count on him? Hehe, he is just a dork, not a husband, he never is." Tingting complained. "You guys don't know how hard it was that I managed to slip out with an excuse to come here today. Okay, let's not talk about my misery. Otherwise, people would get affected with marriage-phobia and misogamy."
"Hey, Tingting," I waved to her.
"Don't worry too much. Just take it easy. Everything will be fine."
"Thank you."
"Why do your parents-in-law still live with you guys while they have their own home in Guangdong?" Yang's question made Tingting give another sigh.
"My hubby said, 'they are my parents and I'm their only son. I need to take good care of them. So do you, as my wife. This is filial piety and this is our China's culture and tradition. If you don't do this with me, you are a person without filial piety, which means, you are not a Chinese.' But he doesn't do anything to live up to his 'filial piety' and never gives a helping hand. And his parents never say a single word. I'm the only one working like a non-stop working bee in the honeycomb."
"How about your father-in-law?" The question was from Zhen.
"My father-in-law is ok. But he is so addicted to char siu that the whole family have to eat char siu all the time. Char siu, char siu, every meal is char siu, every day is char siu. I admit, char siu doesn't taste bad, but who else starts with char siu for breakfast every morning in our province?"
"Nipple." I tilted my chin.
"Okay, here," Nipple poured a full glass of red wine accordingly and gave to Tingting. "This will help you forget about your household chores, your mother-in-law, and your favourite char siu for a while."
"Thank you. I'm okay. Don't worry about me. Hey Skinny, you like American movies and TV series, right?"
"Right. I love to watch them and honestly I seldom watch our movies and TV series." Skinny picked up a tissue to wipe a bit of ketchup off his lips.
"Yes, our movie and TV products have too huge a space for improvement. We don't have Hollywood in China. Pity," said Ling while her eyes were set on me.
"We really don't," agreed Nipple.
"We do."
The folks traced the voice to look. It was Fatty who came back from the kitchen with a knife in his hand. He sat down between Zhen and Ling after giving a re-slice on the pizza that was not well sliced at delivery. Fatty was the lightest student among us boys, never weighing over 50 kilos during high school days. But now, he was okay and looked quite fit. It was the same story for the nickname of Skinny who was the heaviest boy in our class. Skinny hadn't changed much in figure. It was said that he still ate little yet stayed over-weighted as before. It was rude to nickname the people and it was banned by the school authority. But the 15-year-old I couldn't help. So I had figured out to do that with opposite characteristics. As a result, Fatty and Skinny were very much pleased with my rude creativity and the names continued to get carried with them in their remaining life. To my surprise, the way I had nicknamed my pals was also found in Taiwanese director Edward Yang's movie A One, A Two - a skinny boy was named Fatty.
"What are you talking about?" asked Yang, taking back her hand from the Hawaiian.
Fatty looked around and said, "we have Hengdian."
"You are cute." Zhen reached over to tweak his cheek.
"Ou-ou-ouch!" Fatty's head followed her fingers and he yelled, "let go!"
The folks laughed when Fatty scowled, rubbing his cheek. I inquired, "so what's your favourite Hengdian movie or TV series, Fatty?"
"None. You can hardly find any good one. Especially, those TV series about the War of Resistance against Japan are quite shitty."
Zhen collected a bottle of beer, unlidded and placed it in front of Fatty.
"But where is Hengdian? In which province?"
"You don't know Hengdian? Look, ex President Jiang told Chinese people to be in the moment. But you seem to be quite out of date."
Tingting's words amused me. "I'm so sorry. I should heed his words and follow his instruction. But serious, where's Hengdian?"
"In Zhejiang. Just a small town designed for movie and TV products." She explained.
"An unarmed partisan can tear apart into halves from the middle a fully armed Japanese soldier, with bare hands, just as simple as tear apart mutton, just like this," Skinny gave a fingers-snap. "A girl can kill a whole bunch of Japs with her kung-fu right after being group raped. That's what Hengdian is."
"Hengdian annihilates Japs every day as if Hengdian wiped out a million Japanese troops in the war." Nipple further explained.
