Chinese Stories in English
1. My Clever Wife by Dong Hai (Humor, ♥♥♥)
2. Matching Wits with the Wife Source: Wang Lifeng (Humor, ♥♥♥)
3. Using Humor to Resolve Disputes by Zhang Xiaoheng (Humor, ♥♥)
4. The Meaning of Love and Marriage Unattributed (Essay, ♥♥)
5. Director Li's Drinking Issued by Pimply Ma (Humor, ♥♥♥)
1. My Clever Wife (家有狡妻)
by Dong Hai (冬亥)
On the day my wife officially became my wife, she demonstrated her comedic style in a virtuoso performance.
The MC at the wedding reception stuck the mike in my face and asked: "Why did you want to marry her?" Ignoring the rules of humility, I boasted and compared her to a flower. But when the MC held the mike out to her and asked, "Why did you marry him," she giggled and said casually, "To save other folks from harm, don'chya know!"
The guests roared with laughter and the MC was caught flat-footed. "Uh.... I'm asking why you chose to marry him."
She replied in a completely sincere tone, "To clean up the pool of bachelors."
Later the MC complained to me. He said, "I knocked myself out preparing some material to get the crowd in the mood, and it was all spoiled by your wife. I almost called it quits."
That night, our wedding night, I said to my wife, "We need to have a serious talk. Why did you choose to marry me, really?"
This time she told the truth, sincerely and from the bottom of her heart. "The first time we met, I felt like I'd known you forever." I was so moved that I almost promised, right then and there, that I'd always eat all the leftovers, do all the housework, and turn over my entire salary to her.
Later on, when my younger brothers ran into woman problems and sought my advice as a man with experience in such matters, I was completely open and honest about my experiences. "Finding love, well, sometimes it's really not about a house, or a car, or money. It all depends on kismet. Your sister-in-law and I, you know, it was love at first sight."
I couldn't believe it when my wife didn't show me the least little bit of respect. Right there she spoke up and contradicted me. "Who fell in love with you at first sight?"
I was perplexed. "Didn't you tell me that, when we met, you felt like you'd always known me?"
"That's right," she said, "I felt like I'd known you forever. You really looked old."
So she'd just meant that I looked familiar, like a "stack of old papers"!
She said her benchmark for choosing a spouse was baked sweet potatoes – burnt on the outside and tender inside. People look more alike as they grow older, and classmates are all grown up when they graduate, so it's easy to choose between them. Their value has already depreciated in the eyes of young girls and bachelorettes. Nobody gives them a second thought.
I told her, if what she said was right, then we must look like a May-December marriage, or like a rich old landlord and his concubine, and asked if she was okay with that. She said she certainly was, because "When we're together everybody thinks you must have money, and what's not okay about that?"
She went to Beijing on business, and I asked her to bring back some things from the old sod as presents for Mom and Dad. She played dumb. "You want soil from Beijing? What does 'old sod' mean?"
I said I just meant something authentically Beijing, a unique local product from there, something you couldn't get anywhere else, or if you did it wouldn't be the real thing.
She kissed me on the cheek. "Why didn't you just say so? Don't you worry. I'll bring back something, something so absolutely Beijing that it's still dribbling little bits of the old sod."
And so, when she came back from Beijing, she took a copy of the China Youth Daily from her bag and gave it to me. "An unequivocally Beijing product." I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.
She tee-heed happily. "Someone in our company subscribes. Doesn't it count as a Beijing specialty?"
"If someone in your company got it by subscription, it must have been printed there, but at best it'd just be considered a product with a local brand name."
Later, after she'd yanked my chain enough, she finally pulled two roast ducks from the Quanjude Restaurant out of her suitcase and handed them to me.
That night, she finally told me the truth. The reason she chose me was because every woman with any sense would love to get a simple and honest man to be her little lamb, someone who'll be lenient with her, and be able to put up with her nonsense.
What she said really made sense, but a day or so later, I saw something that let me understand the meaning of the old adage, "If you keep walking by the river, you can't avoid getting your shoes wet." I came home that day moaning about my new pants. I'd just worn them for the first time, and they'd got caught on a nail and torn. My wife took them and turned them over and over, looking at them. She also felt it was really bad luck.
