The aftereffects of that blood-roiling performance… A good thing, or a bad thing for our leads?
Chapter 4.3 – Those Beautiful, Little Things (3)
Ai Mi handed her coat to her, then took advantage of the opportunity to express to Gu Pingsheng, “Teacher Gu, I ‘white part of the scallion’ [cōng bái] you.” After saying this, she left with chortles of “hee hee.”
Gu Pingsheng was silent for a moment before asking Tong Yan, “What did she say?”
“She said she idolizes [chóng bài] Teacher Gu, you.” She had finally found her voice again but it was still somewhat raspy. Luckily, he could not hear it.
“When you did that, weren’t you afraid you might sing something wrong or off?” She looked at him.
“I have a bit of a musical foundation in vocal studies, and I’m also very familiar with that song.” He motioned for her to put on her coat. These last few days, the temperature had fallen somewhat, and it was rather chilly backstage. “But I still couldn’t be certain that I could completely complement you. Good thing you and Shen Yao are both very astute.”
He spoke nonchalantly about this, as if a moment ago, he had been singing in a karaoke bar and not performing in front of several thousand people. And the main point was, in those circumstances, he had been required to go onstage and sing.
Piano, vocal studies, speech and broadcast… As she pieced together all these things about him, she gradually came to the realization that his family had actually intentionally trained and fostered abilities in him. Even if one were to disregard the profession he had once studied, simply these things alone were enough to make one feel a sense of regret and a twinge of sadness in the heart. Heaven had richly blessed him with many talents, but unfortunately, he no longer had an arena for him to demonstrate them.
By the time the evening gala came to an end, Tong Yan nearly collapsed from exhaustion.
Because they needed to remove their make-up and change their clothing, she and Gu Pingsheng were almost the last to arrive at the post-event celebratory feast. Students’ Union had reserved the entire Haijingge Restaurant, and inside, boisterous noise and loud laughter stirred the eardrum.
The two of them had just stepped inside when Zhou Qingchen immediately clapped his hands together, indicating that everyone should quiet down. “Hurry, hurry, bring the alcohol. Tonight, our mission is to get our two emcees hammered with booze until they fall over.”
Before Tong Yan had a chance to say anything, a brimming glass of beer was stuffed into her hand. Her alcohol capacity was such that she would pass out after three glasses, and she had never before been the subject of a focused effort to get her drunk. However, judging from the atmosphere here tonight, she reckoned that unless they drank themselves unconscious, they should not even think about exiting through those main doors …
Gu Pingsheng glanced down at the glass in his hand, sensing that he could not back out of this now. “My friends and students here, do you need to take into consideration the virtue of respecting your teacher?”
“Teacher Gu,” everyone suddenly shouted in unison, “we ‘white part of the scallion’ you.” It was a resounding sound, and even the serving staff who were carrying trays around jumped with shock.
Tong Yan suddenly felt very, very touched and she turned her head to look at him. Though he could not hear, he could still see the words they had spoken.
Everyone’s lips moving in unison, everyone’s excited expressions caused many emotions to flood up into that pair of eyes — an intensity that flashed very briefly before it was gone.
In the end, contrary to everybody’s expectations, they were the ones who were all finished off by Gu Pingsheng instead.
Everyone was transported back on bicycles ridden by dormmates who had all been summoned over from their various dormitories to help … Only she, the one who had joined forces with Gu Pingsheng against their “common enemy,” very clearheadedly looked toward Gu Pingsheng and said, “Oh no, they’re all drunk. There’s only us left to pay the bill.”
Smiling, the restaurant owner wagged his hand at them. “No need, no need. Your Students’ Union President Zhou will come back tomorrow to pay the tab.”
Tong Yan secretly exhaled in relief. Gu Pingsheng was now the people’s idol, and she did not dare force him to pay the restaurant bill.
In the beginning, she had still been carefully totaling up how much he had drunk, but later, she utterly lost track. At the end, even she had started to suspect whether Teacher Gu actually had ancestral roots in northeastern China and had started drinking baijiu [traditional Chinese alcoholic drink] to pass the day when he was still a babbling baby learning to talk.