"Well, that also counts, in foolish fantasy."
Ling stood up with the beer right after my words, "to foolish fantasy!"
All rose. "To foolish fantasy!"
The sunshine of noon was nice and bright outside. A sparrow alighted on the branch nearest to the window, chirping and trying to check out what was going on at the other side of the shining glass.
"What's your favourite Hollywood movie?" Tingting asked me.
"I'm fond of many of American movies, like, Ben HurSchindler's ListThe Deer Hunter, and I also like Flipped so much that I've watched three times."
"Yes, I love that too." She looked a little excited now. "But I only watched it once. What is your most favourite one?"
"Uh, hang on, let me see."
"You don't like Once Upon A Time In America?" Ling chimed in. "That's my most favourite. But if you regard it as an Italian movie, just like The Last Emperor rather than a Hollywood one, and you don't count it in, well, that's fine."
"You said it, yes, Once Upon A Time In America is my most favourite, no matter it's American or Italian." I could always find something in common between Ling and myself. "And what's yours, Tingting?"
"Gone With The Wind. And I read the book several times when we were in high school."
"Nah! That's too old." Zhen commented. "My favourite one is Titanic."
"Here!" Yang raised her hand and gave Zhen another high five.
"What's yours?" Tingting asked Nipple.
"Redemption of Shawshank."
"Also mine, pal." Skinny raised his bottle.
"That's definitely a great one, buddy." I confirmed.
"As for my favourite Hollywood movie," Fatty chuckled and rubbed his cheek again, "maybe you guys will laugh at me and think I have no taste."
"No, no one would think so." I said to Fatty. "What is it?"
"Air Force One."
"Oh come on, Fatty. It's an excellent one!"
"You also think so?"
"I would say I love it as much as you do, no matter some people say there's a few glitches in the movie, like not a rifle or pistol bullet hits the fuselage, like Russian missiles are all fired in a very close distance, like the prisoners start to singInternationale when the warlord general is released from the jail, but that's hilarious. Nevertheless, I was told by my colleague that movie made the audience applaud and stand up to cheer in the cinemas from West Coast to East Coast in Canada when it was on show in late 1990s. Imagine that. Which movie can reach that stage nowadays?" I shook my head to reply to Ling gesturing to ask if I would like some more spring rolls, and continued. "I like Harrison Ford, I like Air Force Once. In particular, I like that movie's music. I'm a music fan and fascinated with any good music. Serious. The music in Air Force One is fabulous. The main theme sounds so patriotic that you would watch the movie with your heart afire every time."
"Spectacular it is." Nipple said, "and the music for the hijack part also excites me. I had goosebumps when I watched it first time."
"I love it too," agreed Skinny. "The music there is dominating!"
"Especially when the vice president's helicopter approaches White House, I was like, 'holy thunder!'" I was surprised by myself for I even suppressed using an f-word here.
"Yah," Fatty almost jumped up from his seat at my words. "and the camera just follows the backs of the two assistants running outside of White House to pick up the vice president. The music for that part is stunning! And so is the music for F-15's scrambling and the engagement between F-15's and Mig-29's."
"No, it's Mig-31, not Mig-29, buddy," said Skinny.
"It's Mig-29," Fatty insisted, "it's Fulcrum."
"No, it's Foxhound." Skinny turned to look at Nipple for support. 
Nipple shrugged. "Sorry, buddy, I forgot because the last time I watched the movie is 8 years ago. But I'm on your side because I always hate Fatty and you know that. Haha!"
Fatty seemed to wait for me to clarify the case.
"Actually," I said, "the last time I watched it is also long ago, but it is Mig-29. And don't forget, Fatty is the expert of World War 2 in the whole high school, this guy even knows some secrets Himler didn't even know."
"Well, maybe he is the expert of World War 2. But Air Force One is not World War 2."
"But, buddy, like ... you know what I mean." I had never doubted grown-up Skinny would be much different from teenage him.
"Who is Himler?" Yang frowned.
