Early Saturday morning, Eason called me to confirm whether or not I would be going to the research institute’s formal dinner.
I was suppose to (English) move on anyway. Even though Eason was a resolute celibate, it’s not like I couldn’t use him as practice.
I was very straightforward and cooperative on the phone, “Sure! No problem! What requirements do you have for my image? Do you like the smart and virtuous type, fresh and pure type, capable and experienced type, or tomboy type?”
“…You can be so many types?”
“Oh course. I’m cooperating with you!”
“Then…smart and virtuous type. To handle the elderly, dress more conservatively for the time being.”
“What kind of style do you want? Girl from a wealthy family or pretty daughter from a humble family? Modern or classical?”
“Girl from a wealthy family. Classical.”
He made the decision so fast. He had quite the taste.
“Is seven tonight okay?”
“I will definitely be there on time.”
“How will you get here? I can expense a taxi for use.”
“I’ll drive myself.”
“You have a car?”
Due to past experience, I’ve never worn a single one of the the clothes, handbags, shoes and watches Li Chuan bought for me. So that I would not cause needless sensation amongst women who love fashion. I wore a dull colored sweater and a nice skirt suit. I had my hair combed up into a ponytail and wore a jade bracelet with red coloring (lit. Chicken Blood Jade) on my wrist.
Eason was waiting for me at the door of the research institute. When he saw me swaying over on my 8cm high heels, his expression became one of shock.
He looked me over from head to toe and his face actually blushed.
I asked him, “Where is the party?”
“The dance hall on the second floor of the research institute.”
“What? You’re research institute even has a dance hall?”
“We’re also people. We also need entertainment. Right?” His expression had returned to normal. And then he said, “Do you want to rest for a bit in my office? Take off your jacket?”
“You have your own office? Aren’t you a Ph.D student?”
“I am a researcher. I lead students.”
“Then, you are a scientist?”
“I do work in science. Can’t be said to be an ‘ist.’” He was very humble. He brought me to his office. I took off my jacket and then followed him to the second floor.
There were scientific reports stuck on the bulletin boards in the corridors:
“Time symmetry of endless quantum space…”
“Chiral symmetry within the atomic nucleus…”
“Supersymmetry chord theory…”
“Field theory method and critical phenomena…”
I couldn’t help but stop walking, “You’re interested in this?”
“The reports are free. You can come and listen.”
I shook my head, “I’m not interested in physics. I just thought that these titles had quite a feel to them when reading them.”
He looked at me, baffled, “What feeling?”
“Don’t you feel that these titles all have great sex appeal? Supersymmetry…chord…dark matter…space…critical…”
“Pfff….” Someone sprayed out.
The dance hall on the second floor was actually converted from some conference room, so one of the walls had blackboards. It seemed like the meeting had just ended not too long ago since the blackboard still had a bunch of formulas on it.
I thought about how when CGP had wanted to hold an entertainment activity, they rented out a special location. The lower secretaries of the admin department were busy until near death. Comparatively, the scientists really didn’t stress on the details.
Eason quietly instructed me, “If someone asks, say that we’ve been dating for three years. If they continue to ask about marriage, say that we’re still young and will think about it after we’re done playing.”
“That woman over there in the blue checkered outfit is the office director and the union chair. She cares about my ‘happiness’ the most.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll help you take care of it.”
“The old man in the grey jacket is a famous senior. It’s not easy to deceive him. Stay far away from him.”
“Do you drink?”
“Yes. I’m mainly here for the alcohol, food, cake, and dessert type of things. Besides you, my main reason for coming here is to eat good stuff.”
He thought I was joking. Unexpectedly, I picked up a plate, went to the food station, filled my plate with various appetizers, and started eagerly eating.
There wasn’t anything Eason could do besides pouring a cup of wine and stand by my side to accompany me. Seeing that I was solely preoccupied with eating, he couldn’t help but say, “Xiao Qiu, the two of us have to hold a bit of conversation.”
“Oh! Sorry, I was only thinking of eating. Mmhmm, conversation. What should we talk about?”
“Even if you don’t want to hold a conversation, you have to at least make it seem like you are very close to me.”
I frantically looked at him, “What does it look like to be very close to you? How would I know?”
“It’s too late, the union chair is coming.”
Sure enough, that office director and union chair was directly heading towards us with a caring smile on her face.
