Love or Bread? Episode 2

Shan Mei and Frank, they’ve got to be the oddest pair there is. What would you do if you see the last person you want to see in the most unlikely place? Say, your home. Walk away quietly pretend you didn’t recognize the person and move out at the next opportunity, right? Nuh-uh, that’s not what either one of them would do. At least, that’s not what happened.

They scrutinized each other for a full half minute before collecting their dropped jaw. Then one frantically tries to shut the door and the other, with the same zeal, tries to force open the door. After some bone-crushing wrestling and pig-slaughtering screaming, Shan Mei slips out that she had used Frank’s ring as the deposit for the cottage. Uh-oh!

So Frank yanks Shan Mei by the ear (figuratively, darn it!) and drags her to find the landlord to get the ring back. They wander around the road in darkness, neither in a good mood to treat each other nicely. Frank chides Shan Mei for being “greedy”. He reasons that if it weren’t for her greed, she would have turned the ring to the police station like what a model citizen would do. (Greedy? Look who’s talking.) She retorts that an insensitive brat like him would never understand her misfortune (Try him.) and reminds him of the horrendous CPR event in which she saved his life.

I would draw in the electrical pulses between their eyes like those in Manga, if only I knew how.

Frank has a nasty flash back and turns to Shan Mei, “Who said I wanted you to save me?” Shan Mei opens her mouth to argue but Frank charges on, “In my opinion, you were aroused by my full lips and couldn’t show some proper continence to a mere stranger. So you use the opportunity to take advantage of me!” Facing Frank’s inconceivable narcissism, Shan Mei nearly spat in his face, “You are such a jerk! How can you be so shameless!?” “Me, shameless? At least, I’m better than someone. I would NEVER take someone else’s ring as my own!” So they bicker their way to the police station and find out for themselves that the so-called landlord is a flake who rents out houses where the real owners are either on vacation or overseas for business. (Methinks, only the writer of this drama knows how the flake gets the keys.) Now there’s no hope of retrieving Frank’s ring, Shan Mei is in deeper doodoo than she cares to know.

Frank waves an arm and pens an acknowledgment (with such gusto!) for owning money from Shan Mei to himself. The conditions are listed such that Shan Mei must pay up the money equivalent of the ring’s value, of which, he estimated to be 300,000. (That’s 100 times of its supposed value. Someone’s Greedy, with the capital “G”.) To make himself sound more convincing, he adds that there is a diamond on the ring. (Har har.)

Are you talkin bout this?
O yes, I see the diamond. It's right there, big and shiny.

Dumped by the man she trusted the most, living in a lie, and now owning a pretty big debt, there are way too many things Shan Mei doesn’t want to think about. She longs to be with her family. They may be loud, whiny, and dependent, but they are still her family. She steps out to breath some fresh air and cool herself down. When she comes back, she finds her despicable housemate hovering in front of her now blocked off room.

It’s not that Frank suddenly gained a piece of his conscience and wanted to apologize to Shan Mei that made him linger at her door and stay till morning. He slept outside her door in order to prevent her from sneaking out during his sleep without paying the three hundred grant. As ridiculous as it seems, Frank is not without reason. He thinks that a person who would knowingly use someone else’s property for her own benefit isn’t trustworthy. Shan Mei is rendered speechless by his explanation. Feeling her anger raising and her heart pulsating rapidly, Shan Mei is ready to bust out the final draw — move as far away from Frank as she possibly can — when the sound of her cell phone distracts them both.

Holding Shan Mei’s phone as leverage, Frank issues the holy decree of forbidding Shan Mei from moving out. Shan Mei obeys. (Just get a new phone and hopefully she has backed off her contact list.)

A few things happened later that day that led Frank to a decision involving Shan Mei’s participation. Frank first overheard the owner of the house he and Ah Xing were cleaning for (it’s mostly Ah Xing doing the cleaning and Frank doing the slacking off) lamenting how he would do anything just to have his dead wife back. Then Frank observed, for a second time, how marvelously similar Shan Mei and the old man’s wife looked. Lastly, on the way back from the rich man’s house, Frank encountered the gangsters, which reminded him that if there’s any part of him that still treasures life, he needs to wrap his mind around on how to pay the debt.

Once he returns home, he hoaxes Shan Mei into meeting with the old man, promising that if she does, she will no longer owe him anything AND he will give back her phone, unconditionally. When asked for the catch, Frank explains that the request is entirely out of pity for the old man. (Bull.) The poor old man has lost his wife. So immersed in sadness was he that he no longer has the will to continue living. He has stopped eating, but if Shan Mei is willing to help the grieving lonely man by meeting with him, she might give him the strength to move on. To convince Shan Mei of his untainted intention, he draws on his own experience of losing his parents at the tender age of five, emphasizing that he knows too well the pain of losing loved ones.

So Shan Mei prepares herself for the rendezvous.

Shan Mei explains the nature of her visit nicely and smiles at the old man, not quite knowing what to do next. The man, calling himself Xiao Wan, asks Shan Mei to introduce herself, which converges to a warnimg conversation. Xiao Wan confirms Shan Mei’s obliviousness towards the deal between Frank and himself and praises Shan Mei for paying a visit to a stranger out of kindness.

Speaking of the deal, Frank has approached Xiao Wan with the agenda of grabbing a handful of cash from the lonely man. Xiao Wan was skeptical but he agreed nonetheless and gave Frank a check of one million.

Chen Wan Cai? (Wan Cai = generous wealth) Hah, nice name.

