Then what should I say…
The atmosphere once again fell into a deadlock.
As I was racking my brain for something to say, the chat status bar kept showing “typing” which was great. It seemed like he was also actively trying to find something to talk about, so I waited.
But it seemed like this was a very difficult topic, and I waited for a good five minutes before the WeChat notification finally sounded.
Wang Dequan: I’d like to ask, what does orz stand for?
Not this kind of topic!
Normcore: How should I say it, it’s not an abbreviation. It’s an emoticon that’s like a small person kneeling on the ground…
Wang Dequan: Small person?
Normcore: See, o is the head, r and z are the arms and legs… Can you see it?
Wang Dequan: I see.
Normcore: That’s good then.
Wang Dequan: But why is it kneeling?
Inquiry: How do you normally talk to your grandpa? I’m waiting online, it’s quite urgent.
Normcore: Never mind. You don’t actually need to pay attention to that emoticon, it doesn’t have anything to do with what I wanted to say.
Wang Dequan: “orz is the abbreviation of ‘frustrated body flexion’. It is a kind of internet pictogram (or mood icon) originating from Japan, and it originally refers to the popular internet emoticon symbol “○|￣|_” This shape resembles a person kneeling when they feel beaten down by a matter. It is used to describe feeling defeated by something or very depressed, expressing a frustrated or dejected mood.” – Baidu Encyclopedia
Wang Dequan: So that’s what it is.
Wang Dequan: I apologize. I’m very boring, aren’t I?
Originally I thought this person was boring as hell and communicating with him was strenuous. But as a result of him saying this, I instead felt a bit sorry.
Normcore: Not at all! Everyone has their own way of chatting. Normally when I’m texting my friends I like to use emojis but some people don’t like to. I just think it’s amusing, but it doesn’t matter
Afterwards, I sent him a few classic Tuzki emojis which was certainly something anyone could understand.
He seemed to have some sense and returned the favor, responding with an animated emoji.
An elegant middle-aged lady, with her hair coiled into a high bun, her collar up to her cheeks, holding a glass of red wine, with a few large words flashing beside her—
“To our friendship, cheers.”
I seemed to understand why my mom thought this blind date was exceptional.
Because this was also one of her favorite emojis.
I suddenly understood how I should chat with him. When talking with the elderly, wasn’t it better to use an elderly’s way of talking?
Normcore: Interesting. [/Smile]
Wang Dequan: Interesting. [/Smile]
As expected, this blind date with no profile picture understood “interesting” and “smile” literally and didn’t get the nuance at all.
After that, we very smoothly chatted for a bit, and when we didn’t know what to say we would send “interesting.”
It simply couldn’t be more pleasant.
At the end of our conversation, he very formally invited me to meet.
Wang Dequan: Although it’s a bit presumptuous of me to ask this, I wonder if you can find some spare time? I want to treat you to a meal.
Normcore: Of course, my work is pretty flexible so you can decide the time and place.
Wang Dequan: Many thanks. Then I will check my schedule and get back to you as soon as possible.
I threw my phone and rolled on my bed laughing.
The reason why I so readily agreed was that although our whole conversation was a bit awkward, later on I felt a mysterious sense of moe1. He was truly too much fun, and I wanted to see what this uncle, who seemed in all seriousness to be living in the last century, was like.
And when he said as soon as possible, it really was as soon as possible. I went to wash an apple and when I came back, he had given me an answer.
Wang Dequan: May I ask if you’re there? If it’s convenient for you, then how about six o’clock tomorrow evening at Qianju Restaurant, east of the pedestrian street downtown?
Normcore: … No problem!
When he said the location, it startled me so much that my apple slipped out of my hands. Qianju Restaurant was the kind of place us commoners could only look into when we pass by, and even the cheapest dessert cost at least three digits. Except for catching someone’s large-scale wedding or funeral banquet, there was essentially no opportunity to go more than once.
I then realized that I may have been “interesting”-ing with a nouveau riche all afternoon.
Fuck, then I have to go! Even if it’s just to cadge a meal it’s worth it!
The next day, I wore a casual suit and showed up at the entrance of Qianju Restaurant half an hour early.
Actually, before I left I hesitated for a long while wondering if wearing this was a bit excessive. But thinking about his personality, being a bit more formal was safer after all.
As for arriving so early, it wasn’t for any other reason, it was just a personal habit. Normally for work, when us editors arrange a meeting time with the writers, we couldn’t be late and keep them waiting, so we always had to set out early and set aside time for possible traffic.
During the day I checked with Wang Dequan, and he said there weren’t many people and we wouldn’t need a reservation so I went in first. The server led me to a private room for two, and it really had a picturesque charm. It had winding paths and a rock garden with flowing water that created a natural barrier, concealed although not completely obscured from sight.
Seeing that it was still early, I wasn’t in a rush to call and urge him. I only sat there and looked around, speculating about the identities of the others who had come here and imagining scenes of love and hatred for them.
Soon, I noticed that two tables to the right there was a proper and handsome man sitting by himself. He was probably also waiting for someone. Oh, this trend of calling a man “handsome2” was brought about by store sales staff, and he wasn’t actually a pointy-chinned teen idol that was the aesthetic currently adored by the public. He must have been past the age of thirty and had a manly face with a bit of a dignified aura. He wore a classical Chinese-style jacket that nicely complemented the folding screen and curio shelf not far behind him. And with one look I could tell he was well-brought up. He didn’t slouch back nor did he go on his phone, and he didn’t have any bit of impatience in his expression as he gazed sideways at the murmuring waterfall. He was an empty and plain image.