"But really," she said, "it's on the bottom of the leg where it's not obvious. If you use some thread and sew it up neatly, seems like no one will notice it."
I asked her to sew it up for me, if it wasn't too much trouble, you know. Her lips curled up a bit. "I'm such an old lady, and I led a sheltered life when I was growing up. I don't even know how to thread a needle, so how could I pull the thread through the fabric?"
But she could always find a way to get things done. The next day she took me along with her to visit her mother, and sent me into the kitchen to wash and trim vegetables and help fry the rice. And then, naturally, my pants "got torn".
My wife squatted down and put on a little act, pulling on my pants and looking them over. When she stood up she said to her mother, "He tore his pants here in your place, Mom, but we don't expect you to pay. Just get some thread and sew it up for him, OK?" Her mother wasn't in the mood to argue about it and told me to take the pants off... but she didn't have any pants in the house that were suitable for me to change into.
"I brought along another pair for him," my wife said quickly.
The old lady gave her baby daughter a look, and then laughed. "I knew you'd give yourself away sooner or later, Little One. I'm surprised you'd try to trick your own mother like this. Was it too hard for you to tell the truth and admit you can't sew? Were you too ashamed to ask your old Mom for a little help?"
My wife, who always has a rationale, sighed and said, "I was afraid you'd be embarrassed to find that you didn't do a good job of raising your daughter. I was trying my best to preserve your dignity, now, wasn't I?"
2012 Annual Humorous Writings of China, from Comedy World Magazine, Ding Si, Ed., p. 72
Translated from text at http://mzrb.meizhou.cn/data/20120219/html/6/content_4.html
2. Matching Wits with the Wife (智斗老婆)
Source: Wang Lifeng (来源: 王立峰)
The day we got married the wife laid down three rules: First, after the marriage I’d be responsible for half the housework; second, no lying to her; and third, no getting mad at her.
I thought it over: using reason and logic to argue with her wouldn’t do any good; it would have to be a battle of wits.
I told her: “I’m the rat, you’re the cat, OK?”
She laughed sweetly.
After the wedding, a stream of trivial household chores piled up quickly in front of me. I’m a lazy kind of guy, and what gets me most are the little necessities of daily life that keep us so foolishly busy. But since the wife had made the rules, I had to carry them out rigorously. If I thought about goofing off for a while, I’d just be crusin’ for a bruisin’, right? So every day when I got home from work I rushed headlong into the kitchen, grabbed the spatula out of the wife’s hand, tied on an apron….
The wife sure enough liked that.
At those times the best thing was to be a klutz. I’d play dumb and ask: “Where’s the soy sauce?” “Hand me the salt!” “It’s no good, maybe too much vinegar.” I’d get in a tizzy on purpose, and if I accidently knocked over an empty bottle or something, that was even better.
The wife would get teed off: “Get outa here, get outa here, don’t take up space in my kitchen.”
Then I could go off to the living room with no misgivings, and lay down on the sofa to read the paper. But I had to be sure to remember, after I’d been reading for a while, to shout toward the kitchen: “That smells really good!”
Soon a piping hot dinner would be served.
The wife really loves me. She doesn’t like me to go out for dinner. She’s afraid I’ll come home late, or get drunk, or even worse, get talked into doing something really bad. Often when I get home after a business dinner, she’s really worried about me.
One time I went out with some old classmates to solve the world’s problems and cry about how tough life is. It was very late when I started home and I suddenly remembered that I hadn’t called the wife to ask for the night off. What could be worse? When I thought about the “cat’s” tigerish visage, I immediately broke out in a cold sweat and half sobered up.
Being a good talker isn’t really very much use in that situation. The more often you talk your way out of something, the less effective it becomes. I needed to think of another way to deal with this.
When I got home, I changed my normal gentle and cautious manner. I pushed the door open in a rage and with a scowl on my face shouted: “That really pisses me off!”
The wife had been watching TV in a sulk and was surprised when she heard me yell. She stood up and asked: “What is it?”
I didn’t answer. I went and sat down on the sofa and let out a long, noisy breath, my face red with anger.
