All Apologies

A Chinese story:

> At 8:40am I called her on her cell phone. “Are you headed off to work?” I asked.

> “Sure am!” she laughed back.

> Choking back a sob, I said to her, “Wen… I’m sorry.”

> After a moment of stunned silence, she replied, “why are you apologizing to me?”

> “It’s nothing,” I explained.

> “Xiao Nuo, you…” she started, but I quickly hung up.

> At ten minutes past noon I dialed her office number.

> “Why isn’t your cell phone on?” she demanded emotionally.

> Stammering, I finally got out, “I’m sorry…”

> She asked me, “why did you send me a check at work?”

> “Wen, I really love you,” I replied.

> Her voice suddenly rose in volume. “If you want to break up with me, just say it. Don’t give me some kind of breakup money!”

> After a few seconds of silence, I hung up.

> At exactly three in the afternoon, she answered the phone coldly. “Your feelings have changed?”

> I changed the topic. “I’m here with your parents.”

> She cried in surprise, “why are you meeting with my parents?”

> I simply replied, “I just feel I need to apologize to them.”

> She took a deep breath, trying hard to suppress her emotions. “Just what is our relationship to you?”

> I slowly replied, “I’m sorry. I hope you can forgive me…”

> On the other end she was all choked up. This time she hung up on me.

> At 8:40 in the evening my cell phone vibrated. I pressed the receive button, saying, “you’re home!”

> She asked, “Where are my mom and dad?”

> I answered guiltily, “Wen, I’m sorry!”

> She roared back, “I don’t want to hear ‘I’m sorry!’ I just want to know why!

> Feigning calmness, I said to her, “I apologized to your parents because you’re their dearest baby girl, and I asked them to allow you to marry me. I apologized to you because I know I can’t be without you, but I’ve never been good at looking after people, so I hope that in the days to come you’ll be with me, looking after me. I’ve given you all the money I have left. I’m making the down payment on our new home, and your parents are helping us pick out the furniture. Wen, I’m sorry. Please marry me!”

> To my amazement, her attitude immediately softened completely. “Xiao Nuo, where are you?”

> Full of joy, I answered, “I’m right outside your door.”

> I later married Wen…

> But that day I proposed, I verified one other thing: it really does hurt to be whacked upside the head with a broom.

This story was originally posted in Chinese. Yes, it’s a cute story, but I have to say… not only does it strike me as a very un-Chinese way to propose, but it seems downright cruel! What guy could do that to his girlfriend?

I let my girlfriend read the story. There’s no way she would put up with that crap. No question. I wonder how many Chinese girls would think it’s romantic. I don’t think any American girl could.


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. i don’t believe it??

  2. that’s pretty messed up. i think i’d have used the broom, too. or else thrown up on him.

  3. Well it’s manipulation in any language surely. And not showing the girl respect. I hope she only married him after he was hit very hard on the head with that broom and he apologised for his behaviour!

  4. he got off lucky with only a head wound… i’d have found some far more creative uses for that freakin broom!! … agreed, very disrespectful. i can appreciate the “i’m gonna be a little tricky here so you don’t expect it” aspect, but that’s just cruel.

  5. That little incident would not have went over very well with my wife. Having seen her little Sichuan temper at full peak, I think I can safely say that I’d still be picking spinters out of the back of my head from being beaten with that broom stick.

  6. It’s so sappy! I’m reminded of pretty much every Zhang Yimou movie ever made. Is it me, or do the Chinese really love a ridiculously sappy love story? This is the kind of story that gets traded around fifteen year-old girls’ myspaces.

  7. that guy’s a jerk. i don’t think he deserves her.

  8. well…its a sweet story from my point of view.
    anyway..its all depends on the gal’s feeling toward the guy…depends on whether she wants to marry him or not.

  9. Michael Praetorius Says: March 28, 2007 at 10:44 pm

    Ha! You think that’s sick. How about this? I have a girlfriend who loves for me to buy her jewelry. And name brand clothes. And perfume. And whatever. Yes she’s that kind of girl. I don’t care. I’m into that.

    I’ve got a nasty little trick picked out for her. She wants me to buy her a ring for her birthday. Actually I already bought her a diamond bracelet for her birthday, but it turns out later that’s not her real birthday and she just told me it was to get her to buy her stuff. Okay. Two can play that game.

    Usually I set strict limits on what I will buy for her, but this time I don’t intend to. I’ll let her pick out whatever she wants (of course I won’t tell her that or she’d really go nuts). She usually choses something obviously too expensive initially just to soften me up for the real play. But this time I won’t object. This time I’ll let her buy the first one she choses. She won’t believe her good fortune.

    But when the clerk hand me the rink, I’m going to put it on the fourth finger of her left hand.

  10. Michael: Please tell the gentle readers of Sinosplice that that’s a joke or a stupid Internet story you read, and not your actual plan.

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