I’ve always thought of you
Translate: Sae | Proofread: Julieta
At Haidian District local police station, on Huayuan road, there was a group of policemen happily playing cards.
“Hey! I said to stop playing…” Captain Zhao clapped his hands a few times. “There’s a task! Put the cards away and hurry the hell up!”
Throwing the cards disappointedly into the drawer, the group of policemen stood in a row and waited for the Captain’s instruction.
“Over at Jin Du Da Hotel, there’s a celebrity attending an event for a brand name watch this afternoon. You guys will be responsible for maintaining order and protecting the celebrity.”
Xiao Li Zi, who was standing beside Yang Meng, quickly asked, “A male or female celebrity?”
“Fuck!” Both of Xiao Li Zi’s thick brows tightened. “A male artist attending an event still needs the police to clear the way? Do we have to fucking give him face? Doesn’t he have his own personal bodyguards? If we all go there to protect him, what are we going to do if something happens here?”
“That’s right! Doesn’t that hotel have plenty of security guards? What do we need to go there for?”
“Pay us! If they don’t pay us, we’re not going!”
Captain Zhao waved his hands in the air. “Stop making a ruckus and listen to me.”
The room immediately quieted down for the time being.
“Originally, the hotel said that they didn’t need us to send anyone over, but Chief Zhang, the Head of this sub-bureau, insisted on getting involved with this matter. The watch brand that this celebrity is endorsing was founded by our Chief’s sister-in-law. Not only that, the promotional conference is held at the hotel within our patrolled region. Wouldn’t it be inappropriate if we didn’t send a few people over? How about this, Zhang Xiang and Wu Hao, you two stay here, the rest of you come with me.”
On the road, Yang Meng picked up the advertisement poster for a glance.
“You – Wu – Zui – Hong – Chen…”171 After reading that word by word, Yang Meng could help but rain curses about it. “Fuck! That can also be a person’s name? Which unreliable parents gave their son such a name?!”
The policeman standing at the side looked over at Yang Meng with a sympathetic gaze. “That’s an advertisement slogan.”
“Ugh…” Yang Meng felt stupid. “Seeing the character ‘You’, I thought it was a family’s surname.”
When Yang Meng and a few of his colleagues arrived at the event’s location, there were already several thousands of fans surrounding the area from all sides. On either side of the red carpet, there were two police cordons to keep things in an orderly manner, while more than a dozen security guards with electric batons strolled back and forth inside the axis. If anyone dared to cross over the said police formations, they would be severely warned straightaway.
Yang Meng and a few others stood at the entrance. As soon as the celebrity was present on the scene, they had to quickly advance forward and clear the way for him. Even if each of them held an unwilling attitude, when the time came, they had to risk their lives and charge ahead.
At a bit after two o’clock in the afternoon, two extremely luxurious cars stopped in front of the hotel’s entrance. Yang Meng quickly followed behind a few of his colleagues. Amidst the reporters and journalists’ vigorous shoves, they managed to open the car door after expending a great deal of effort. Afterward, they asked the male celebrity to step out, surrounding and guarding him as he walked inside of the event hall.
Soon after, Yang Meng heard continuous waves of squeals, that sounded like pigs being slaughtered, rushing out from inside of the hall. No matter where he walked to, the situation was totally out of control. The muscles on his body felt so worn out that if he tried to relax even a little bit, someone would definitely seize the opportunity to push past him.
Yang Meng was incessantly complaining to himself. Girls, stop shouting! My eardrums are numb and bleeding out already. In these ten meters, my shoes have been stomped on and fallen off several times and my clothes had been pulled at to the point they’re about to fall off. Oh god… even cramming in the train during the peak hour of New Year isn’t this strenuous.
Yang Meng had never chased after any celebrity—he may have liked a few celebrities when he was younger, but that excitement normally lasted for only three, maybe four days before he completely forgot about them. Now that he was older, his interest toward those kinds of people had lessened more than ever. Thus, he didn’t even bother to glance over when the male celebrity got out of the car.
After only walking midway on the red carpet, not only was Yang Meng’s police uniform already missing two buttons, even the lapels at the front were twisted to the back of his neck. He didn’t even know who had stepped on the foot of his trousers, but when he forcefully struggled to free himself, all he heard was a ripping sound as his crotch area was taking in cool air.
Taking advantage of Yang Meng’s rushed and muddled state, a fan suddenly broke through the police cordon and charged toward the male celebrity. The scene then sank into complete chaos. Yang Meng suffered a kick when he was doing his best to block the fans, that inadvertently caused him to let out a loud howl out of nowhere.