“Director Hong, let me introduce Xie Xiao Qiu to you. My girlfriend. Xiao Qiu, this is Director Hong, our union chair.”
I gracefully stepped forward and shook her hand, “Director Hong, hello.”
The director looked me over, looked at Eason, then smiled and said, “Xiao Ai (nickname for Ai Song/Eason. lit. Little Ai), you’ve done a great job of keeping a secret. So you already have such a easy-going and beautiful girlfriend. You caused everyone in the office to feel worried for you. Xiao Qiu, where do you work?”
“I am a translator for a construction design company.”
“Translator? Such a good job! Our Xiao Ai is the only handsome male in our department. How much starting funds were you given when you first came to our department, Xiao Ai? Xiao Qiu, Xiao Ai was the recommended talent from Bai Ren Ji Hua (Highest award of Chinese Academy of Science). Even before he got here, a house was already allocated for him. Being with him is definitely not a mistake.” The director could nearly have printed out her words and sent them to the newspaper for their relationship seeking column.
It was hard for me to respond to this. I could only bashfully smile to express my acknowledgement. When I turned to look at Eason, he looked a bit embarrassed.
“Xiao Qiu, have you ever been to Xiao Ai’s home?”
“Xiao Ai’s father Lao Ai (lit. Old Ai, who people call Ai Gong (honorific) is a scholar. He studied abroad in Germany when he was young and can speak German fluently.” She pointed out that old man in the grey jacket with her pursed lips, “There, he’s over there. Xiao Ai, why don’t you take Xiao Qiu over to see your dad?”
“Mmm, we’ll go after we finish eating.”
Eason quietly led me to the side and said in a low voice, “My mom and dad are both over there. I originally wanted to avoid them in the crowd, but it seems like they can’t be avoided. In a bit, can you go over and trick the two of them?”
“It’s nothing to trick others, but isn’t it not too good to trick your parents?”
“They are the ones who pressure me the most. They are the main target for you to trick. I just didn’t think they would come here today.”
“Since you’ve commanded it. I will go and trick them.” I said happily.
“My dad is quite stern. All his students are afraid of him. Be careful.”
The first important person that I tricked was my university’s Principal Liu. I still remembered that Li Chuan was the originator of it. Because of it, I had to specially write a very formal English proposal. Afterwards, the school really increased the time for getting water. I didn’t dig further to see whether it really was my proposal that had something to do with it. The second important person I tricked was my master’s degree advisor. The old mister liked to joke with me. He would trick me every time he saw me. When I was in class, I would try to find strange questions to trick him. Once, I got him so edgy that he hit me with the blackboard eraser. The third target of my trickery was Xiao Guan. He wasn’t some important person. He was also quite an accomplished entrepreneur in the industry. When I went to interview, I thought that I had tricked him from his actual meaning. I went against each thing he said, not treating him like a higher up. Yet, the only person who I’ve tried to trick and failed time after time till I collapsed in shambles was Li Chuan.
I wore a smile and followed Eason through the crowd to his parents.
“Dad, Mom, this is Xie Xiao Qiu.”
The two old couple looked like they were both past sixty. Eason’s dad was a bit stern while Eason’s mom quite friendly said, “You are Xiao Qiu? Meng Meng’s colleague, right?”
I got quite a scare. Surprisingly, they actually knew me.
“That’s right. Meng Meng Jie is in the office next to mine.”
“Meng Meng’s mentioned you before. She said that your English was quite good, a talent that her company especially scooped out.”
“That…Meng Meng Jie was bragging.”
The old madam said, beaming, “Our Eason’t quite pitiful. He went to study abroad and then became a Ph.D. He’s been tossed here and there for eight years. He’s finally stabilized now. Xiao Qiu, when do you have time to come play at our home? I’ll make some delicious dishes for you?”
“Eh…this…” I hung my head and poked Eason with my finger.
Eason said, “Don’t be anxious. Xiao Qiu is busy with work and frequently goes on business trips. How about after period of time? Dad, Mom we’re going to go speak to my advisor.”
Eason pulled me through the concentrated crowd and slipped out the entrance.
“We’re leaving so fast?” I wasn’t willing anymore, “I haven’t eaten anything yet!”