Sure enough, she fell for it. She went to make me a cup of tea like a good little girl, then came over and asked me what was wrong. I didn’t talk to her. I acted like I was in a huff as I drank the tea, then started to nod off.
The wife sat there and cooed softly that everything would be alright. I felt really guilty and was afraid I’d give myself away, so I didn’t utter a sound. I closed my eyes and pretended to fall asleep. The wife thought I wasn’t listening to her so she stopped cooing. She tip-toed over to turn off the TV and went quietly to bed.
Next day the wife asked me what had happened. I said, nothing, seems like I had too much to drink yesterday, don’t remember a thing.
The wife didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
One time I went shopping with the wife. I strolled patiently with her through the merchant buildings on May First Street. She didn’t find any clothes that suited her taste, so we took a bus to Quanzhou Road. I was tagging along, following orders. The wife was wearing heels and I was wearing walking shoes, but I was so tired my back ached and my legs were killing me, while the wife was all peppy and enthusiastic.
Just as I was telling myself to gut it out to the end, the wife found an outfit that she liked. She put it on and asked me what I thought. To tell the truth I thought the color was too bright. She could have worn it when she was in college, but she was a married woman, after all. However, it had taken forever to find something she liked, and if I said I didn’t like it, we’d have to keep shopping, right?
I thought this way and that as I looked her up and down. Then I clicked my tongue and sighed, “Baby, this outfit was made just for you. In a word: ‘beautiful’!”
The wife beamed with happiness. She stuffed her old clothes into her bag and wore the new outfit home, striding proudly with her head held high.
The next day when I came home after work, I noticed the wife was in a funk. When I asked what was wrong, she said she’d worn the new outfit to work. The other women said it was too young for her, not attractive at all.
“That’s bunk,” I said. “They’re just jealous. Don’t pay any attention to them.”
“I have no doubt that you got bored shopping yesterday,” the wife said, “and whatever clothes I found, you would’ve said you liked them just to humor me.”
When I heard that I thought, uh-oh, she saw right through me this time. She’ll make me take the outfit back and go with her to buy a new one.
I put on a smile and said, “You’ve worn this outfit, so it can’t be returned. How ‘bout if we buy another one. And you don’t need me to go with you. The girls at work can go and give you the benefit of their expertise.”
The wife wasn’t having any of it. I knew that, one, she didn’t like spending the money, and two, she didn’t like that I’d humored her. I could spend the whole day trying to smooth things over and it wouldn’t do any good. I got impatient and pounded on the table. “How can you return clothes you’ve already worn?” I shouted angrily. “If you want to take them back, do it yourself!” I left, slamming the door behind me.
I started to regret spouting off when I got outside. It might make me feel good temporarily, but it’s no way to solve a problem.
Naturally, when I got back after walking around for a while, she was sitting there with tears in her eyes. I said something to try to start a conversation but she ignored me like I wasn’t there at all.
At first I thought things would settle down after a couple of days, but then I realized, no, she wouldn’t forget it. She’d give me the silent treatment. I’d have to make my own meals, find my own clothes, wash my own socks, take care of my own…. It would be quite inconvenient. What good could come out of getting the wife mad?
The first thing I had to do was hang my head and admit I was wrong. And keep at it until she was back to her old self.
There’s a knack to making a wife feel better. Meaningless flattery won’t do it. You’ve got to make a clear analysis of what happened and figure out where you were wrong. You were completely wrong, and it’s best if you exaggerate how wrong you were, to the extent of grieving and lamenting over it.
In the end the wife felt apologetic. “Actually, I was wrong, too,” she mumbled. The Lord’s back in his castle, lay down your weapons, the crisis has passed!
Looking at it in detail, in these several years of marriage, I haven’t followed nary a one of the three rules my wife laid down, but I’ve been able to keep her as happy as ever. Concentrate on following this good example and if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to steal some happiness for yourself.
Translated from here, also available at http://www.cnhubei.com/200304/ca247032.htm
3. Using Humor to Resolve Marital Disputes (用幽默化解夫妻之间的小矛盾)
Zhang Xiaoheng (张笑恒)
In life, we may have a variety of opinions about our other halves, some good and some not. When we find something dissatisfying about that person, if we speak directly and don't mince our words, it'll be difficult not to hurt him or her. But if we can turn our words into "sugar-coated bullets", proceeding with kind-hearted gibes and moderate sarcasm to appeal to the one with shortcomings, and using a humorous style to convey our dissatisfaction to them, we can achieve our goal of criticizing the person while also adding an element of interest to the matter. This will allow the person to correct their mistakes voluntarily and will not hurt their feelings.
