Jonathan ‘Cao Cao’ Kos-Read
I have to admit, right up front, that I didn’t write this month’s column. It was written instead by some random Chinese guy.
Below I have translated the best bits of an article entitled “Showbiz’s Biggest Foreigner and How He Was Molded By His Young Wife Into a Chinese Style Husband”. It’s from a Chinese magazine and it’s about how I met and fell in love with my wife. I got it as an email attachment with a cute little note that said: “Hey, we were just like super inspired by your story and so we wanted to profile you in our magazine but, you know, our deadline was like, tomorrow so, like we didn’t have time to actually interview you. But we looked stuff up on the internet. :-)” And with those little seeds of truth, they went to town.
It’s so awesome I’m worried you guys will think that I like added shit to make it funnier but I really didn’t. What you read below is really a verbatim translation.
Cao Cao’s Love Story
Endless, repetitive, monotonous work was drowning Jonathan in feelings of suffering and helplessness. He was desperate to find a girlfriend. He begged all his friends for introductions to Chinese girls. But he found fault in each one. None were good enough.
He fell into depression. His friends criticized him for being too picky. Finally when he pleaded yet again, his friend shot back exasperated, “well what kind of girl do you want?!”
Jonathan said, “I don’t want a naïve girl. And I don’t want one who follows orders. I want her to be fat. “
“Ha ha,” his friend said, “I actually know such a girl. Her name is Lizhiyin. She is a junior at the Capital University of Finance. She is fat.”
In short order, Jonathan and Lizhiyin were shepherded to a Sanlitun coffee shop by this friend. Jonathan had made a special and extraordinary effort of personal grooming. And when he saw Lizhiyin for the first time he saluted her in the Chinese, double-raised-fist style. He said in ancient Chinese, “I am Cao Cao, please forgive any obstreperousness or importune mistakes made by my humble self.”
Here it drags for a bit. But then disaster strikes:
Lizhiyin began to feel this American young man was serious and honest so her initial wariness was dropping away.
But then Jonathan told her a story, “When I first told my friends I was coming to China they told me I must bring toilet paper.” Jonathan laughed heartily at the humor inherent in this. “According to these American friends of mine, China –“
But before Jonathan could finish, Lizhiyin’s face turned a dark shade of angry red. She said, “It is true! Our Mother Country is not rich! But we will Self Empower, Self Strengthen and Self Stand Up!” Then Lizhiyin stood up, and proudly and angrily stomped out of the coffee shop. Jonathan desperately followed her saying, “I did not mean that those friends are correct! I was telling you a funny story!” Lizhiyin threw off Jonathan’s hand and said with ire, “If I made a joke about America, what would you do?!” Then she gave Jonathan a dangerous, strong and proud glare. Jonathan was struck speechless and frozen by this.
“This,” Jonathan thought, “is a proud girl. I must change the angle of my thinking to be with her.”
We hook up, and everything is great for a while but then, again (if only my real life were so dramatic) disaster.
Unskilled in business, Jonathan was wracked with terrible difficulties maintaining his company for [those] three years. In the end all of the money he had earned with his heart’s blood was lost.
After his bankruptcy he was left only with a heart depressed and a mind frozen. In the beginning he had dreamed of giving Lizhiyin a good life! Who would have thought that now he couldn’t even support himself?! Controlling the agony in his heart, he wrote a breakup letter to Lizhiyin. It said that his business venture had failed.
“I even tried to return to be an English teacher again but no one would have me!”
He remonstrated with Lizhiyin to take care of herself, because he must go away - like an ancient, itinerant traveler, to float, to drift alone in the emptiness between the earth and the sky.
When Lizhiyin saw his letter her heart was stabbed with pain. She rushed to his home. But his apartment was already empty! She called him. His cell had been turned off! Lizhiyin wildly dialed all of Jonathan’s friends, every one. Finally she learned the truth – he had left on a quest to discover the true meaning and location of the Three Kingdoms Romance [from which he had taken his Chinese name].
Such an enormous country China! Lizhiyin decided she would first go to Weiwang, the ancient and original Cao Cao’s ancestral home in Anhui, Haozhou. In Haozhou she bitterly and with great difficulty searched for three days. Finally deep inside Cao Cao’s famous tunnel for transferring soldiers, she found a cowering Jonathan, whole body covered in dirt, stained, face fatigued, depressed and defeated.
She yelled, “Jonathan!”
She lifted her bag and struck him again and again and again. Jonathan knelt on the ground cradling his head in his hands and accepted the blows.
Finally with no strength left Lizhiyin ceased her blows. She yelled, “who told you to leave?! What will I do without you?!”
Jonathan, his eyes red-rimmed, said, “I am bankrupt! My own life, I can’t even support –“
“Tea,” Lizhiyin said again. “It must be steeped in the hottest water to draw out the deepest flavor! People are the same. Only by facing the hot forge of disastrous difficulties can a man become strong and oriented to succeed. I believe you can succeed!” said Lizhiyin as she held his hand tightly.
“But if I can never succeed?” said Jonathan, his face pale and shadowed.
“Silly mellon! In that case we will simply live a quiet life. The world is so big, how many people in the world can succeed?! If we can live with open happy hearts, this is enough! Return with me!”
Needless to say, I did.
There is much more awesomeness to this story, but the tyranny of the word count restricts me. So alas, I must chuckle alone.
And so to bring this story to a close, have we learned a lesson, have we gained some deeper insight into the creative process, the mind of the artist?
Some say that the Chinese are not creative, that they simply copy the creativity of others. Psshhaww! This month I was the counterfeiter, stealing the work of another for my own dirty gain. The quiet tinkerer who created this piece was the true artist.
He googled the world for truth and created beauty.