"Easy, let's check internet to see if it's Mig-29 or Mig-31. Give me my cell-phone back." Skinny stretched a hand out to Ling.
"Okay, stop, you guys. Whatever it is, does it matter? Honestly, I don't even know what is Mig-29 or -31 and what is F-15, or who is god damn Himler, who cares? Plus, will the result of you guys' stupid argument make the design of LV more fancy, kinky, punky-funky or what?" said Zhen, head aslant.
"Right," Yang said to Zhen, "look what they are arguing on. Boys in our class are always stupid, especially the ones at this table, and it's not something you just know by today."
"Sorry, are you talking about Lockheed-Martin?" Fatty asked Zhen, in bewilderment.
"She said LV, not LM." Skinny corrected in a tone as if Fatty was hearing-handicapped.
"What does the acronym stand for?" Nipple's voice sounded quite serious.
"Louis-Vitton!" Yang answered, "Oh my god! What else can that be?!"
"What is that?" Skinny didn't seem to know either and turned to look at me.
"Skinny, you drink too fast. It won't do anything good to your liver if you keep drinking like this." I reminded, wondering if he was too happy, too excited, or a bit gloomy as he had almost emptied two bottles just momentarily.
"Are you boys dumb?" Zhen jeered, "doesn't your girl friend or wife have an LV bag?"
"My wife has many bags, but," Skinny uttered a belch, "I never know which is what, what is which. None of them were bought by smart me. Besides, she has tons of shoes. The total of her shoes can at least equip 2 companies, if not 1 battalion, just 20 times mine."
"How many people are there in a company? 130?" Tingting was seen inquire Ling in a low voice when Nipple bent down to pick something dropped under the table.
"Yes, about that, I suppose," answered Ling.
"So, that is to say, the shoes Skinny has can only equip a squad?"
"Well calculated!" Ling gave her a thumb-up before dipping her spring roll into the soy saucer.
"I bought an LV last month and I hid it. Otherwise, my mother-in-law's round-the-clock nagging would kill me."
"What's worse is," Skinny went on, "my wife's new bags and new shoes keep coming non-stop. I'm really disgusted on that. She's insane simply because she's from a rich family. I feel so regretful and marrying rich is nothing but a disaster. No other fatties has such an unlucky marriage as mine. And she bullies me all the time. I'm simply a slave serving her as a princess. You know what, I wash my face with tears every night."
Skinny's exaggerated complaint amused us all.
I raised my bottle, "cheers for washing face with tears every night!"
All including Skinny raised beers with louder laughters - "With tears every night!"
I didn't drink the beer and merely put it down. Tingting looked at me. I stared back at her, asking a soundless "So?"
"Oh," Tingting wiped her lips a bit with a napkin tissue, "whom did you say the music composer for the movie was?"
"Jerry Goldsmith. Pity," I shrugged, "he passed away."
"Never heard of him, and didn't watch that movie." Yang commented and then nodded to Zhen, "does it ring a bell to you?"
"Unheard of." Zhen shook her head. "So what else had he composed?"
"Most of his works are for movies. Many nights though not every night, I hum to myself Carol Anne's Theme when I'm ready to be parallel to the earth. Almost every Saturday and Sunday morning, I'm greeted to with pre-set Kay's Theme when I start to be perpendicular to the earth, brush my teeth, wash my face, and prepare my breakfast."
They looked at each other. No response.
I added, "you guys should try that and will feel how I feel."
"Well, I'm waken up by those stupid red songs when those retired aunties and grannies dance their stupid square dancing every early morning." Fatty grumbled.
Skinny collected a tissue and said to me, "I'm not familiar with this composer or his music. Which movies are the two themes from?"
"Carol Anne's Theme is from Poltergeist and Kay's Theme is from Capricorn One."
"What kinds of movies are they?" Tingting asked.
"Poltergeist is a horror movie and ..."
"What? You hum horror movie theme when you go to bed at night?" Yang took a close look at me from top to bottom.
"Weird guys, weird things. So what's wrong with that?" Zhen questioned Yang.
