Chapter 55 (3) – A domineering couple (2)
During the year-long tug-of-war of courtship, Sansan had been incredibly confused and gloomy. And every time she was unhappy it was “Xiao-ah, let’s go grab some good food”, “Xiao-ah, let’s go shopping”, “Xiao-ah, let’s go have some fun this weekend”……
Gu Wei was not happy to have my time stolen like this. Between this, and the calculated and cautious attitude Sansan maintained towards him, the two of them developed enough friction that in the beginning, they couldn’t talk without things getting heated.
Once, Sansan had dragged me to a cafe she had heard was good. I didn’t have any particular strong feelings towards coffee in general, so I was rather indifferent to the whole experience. Gu Wei had come by straight from work.
Seeing my obvious increase in enthusiasm after Gu Wei’s entrance, Sansan was indignant, all ice and sharp edges: “Why are you always stealing my woman?!”
Gu Wei calmly returned, “Don’t worry, I most definitely won’t steal your man.”
I almost coughed up blood.1To cough up blood – a phrase used to describe a feeling of exasperation.*
Sansan rounded on me angrily. “Why don’t you just marry him, then? You’re paying for today’s coffee!” And she left in a huff.
Being my childhood friend and confidante meant that the burden of evaluating Gu Wei fell on Sansan; being Sansan’s childhood friend and confidante meant that I was responsible for evaluating Xiao Zhongyi. Coincidentally, the two were distant cousins. After we had done with all the pleasantries and formalities of people unfamiliar with each other, one thing was clear: this chaos had only one conclusion, and it involved Sansan and I both getting hitched.
If I were to describe Xiao Zhongyi in a word, it would be: Boss.
When Sansan first acknowledged his affections, she had just registered for her driver’s license. But for some reason, she was slow to learn and slower to pass her driving test; we liked to joke that, had she been any slower, she would have received her marriage certificate before her driver’s license.
To this, she would jokingly lament: “Life has been a bumpy enough road already. But it suddenly has to throw me a hairpin turn, at which I jam brake and hit the equivalent of half a generation of enemies?”
To such things, Boss Xiao would say, “You hit them and they still let you walk free?”
Xiao Zhongyi was keenly intuitive; whenever there was something going on with Sansan, he was always the first to notice, and intervene. Under this protection, as it were, she found herself on the losing end of situations less and less often.
Once or twice, when they argued, she would say, “You men are all so unreliable!” And try to leave in a huff.
Xiao Zhongyi: “Where are you going?”
Sansan: “To look for Lin Zhixiao!”
Xiao Zhongyi: “Right now, she’s probably spending time with one of those unreliable men.”
Sansan, whipping out her phone: “Well, I get to pick! Maybe it’s Gu Wei I’m looking for.”
At that moment, I had been folding the laundry, so it was Gu Wei who answered for me.
Gu Wei: “It’s me.”
On the other end of the line, Xiao Zhongyi instantly snatched up the phone: “Gu Wei! What are you busy with?” He sounded like he hadn’t a care in the world.
Gu Wei: “Busy taking your calls.”
Xiao Zhongyi: “Ah, in that case, I should leave you to it. I’ll hang up first then.” And he cut the call.
After that, he had told Sansan: With Gu Wei, you had to be tactful and never offend him to his face. That being said, it was, of course, better not to talk behind others’ backs.
When out with Sansan, you had to give her time to slowly, carefully take things in: the beggar on the train, the sickly woman lying in a corner, the man holding a bowl of thin porridge. She was easily moved, and couldn’t bear to leave anyone helpless. When they got home, she asked Xiao Zhongyi, “If we were both about to die of hunger, and we had one last bowl of porridge, who would you give it to?”
Xiao Zhongyi replied, “I’d split it evenly, half for you and half for me.”
Sansan: “Would it have killed you to tell me a little white lie and say you’d give it all to me?!”
She took the same question to Gu Wei, who said, “I’d give it to Lin Zhixiao, and see how much she’ll leave for me.”
I eventually caught wind of it. “Tsk, shifting the responsibility onto me.”
When Xiao Zhongyi heard, “Insidious.” was his only remark.
And that was how we solemnly concluded the discussion.
A pair of hungry beggars have only one bowl of porridge left. In times like these, a foolish woman thinks that a man who gives all the food to her must love her; and an even more foolish woman believes that giving all the food to her man with no concern for her own safety would mean that she truly loves him. A reasonable woman splits the food, and a clever woman gives the man a little more than she has, ensuring both their survival, to live to see the next bowl of porridge come their way.
Let’s go back to the beginning. A pair of hungry beggars have only one bowl of porridge left. In times like these, a man who gives all the food to his woman is one who is both foolish and infatuated. The man who would keep all the food for himself is either one who believes that in hardship he should look out only for himself, or one who believes that he should take everything now, so that he can provide more in the future. The former is scum, and the latter is either conceited, or an even bigger scumbag. A reasonable man would split the food, and a clever man would portion it such that he got a little more, because he needs to be able to shoulder greater responsibilities.
Realising it doesn’t take a lot to get a rise out of all of us-
Sansan: “The most important part about finding a doctor would be…. um… whether he is distant and professional.”
Me: “He. Is. Not. A. Gynaecologist.”
Sansan: “I suppose. He would’ve seen enough in his line of work.”
Oh, my blood pressure. “My dear,” I said to her, “How do you always come up with such preposterous notions?”
Sansan: “My dear, I’m just worried you’re being swept up in a whirlwind romance.”
This sent Gu Wei to Xiao Zhongyi in helpless exasperation: “Please hurry up and get together with Xiao San.”
After which, Boss Xiao conquered Sansan with a single phrase: “Instead of spending your energy messing with Gu Wei, you should spend your energy on me.”
From that day on, Sansan and Gu Wei got along just fine.