As the two of them walked back together along the tree-lined boulevard that was relatively empty of people, there was not much conversation between them. Perhaps he was a little tipsy, too. When they arrived in front of the girls’ dormitory building, someone gave a loud sigh of admiration. Instantly, numerous gazes coming from the laundry and boiler rooms were thrown in their direction. And then, more joined in from the balconies … Heads furtively poked out from at least half of the forty-odd balconies on this side of the building, all trying hard to locate Gu Pingsheng, the person who, only a little while ago, had amazed an entire audience.
“Teacher Gu.” Tong Yan could not handle this much longer. “I’m going in first now.”
He seemed to have perceived that standing at the foot of the girls’ dormitory building was not a wise thing to do to. “Go ahead.”
Tong Yan turned away, but just as she stepped up onto the first step, she suddenly turned back again. “Teacher Gu, you drank. Make sure you don’t drive.”
“I don’t drive anymore.” He could not hold back a laugh. “I’m planning on settling down to live in Shanghai, so I can’t continue using the driver’s license I was originally using. Nowadays, there are regulations and restrictions around hearing ability when obtaining a drivers license within the country, so lately, I’ve been riding the campus shuttle or taking a taxi.”
Tong Yan had not expected, however, that when she pushed open the door to her own dormitory room, she would be greeted with a different sort of scene. Shen Yao and Wang Xiaoru were sitting facing one another, both wearing very grim expressions. So grim it was rather scary.
“What’s going on?” Even when Tong Yan shut the door, the two did not turn their heads.
Shen Yao shrugged. “I’m looking at the person who is now famous school-wide for being a third party, the culprit who caused us to nearly be humiliated tonight at the gala.”
Tong Yan could not quite understand. Wang Xiaoru merely smiled, “I’m heading out.” After saying this, she grabbed her mobile phone and keys and strode straight out the door.
“What’s going on?” Tong Yan asked again.
“Do you know why Zhao Jianan suddenly didn’t go up on stage?” Shen Yao heaved a lengthy sigh. “Let me give you a brief summary of what was happening backstage while I was shaking in fear and accompanying you and Teacher Gu on the piano.” Tong Yan tossed the paper bag containing her clothes off to the side and motioned for her to speak.
“I’m sure in your Students’ Union celebration feast, no one dared tell you the truth, but when we, the band were out at our own dinner, it was a complete uproar. Apparently, at the time, Zhao Jianan had already changed into her outfit, but one minute before she was supposed to go onstage, she suddenly started bawling and ran away with her phone in her hand. Everyone backstage at the time was stunned. Someone eventually revealed the gossip that Zhao Jianan had found out Prez Zhou was actually cheating on her with another girl. She was so mad she didn’t care about anything else and just bawled, saying she’d rather die before she went out onstage, that she wanted to completely screw up the gala so that Prez Zhou would be disciplined …”
As she listened up to this point, Tong Yan suddenly realized that, indeed, it did seem that no one had mentioned tonight why such a big slip-up had occurred
“And so … it’s Xiaoru?”
Shen Yao let out another long sigh. “Xiaoru is just too ruthless. She nearly ruined all of us.”
Tong Yan was somewhat unable to believe this was true. “Doesn’t she have a boyfriend already?”
“Prez Zhou has an offer from the University of Pennsylvania and also has a job offer from the Singapore government. Whoever’s with him won’t have to worry about taking an exam for this or trying to get into that anymore.”
Yet another love story that crumbled after a single strike. Tong Yan had no desire to ask for more details, and Shen Yao also could not be bothered to say any more. Instead, she grinningly began showing Tong Yan the current hot topics on the school’s BBS. Without a single exception, they were all related to tonight’s “Without You” performance. She only needed to look at the subject headings of the posts before she wanted to start laughing.
“Begging on my knees for a recording of tonight’s ‘Without You.’ Will treat you to Xinjiang big plate chicken!!!!”
“Oh cr*p! So freaking annoying. My computer crashed while I was streaming it live!”
“[Shocking appearance] Perverted old dude impersonating Pretty Lady’s Bane beside Remembrance of Roots Lake!”