A wife wanted to buy a plasma TV but her husband temporarily lacked the funds. He told his wife the truth and she was very unhappy. When he saw her furling up her brow to make a face full of anger, he asked her, "Tell me, honey, what color is love?"
"I think it's red," she said, "like the crimson in those high-class carpets."
"Nope," he replied.
"Then it's multi-colored, like an HD color TV."
The husband still shook his head.
Out of ideas, the wife said, "If it's not this and it's not that, you tell me what color it is."
"Love is pale, like the color of your face when I can't buy you something you want!"
It was much milder for the husband to say that than to berate his wife sternly for her lack of understanding and her greed. It was also a much better way to garner her attention.
One reason that the many trivial matters of family life can incite people to take up arms is that the language used by both sides lacks a humorous component. If you use humorous elements when expressing your views of your spouse, he or she will undoubtedly accept your opinions with pleasure.
One couple who had been married over ten years sent money for living expenses to both sets of parents every month. It had always been the wife's job to do this, but she was not even-handed: Every month she sent her parents one hundred Yuan, but sent only fifty Yuan to her husband's parents. Her husband resented this, but didn't dare say anything for fear of making her angry.
Eventually the husband came up with a solution. Previously the first thing he would do every day when he came home from work was hug his little son. This time, though, he uncharacteristically walked over to his five-year-old daughter as soon as he got home, held out his arms and gave her a hug. His year-old son was crying in his cradle but the husband pretended he saw nothing.
The wife, who was cooking, turned around and saw what was happening. "Your son is crying his eyes out," she said hurriedly. "How can you not rush right over to comfort him?"
Not flustered a bit, the husband said, "That one's fifty Yuan, you might as well come and comfort him. I want to hug the hundred-Yuan-er."
The wife blushed to hear that, and from then on sent an extra fifty Yuan to the husband's parents every month.
The husband was smart. With humor and without sacrificing his principles, he invited his wife into an easily-positioned trap he had set. He did not directly express his dissatisfaction with his wife, but humorously and subtly counter-attacked his wife's erroneous behavior, hinting at the essence of the matter and his own feelings of discontent. In this way he achieved his own ends.
Some small-minded wives make it a practice to control the family's finances very strictly. The husband may feel very much inconvenienced. If he wishes to express his dissatisfaction at these times, he can learn from the two gentlemen below.
A son asked his father, "Dad, where are the Alps?"
"Go ask your mom," the father replied casually. "She hides everything."
A married friend planned to go on a trip to the Thousand Islands by himself. His wife refused to let him go on the ground that it would be a waste of money.
The next day, in front of his wife, the man told a friend who had come over to visit, "My wife didn't say I wasn't allowed to go. She just joked that I could only stay one day on each island."
As the time spent living together increases, it's normal that some complaints about each other will get built up. But the feelings between the spouses will be affected if a lot of problems accumulate and go unresolved for a long period of time. The following summarizes some humorous wisdom that can be used at any time to resolve intra-spousal problems. We hope they will help everyone in the use of humor to express their opinions to their spouses.
Suppose your husband is inattentive and doesn't spend enough time with you:
Wife: "Dear, do you still remember the day you were golfing and sunk a thirty-five-foot putt?"
Husband: "Of course, it must have been three years ago today. That was my best score since I started playing golf."
Wife: "And do you still remember the day you got our marriage license?"
Or suppose your husband is inattentive and doesn't appreciate you:
Wife: "If the community organized a 'know your wife' game, I am afraid you'd only know me if I was holding that flower pot in my arms."
Wife: "Because you spend a lot more time looking at it than at me."
Suppose your wife is lazy or doesn't worry about the small stuff:
A wife hadn't cleaned house in two weeks. Her husband said, "You were really busy last week, dear. You didn't even have time to clean house. If you're still busy, I can do the housework for you again this week."