With the check in hand, Frank waits for the gangster head’s return to pay back his debt. While waiting, he sees the news of a cliché an old man using the lie of losing his wife to get close to young women. He drugs them and sexually assaults them. Growing increasingly uneasy, Frank grabs the check and runs to rescue Shan Mei.

“I have a small request, I don’t know if you can fulfill it for me,” says Xiao Wan expectantly. “Sure, if it’s something within my power,” replies Shan Mei uncertainly. The old man leans in and puts on a straight face, “You know, I have had many fond memories with my wife that I would like you to help me revisit… So, slap me. The harder the better.” “What?” “Slap me.” (Got a sassy wife and lovin’ it huh?)

Slightly stunned by the request and finding it inappropriate for her to be acting it out on an aged man, Shan Mei excuses herself to the Lady’s room. While she’s away, Frank arrives outside of the restaurant and through the transparent window, he sees Xiao Wan adding a white powder to Shan Mei’s drink while rubbing his hands excitedly. Grossed out by the old man’s giddiness and even more grossed out at the presumed intention behind the giddiness, Frank bursts in, grabs Shan Mei, who’s walking out of the bathroom, and drags her out of there. Within minutes, the police arrive on site and handcuff Xiao Wan to the chair.

As it turns out, Xiao Wan is no pervert. He only took the liberty to add a couple grams of pearl powder in Shan Mei’s drink and was unfortunate enough to be witnessed by Frank, whose perception was skewed by the news. (I don’t recall EVER seeing pearl powder in capsules, but whatever suits the director’s fancy.) Xiao Wan wasn’t happy about the little “misunderstanding”, but out of regard for Shan Mei, he ordered his man to pay the debt Frankie the Cranky owed.

Not knowing his luck has turned, Frank dreamed of being beaten by a gangster from the North the very night.

Although angry that Frank spoiled her only chance of getting rid of him with a clean slate, Shan Mei embraces fate’s arrangement and sets out to look for jobs the following morning.

Shan Mei has no luck at finding a job, Frank in contrast is much more fortunate. He sees a car retailing store whose name corresponds to a piece of paper given to him by a fortuneteller and storms in. Within a blink of an eye, he gets himself employed.

So Frank drags Ah Xing to the department store to stock up on working attire for his new job (it’s just an excuse to spend money). Ah Xing accidentally sees Lin Long and lusts over her instantly falls in love with her at first sight. He leaves Frank to his grandiose monologue and drools over Lin Long across the glass wall like a penniless hungry child looking in at a shop full of delicious-looking candy.

Dejected and fruitless at the attempt of looking for a temporary job, Shan Mei wanders the streets and ends up walking towards the neighborhood of her home. She shies away at the sight of mom but keeps a distance and follows mom home.

Interesting choice of chairs for a dining table like that.
Interesting choice of chairs for a dining table like that.

Shan Mei watches with longing as her family crowds around the dining table as usual. The one empty chair that used to belong to her stands out like a single water lily in a pond, smelling of distinct loneliness.

When Frank returned from a long day of shopping, Shan Mei is sitting alone at the swing, licking her wounds silently. He barges into her personal space and the first thing he asks is when she’s getting her first paycheck. She gets up and with the last breath of patience, she explains to Frank that she’s had a rough day and wants her peace. He ignores her plea for privacy and follows her, nagging incessantly for her to answer his question. (Geez, get lost.) So finally, Shan Mei explodes like a ticking bomb and Frank reacts to her heat immediately — only to be interrupted by Shan Mei’s phone.

Frank has promised to let Shan Mei pick up the phone if anyone were to call her. Without thinking, he declines the call and resolves to rub the fact that he rejected her ex-boyfriend’s call for her in Shan Mei’s face.

Shan Mei lungs for the phone. After a minor struggle, the phone drops on the ground in pieces. Stunned at first, then frustration, anger, and tears rush up at once. Ignoring Frank’s blabbering, Shan Mei picks up the pieces and rushes out to repair the phone. (If I were her, I would just put the battery back in place, close the lid, and turn the phone back on.)

The “broken” phone sends Shan Mei right to her best friend. She tells Lin Long everything that had happened to her since her trip to Hangzhou and her best friend decides to take Shan Mei to a bar (where the rich guys are, and hence, better chance of marrying money) to cheer her up. At the same time, Ah Xing visits Frank to cry about an impossible love. Frank decides to take his best friend to a bar (where all the fun and hot chicks are) to cheer him up. (Superficial minds think alike.)

Of course, the four end up sitting at the same table.

A bar suddenly becomes an alternative bickering site. Right when Shan Mei decides to leave, her two coworkers (with aggregating Xiao Hua wannabe voices and accents) walk straight into the bar. *fast forwards* Shan Mei sees them two and hides in the restroom. But chance has it that the two of them should go to the bathroom together. They recognize Shan Mei and guess what had happened. While fretting how to explain herself to avoid becoming the gossip of the day, Frank walks over and wraps an arm around Shan Mei, “Ah, here you are,” he says with a smile and turns to look at her ex-colleagues. “Shan Mei’s always so shy… Are you two Shan Mei’s friends? Let me introduce myself. I’m the CEO of xyz, my name is Frank,” he smiles at them and adds, “Shan Me’s fiancé.”

While Ah Xing’s obsession with Lin Long (and the extend he’s willing to go for her) may be funny to some, it turns me off like all spineless hormone driven guys without much of an opinion of their own do. Besides, I’ve made it explict why I didn’t enjoy the next two episodes (have yet to watch epi 5-8). So it’ll be awhile before another recap for this drama.

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