In my fantasy, I was now giving Zhen an association football's direct free kick and kicking her to hit the crossbar and then bounce to the ground and then bounce into the goal net and then break through the net to fly all the way to Pluto. But in reality, I was saying, "well, well, well, thanks a lot for defending for me".
"When were the movies released?" Ling was asking me.
"I don't know exactly when, but it must be last century for sure. I haven't watched them myself either though they are available on line."
"We haven't heard of this composer. We don't know the songs you mentioned. And we haven't even heard of the names of the movies, needless to mention watching them. None of your tips help here." Yang opened her arms and held out her palms upside. "Oops."
"Wait. Uh, have you guys watched the Disney movie of Mulan? The music is composed by Jerry."
"Yes, I believe all of us have watched it." Tingting confirmed.
"The music in Mulan is fantastic," Ling said, "especially the part Mulan walks to her room and cuts her hairs short to look like a man and armours herself into a soldier."
"So that's his music?" said Yang.
"Yah. Also, I'm not sure if you guys have watched these old movies, like Tora! Tora! Tora!, Chinatown, The Cassandra Crossing, Star Trek, and Total Recall, not the new one, but the old Total Recall. They are available on line as well, like, on YouTube. Those movies' themes are also his music."
"Ok, don't mention any website outside China. There is no internet in China, only intranet is available. Many thanks to the jerk who created god-damn Great Wall firewall!" complained Zhen.
"I guess we still might find them on certain websites within China. I'll let you know a few websites later." Skinny reminded.
"But, I mean, haven't any of you guys watched any of them?" I asked.
"Yes," Fatty shouted while the girls' heads except Ling's were shaking, "I've watched Tiger! Tiger! Tiger! twice on CCTV. The score is so Japanese, especially the opening when Admiral Yamamoto Isoroku inspects the honor sailors on Yamato Battleship, I mean, like authentic Japanese one, even more Japanese than Japanese."
"Me too." Said Nipple. "But I didn't notice the composer and wasn't aware the Japanese style music was composed by an American."
Ling responded affirmative to watching this old movie about the attack of Pearl Harbour.
"Yah, that's what I'm talking about, that's how talented that American was. And look Mulan, we can't even do a wonderful job like that ourselves. Look Romance of Three Kingdoms, I mean the new version one. Basically, this TV series is not bad at all itself, but the theme songs are unbearable. Hongkong people composed their own starting theme and ending theme for Cantonese-dubbed version when the series was on TV in Hongkong, and the Hongkong version theme songs are 100 times better than ours, I mean, the mainland one. Look, as an American, Jerry Goldsmith could do European one, like The Cassandra Crossing; Japanese one, Tora! Tora! Tora!; Chinese one, Mulan; and he could even do non-earth one, like Total Recall and Star Trek. I wonder what else music he could not. Oh, sorry, sorry, I'm wrong, I'm wrong." I paused, every one watching me. "For sure, there is one music style he couldn't do."
"What music style is that?" asked Tingting.
"Pick a guess."
"Oh come on, just shoot." Skinny put down his beer.
"Story of Spring. Did Jerry Goldsmith possibly have capability to do that? No way!"
"How gross!"
"Stop disgusting us!"
"We are eating."
It seemed that no one at the table could stand that song.
"The main theme in Air Force One sounds so patriotic, and Story of Spring?" Skinny said, "what else does it make people feel other than ass-sucking and throwing up? But the aunties and grandmas living in my neighbourhood play it as background music for their square dancing almost every dusk though there's no square literally. Not just noisy, but stupid and annoying."
"Oh they do that every dusk on your side?" Fatty shook his head. "Oh, actually, almost forgot, there's a new song the square dancers are using on my side. It's called something like 'If You Want To Get Married, Marry A Man Like Xi Big Big'."
"What? Serious?" It seemed there's a lot I didn't know.
"Do they have a song called If You Want to Get Married, Marry A Woman Like Peng Mother Mother?" asked Tingting.
"As far as I know, they haven't got that yet. But maybe soon, who knows?"
