“There’s a congee place near Zhongshan Park that I’ve been meaning to try. Would you like to have dinner there on Saturday?”
My first thought was: Ugh, congee…
I grew up next to a congee restaurant in Toronto, and every time we had out of town guests, my parents would take them there.
“Aunty Lee and Uncle Tang are coming with their daughter Ruth. Let’s take them to Congee Wong. Oh, then Niagara Falls after. Btw, did you know Ruth Tang got into Princeton? Princeton!!!!”
Goddamn Congee Wong and Ruth Tang…
But when Johan asked me to congee, I said yes anyway. Because I’m
a doormat agreeable. Food is not the main purpose of a date anyway, I reasoned.
On Friday, I got another text from Johan:
“My sister said the congee place dinner line-up can last hours. Would you like to meet up for lunch instead?”
There’s nothing I hate more than line-ups (except maybe congee), so I texted back “Sure. I have a farewell party that night anyway.”
He messaged back “Same, I have a friend’s Halloween party.”
Then on Saturday I got another text “Hey, I have an idea! I’m making my own Halloween costume. How bout instead of congee, you come over to my place for some wine and art. Then maybe we can go party hopping?”
At first I was just relieved that I didn’t have to eat congee.
Then I thought “How rude to change plans last minute! I oughtta cancel!!!”
Then I thought “Mmmm, wine….”
Disclaimer: And kids, this is how you get lured up to a sexual predator’s place.
Fortunately, this is not one of those stories. Because I have a guardian angel named Nicholas Cage. But you may not!!! So do as I say, not as I do.
Now all legal issues out of the way, I can tell you that I agreed to wine at his place. I knew that he lived with his sister, so that also put my mind at ease. Not saying that’s necessarily a rational thing.
Anyway, it was Jasper’s Going Away/Halloween Party, so I dressed up in my Qipao. I got good use out of that Qipao alright. That Qipao had so many mileage on it, it was like our old Toyota Corolla.
I showed up at the address he sent me, and after knocking for 5 minutes straight, nobody answered.
I was about to leave when a woman opened the door.
“Are you here for Johan?” She stared at me unsmilingly.
“Yes! You must be…”
“He’s in there.” She left the door open and went back inside.
‘Hmm, I wonder if she has a case of the Feeg Face.’ I thought to myself as I followed her in timidly.
She went to her room and shut the door. I stood at the entrance, unsure where to go.
“Hello?” I called out, wondering why he didn’t greet me at the door.
I ventured in further and found him sitting on living room floor.
He looked up and said “Hey”, the way you would to a neighbor who comes over all the time, uninvited.
“Well, glad I’m at the right place.” I said with a slight edge in my voice.
He didn’t catch on, and continued to glue his cardboard guitar.
“Make yourself at home, I’m just working on my costume for next week.”
I sat down unimpressed and thought: Yep! Definitely another guy who just wants to “Hang Out”.
“Oh, I thought it was for tonight.” I asked him.
“No, I have another costume for tonight.” He replied.
“So what is all this for?”
“Do you watch a lot of cartoons?” He pushed up his glasses.
“I like Sailormoon…”
“Do you know Marshall Lee from Adventure Time?” He searched my eyes for signs of recognition. None.
He started stringing the guitar as he talked “He’s a musician/Vampire King. He likes to mess with people’s heads. Even faked death once to get his best friend to admit she loves him! He’s mischievous but feels remorse easily. He wants to be seen as evil but is actually more human than he likes to admit…”
“And I thought the plot of Sailormoon was complicated…” I said, while secretly confirming in my head that he is a nerd.
“Don’t tell anyone but…” He paused dramatically “It’s really because I already own the same plaid shirt.”
Our conversation continued pleasantly. I tried to ignore my disappointment that this was not a date (guess I liked him more than I thought). I felt better once I reasoned that he was not dating material anyway. 1) So nerdy 2) So rude! Where the hell was the wine he promised? At least offer me some water… I’m so thirsty…
“Can I have some water or tea?” I finally asked.
“Sure, I’ll get it.” He got up for the first time since I got here.
Aw, he didn’t make me boil the water myself! Howwww sweet…But still no.
“Would you like to help me paint this?” He asked after awhile, seeing that I was just sitting there.
“I would, but I don’t want to get my dress dirty for the party.”
“Oh, speaking of which. What do you think of dropping by my friend’s party first. Then we can go to your friend’s party?”
It was still too early for Jasper’s party, I thought. And I do love meeting new people. And parties. So I agreed.
“Ok, I’ll get my costume and we can go!” He got up and left the livingroom.
I started checking my Wechat messages while he was gone.
Message from Joseph Australia: “Kat, you going to Jasper’s party? I might go, but only if you go.”
After this disastrous date or whatever you wanna call it, Joseph (oh sweet and caring Joseph) was starting to seem a lot better.
“Yes!” I messaged back “And you better be there too!”
“Ready?” asked Johan.
I looked up, and he was now dressed as a giant green dinosaur.