Ah, this mysterious man. The moment someone saw him they would be able to imagine a 200,000 word story.
Within the following twenty minutes, I had already opened five brain holes3, reaching two HE, two BE, and one open ending.
Perhaps you will never know that there was a day where you were sitting at the table watching the scenery, and the person watching the scenery behind the waterfall was actually watching you… Say, shouldn’t my blind date be here now?
I pulled my thoughts back to the uncle I was going to meet today, thought about it, then worried that he was still driving over. I didn’t call him and only sent a text telling him I had gone in first, and which area and which seat I was in.
Afterwards, I raised my head and stared at the handsome man, continuing to open my sixth brain hole.
I didn’t expect that the handsome man would move this time. He pulled his phone out of his pocket, lowered his head and looked at it, then looked around.
I watched blankly as he stood up, hesitated for a while, then walked directly toward me and politely asked, “Excuse me, are you Du Qing? I’m Wang Dequan.”
I gazed at Wang Dequan as he courteously and elegantly pulled out his chair and sat down, as if I was reading a cultivation or wuxia novel. Reign of terror, love and hatred, in which the dignified protagonist with long eyebrows would righteously draw his sword, twirling it with ease as he introduced himself, “I am Zeng A-Niu.”
I felt my brain crash.
Who the hell gave you this persona?! Can you go back and retrain?!
Wang Dequan was completely unaware of my sigh as he waved his hand to call over the waitress.
“What do you like to eat? Order whatever you like, I’m not picky.” He took the menu from the waitress’s hands and opened it, handing it to me like a gentleman.
I looked down at the menu, then looked up at him, then looked at the menu, then looked at him again.
He was also looking my way and although he was reserved, his manners and attitude were impeccable, and his eyes were as deep as an ocean.
I suddenly felt very shallow and childish. How could I have judged someone based on their name?
Wasn’t appearance enough?!
He was elegant, handsome, and distinguished. His appearance was filled with manliness, and he looked good from every angle.
It was as if there was a kitten’s claws continuously scratching at my heart, and I became restless, nearly unable to contain myself.
—I really wanted to grab his phone to take a picture and once I’ve retouched it, upload a WeChat profile picture for him.
You don’t understand the pain of OCD.
The food arrived quickly, and we began to chat as we ate.
Yesterday, we exchanged pleasantries and “interesting”-s but didn’t talk much about ourselves. It wasn’t until now that I learned Wang Dequan was a traditional Chinese medicine doctor. I asked him where he worked, and he said at Hesong Clinic.
This was no surprise. I knew that place and it wasn’t only a TCM clinic, they would also sometimes offer online and offline lectures, courses, and hands-on activities to promote and spread TCM and traditional culture. I once took my mom to check her high blood pressure, and the doctor truly was skilled, but the cost of the visit was rather high. Consultation would generally cost 50, a specialist would cost 200, then there were medication fees and other additional charges.
Truthfully, if his income was so high that he could frequently eat at high-end restaurants, then I was convinced. After all, I never approved of using “poverty” as a virtue to kidnap doctors.
Wang Dequan was like a typical old doctor, speaking in a mechanical and deadpan way and responding with a sentence when you asked a sentence. If I didn’t take the initiative to talk about myself, then he would quietly eat, never asking more questions.
To be frank, although I understood he probably had such a personality, this one-man show was too boring. Halfway through our meal, I couldn’t help but pull a bit of an evil trick. I suddenly placed my wrist in front of him and said, “By the way, aren’t you a doctor? Then why don’t you help me check my pulse and see if there’s anything wrong.”
I knew this behavior was particularly contentious, just like how whenever people I meet hear that I’m the editor-in-chief of a magazine, they start saying, “I also happen to like writing things, why don’t you publish it?” It was particularly irritating, but I just wanted to see what this blind date was like when his expression cracked.
As a result, he put down his chopsticks and began to undo my shirt cufflinks.
Instead, I was startled and hurriedly withdrew my hand. “What are you doing?!”
Wang Dequan also froze, failing to understand as he said, “Didn’t you ask me to take your pulse? Then I would need to undo your buttons and take off your watch.”
My face burned, and I regretted tricking such an honest person. I shamefully said, “No, no, I was just joking. Shouldn’t you think it’s annoying when someone does something like that?”
He smiled kindly and said, “It’s no big deal. If others request it, I don’t mind these little things. Come here, I’ll feel it for you. But you’ve just eaten and with this environment, your pulse will fluctuate so it won’t be accurate. If you really want a diagnosis, you can make an appointment with me privately. Don’t do it through Hesong Clinic because it’s too expensive.”
Once he finished talking, he actually took out a worn-out wrist pillow from his bag and set it on the table.
I glanced left and right before finally saying a quiet “thank you.” I rolled up my sleeves, took off my watch, then placed my hand on the pillow. His dry and slightly warm fingers pressed on the cun, guan, and chi4 on the inside of my wrist.
What the hell, were there people who brought wrist pillows to their blind date? （ ′*///_ゝ///*｀）
- Moe refers to the Japanese term describing affection for a cute character.
- He is talking about the term “帅哥“ which is used as a form of address and can be translated into “handsome” or “handsome man” and so on. In the previous sentence when it said “handsome” this term is what was being used.
- Opening a brain hole refers to when your imagination is set free with a kind of artistic inspiration where your mind escapes in and out of this “hole”. Also, HE means happy ending and BE means bad (tragic) ending.
- The cun, guan, and chi are the locations on the wrist where the pulse is taken.