“Latest campus shuttle bus schedule (Gu Pingsheng version)!”
“I’ll show you two that are exciting.” Shen Yao opened up two windows on her screen and read out the subject line. “ ‘Any Penn alumni out there? Have you heard of the stories about Gu Pingsheng when he was in med school?’ Hurry, look, look.”
With an expression of adoring worship, she stared at Tong Yan, as if she could see through her to the far away University of Pennsylvania over in the United States…
“I can’t believe Great Beauty Gu studied medicine and that he’d actually been in the School of Medicine at Penn. Tong Yan Wuji, I can’t take it. That’s the home of Wharton School of Business — my goal for next year, aaah …”
Tong Yan gave a couple of “mm-hmms” and remained silent out of a guilty conscience.
“There’s more. There’s this one, too.” Shen Yao clicked open another window.
She took a glance and was truly taken aback this time.
“I can’t take it, can’t take it! Huge, earth-shaking scandal! The girl in white who nearly scared me to death that time in the Upper Building was the female MC from tonight, ah ah ah ah! And that, that, that, that backside that totally enchanted me was definitely Gu Pingsheng! I’ll bet a cartload of cucumbers that these two for sure have a teacher-student romance going on!! Just look at their eyes. I watched the video 19 times and couldn’t even find one second where their gazes separated …”
A post that had been posted half an hour ago already had twenty pages worth of replies. Someone was even incessantly posting screenshots, analyzing each little movement and each expression the two of them had shown during every line of lyrics they had sung…
“God, besides in the American TV series forum, I’ve never seen anyone take screencaps and analyze everything so painstakingly before.” Chortling, Shen Yao turned around to see a speechless Tong Yan, so she comforted, “Don’t have such bad composure. It’s the era of universal entertainment.”
Shen Yao’s mobile phone abruptly started to ring, and she hurriedly stepped out onto the patio to take the call.
Tong Yan continued to read line by line through the replies, and very soon, she stopped at one that was actually extremely technically sound. Someone had actually totaled up the number of teacher-student romances in each of the faculties over the last ten years. The final conclusion was, although their university did not explicitly stipulate a stance in regards to such scenarios, behind closed doors, they certainly tried to break up the loving couple. At the very least, during the period the student in question was still studying at the school, the pair should not dare — and must not — brazenly be romantically involved.
There had been a total of seven pairs, but in the end, the only romance that came to fruition was last year’s couple from the Faculty of Architecture that had wed after the graduation ceremony. The others had stirred up a merry ruckus, but the end result was either the teacher leaving the school or else the student moving far awa y…
She was engrossed in reading when out of the blue, Shen Yao swatted her on her shoulder. “Read anything fun or interesting?”
“No, just pointless stuff.” Tong Yan closed the computer screen window.
 Ai Mi was doing a play on similar sounding words, where 葱白 “cōng bái,” which means “white part of the scallion,” is quite similar sounding to 崇拜 “chóng bài,” which means to idolize/look up to/worship.
 People of northeastern China are reputed to be big drinkers with large alcohol capacities.
 白酒 “bai jiu.” Baijiu literally means “white alcohol.” This traditional Chinese alcoholic beverage is technically classified as a spirit and is made from sorghum and other grains. Those who did not grow up exposed to baijiu will often, on their first taste of it, describe it with adjectives such as “strong,” “fiery,” “harsh,” “biting,” etc. It has a high alcohol by volume (ABV), typically in the range of 40-60%. (For comparison, a typical wine is ~9-15%, vodka is 40%.)
 开水房 “kai shui fang.” Literally meaning “room for boiled water.” This boiler room is not the basement room or ship compartment with large tanks and heating equipment that we usually associate with this term. In Chinese university dormitories, boiled water for drinking is located in a separate room called the boiler room, and students may go there to fetch their drinking water.
 大盘鸡 “da pan ji.” This literally means “big plate chicken” and is a Chinese chicken stew that originated from Xinjiang area.
1 of 1 Prologue
12 of 66 Main story segments
0 of 3 Epilogue segments