"Wow! It's really something new to me." I said. "So how is that song? I mean, Marry A Man Like Xi Big Big."
"The lyrics doesn't even sound rhymed. But you got to hear it. You got to hear. Nothing will impress you more than that song will. Moreover, I'm pretty sure those old people's hearing are not as good as when they were young. The music is so loud. My ears are raped every early morning. But seriously, I won't mind at all if those dancers dance Jerry Goldsmith. Actually I would love to see that. I just don't know which themes of his can be used to play as square dancing background music."
"Thank you, Fatty! You are more creative than I think you are!" I shouted in joy. "Those aunties and grannies dancing Jerry Goldsmith would be the most exciting view ever! Love Theme from Forever Youngand Carol Anne's Theme can be for slow dancing, The Dream from Total Recall and The Hijacking from Air Force One for fast dancing, and Kay's Theme and the main theme from The Cassandra Crossing are very good ones for intermediate dancing. For the mixtures of both fast and slow dancing, Back on the Field from Rudyand Short Hair from Mulan would play a good role."
"Oh you really know that composer well." Ling commented.
"I love Jerry more than any American does. He's so underrated. Actually, American people don't seem to know much about the very composer of their own. In their brains are only an Italian and a German called Hans Zimmer, or plus two John's at the most, for music industry now."
"Who ..."
"Hey, what about Tora Tora Tora? Can it be used for square dancing?" Tingting's words held back Ling's inquiry.
I thought over quickly and said, "that can be used as background music for those old papas and old mamas' morning exercising of shadow boxing."
"What?" Skinny laughed. "You ask them to exercise Taiji with that?"
"I can't wait to see they go dancing with Air Force One and go shadow boxing with Tiger Tiger Tiger." Fatty commented excitedly.
"But those grandpas and grandmas are kind of conservative and stubborn. They would refuse to use Tora Tora Tora for sure." Skinny brought out.
"You don't need to tell them it's Tiger Tiger Tiger." Said Fatty.
"But every one can tell that's Japanese music, obviously." Skinny continued. "There's no way you can hide it."
"Then just tell them it's American music and Jerry Goldsmith is not Japanese, not Japanese American, not American Japanese, but American and American American."
"What is American American?" Fatty's words triggered my question. "You mean Indian? Like, Pocahontas?"
"Well, you know what I'm trying to say. I mean, American English if he was."
"Kidding, buddy. Goldsmith sounds all English name to me."
"Yah! We should popularize Jerry and play his music for square dancing nationwide." Nipple suggested. "People also say, square dancing is very popular in the countryside nowadays as well. Can't imagine how fantastic it will look when tons of peasant aunties and grannies dance Jerry in remote inland area and rural area."
"But would he mind?" Fatty spoke out his worry. "Also, if those peasants dance Jerry, do they have to pay patent fee or something to the United States before they dance?"
"I think," said Ling, "if Beethoven and Mozart wouldn't mind when people around the whole world dance their music, then why would Jerry? Leaving alone that they all left us, I believe they would be more than happy to see their own works are so much loved and fascinated with by us mankind."
"Or maybe Jerry would be weeping tears and crying in the cemetery. Maybe he would say, 'look, I didn't do anything bad to you Chinese and I tried all my best to make great music for Mulan, why do you Chinese want to ruin my music on purpose by using it for square dancing?' That's what I worry about."
"That isn't gonna happen, Skinny, that wouldn't happen. The artists like Jerry Goldsmith, Beethoven, and Mozart wouldn't mind the way people love their music or who love their music. They are not us. They don't think the way we think. All they think is the art in their heart. Just like, if any one plays the theme of Star Wars at his funeral or any one plays the theme of Mission Impossible at his wedding ceremony, John Williams and Lalo Schifrin would never mind at all."
"But who would do that? Play Star Wars at the funeral and play Mission Impossible at the wedding?" Tingting gave me a strange look.
"Does any one pay patent fee to Germany and Austria before dancing Beethoven and Mozart?" Fatty asked. "If the answer is no, then Chinese grand-parents and peasants can officially dance Jerry."
