Proofreaders: Artemis, Gwen, LSL, Luzo & Red
~\(≧▽≦)/~ Let's get the drinking started! NSFW!
Who the hell in their right minds invented the Moon Festival?
In my opinion, it was more than enough having one day—New Year’s Eve—when you gather together under the name of ‘reunion’ and the elders corner and interrogate you about your life and future.
The Dragon Boat Festival is bearable. Occasionally, you could pass for a case of food poisoning after eating too many zongzi, but you can’t use this excuse too often since the Moon Festival is only less than half a year later. If not, they would say, ‘What a patriotic stomach you have—always knowing to act up during the major holidays. What are you, Lin Daiyu reincarnated?’
Thus, without fail, as it approached the end of August this year, the Gates of Hell hadn’t even closed shut when my old lady started calling me like the Grim Reaper trying to fill his quota on souls. Three times a day, once every meal, one after another—I don’t even think Yue Fei suffered as much as I did!
With no other choice, I agreed to attend the family party on August 15th (remember, this is the Lunar calendar). It’s just a dinner, I thought. I just had to chow down some rice porridge and flash a smile here and there. A couple of hours would past in the blink of an eye. No biggie.
As it turned out, I should have just slapped my innocent and naïve self unconscious.
When I arrived at the address of the restaurant my old lady gave me, the hostess led me to the reserved section for ‘The Family of Wu’ with a dazzling smile. The moment I stepped into the private room and saw the battlefield that lay before me, I thought to myself, shit. I so desperately wished that I was only a passerby who had gone into the wrong room.
With my old lady in the lead, my old man at the end, and a bunch of uncles and aunties in between, they hustled me over like the lion plucking the greens. After I got pushed into a chair, every second felt like a year underground.
Some small talk here, some season’s greeting there, roasted meat to my left and white wine to my right—my eyes started to lose focus and drift all over the place. Every grinning face that flickered past looked about the same. Actually, they were all relatives who had adored me since I was little and I was happy to see them—if only the same old topic didn’t get replayed from their wrinkly lips.
“Xie, you’re not young anymore.”
“I guess twenty-five isn’t young but it’s not exactly old either,” I remarked.
“Look at you, all handsome and successful.”
“I agree with the first part but not so much the second,” I noted.
“You haven’t even held a lady’s hand yet. Don’t you think that’s a little embarrassing?”
Don’t think I won’t hit you just because you’re old!
As if asking a billion, ga-jillion questions would get me a wife and a kid. I ain’t as good as Lao Yang when it comes to materialization!
Anyways, just as I was feeling that my EQ was struggling to keep up, my phone started to ring in my shirt pocket. I flipped it open and checked out the caller ID—it was Uncle Three.
Uncle Three had never been on good terms with the others in the family so he would never show up at these parties. I, on the other hand, was so grateful for the first time in my life from hearing my uncle’s voice that I could weep.
I was wrong. I have a potty mouth, calling you a sly old fox all the time. I’ll slap myself ten times as punishment.
Forgive me and just rescue me from this hell hole, please. I will even jump between you and a zongzi when we are underground next time.
Uncle Three seemed to have read my mind through the phone. After some chattering, he told me that he and some robber pals got a table at Full Moon House. Fats and Panzi are both there, he said, and the moon cakes and booze are all ready to go. They were just waiting for me.
I rejoiced for the ready-to-use scapegoat that lay before me. I couldn’t let it go to waste so I immediately brought Uncle Three up, saying some business-related things came up and he wanted to discuss them with me. This couldn’t have fooled Uncle Two—fortunately he didn’t attend. Obviously, my old lady and old man weren’t thrilled so I grabbed a few of the pictures of the matches my enthusiastic relatives found for me and stuffed them in my pant pocket. I laughed along with them, saying that I would seriously consider settling down, while secretly crossing my fingers behind my back. No matter what, getting out of that room was of utmost importance.
Maybe I tripped on a step later and hit my head or something, but there seemed to be a large blank space in my memory. At least, I had no idea how I had gotten back home and how I was lying on my own bed now.
The first sensation I experienced when I opened my eyes was: Owww. I mean my head hurt. I had wanted to lift my head up but it was as if my head was filled with lead. I had only managed to move half an inch before dropping back on the bed.
