(This novel is translated and adapted by Ms. Shuang Wu. The original novel 海外剩女 by author Ms. Xi Zhang was published in China earlier this year. It tells stories of female students from China struggling to find love in Boston, and has received rave reviews. A play in Chinese language with the same title will be staged at Northeastern University on Oct. 10, 2015. The photo of pink lotus flower is by Boston photographer Mr. Mingwei Li.)
A Woman Approaching Expiration Date — Chapter 6
By Xi Zhang (left)，translated and adapted by Shuang Wu(right)
Around 8 o’clock that night, Jim called back and asked Jingzhe what she was doing. Jingzhe said she was working on her dissertation. “Oh, no, you should get relaxed.” Jim said immediately. Does Jingzhe need help relaxing? When is Jingzhe going to go to bed and get comfortable? He kept asking Jingzhe. No matter what other topic Jingzhe tried to bring up, he always brought it back to massage. Not knowing what else to say, Jingzhe mentioned that she wouldn’t mind having a foot massage, for her job involves standing for long hours in the lab. Jim was happy to hear that, and subsequently assured Jingzhe that they would only have foot massages together when they meet.
On Sunday evening, at about 7 o’clock, Jim showed up in front of Jingzhe’s apartment building as planned. When he walked out from his Benz, Jingzhe could immediately tell that he had put on some weight compared to what he looked like in his photos, which must have been taken at least 10 years ago. He wasn’t as tall as he described either, which was supposedly 5’9”, but he appeared to be around 5’7”. He was quite friendly, though, and complimented Jingzhe on how good she looked.
Li Qiu told Jingzhe she was busy working on a paper at that time, and would like to join them later. She would give Jingzhe a call between 8 to 9 pm, which would be a good time to go to the bar. So Jingzhe and Jim left for dinner first. The two of them ended up in an Indian restaurant.
“Have you been to China?” Once the food arrived, Jingzhe started chatting and eating at the same time.
“I’ve been to Shenzhen, Shanghai, and Guangxi.” Jim appeared nervous.
“Do you like China?” Jingzhe asked casually.
“Oh it’s beautiful.”
“Have you had a Chinese girlfriend?” Jingzhe asked directly.
“No.” Jim answered, but Jingzhe was not convinced.
“Why do you like Chinese women? What makes them attractive to you?”
“They are good at massage.”
“Who gives massage to whom?”
“They give massage to men, and also to themselves.”
Jingzhe did not find Jim and his one-track mind very interesting, which actually made her less stressed out about it. It is only dinner, she told herself. By tomorrow, we’ll be complete strangers again. So, what is there to worry about?
When they finished dinner, it was not yet 8 o’clock. Li Qiu had not called. So what to do? Jingzhe suggested a walk around the lake, and Jim happily went along with the idea.
But Jingzhe started to feel chilly only ten minutes or so into their walk. The autumn wind by the lake had a bite in it. However, Jim took advantage of the situation by putting his arm around Jingzhe’s waist. Jingzhe felt kind of repelled by his meaty hand, and was squirming around trying to avoid his touch. Fortunately, Li Qiu’s call came just on time. Jingzhe breathed a deep sigh of relief then, and told Jim that her roommate would like to come along and join their trip to the bar. Without thinking, Jim said OK, and proposed to drive back to their apartment to pick up Li Qiu.
When Li Qiu came out, Jim’s eyes got all lit up. “Wow! You are so tall and beautiful! How lucky I am, to have two beautiful ladies as my dates!” He checked out Li Qiu with great interest.
The bar Li Qiu had suggested is located in a downtown district known for its vibrant nightlife. Along the same street there are many bars, each with a long line of people waiting to get in. Most of the people there appeared quite young. Some were tourists and some were locals. Li Qiu chose an Irish bar with a relatively large space and a performing stage. The door man did not allow them in until he checked their passports carefully. It is known that some of these bars put on performances that are somewhat risque in nature, and under-aged students are not allowed in.
It turned out that Jim was not a talkative type of guy. Other than massage and relaxation he had nothing to talk about. Once they got in, he ordered some snacks, together with some wine and beer. Then like an old miser guarding his treasure, he attached himself to the table watching over the food and would not step away for anything. Jingzhe and Li Qiu, on the other hand, ventured close to the stage to watch the performance. They also danced along to the disco music and enjoyed themselves. “So, what do you think of him?” Li Qiu asked Jingzhe, as the two women started to chat and dance by themselves.
“That’s a pity. He looks to be well-off, and does not appear to be too bad a guy.” Li Qiu pursed her lips and said, “What turned you off?”
“He’s kind of fat, and not strong enough.”
“His one-track mind on massage.” Jinzhe chuckled.
“I’m guessing he might be impotent, and that’s why his ex-wife left him.”
“You might be onto something. But how do you know?”
“So he’s not serious about me, you think? He’s only playing?”
“I think so.”
“In that case, get him out of here! Ha ha!” Jingzhe laughed.
The two of them went back to their table, and chatted with Jim briefly, then told him they would need to work tomorrow and wanted to call it a night. Jim did not make any objections, and went to pay the bill. He then drove them back to their apartment.
In front of their apartment building, Jingzhe and Li Qiu got out from the car and said goodbye to him. However, Jim remained fixed in his car seat. Li Qiu thought maybe he had something else to say, so she re-opened the car door and asked him wanted. Jim said, “May I go upstairs with you?” Li Qiu shook her head with a smile, “No. We made an agreement with our landlady to not allow any man in at night.”
“That’s very strange. You live here and you’re not allowed to have any man in your place?!”
“Correct. Our landlady is Chinese, and she does not like us to invite men in at night.” Li Qiu explained patiently.
“Are you sure you don’t want me to go upstairs with you?” Jim wouldn’t give up.
“Oh yes, we are sure.”
“But wouldn’t you usually enjoy getting relaxed?”
“We usually do, but that got nothing to do with you. Goodnight.” Li Qiu pulled on Jingzhe, and the two of them waved Jim goodbye and wished him a safe drive home.
Once they got back to their apartment, the two women had a good laugh about it. However, afterwords Jingzhe felt dismayed. What kind of a man is this Jim? He can think of nothing except massage. Perhaps he is impotent, as Li Qiu suggested. That’s why he seemed to be only concerned with the needs of women and kept offering his service. How noble is that! Unfortunately, he found the wrong woman. I can take care of my own need. So thank you very much! Jingzhe mused to herself.