Epilogue To Confidence
After finishing writing "Confidence", I found a few miscellaneous thoughts tumbling in my head.
The affair described in “Confidence” marked the difference between true love and infatuation. After I found that she was illiterate, I did not go to see her any more. In my memory, I did not shed a drop of tear for the termination of our short-lived encounter. My best guess is that the termination should not have affected her too much, either.
My further guess is that, if I saw another beautiful girl, I would have been attracted to her as much as I was to Yue-Mei. And if she saw another boy, who wore a brown khaki uniform, she would have been attracted to him, too.
Our attraction to each other was purely based on her beauty and my khaki uniform. Neither of these two conditions was very unique. Countless boys wore khaki uniforms. Or for that matter, boys studying in Taichung Second High School For Boys should have been sufficiently attractive to her. Countless girls in Taichung were pretty. They might not have been as pretty as she was. But those of half her prettiness would have passed my beauty standards.
Infatuation, however, can be a good starting point for an involved romance. It can be like a budding tree. If it is given proper care and nutrients, the tree can grow to be a sturdy adult tree. But if a wind storm attackes in an early stage, the budding tree can be easily destroyed. In my case, the wind storm was her illiteracy.
The interest in Go for a novice player is also like a budding tree. It can be very fragile, especially, according to my observation, if this player is a female. I have seen many female Go beginners. Less than 10% of them, however, will become Go players of decent strength.
The participation of women Go players is much more important than what we may notice, in terms of popularizing Go activities in the world, and harmonizing the families in which men are Go players. You may ask, well, soccer games are not participated by a large percentage of women. Why do women enjoy watching soccer games, too?
Soccer is, by nature, a spectacular game. Go is not. One must understand Go in order to enjoy watching Go games. In fact, for me, the show that renders the highest entertaining effect will be a Go match between two top professionals. I can sit there watching the game all day all night, and sipping cups of tea, without feeling tired.
Back to the aborted romance. Even though I was too young and immature to know what love was, and was infatuated by her beauty, I never desired her in a sexual way with any carnal urge. For that, I must be entitled to pad my own shoulders proudly. Could the reason be my own upbringing? Or the non-existence of the Internet in 1960s (hence non-existence of pornographical websites)? I do not know.
Mei-Yue was also a girl whom we should feel proud of. It is a reasonable assumption that she would have been chased after by other well-established adults. But she was willing to choose a bike-riding high school boy. Furthermore, working as a barber would not provide her with an income as handsomely as if she had worked in other less moral occupations. With her beauty, she could have fared well in the latter.
WWII ended in 1945. Taiwan had more than one decade to revive her economy. While mainland China went through several resource-depleting unsuccessful campaigns, Taiwan followed Japan’s footsteps in reviving, and received aids from the United States. In 1972, after Nixon’s visit to China, Taiwan was ousted from the United Nation. This political fallout was a blow to the economy in Taiwan. For a short while, many big companies that relied on foreign trade went into bankruptcy. But in 1960s, between 1945 and 1972, the island was relatively stable, peaceful, and prosperous.
In general, when peace and prosperity prevail, people’s minds start turning to fun seeking. What is the definition of fun seeking? For the majority of the masses, it is yin/yang affairs, and dining. (For me, it is yin/yang affairs and Go).
On a busy south/north-bound street in Taichung near my house, there were 3 theaters. Only the middle one would constantly show regular movies. I remember that my mother and I went there to see “High Noon”, in which Gary Cooper portrayed the sheriff, and she liked the movie very much.
The one in the south and the other in the north often would show R-rated movies. Showing X-rated movies was illegal at that time in Taiwan. But it was not the movies that attracted the audience anyway. The audience somehow knew (even I, as a teenager, knew) that, in the middle of the movie, the projector was supposed to abruptly stop. And then a few girls would run out onto the stage. They did not even have time to do the artistic strip tease. To avoid cops coming to arrest them, they rushed out naked already, twisted their bodies for a few minutes, and hurried to vanish behind the curtain. Then the movie resumed as if nothing had happened.
And on the streets further east into the downtown area, there were many so-called tea houses. Yes, you go there to drink tea. But tea drinking constituted 2% of the reason why people patronized those places. If you do not know what the remaining 98% was for, you can e-mail me to ask. But you need to attach a copy of your ID card.
Mei-Yue could not have dropped out from the elementary school based on her own wish. She needed to make supplemental incomes for her family. Without any education, with all those bewildering businesses mushrooming around, with her youthful beauty, and with the need of money, getting herself involved in those not-so-moral vocations would have been expected. But she resisted the temptation, and chose to become a haircut apprentice first, and then became a skilled barber later.
In my elementary school, from the first grade to the 3rd grade, girls and boys were not separated yet. I remember that the student-body president of our class was a girl, named Xiu-Mei (again, one character in her name is Mei, beauty). She was from an effluent family. Her father was a medical doctor. At that time, I only knew that she was a good student, and thought that she must have been very intelligent.
In my eyes, she was like a princess, unreachable. After graduation, she entered Taichung High School For Girls, and wore the green school uniform. After high school, she also entered National Taiwan University. But today, common sense suggests to me that she had been heavily groomed ever since her childhood. It was also highly possible that her family constantly and continually gave generous gifts to the teachers and the elementary school.
If we compare Mei-Yue and Xiu-Mei, we find that the influence of one’s family on her life can be extremely great. If one’s fate is like a sailing ship, the family influence almost defines the sailing course of the ship. Other factors, such as friends, classmates, teachers, schools, jobs, and even marriages, may only modify the course.