As if I was floating in the air, I returned to my parent’s house to officially announce I had a boyfriend.
My parents immediately gathered around me.
My father asked, “What’s his surname? What’s his name? What does he do?”
Although he knew my mom was arranging blind dates for me, he didn’t personally involve himself and was unclear on the specific details.
Therefore, he was a bit astonished right now. “Wang Dequan?”
He suspiciously turned toward my mother. “You wouldn’t find someone my age for our son, right?”
“Bah.” My mother firmly defended herself, “Xiao Wang1 is young, talented, has a striking appearance, has a car and a house, respects the elderly, and loves kids. What a good boyfriend he is! Being with our son is simply a loss!”
My mother also realized there seemed to be something improper about saying this and added, “Of course, nobody is perfect. Xiao Wang also has some faults. He’s young but can’t keep up with the times. What year is it now, yet there are still people who can’t use WeChat?”
I nodded in agreement.
“Even an old lady like me can use WeChat! He couldn’t even send an emoji. It was me who taught him.”
Wait a minute.
I said, “Mom, can I see your phone?”
“Of course you can.” My mom tossed her heavy, made-in-China smartphone at me. “What do you want to see, son?”
As for my mom ridiculing others about whether they were able to use WeChat, she was a typical case of the pot calling the kettle black. From the moment she registered her account, every day she would forward low-IQ articles to her relatives and friends on her Moments2, and she also felt the need to bombard each of us one by one with them. She was addicted to it. I myself have long been unable to stand it and blocked her.
I found her chat history with Wang Dequan and opened it.
Li Meili: [Link] “Doctors accidentally announced a secret: Not all problems require going to the hospital. The internet was shocked! Save this!”
Wang Dequan: Hello auntie, if you fall ill you must see a doctor. If it’s inconvenient then please call me at 139XXXXXXXX.
LI Meili: Okay, okay. Thank you, Xiao Wang.
Wang Dequan: No problem.
Li Meili: [Emoji] “Thank you my friend, for having you along the way”
Li Meili: [Link] “The world’s hard-to-find folk remedies!”
Wang Dequan: Please do not believe things without evidence.
Li Meili: Xiao Wang, look at it again. Of course folk remedies wouldn’t be in the medical books, there’s no harm in using it as a reference, right?
Wang Dequan: …
Li Meili: [Emoji] “I’m so happy chatting with you”
Li Meili: [Link] “Heart attack and stroke are connected to this one meal! This meal can also determine lifespan, shocking hundreds of millions of people!”
Wang Dequan: Hello auntie. This is essentially impossible, so you don’t have to worry.
Li Meili: Really? Why do I think it’s pretty reasonable? Better to be careful, right?
Wang Dequan: …
Li Mei Li: [Emoji] “Health and safety are happiness”
Li Meili: [Link] “The human body has a miraculous meridian. Tapping it often can make you lose weight, turn white hair black, and cure all diseases!”
Wang Dequan: … Never mind, there’s no harm in tapping.
Li Meili: [Link] “Soaking your feet in warm water every day: Does it preserve health or is it suicide?”
Wang Dequan: … Interesting. [/Smile]
Li Meili: [Link] “Experts in traditional Chinese medicine tell you that eating these things together is suicide!”
Wang Dequan: Interesting. [/Smile]
Li Meili: [Link] “This is too horrible, cooking your food like this will make your whole family get cancer! Once you finish reading you will be covered in cold sweat. Send this to your family.”
Wang Dequan: Interesting. [/Smile]
Li Meili: [Link] “Today is Children’s Day, if you have a precious son, please use your noble hand to forward this message and your son will be lucky for life!”
Wang Dequan: …
Wang Dequan surprisingly still hadn’t broken up with me, so he must have loved me very much. I decided that I would spend my life with him.
I told Wang Dequan, “You don’t have to respond to my mom every time. She shares those things purely out of boredom. I’ve already told her so many times but she never listens. She doesn’t care whether you reply or not.”
Wang Dequan said, “If you know that she’s bored, why don’t you talk with her more?”
Look at this awareness.
Following my mom’s successful brainwashing of Wang Dequan, I was then brainwashed by Wang Dequan. On WeChat and QQ, I saved a bunch of old-people emojis and mastered the skill of chatting like an old person.
As a result, I received complaints at work soon after. A writer I was responsible for had reached the end of his patience and warned me that if I sent another old-person emoji again, it would destroy all his inspiration and he would never have a manuscript to turn in.
I reasoned that it was clearly the writer who had poor conduct, and he always procrastinated on his manuscripts yet he futilely tried to blame me (and my old-people emojis). He can do whatever he wants!
