刘力扬, aka, Supergirl
[The harrowing conclusion of Look for me in the Chinese tabloids. For those who missed Episode One, you can find it here.]
When we arrived at Agnes B, I felt about as sexy as a compost bin. Here I was, in a room full of professional models wearing a BBQ-infused “Brooklyn” t-shirt and slightly baggy brown pants. Applying my analytical prowess to the situation, I very calmy and dispassionately concluded:
There is no way in hell anyone is going to talk to me.
Looking around, I could not help but think, “how did I get roped into this one?” Down the street, my Korean BBQ chums were dancing up a storm, and here I was desperately trying to remain invisible. But it was my fault. Upon receiving my old classmate’s text, I immediately replied in the affirmative. What else can you expect from a single, 28-year-old man when he receives a one-line text message which reads:
“Who wants to party with some models on Friday?”
The more beautiful people I saw, the more I yearned to be at the Alfa 80s night or, barring that, at home in bed. Like Charles Foster Kane, I began to groan to myself, “Keyyyyycarrrrrd. Keyyyycarrrrrd. Keyyyyycarrrrrrd.”
Exhibit A and Exhibit B
We were directed to a small black bench along one side of the runway, our view slightly obstructed by a rather hefty white pillar. To my immediate left there sat a stunning young woman with a dramatically short and angular hairdo, one which had clearly been shaped and crafted by someone who earns a great deal of money shaping and crafting. Within approximately 1.76 seconds, my old schoolmate began to chat her up. Suddenly, fears of homelessness resurfaced in my mind:
If he brought his A-game tonight, I may end up sleeping on a 天桥 somewhere.
Unlike many women, however, this one had something special going for her, something my 校友 was not prepared for: an entourage. Within another 1.76 seconds, a short man dressed in black interceded, explaining in a somewhat agitated yet polite tone of voice:
This is a very famous singer. Do you know American Idol? She won the Chinese version of American Idol. This is Liu Liyang. She’s a Supergirl.
Now, I had never heard of Liu Liyang, but let me tell you: everyone else there had. No matter which direction I looked, at least one of the eighty cameras was pointed at her at any given moment, including after the models started to parade their flesh. It slowly dawned on me: I’m going to be in the newspaper tomorrow. Mark my words. I began to imagine what the headline might read:
Liu Liyang spotted with BBQ-scented foreigner
Needless to say, I didn’t spend a great deal of effort trying to make an impression on this TV sensation. I did get to ask a few questions, though:
“Do you have a band?” [LLY: Yes]
“Is your singing voice high or low?” [LLY: Kinda low.]
“Have you ever heard of Smokey Robinson?” [LLY: No (but this was probably just a translation issue – everyone knows Smokey Robinson)]
The night at Agnes B ended with a champagne celebration upstairs, where I was finally able to muster up some courage and start conversing. There were some up moments (two pleasant conversations with women who had taken part in the show) and some sobering ones (accidentally headbutting a model squarely in the face as we both leaned in at the same time – 脸红了!).
By the close of the fashion show, I decided that I wanted to rejoin the birthday bunch, and set off in search of Alfa. After running into one of my old advisees – one of those awkward moments in which both sides simply rotate 180 degrees, calmly take twenty long paces, and pretend to have seen nothing – I eventually tracked down the group. Cold beer, Aerosmith, circle dancing, and some good folks. Now I was at home.
For the sake of collegial confidentiality, I won’t bore you with the rest of the night. Let’s just say it involved three more long cabrides, ten more cigarettes, one mojito, an insanely loud club called “The World of Suzie Wong,” a 5am return to Beida, a brief nap in the main lobby and, at last, a much deserve rest in my own bed.
Incidentally, however, I just looked up some information on Liu. Her voice is indeed quite beautiful and, having heard her tunes, I can confidently say that either (a) she has heard of Smokey Robinson or (b) she would like him if she did. But most importantly, guess what two of her three favorite foods are…
BBQ and Korean.
Thomas S. Mullaney
Modern Chinese History
[For my website, visit here.]