Suppose your wife is ill-tempered and never stops talking:
A married lady jokingly told her husband, "You need an automatic alarm clock to wake you in the mornings."
Her husband replied, "No, we absolutely don't need to waste money on such a thing. As soon as you wake up in the mornings, the room is filled with sound louder than any brand of alarm clock makes."
Humor is a lively way to express oneself. No matter the circumstances, family life needs humor to polish the language. If we can replace blame with humor in expressing dissatisfaction with our other halves, you can let them understand our thoughts. Then they can re-examine themselves, correct their mistakes and make up for their deficiencies. Thus life's little ups and downs will not be allowed to evolve into wild storms.
Translated from here, also available here.
4. The Meaning of Love and Marriage (从相亲延伸出的婚恋意义)
Mom says, “I hope you’ll find someone from a better family, then things won’t be so tough for you. Don’t make the same mistake I did.”
Dad says, “I only want one thing. Find someone from a family that lives in harmony. Kids reared in that kind of family won’t be lacking in any way. I don’t especially care about their social standing.”
My big brother says, “Such a big village and you the only one still single. Be careful you don’t get left behind.”
My friend says, “I’m always hustlin’ around findin’ matches for other girls. You gotta get on it and sell yourself, that’s all.”
I say, I want to find someone who doesn’t need to do anything when I’m unhappy except stay by my side, even if he just watches me cry.
San Mao says if I don’t think a guy is easy to look at, I certainly shouldn’t marry him even if he’s a billionaire; but if he strikes my fancy, I absolutely should marry him even if he’s broke.
Zhang Xiaoxian says she won’t see me off if I go, but if I come back, she’ll brave wind and rain to come get me.
The novelist Shi Tiesheng says that romance is in the pursuit of being liked and being loved. Getting both at once is the ideal situation, so love is a kind of ideal.
I say getting married, or seeing me off, or liking and loving, I just want to use my own devices to make this decision, the most important one in a person’s life. There are no parameters in this kind of thing, where you just plug in the numbers and it’s over and done with!
Once I joined in the fun and got myself set up with a guy from the village. It was a very purposeful kind of arrangement. Everybody was rushing us off to get married – they’d never rely on feelings to decide whether a guy was Mr. Right. First thing he said when he opened his mouth was, how much you make a month? Your family own their own home? And without even waiting for me to answer, he started telling me everything from his grandfather’s pension to the amount of his own monthly salary, like it was his duty or his habitual opening line. And in all of it I never heard a word about an emotional connection; it was just an intense dialog about material advancement. I was starting to regret going out with him. I was getting a look at the great “truth” about the views of love and marriage of contemporary people, and it was scaring me!
Later I asked a friend in the village what she thought of the guy. “His family’s pretty well situated,” she said, with no attempt at all to gloss it over, “and he’s honest. He’ll due if you can’t find anyone better.”
“What kind of man are you looking for, anyway?” I just couldn’t help asking, with that gossipy mentality that females are so good at, because I wasn’t sure where she was coming from.
“I’ve got no special requirements, as long as he owns a home and gets a good salary, and his parents won’t be a burden on us. Our feelings for each other will grow over time!” She was very casual about it, like she was recounting something very ordinary. I was a bit disappointed, as though a warm, tranquil summer’s day had been interrupted by a fierce thunderstorm.
I think, if it were me, I wouldn’t necessarily want some big house or high salary. Between the material and the spiritual, I’ll put the spiritual first every time. If a couple spend their days focused on the necessities of daily life, focused on trivialities, the depression in their hearts will be more severe than not having someone to talk to.
Not understanding each other’s worlds and the things that each loves, or the value of their interests, that kind of love, that kind of marriage, is just so terrifying. I hope never to get up in the middle of the night to tell my troubles to a radio station, begging the audience to find room in their hearts for my tears.
As Shi Tiesheng said, love is an ideal. An ideal is not necessarily attainable no matter how hard you strive for it.
Liking people and loving them are two completely different emotional states. If you like a person, when the passion is all used up, you can maintain a mutual relationship only by relying on the marriage license with both your pictures on it. That kind of relationship depends entirely on the law for its continuation.