"So any legal dispute comes out, Fatty is held fully responsible." I winked at him.
"Hey, hey, hey, you boys talk as if you were really handling some serious business. Take a break." Zhen's words stopped the topic.
"Let's do real serious business now." Yang proposed.
"Yeah! Let's start." Zhen gave another high five to Yang.
"What, what real serious business?" I asked her.
"Okay, real booze now!" Nipple laid two bottles of liquor on the table.
Skinny stood up and poured every one a cup of liquor. It smelt so strong that I wondered the alcohol volume would go as high as 50 percent. This was fairly crazy because we did this again after all these years - to drink beer, red wine, white wine, and liquor altogether at the same time. Besides, I hadn't eaten anything so far except a tiny spring roll.
Zhen stood up when Skinny sat back down. "Okay, game on! Let's do bottoms-up. I will check who will not finish it in one gulp and who will go sissy. To show my respect, I do it first."
"But wait!" I tried to stop her. "For what do we do that? We don't have to. We can simply help ourselves and take it easy, right? And you don't even have a proper toast to go ahead with."
"Sure I do. So, here! It's a very cherishable re-union today. Uh, wait, how to say that?" Zhen asked Yang.
"This is a meeting of solidifying, a meeting of pioneering, and a meeting of moving from victory to victory." Yang reminded.
"Thanks, Yang. So, here's a toast to our great, glorious, correct party. Sorry, what am I doing? A toast to our everlasting friendship!" Zhen finished the liquor in one gulp.
I was being kidnapped again? The liquor in each cup was at least as much as two taels. Lord, two taels! It's 100 grams of alcohol or 100 millilitres of alcohol! One gulp! This was insane! Even the heroes on Mount Liangshan and the top fighters in Sicily Mafia wouldn't go like this because people said the liquor during Song Dynasty was made up from glutinous rice and the alcohol volume was very low and such rice wine was very mild - I could also drink eight bowls or nine bowls of that at a time and then go out to Jingyang Heights to find a tiger to play with - and people said that those top fighters in Sicily Mafia were very gentleman in modern society nowadays. For liquor with 50% of alcohol volume, they wouldn't go 100 millilitres alcohol a gulp like a polar bear for sure. A toast to everlasting friendship? Since when had killing each other become everlasting friendship?
Yang had already dried hers even before I was done with the calculation. Skinny came next. And then Fatty, and Nipple, and Tingting, and Ling, and ...
I looked at the liquid in the cup as if I was looking at my own tears, wondering how I should go tricky and cheating though I never meant to go that way. There were only two bottles of liquor and the remaining liquor must be no more than 4 taels which could not afford another same round for sure and it meant this liquor bottom-up would only go once. So, as long as I passed through this, I would be safe. I was never a drinker and was never good at drinking at all. If 30 millilitres, I might stand a chance. How could I do bottom-up for this much in one gulp?
I raised the cup, checking and smelling. "Uh, what's the percentage of alcohol volume?"
"45." Skinny replied. "The liquor is very expensive and it's from Nipple by the way."
"Actually, my mother's old student came to visit her last year and gave her these as gift. That student is a big boss now."
"Thanks a lot, buddy. Appreciated. How's your mom? How's her life of retirement?"
"She's good. Occasionally still writes articles on education reform."
"Time flies. I still remember ..."
"Hey, hey, don't try to distract us and don't play for time. I'm watching, I'm waiting, friendship is waiting." Zhen's reminder sounded rather like a warning.
"Just do it. Don't ruin the friendship." Yang was pressing. "You are not holding a cup of potassium cyanide."
"Or maybe you need to take a pill of Viagra first?" Zhen started teasing again.
"Don't push him. Give him some time." Tingting was trying to help.
How could they still act and talk normal after that drinking? Needless to mention how much beer they had already drunk. To me, they looked as though nothing had happened at all, as though they had drunk a cup of Sprite instead of a cup of spirit.