After a group meeting and a vote with the higher-ups and members of the editorial department, everyone unanimously agreed that I—
Had to make a formal apology.
The procrastinating writer had obtained victory and happily sent a row of rage comic emojis in the group chat. The face of that small man intoxicated by power would eventually be nailed to history’s pillar of shame by the people.
Even the grey-haired president said, “Xiao Du, your taste has become a problem. Even I don’t use these emojis anymore. We literature workers can’t always think the same old way. We have to keep up with the times in order to have vitality.”
I was very angry.
I wasn’t happy.
The main culprit of all of this was Wang Dequan. Just you wait, I would definitely teach him how the new socialist youth use emojis!
I indignantly opened up WeChat and found an emoji pack I had saved before. I saw one that said “Baby is suffering” so I conveniently sent it to Wang Dequan.
Not long after I received a reply.
Wang Dequan: What’s wrong?
Normcore: I’m not happy.
Wang Dequan: Why aren’t you happy?
Normcore: Baby was scolded today, I feel very sad!
Don’t misunderstand. I didn’t normally speak like this, and I wasn’t actually angry. You have probably realized that I like taking advantage of honest people, and when I have nothing better to do, I cause trouble for my enjoyment. There is no cure.
But this time, Wang Dequan didn’t respond to me.
Hey, he’d never been like this? Didn’t he have to ask what I did to be scolded? He should have at least asked why I seemed different today.
It couldn’t be that he was so sickened he wanted to ignore me, right?
Even the old-person emoji “I wish you happiness every day” was no longer comforting!
No, he certainly still loved me. Or maybe he suddenly had a patient, so I decided not to disturb him for the time being.
Thus, I first went to announce the topic selection meeting.
When it was time to leave work, the lady at the front desk called to say that someone was looking for me.
As soon as I came out, I saw that Wang Dequan had strangely appeared in the magazine’s community guest room. I didn’t have the time to be surprised before he grabbed my hand.
He pulled me to a corner where people outside couldn’t see. This was the first time I had seen him without a calm expression.
“I’ve thought about it.” He gripped my hand and gave me a deep and meaningful glance. With a resolute expression he said, “No matter what you’ve been through in the past, I still like you.”
“No matter whose child it is, I will love them as if they are my own.”
“The ‘baby’ you talked about.” He affectionately asked, “How old are they? What’s their name? Are they a boy or a girl? Can I meet them?”
What? New socialist youth emojis?
Who cares, okay?
I had already decided that I would carry forward with the old-person emojis from here on!
After this incident, the revolutionary feelings between Wang Dequan and I made great strides, and we finally transcended the conservative dating pattern of eating dinner and walking around the park. We also began to enter each other’s circles.
For example, he warmly invited me to attend the XXth Annual International Medical Science Forum meeting held in our city. I sat in the auditorium and respectfully listened to the entirety of his academic report on “Overview of the research on symptoms of liver failure in Chinese medicine and a systematic review of the fu yang treatment method”.
Among the row of brilliant Chinese and foreign old men in the honored guest seats, Wang Dequan was modest, polite, handsome, elegant, and had a secure hairline. It was truly a beautiful sight.
If the backs of the audience chairs were just a bit higher then it would have been perfect, because my head wouldn’t roll around when I slept.
The end of the year came in the blink of an eye, and the head office notified us of our annual meeting and that we could bring family members.
This time it was Wang Dequan’s turn to accompany me.
Just to clarify, although there were a pitiful number of people in our magazine agency, we actually belonged to a comprehensive mass media group which had several newspapers and a fashion magazine. But with today’s decline of paper media and the rise of fragmented reading3, we undoubtedly belonged to one of the last publications.
Where there were people, there were vagrants. Therefore, the group of people in the fashion department looked down on our editorial department. They always ridiculed us saying we were a group of old literati and except for selling nostalgia, we were completely useless.
The editor-in-chiefs were especially annoying. They had sharp tongues, and their EQs were also low. There was one nicknamed “T”, probably because of his full-level skills in ridiculing others and making people hate him4.
He once described me: “From head to toe, except for his identity as gay, there isn’t a single fashionable aspect about him.”
Oh, but tonight after our company dinner, we went to karaoke for the editorial department’s get-together. Once I saw the expression he revealed when he saw Wang Dequan’s old-man electric sedan, I knew that I had even lost this last bit of fashionable value.
- Xiao is a prefix used as a term of endearment.
- Moments is a WeChat feature where you can share updates, images, videos, and articles with your friends.
- Fragmented reading refers to using fragments of time to read fragments of information, such as reading social media posts or a blog post as opposed to reading a book.
- The expression used here specifically means to show off things you have that others can’t get, making people resent you.