That voice was clearly heard by a certain someone to the side. The person turned his head around and used an unimaginable gaze to stare for a long time at the little policeman before him.
At that point, Yang Meng was so overwhelmed by the pain that he did not hear someone calling out to him at all. That was until his twisted collar was pulled back again—and when the male celebrity took off his sunglasses and excitedly shook his shoulders incessantly, Yang Meng finally recognized who the person was.
“You Qi!” Yang Meng’s eyes revealed the surprise in them. “What are you doing here?”
With those words asked in such a casual manner and the group of girls surrounding them screaming until their voices became hoarse, Yang Meng froze, not knowing what their idol had come here for.
“Hurry up and go!” The policemen and security guards urged from the side.
It was only then that Yang Meng finally reacted—his eyes widened, exposing those perfectly round pupils. “Don’t tell me that you’re the male celebrity attending today’s event?”
Just by walking together with Yang Meng, those few policemen felt that their statuses were lowered tremendously. There was a policeman among them that had a pretty good relationship with him. He kindly reminded him, “Meng Ge, let’s keep those outrageous behaviors for when we return home, alright? There are a lot of reporters and journalist filming here! Even if you’re not afraid of losing face, don’t take us down with you.”
Yang Meng scrutinized You Qi for a long while then ruthlessly punched him with his tightened fist. “Look at this mess! If I had known earlier that it was you, I would have let that group of fans in.”
You Qi, “…”
During the promotional event, You Qi was interviewed jovially by the media as the spokesperson of the product, while Yang Meng stared at him from not too far away. Others were looking at You Qi with a lovestruck expression, but he looked at him with a lively expression instead. This bastard really knows how to fucking pretend! You had an endless amount of commercial activities lately? Do you have no intention of accepting any acting roles for the time being? Keep bragging, just keep going!!
“How much longer until it ends?” Yang Meng asked the staff standing at the side.
After a long while, the staff’s soul finally returned from being enthralled by You Qi’s appearance. She casually replied, “Another two hours at least!”
“That won’t do. I need to go and eat a bowl of dāo xiāo miàn172 first since I’m a bit hungry.”
Yang Meng decidedly gave up the best spot and eagerly rushed out of the hotel— making a beeline all the way to the noodle shop on the opposite side of the street, just to eat that seven kuai bowl of xiāo miàn. That was certainly his diaosi173 life.
In the end, the event was over when Yang Meng was done eating.
At first, after the event ended You Qi wanted to chat up with Yang Meng about their former times. Who would have known that that fool would vanish in such a short period of time?
“There’s a cocktail party tonight. Will you be attending it?” the assistant asked.
“I’m not going.”
After politely declining the invitation, You Qi secretly left from the side door as to avoid any more mishaps. Then, after he inquired about which station Yang Meng worked at, he drove directly there to find him. Unfortunately, he was informed that Yang Meng had already left. Knowing that, he kindly asked a policeman to take him to Yang Meng’s home.
Yang Meng’s family had already moved out of that alleyway into a residential building a long time ago. When the door opened, You Qi nearly jumped back in shock. Mother Yang’s face was smeared with thick makeup, looking as though she was an old sorceress. She explained that it was for a performance at the public square174 that evening.
“Yang Meng and his father went for a walk. You can have a seat and wait here,” Mother Yang said.
This wait lasted for an hour. What made it odd was that Mother Yang was staring a hole at You Qi from the side—the more she looked at him, the more familiar he became. In the end, she suddenly gave the table a loud slap!
“Who are you?… What’s your name? I can’t think of the exact name, but I’ve seen that drama you’ve acted in!”
“You Qi.” You Qi replied, feeling a bit embarrassed. “I’ve only acted in one drama, but not as the main lead. I didn’t expect that you would be able to recognize me.”
“I knew it was you with just one glance. The traitor that you acted as was extremely irritating! Back then, whenever I turned on the television, I would immediately curse out, ‘that freaking traitor, that wicked piece of shit! You know how to harass the ordinary people of China…’”
The lines on You Qi’s face darkened. “I’m not the one that acted in that drama.”
When Yang Meng returned home ten minutes later to find You Qi, he was completely flabbergasted. But, before he had a chance to open his mouth, Father Yang suddenly jumped in front of You Qi like a raging tornado and excitedly grabbed his hands. “You’re You Qi, right? I am a You Cai Zi,175 your fan!!”
Earlier on the road, Yang Meng had already mentioned to Father Yang his encounter with You Qi. Who could have guessed that his father would be even more exhilarated than him and had immediately brought up all of You Qi’s hard work and struggles over the recent years? At that time, Yang Meng felt as if he was struck with a lightning bolt to which he did not want to get up from! But now that he saw the starry-eyes infatuation and smitten appearance of his dear father, he wished he could find a crack and hide in there. How come I h such a strange father?