"Serious. You don't have to if you can't drink it." It was Ling's words that stimulated me to make the decision - not go sissy, but go half manly and half cheating, because I didn't have a mouth big enough to hold 100 millilitres for a while and then spit out later. But I could drink 50 millilitres and hold the remaining in my mouth until a right moment, at least being a little gross was better than being dead or being sissy in public. Plus, drinking 1 tael in a gulp already meant a big hero to me.
"I do it." I put down the cup and started to roll up my sleeves like I was about to dig a trench of ten metres long.
"What does rolling up your sleeves have to do with drinking?" Yang asked.
"Oh, that makes him feel he already took 10 tablets of aphrodisiac." Zhen's explanation also made herself laugh.
Ignoring her and shaking my head, I raised the cup. Holy! It was so strong. And to hold a mouthful of liquor was not a joyful thing at all.
God! My sweetest God! THE DOOR BELL RANG!
Zhen already went to answer the door when I stood up as we were the two nearest to the door.
"Is Sister Li in?"
"Hang on." Zhen turned around. "Ling! The auntie likes to talk to your mom. Come on in, auntie."
A woman stepped in, a small bowl in her hand.
Ling walked over. "Hi, Auntie. You wanna talk to my mom? They went out."
"I just need some vinegar. I'm in the middle of stir-frying sliced potatoes and just realize I'm out of vinegar. Two spoonfuls would be more than enough. Urgent, urgent."
I gave a crispy finger-snap in the air and walked quickly to the kitchen before Ling got any chance to say a word or react yet.
"Thanks a lot." The neighbour was heard say to Ling.
Of course, the very first thing I did in the kitchen was not looking for the vinegar.
"Enough, enough." The neighbour tried to stop me when I poured more vinegar into her bowl to express the life-saving appreciation of which she was unaware.
"Why did she ask for vinegar whilst she was cooking potatoes?" Fatty asked after I replaced the vinegar and sat back down.
"Are you from Mars?" questioned Tingting.
01.layout of seats (座位)
__________Ling (阿铃) Nipple (奶头)
Fatty (肥肥)____________________Tingting (婷婷)
Zhen (阿臻)____________________Skinny (瘦瘦)
__________   I (我)      Yang (阿扬)
02. sweet sesame-stuffing rice dumplings: 芝麻汤圆
03. Shanghai Battle: 淞沪战役 1937
04. dried osmanthus flower: 桂花
05. dried wolfberries: 枸杞
06. halal: 清真
07. Kung Pao chicken pizza, Korean style beef pizza, or seafood pizza: 宫爆鸡丁披萨,韩式牛肉披萨,海鲜披萨
08. Sautéed broccoli with oyster saucer, stewed meat lettuce, Hongkong style fish ball rice noodle, roasted duck and preserved vegetable rice noodle, and Laksa seafood rice noodle: 蚝油花椰菜,生菜炖肉,港式鱼丸米粉,烤鸭雪里蕻米粉,海鲜米粉
09. Singapore style chicken steak rice, Sichuan spicy beef rice, Korean style spicy pork chop baked rice, seafood rice in scallop sauce, fried rice with roasted duck: 星洲鸡排牛扒饭,四川辣牛肉饭,蛤酱海鲜饭,烤鸭炒饭
10. preserved egg and shredded lean congee: 皮蛋瘦肉粥
11. This is foreign hostile forces' unvaried tactics to smear Canada: 这是境外敌对势力故意抹黑加拿大的一贯伎俩
12. Washington Irving: 华盛顿·欧文,美国作家。原话是if a termagant wife may in some respects be consider a kind of blessing, then he was twice blessed (Rip Van Winkle).