“You only think about eating! What’s good to eat here? Why don’t you eat lamb skewers? Go home and eat, your mission is complete!” Eason pulled on my sleeve and sped up to his office. As he walked, he whispered, “I hate this type of event! I hate social parties! If I didn’t report up to these people, I wouldn’t have come today!”
When we returned to his office, I put on my jacket and prepared to leave. Seeing my face of regret, Eason suddenly proposed, “There’s a telescope upstairs, do you want to see it? It’s quite clear today, you can see some beautiful nebulas.”
This, I was interested in, “Can you see the moon? The craters and such.”
“That…we’re already tired of seeing that.”
We went to the roof together. Eason adjusted the telescope and found a good spot, “This is the moon! You can see any crater larger than 80cm in diameter.”
Mmm…it wasn’t that bright. The craters were all so lonely, one after another. There wasn’t a bit of liveliness. There wasn’t a rabbit nor Chang’e (lady in the moon – Chinese mythology). My mind filled with classical poems regarding the moon. From all these poems…yet, when I saw the real moon…I really couldn’t find the feeling!
I turned to look at Eason. He asked me, “Is it pretty?”
“It’s pretty, but it isn’t as brightly colored as I imagined. I always thought that the sky was multi-colored. It’s probably because I’ve seen too many Van Gogh paintings…The sky is actually black and white.”
“The sky is multi-colored.” He said. And then he went to adjust the telescope.
“This is the Centaurus cluster. It’s extremely bright. It’s four hundred light years away from us. You can see it with the naked eye.”
“Cancer constellation is mainly made up of the red giant and white dwarf stars.”
“This is M13 in Hercules. The brightest cluster in the northern hemisphere. It’s 25,000 light years away from us.”
M13 was purple and looked like a regiment of fireworks. Extremely beautiful.
I couldn’t help but ask, “Then that means, the M13 we see now is the M13 from 25,000 years ago?”
“Uh-huh…that’s right.” He explained, “In the seventies, Cornell University used the largest radio wave telescope in the world to emit a long three minute interstellar telegraph to M13. The energy of the waves were ten times that of the electricity power in the world. In terms of electric waves, the signal was ten million times stronger than the sun’s.
I faint. Being with a scientist was exactly like this. Speaking about numbers everyday!
“Why did they send a telegraph? Who were they sending it to?”
“Scientists want to see a response from life forms in outer space. It was actually an “Earth Business Card.” I remember there were around ten sentence in it. The last one was, we live on the third planet in the solar system and are using a 305m radio wave telescope to send this to you.”
“Heavens, how long will it take this electric wave to arrive at M13?”
“Twenty-five thousand one hundred years. Haha, at that time, we will all have passed.”
When I returned home, I called Li Chuan, “Hey, Li Chuan. Today I saw a spherical star cluster!”
“Really?” He was also energetic, “I never knew you also liked astronomy.”
“It’s 25,000 light years away from us! So far!”
“Stars are so pretty. When I seem them, I understand how minute humans actually are. A lifetime is actually that short!”
“Mmm, you have a lot of thoughts today.” Li Chuan energetically led me, “You should look more at the starlight in the night sky. That way you won’t be entangled in romance.”
However, I came to the opposite conclusion, “Li Chuan, I will love you for 25,000 light years! If you are an electric wave fading away, I am M13! I will wait for you on the other side!”
“…” Someone quickly quieted.
“Li Chuan say something.”
“You stupid idiotic woman. What do you want me to say?”
“In short, I’ve been picked up by you for this lifetime. You’ve spent on me and your influence still lingers. I’ll bug you until the end. Even if you get so sick and only have one tuft of hair left, you still have to be together with me!” As soon as I said this, I felt that this sounded very familiar. It was as if…as if…it had been spoken before by Wei Xiao Bao (Character from Louis Cha’s ‘The Deer and the Cauldron’).
There was silence for awhile on the other end. Then I heard a sigh, “Xiao Qiu, if I knew you were so die-hearted early on, I should have just died six years ago…”
“Wang Li Chuan! You dare! You dare threaten me! You’re not allowed to speak of death! If you dare to die, I’ll immediately go jump from a building! Let’s see which one of us dies first!”
I was still loudly shouting when the other end became a buzzing noise.
Someone had hung up.
I knew I had gone overboard again.
From then on, Li Chuan never answered my calls again. Even René and Ji Chuan didn’t dare speak to me.
I really didn’t have a normal amount of intrepidness.