When the two sat down to chat in the living room later, You Qi tossed Yang Meng an admission ticket to a movie premiere. Then he kindly said a few words as an invitation, “Next week, the movie that I’ve acted in will be premiering in theatres. You must come to cheer me on!”
“Tsk, tsk…” Yang Meng’s cheeks puffed up into a smile. “Did you act as male number six or seven?”
Smiling mischievously, You Qi replied, “The second supporting actor.”
Yang Meng nodded. “You are quite stupid.”176
When You Qi took a sip of tea, his dashing eyes seemed to spark, carrying an endless sea of emotions.
“I could have never imagined that you’d be a policeman.”
“There are many things that you can’t even imagine! Let me tell you, Yin Zi, he…”
“He’s an Air Force pilot.” You Qi interrupted Yang Meng’s words. “I ran into him a while ago. He was with Gu Hai.”
“Huh?” Yang Meng was shocked. “That can’t be? The last time he came to find me, he and Gu Hai seemed to be enemies when they met again.”
“How long has it been since then?” You Qi asked.
Thinking about it, Yang Meng only managed to say, “Uh… almost half a year ago. Every day is passing by so fast now.”
You Qi faintly smiled.
Yang Meng stared at him for a moment and then asked, “You’re not still thinking about Yin Zi, are you?”
“How, huh?” You Qi denied at once. “It’s been so many years. I don’t have that kind of heart anymore, but it’s the truth when I say that I’ve been thinking about you. I’ve never forgotten you after all this time.”
“Thinking about me? What’s there about me for you to think about?
“I don’t even know the reason myself.” You Qi narrowed his eyes. “Look at me, my mind was always full of Yin Zi back then, but after all these years, my memories of him have become so vague. Contrariwise, I could still remember everything that happened between us rather vividly.”
Yang Meng’s lips tugged back, and after a long while, he finally spoke. “Is there something wrong with your brain?”
“You Qi, “…”
171 “You– Wu – Zui – Hong – Chen…” (尤―物―醉―红―尘)
You Qi’s surname is the 尤(Yóu). The breakdown of the advertising slogan is, a rare object/person (尤物yóu wù), drunk/intoxicated (醉zuì) in the world of mortals (红尘hóng chén): “A rare object that intoxicates the mortal world”. (something like that)
172 dāo xiāo miàn – knife-shaved noodles (pared or shaved into strips), a Shanxi specialty
173 屌丝(loser) – Originally referring to a young male of ugly appearance and humble upbringing, with no car, house or connections whatsoever, diaosi has become a buzzword among Chinese youths of both genders who feel they have dead-end lives.
On a social level, experts see the ability of the term diaosi to speak and relate to many low-status Chinese citizens as why it is able to overcome its negative connotations to become a common internet language for many young people.
“Many people have come to accept and identify with the term diaosi because it tells the plight confronting many lower or even middle-class Chinese nowadays. Since freedom of speech is relatively restricted in China, this form of self-defamation, self-satire and self-entertainment as people poke fun at themselves as ‘Diaosi’ over the internet allows them to relieve their life pressure in a safe way. As such, the Diaosi phenomenon has become a grassroots narrative,” remarks Prof. Zhu Chongke from Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou to gbtimes.
174 public square dancing (广场舞guǎngchǎng wǔ)- an exercise routine (not western U.S. square dancing) performed to music in squares, plazas or parks of the nation’s cities that became well-established national craze in urban areas since it started in the mid-1990s. It is popular with middle-aged and retired women who have been referred to as ‘dancing grannies’ in the English-language media. Due to its low cost and ease of participation, it has been estimated to have over 100 million practitioners, according to CCTV, the country’s official television network.
When I was studying in China, I had also joined a couple of the public square dances, but not an actual performance. It’s pretty nice since everyone just jump in if they were to give it a go. Even a person like me with zero dancing skin and coordination enjoyed it. XD
175 You Cai Zi (油菜籽) – the name of You Qi’s fan club, but it’s also a type of plant known as oilseed rape (Brassica campestris) /rapeseed /coleseed.
I’m assuming that You Qi’s fanclub name is eluding to how he will be as well-known as this product.
176 二(èr) – second/two, (Beijing dialect) stupid. Since You Qi said he was the 2nd supporting actor, Yang Meng is using the ‘two’ to retort back since in Beijing dialect, ‘two’ means stupid. In Chinese, you say like, ‘you are so er’ – you are so stupid.’ Bai Luo Yin used this many time to address Gu Hai. Since the novel setting is in Beijing, we tend to see this used.