Let me rewind. It didn’t seem like my bed. My head was turned to the side as I started evaluating my current situation. I was lying face down so logically it should be the mattress under me, but the sound that I had made just now from my jaw hitting it was quite sharp. The thing that my cheek and ear was pressed against was actually slowly rising and falling, too. I didn’t remember buying a massage table though.
This woke me up eight-tenths of the way, although my head still hurt a lot. I squeezed my arms and thighs together and it became apparent that I was hugging a cylinder-shaped object. Naturally, I thought of the beanbag that I usually held when I slept.
I let out a sigh of relief from touching the familiar object. I squinted at the scene to my left. It was my room all right: the windows I had closed before leaving; the light beige curtains that were letting in a bit of light; the wooden floor boards glowing gold from the sunshine; the human-length beanbag cushion on the floor—
Hold it right there! My beanbag is there! Then what’s this in my arms?!
I lifted my head up so abruptly that I could almost hear my brain hitting the crown of my head and then falling back down. Consequently, I lost my vision for a few seconds. After my optic nerves reattached themselves, I saw a pair of eyes mere inches away in the 12 o’clock direction watching me.
Bangs, black bangs, hung in front of those eyes. Below them were one nose and one mouth (No fucking duh! As if there would be two noses and three mouths?).
Due to the severity of the impact, I momentarily could not match the facial features to a person I recognized—kind of like how you can’t identify the actor when you are too close to the TV screen. The only thought going through my head was: ‘I never bought no massage table! And I bought a beanbag, not some blow-up doll. So what the hell is this?!’
The person whom I suspected to be a blow-up doll sighed, “Wu Xie.”
I jerked like a machine that had just been plugged in. His voice and the way he had said my name along with his face suddenly became three-dimensional to me.
I gasped with surprise once I saw that it was him, and he blinked his eyes as if to tell me he was alive. This blink caused quite a disturbance in its wake. I was so startled that I sprang up from him and the moment the blankets were lifted, the sunlight shone unobstructed onto his bare naked chest.
I recalled the cool, smooth sensation on my cheek just a while ago and an ominous feeling loomed over me. I looked down only to discover that both of us were half-naked!
Immediately, purely out of instinct, I snatched over the blankets around my shoulders and wrapped myself in it. I stared at him fixedly with only my head sticking out.
Without my weight on his chest, Pokerface moved his upper body a little and swung an arm back behind his head, looking completely laid back as if he was watching something entertaining.
In my extremely awkward position, I wiggled my thighs together only to discover that we were both naked down there too.
My head was already killing me and now I felt like I was having a stroke. I didn’t even want to begin to think about what part of him I was straddling.
“Erm. Xiaoge, wh…wh….” The cat got my tongue. Finally, I managed to get a complete but very stupid sentence out. “Where are our clothes?”
For just a second there, I spotted the corners of his lips twitch. However, he didn’t say anything and only turned away to look at a spot in my room.
I followed his gaze over to the laundry basket in front of my bathroom. Two wrinkly pant legs were hanging out of it—those were the khakis I had worn last night all right. I peered in between the holes of the basket to see that it was packed full. It appeared Pokerface’s were in there as well.
At the same time, my sense of smell suddenly became more acute. An odour that strangely reminded me of vomit had not been very noticeable but now it filled the whole room and of course, my nose.
Quickly, I covered my mouth. The smell of alcohol rushed up into my mouth along with the odour and I almost barfed.
Oh, shit. Shit. Crap. Crap. Shit. Shit. Crap…
I had been gazing up at the moon from the cab I had been in on the way to meet with Uncle Three at Full Moon House yesterday. The sky was clear, almost cloudless. The moon was so close and round that I wouldn’t have been surprised if I saw Chang'e flitting across with a bunny in her arms.
I probably had too much to drink, I thought to myself, so that I’m having such lame thoughts. I looked for the room number Uncle Three gave me as soon as I got to the restaurant. I pulled open the door, went in and turned around to close it. Only after I turned back around and took a step forward do I see the situation. The moment I did, I backed up and—bang! —knocked the back of my head hard against the door frame.
Four pairs of eyes saw my idiotic behaviour.
The one on the farthest left was Uncle Three who was still in the middle of pouring a drink. Next to him was Panzi and Fats was squished in beside him while the seat beside Fats was empty. What surprised me the most was that next to the empty seat, the rightmost seat, sat Pokerface.