If you love someone, after the passion has faded because of ill health or age, you still want to stay with him to a white-haired old age. You don’t get this kind of happiness in trade for the deed to some real estate, I’m afraid, but by working at it over a long period of time.
It has to do with the material and the spiritual, loving and not loving. If the material has been guiding the orientation of our values, we are no longer ourselves. The material can make us discard the spiritual and transform our own persona at any time. And love can change to not loving because of the material.
It’s been a long time since I heard an overture to love. This is how the material can distort the significance of love. This happiness we seek, exactly what material thing is it?
When you’ve thrown away the most treasured thing, the rarest spiritual support, for the sake of the material; when you’ve gotten the material satisfaction you sought and the material has cushioned your desires; can you tell yourself without misgivings that you’re happy? When you’re driving a BMW or a Steed, and living in a luxurious mansion, and sailing a yacht, are you happy then?
I put a great deal of effort into my studies, and take pains to do a good job at work. I enjoy music, bury myself in books, take pleasure in writing and like to paint. Sometimes I’ll call Mom and Dad or friends on the phone and talk for hours!
I don’t depend on anyone and I don’t bow down to anyone. When opportunity knocks I answer; if it’s a chance to get involved with someone I can take it or leave it, but a chance at true love would move me, you bet!
I’m a good listener, I like getting together with people and I like talking to old folks…. I’ve got some extra money after paying my living expenses, and sometimes I put pen to paper to bare my soul. I continue to wait for a good talker to appear. The ideals we create for ourselves can be so poetic!
My views on the kind of love and marriage that I long for are as serene as my life. If you can come into my world, if you can understand my world, there’ll be nothing we can’t talk about. But if that seems like it’s getting to be too much, we can simplify and not say anything!
So you travel around your world and I’ll stroll around mine. Walking alone, there’s nothing I can’t do!
Translated from here, also available at http://www.lygfish.com/article-9753-1.html
Recommended for Translation by Chen Yaodong
5. Director Li's Drinking (李厂长醉酒记)
Issued by Pimply Ma (由馬疙瘩發表)
Factory Director Li, who runs a garment works, is forty years old this year, which makes him a Promising Youth! He usually treats his workers with courtesy, but once he gets drunk his true nature comes out. He could curse his parents and brag about it. The factory can’t do without him so everyone puts up with it.
People worry mostly that he’ll beat someone when he’s crazy drunk. He once injured three or four individuals but, due to his status as a factory director, everyone felt it would be inexpedient to expose him. When he sobered up he just made light of it.
The factory’s performance showed some improvement this year, so Director Li proposed going to the city's largest restaurant for a celebration. It would not have been convenient to decline. Thus a group of six people, Director Li, Secretary Zhang, Accountant Chen, Section Chief Li, Branch Secretary Xie and Deputy Director Wang, drove over to the restaurant.
When they went in, Director Li went straight to the private VIP room, followed by the rest of them. Director Li called the waiter over once they were settled in their seats. He ordered two bottles of Maotai (an expensive liquor), three bottles of Erguotou (basic rotgut), and five bottles of beer. Then he told the waiter to serve the best dishes available in the restaurant.
The group considered the array of booze and was about to speak up, but Director Li spoke first and said, "Come on, everyone, today we’re going to enjoy ourselves to the max. We won’t go home till we’re drunk. And it’s on me!” Everyone knew clearly that the bill would be charged to the factory, but no one said anything. That was Accountant Chen’s business. When the food and booze were served, Director Li went into his "polite" mode and poured the drinks for each of the others. They drank seven rounds and ate five courses. The Director got everyone else drunk, until he was the only one left in the game. "Come on, come on! The old man's fuckin' drunk you under the table! Have another one with the old man! Everyone have another one with the old man!"
Just then a stranger wearing black clothes entered the room. "Who are you?" the director demanded.
"Don't concern yourself with who I am. I've only got one question. Do you dare to drink one for one with me?"
"A competition?" the Director sneered. "You think I won't bust your balls? You don't know what talents this devil has! All right, let's go for it."
The stranger, not standing on ceremony, chose a seat for himself without waiting to be asked. The two looked at each other and put on their game faces.
