Forever and Ever

Another item from the Sinoglot mailbag; again, undated.

Dear Auntie Sinoglot,

I feel quite lost in this strange culture and just don’t know where else to turn for help.

It’s all this punning superstition, you see.

Why must I have fish on the table, just because fish 鱼 (yú) is pronounced like surplus 余 (yú)? Why is it that I’m supposed to fear living on the fourth floor, just because four 四 (sì) sounds a little like death 死 (sǐ)?Why the hell must I like that dismal number 8, just because it sounds vaguely like something which means ‘to come into fortune’? If my pronunciation was that bad, I’d be lucky to get a job even in the lower ranks of the civil service!

This is all so tiresome.

To make matters worse, I’m still not married, so you can imagine my excitement when I received my one and only proposal, at the age of only thirty-eight and three quarters. But before I could even blurt out my “Yes. Please. Take me!” I realised the date. It was the ninth of September 2009. Nine-nine-nine 九九九 (jiǔjiǔjiǔ) or ‘forever and ever’ 久久久 (jiǔjiǔjiǔ)!This delectable young thing – it was all deliberate – he was saying we were to be together forever and ever. How crass!

Of course it was all over for me there and then.

I suppose there are plenty more such superstitious puns waiting to trip me up. God knows I find social engagements difficult enough as it is. But I just can’t seem to come to terms with all this childish wordplay. What can I do? I trust you’ll be able to give me appropriate guidance.

Yours eternally,

[Name and address withheld]

P.S. Should you or any of your readers be able to find me a less phono-numerologically-challenged husband I’d be forever in your debt.

Note from Sima:

I called at Number 4 hospital to see Auntie again this morning, only to find that she’d been moved to room 444. When I finally tracked her down and presented her with her Sinoglot long-service award (a beautiful jade clock) and a kilo of her favourite pears, one of the nurses flatlined.

Needless to say, in the commotion, I was unable to seek Auntie’s guidance on the above letter. Perhaps one or two of our readers can offer some advice.

5 responses to “Forever and Ever”

  1. It seems that Auntie is always shirking her duties like a model worker.

    As for our caller, I recommend she get over the 三八 hump, a particularly bad year to be looking for a mate as a female in China. I’m sure everything will be much easier at 39. And even if she doesn’t do so great the first year, I’m sure she’ll have many more 39’s ahead of her.

  2. Wow, I’ve never encountered anyone who’s capable of being divorced before marriage. Do people actually write this stuff to you, or am I not “getting” the inside joke here?

  3. The joke: It’s fun to complain about quirks of the culture one has moved to.

  4. Sima says:

    Always a pleasure to see you on the sofa.

    @Official Joke Explainer
    You don’t charge for a first consultaion, right?

    Does anyone have an idea about the origins of the above ‘puns’ or why there seem to be so many of them. Has anyone collected other examples?

  5. Chris says:

    Apples and vases for the new house.

    Something not fully cooked for the new bride. Also, something with lots of seeds in it.

    No eating “bing” on your birthday, eat noodles instead. (imagery, not word play)

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