Strictly speaking, at this time, I had already experienced the fright of seeing Pokerface without any warning beforehand, but the extent of the fright of seeing him sitting at a dinner table couldn’t even compare to that of seeing him in bed.
“Comrade Innocence, did you run into a ghost or something on the way here? It’s Xiaoge. Don’t tell me you don’t remember Xiaoge.” Fats raised his glass and waved it towards Pokerface.
“Shut up, Fats. Or else you’re gonna run into some yourself! I was just…” I quickly tried acting normal and coughed several times. I tugged at my collar and walked over to the table.
There were only five chairs around the table. Pokerface edged forward a bit to make room for me. I shuffled in sideways and took the seat in between him and Fats. After I settled in, I stole a glance at Pokerface and thought, why is he here too? On the other hand, he just did what he always did—pin pointing inanimate objects with his eyes. This time his target was a beam in the corner of the room. He was probably evaluating its sturdiness for a hypothetical earthquake.
At this time, Fats pushed a glass of beer to me. I picked it up, finishing, “I was just surprised to see Xiaoge here too.”
I said this in Uncle Three’s direction. But why didn’t I just ask the party in question? Why was I so socially awkward?
“I didn’t know Xiaoge was going to come. I called you first and then I remembered I had some things to discuss with Xiaoge, so I dialed his number, he picked up, I told him our plans here tonight and he ended up getting here before you.”
He called me first, and then Pokerface? To be able to connect these two things together, I figured Uncle Three was kind of high already. His fingers were shaking when he poured his drink and alcohol spilled out several times. Panzi who was beside him quickly guided him back.
“See how considerate Xiaoge is? He came and didn’t forget about gifts.” Fats kept pounding my back hard as though to stop my heart from beating while motioning towards the box of moon cakes surrounded by a tableful of dishes with his other fat hand.
I thought, he’s already giving us respect by coming here so why would he need to bring gifts? But, I took a look at the colourful gift-wrapped moon cakes labelled with their corresponding fillings, and then I took a look at little Pokerface who was so unnoticeable he could almost blend into the background—I really couldn’t put those two phenomena together.
Maybe the aura of inquiry coming from me was too strong, because Pokerface said nonchalantly, “It was a gift.”
His voice was low, so low that only I could catch it. Immediately, I realised he was giving me an answer. I shut my mouth and swallowed the other question that I almost blurted out.
It was a gift? From whom?
But strictly speaking, it had nothing to do with me. It was normal to exchange gifts during the holiday seasons. I was only curious. Just the fact that Pokerface could be contacted through mobile phone was more unbelievable than seeing Chang’e flying in the sky.
I mean, in order to contact Pokerface… This was a picture that I often had in my head: you would write a letter, tie it to the leg of a pigeon, let it go and not expect a reply for at least ten days or half a month; or, if you are even braver, you would wander around some of the graves he might appear in and if you really were lucky enough to run into him, you would be sure to win the lottery that day my friend.
The baijiu really did a number on me, so much so that for the rest of the night, my sense of taste and my thoughts were completely filled with these pointless imaginations and the wine, food and moon cakes.
I didn’t know whether I should be thankful that I got there too late or too early. Basically, everyone except Pokerface was pretty much drunk. I glanced at the amount of empty bottles by the side of the room and thought to myself, I’d probably be lying with those bottles if I had been here since the beginning.
Uncle Three was the type that would become a tape recorder on repeat after a few drinks. He would talk about the same thing over and over again and never get tired of it. Most of it was about Wenjing, too. It didn’t matter if you had heard it or not, you had to pep up every time or else he would get furious.
Fats was already more brawn than brains to begin with and after he drank he became even more unreserved. No one paid attention to his ridiculous bullshit, naturally, but I actually saw him hook his arm around Panzi’s neck and popping a smack on his face on several occasions. I couldn’t help but feel relieved for Fats: Panzi would have KO’d him if he were sober. But now the two of them were snuggling with each other. Panzi must have drunk his fair share, too.
Although I had drunk with these guys before, usually we had to go to work underground the next day, so we never over-drank so as to not delay our schedule. Today, however, we had no restrictions so the clerks just kept bringing different kinds of liquor in through the door. Once we got going, we had to drink bottoms-up every round.
When it came to beer, I was the type to feel stuffed when I drank to a certain point but once I overcame that point then I would go into this light, weightless zone where a dozen glasses do not do any damage.