Director Li started with an intimidating move. He drained a bottle of beer in one breath, all the way to the bottom in an instant. Without hesitating, the newcomer followed suit and the bottom of his bottle also saw the light of day.
“Mildly interesting,” Director Li said with a smile.
"Let’s do this,” the man in black said. “It’s boring to just drink. Let’s add some color to it. Here, I’ve got a check for a hundred thousand yuan for my stake in the game. You?”
"I...." Director Li realized that the newcomer was a high roller, putting up a hundred thousand yuan stake just like that. For better or worse, though, he was a factory director and couldn’t let the guy best him. "That Citroen we’ve got outside, I’ll put it up as my stake.”
"Good! Director Li, you are indeed worthy of the title. As expected, you make an impressive showing."
“You bet’cha!” Director Li said with a smile. "What’s the game? You name it, and it’ll be my honor to play through to the end.”
“OK, let’s do this. We’ll play Striking Fists* while we drink. The loser each time has to take a drink and we go until one of us passes out. The other one is the winner and gets the loser’s stake. How about it?”
“Yeah, let’s do it.” Director Li put the car keys on the table.
"Hello! Is this Director Li’s wife? It’s all done. I skunked him and I’ve got the car…. Yeah, OK….” Glancing at Director Li passed out on the table, the man in black continued, “I don’t believe he’ll dare take another drink after this.”
On the other end of the line, the Director's wife had a self-satisfied look on her face. "Good! You're really something, Boozer Zhang. Keep that hundred thousand as your reward, and drive my family's car back here. OK, I'm hanging up now."
"Sister, your trick was a masterstroke." Her friends around the mahjong table applauded her.
"Hrumph, the bastard's been coming home three sheets to the wind several times a month. And he gets crazy when he's drunk, really kills the mood for my mahjong games with you girls. This little trick of mine might have been callous, but it worked great. I guarantee he won't dare touch the stuff for a year or two. When he gets home tomorrow, I'll cuss him out for getting drunk and losing the car. He'll be so embarrassed he won't want to show his face. Oh, that's right, I've got to make another phone call. To sell the car."
When director Li woke up in a fog the next morning, holding his aching head, he found himself lying in a bed. Looking around, it seemed familiar – it was the hotel next to the restaurant. There was no trace of the man in black, and feeling in his pocket, the car keys were gone, too. How was he going to explain this to his wife when he got home? His headache throbbed again when he thought of that.
He sat on the bed and racked his brains for a long time and finally worked out a story. When he got home, though, he couldn't fool his wife no matter what lies he told. She knew everything and, under her powerful attack, he had to come clean. What followed was a lot of cursing, with shouting loud enough to shake the heavens. Everyone in their whole building could hear clearly.
Director Li's face turned as red as if he'd just downed three ounces of Erguotou. He hastily put into practice all the eloquence he'd learned from years of making reports. He calmed her down with apologies. He said he would reflect deeply on things, and promised that she could kick him out if he ever took another drink.
When the storm at long last was over, Director Li wiped the sweat from his brow. "What about the car? Do you want to buy another one?" Director Li asked pathetically.
"You still want a car? We don't have the money to buy you a car. From now on take a taxi or a bus, whatever suits you."
Director Li was helpless and it showed on his face. His wife had all the money in their family. But as a big wheel factory director, it wouldn't look good for him not to have a car. It looked like the best option was a taxi, but only if he could get out somewhere where the people in the factory wouldn't see him. Then, surprisingly, his wife brought a bicycle out from somewhere. "Ride this to work." He made a long, long face.
"Good morning, Director.
"How come you rode a bike to work, Director?"
"Oh, for the exercise!" Director Li quickly responded. "That silly car was a drag," The factory personnel just smiled. But only he knew the truth of the matter.
The man in black never put in another appearance, and Director Li never took another drink. He soon acquired a new hobby, though: smoking. He'd only smoke the expensive, high-end brands like Zhonghua, in keeping with his status as a factory director.
After he picked up that habit, his whole house always smelled of smoke. That's why his wife started plotting again. Next time she'd have him lose everything but his underpants and see if he still keeps smoking.
*[Striking Fists (划拳) is a popular drinking game similar to rock-paper-scissors. See here for a complete explanation.]
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