13. amongst us boys was there a common rule to abide by - girls are not worth a true boy's bickering with: 男生中遵循的规则是——好男不跟女斗
14. bu ming jue li, shi dong ran ju, huo qian liu ming, wu mao - 不明觉厉,十动然拒,火钳刘明,五毛
15. against our party is the class enemy launching another furious atta...: 阶级敌人又在向我党发起猖狂进……
16. Yang was never less violent than Zhen. The two tomboys matched perfectly.: 阿扬的剽悍,比起阿臻来,没有丝毫的逊色。这俩假小子是绝配。
17. dork: 棒槌
18. filial piety: 孝道
19. char siu: 叉烧
20. Edward Yang's movie A One, A Two: 台湾电影《一一》,导演杨德昌
21. Hengdian: 横店
22. in the moment: 与时俱进
23. foolish fantasy: 臆淫
24. Air Force One: 《空军一号》
25. Poltergeist: 《吵闹鬼》
26. Capricorn One: 《摩羯星一号》
27. "Weird guys, weird things. So what's wrong with that?: 怪咖有怪癖,你有啥好奇怪的么?
28. Mulan: 《花木兰》
29. Tora! Tora! Tora!: 《虎!虎!虎!》
30. Chinatown: 《唐人街》
31. The Cassandra Crossing: 《卡桑德拉大桥》
32. Total Recall: 《全面回忆》
33. Yamamoto Isoroku: 山本五十六
34. Yamato battleship: 大和号战列舰
35. Forever Young: 《青春永驻》
36. Rudy: 《鲁迪》
37. This is a meeting of solidifying, a meeting of pioneering, and a meeting of moving from victory to victory: 这是一次团结的大会、开拓的大会、从胜利走向胜利的大会
38. two taels: 二两
39. Even the heroes on Mount Liangshan and the top fighters in Sicily Mafia wouldn't go like this because people said the liquor during Song Dynasty was made up from glutinous rice and the alcohol volume was very low and such rice wine was very mild - I could also drink eight bowls or nine bowls of that at a time and then go out to Jingyang Heights to find a tiger to play with - and people said that those top fighters in Sicily Mafia were very gentleman in modern society nowadays. For liquor with 50% of alcohol volume, they wouldn't go 100 millilitres alcohol a gulp like a polar bear for sure.: 就算是梁山上的好汉和西西里黑手党的顶尖扈卫也不这样干啊,因为大家都说宋朝那时候的酒是糯米做的,酒精度非常之低,糯米酒非常之柔和——我也可以做到来上八、九碗,然后出去到景阳冈上找个老虎玩玩儿。而且,大家也说,那些黑手党的顶尖扈卫在如今的现代社会里也都很绅士了。喝50%酒精度的酒,他们不会像北极熊那样一口100毫升下去这么干的。
40. potassium cyanide: 氰化钾
41. "Or maybe you need to take a pill of  Viagra first?" Zhen started teasing again.: “要不咱先来片儿伟哥,还是咋?”阿臻又开始逗弄我了。
42. at least being a little gross was better than being dead or being sissy in public. Plus, drinking 1 tael in a gulp already meant a big hero to me.: 至少恶心一点儿要比死了强,也比当众显得自己忒“娘”要好。再说,一口喝一两下去,对我来说,已经是英雄得不得了了。
43. Oh, that makes him feel he already took 10 tablets of aphrodisiac.: 噢,那样做能让他有那种自己已经服了10粒壮阳丸的感觉。
44. Of course, the very first thing I did in the kitchen was not looking for the vinegar.: 我在厨房干的第一件事当然不是找什么醋。

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)





Shake hands


Friends who just made a statement (2 Person)

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Reply Report Igo 2017-7-11 12:06
jaseminsibo: Haha, this blog made me laugh and well done for writing such a long interesting piece! You can be a scriptwriter!
Thanks a lot for your comments. Well, I also regard myself as a scriptwriter. Sorry, scratch that. I regard myself as a great scriptwriter. Ha!

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  • Hometown Visit (2) - Are you from Mars? 2017-7-11 12:06

    jaseminsibo: Haha, this blog made me laugh and well done for writing such a long interesting piece! You can be a scriptwriter!
    Thanks a lot for your comments. Well, I also regard myself as a scriptwriter. Sorry, scratch that. I regard myself as a great scriptwriter. Ha!

  • Hometown Visit (2) - Are you from Mars? 2017-7-9 20:17

    Haha, this blog made me laugh and well done for writing such a long interesting piece! You can be a scriptwriter!

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