Throughout this process, I paid attention to Pokerface beside me from time to time. At first, I could only take peeks out of the corner of my eye. I watched as he ate whatever went into his bowl and drank whatever was in front of him. After a dozen glasses or so, he started to look sleepy but he didn’t actually fall asleep. His face was still about as white as paper, unlike Uncle Three and Fats who looked like they had high blood pressure and who were very much like two cooked crabs with their bright red faces and necks.
Maybe he just doesn’t have any capillaries in his face? I thought to myself. I became more courageous after drinking and I started leaning forward, the back legs of my chair leaving the ground, and stuck my face almost right into his.
If Pokerface was sitting in his own home tonight with no one at the dinner table, he would probably still be doing the same thing as he is now, right?
I mean, he came all this way… Not that I know where he lives or how he got here. Anyways, he came all this way to accomplish what is really just a transplant through space and time—copying whatever he might have done at home and pasting it to this room in Full Moon House.
I didn’t think us Crab Crew was bringing him much joy.
Pokerface was Pokerface no matter where he went. I couldn’t help feeling bad for him just from looking at him. I kind of wanted to poke that face of his that looked about the same whether it looked sleepy or not, and see if I could make it smile.
“Oi, Lil’ Wu! Lil’ Wu, what’re ya doin’? You’re drunk, aren’tcha?” I heard Fats’ voice coming from somewhere faraway, but hearing his boisterous voice made me furious.
I retorted in a raspy voice,
“You…talkin’ ‘bout me? Lemme tell ya, I’ve ne’er been drunk. Not in those college drinking fests, not now!” I swung my hand in the air as I said this, as though swatting a fly in front of me but failing to hit it.
“Not drunk, ya say? Then get yer ass sittin’ up straight and drink up! Don’t get all up against Xiaoge! Are you in heat or wha’?”
Fats’ words woke me up. I focused my eyes to discover that the closest thing in front of me was Pokerface’s shirt button. It turned out that somehow I had been right up against him for some time already. I wanted to sit up straight right away. I tried to but my body wouldn’t listen to me. It was limp just like a pile of sludge. I couldn’t budge no matter how hard I tried.
I saw Fats holding up a glass in front of me. I saw it but I couldn’t reach it for my life. The world was spinning around me as though I was in those tea cups in the amusement park.
The chest I was leaning on moved. Pokerface raised his hand and it went across my vision to take the glass that was full to the brim. Three seconds later, an empty glass appeared on the table.
Just as I was still staring dumbly at the glass, Fats started hollering again, swearing and clapping from time to time. I thought to myself, why is everyone else other than berserk Fats so quiet?
I took a glimpse. Uncle Three was sprawled out on the table, I’m not sure whether sleeping or passed out, while Panzi was trying to wake him up with the little strength he had left after the booze.
As for how we managed to make it down to the first floor and pay the bill, honestly, I can’t remember.
The restaurant had had plenty of customers like us and had already got a few cabs waiting for us before closing shop.
“How many cabs do you need, sirs? And where are you headed?”
That was all I heard through the alcohol buzz and I couldn’t even tell who uttered it.
I tilted my head to look beside me. Uncle Three was so drunk he was toppling all over the place while rambling on in some archaic language. I hadn’t really seen Uncle Three this drunk before. Panzi wasn’t walking straight either but he managed an upright posture in order to hold Uncle Three up.
As for me, if I’m correct, I was originally hanging on to Fats, but when he heard those words, he started mumbling about going back to his own hotel and maybe calling a good masseuse to give him a nice massage. As he said so, he opened the door of the first cab he saw and tossed me in the back like a bag of flour.
I could faintly see between the car and car door a restaurant employee helping Panzi get Uncle Three into the car in front of mine. Panzi tucked his legs in—slam!—and they were gone.
I let myself fall over into the car as my head spun and whirled about. I thought the door would shut when I lied down but all of a sudden something started pushing me farther in. I look up to find that Pokerface had come in.
He slammed the door shut after taking his seat and quickly spewed a string of words to the driver. I stuck my fingers up and reconstructed the words in my giddy mind.
I-isn’t that my home address?_____________________________
Here is the character list from the second book in the manhua adaptation (translated by ayszhang). Note, Menyouping = Pokerface.
and here is a little gif <3 the one in the blue is Xiaoge~
ayszhang says: That's all for today~ ;)