In telling this story, it is certainly not my intention to reveal
any secrets from other people’s lives. Rather, I simply have to
vent my sheer shock and astonishment. It wasn’t just that this
woman had the same dreams and ideas as I did. What really got
to me was this: while I was just thinking about all those things,
making big plans that were elaborate and absolutely flawless in
my imagination, she actually went out and made it happen.
On the day I met her, we somehow got into conversation at
one of those high-class social events. Only later did I realize
that, after checking out the party for a bit, she had deliberately
chosen me to tell her story to—or should I say, impress me with
That day, I had made my entry as usual. The host and hostess were standing at the entrance welcoming the guests. With
countless media cameras leveled at that spot, constantly going
click, click, click for fear of missing the arrival of a major bigwig,
I yet managed to slip inside unnoticed behind a legislator
and his surrounding entourage of assistants. The truth was, I
might as well have walked right up to the hosts, shaken their
hands and said something like “Congratulations!” or “How’re
you doing?”, because the question “Do I know this person?”
would never even have crossed their minds. But even after having
been to such events so many times, I could never drum up
the courage to give it a try.
Having entered, I quickly found a large pillar to lean
against, and as a waiter walked past I nimbly snatched a glass of
champagne from his tray. It was a pity I’d never been able to
drink a lot—my personal record at one of those dinner parties
was two glasses of white wine and three of champagne, drunk
over the entire event. If I could really hold my liquor, I’d get a
chance to finish a bottle or two of really expensive, high-end
hooch at every go, for free!
I had picked a good spot. To my left and right were VIPs
and dignitaries, all dressed up for the occasion. As I raised my
eyes to the ceiling, they were dazzled by the reflections of the
luxurious ballroom’s splendid interior. Slap dab in the middle of
the central buffet table rose a thick column of ice into the speckled
disco light that illuminated the fresh flowers and exquisite
delicacies below. Since I didn’t want to draw other people’s
attention by hogging that spot, I moved away from the pillar
after twenty minutes and strolled over to the one on the opposite
side of the hall. I lingered there for another twenty minutes
before scuttling back to my original vantage point.
I was very familiar with this particular hotel. In Taipei, no other place was more famous for its cocktail parties and dinner
receptions, and so it was also the one I’d been to most frequently.
I felt that this should be the ideal place for the plan I had in
my head to succeed.
That morning, I hadn’t drunk any milk. I didn’t actually
like milk, but to balance my calcium intake I forced myself to
drink a glass or two every day to make up for the two daily cups
of coffee I also consumed. The thing was, though, that lately I’d
felt that I was getting a bit plump around the waist, and I blamed
it on the coffee and the milk. But since there was no way I’d be
able to quit the coffee—you need some things to spice up your
life—I had to sacrifice health and nutrition instead.
Consequently, I had had just a glass of water before the reception,
and after two rather quickly drunk glasses of white wine on
what was basically an empty stomach, I could already feel the
alcohol circulating through every part of my system.
The lights began to look just a tiny bit blurry as I had
reached about the right degree of tipsiness, finally feeling brave
enough to go and talk to people. I was just about to look for
someone to exchange a bit of small talk when a person materialized
right in front of me, looking at me.
“You’re here alone? Not easy to find someone you know
with the place so packed with people. Just now, I was sure I’d
recognized someone I know standing over there talking to someone,
but when I wanted to go over and say hi, he had already
disappeared, just like that.”
She was about half a head taller than me, so if I didn’t lift
my head my eyes were at the same level as the slightly curled
corners of her cherry mouth. Standing this close to her, I
couldn’t get a good look at the woman. I stepped back a little so
that my back came to rest against the cool marble pillar behind me. Now I could give her a good once-over, and I noticed that
her stomach was flat to the point of being almost concave. She
wore a charcoal satin dress with delicate thin shoulder straps that
revealed much of her back. Her shoulders and gaunt collarbone
caught the eye and contributed to the overall impression of a
fragile yet sexy skinniness. The faint goosebumps on her skin, a
result of the very cold air-conditioning,...