- 书名：赴宴者 The Banquet Bug
- 背景：下岗工人董丹在一次找工作时, 阴差阳错成了记者招待会上的“座上宾”。在宴会上，他不仅饱食了一顿大餐，而且还得到了一小笔车马费。从此，一场场饕餮盛宴成了他的正经营生…
The Banquet Bug
A couple of days later, Dan saw an employment ad in a newspaper. It said that a five-star hotel needed security guards, and that candidates must be taller than 1.8 meters. As a tall, strong, good-looking man, Dan figured he had a chance. He went to the hotel in his best outfit, a polyester sports jacket atop khaki slacks, with a pair of black leather shoes to match a fake Dunhill bag he borrowed from a neighbor.
As he wandered into the lobby, a woman approached him asking if he was here for the meeting. He nodded yes, and she said the meeting had already started.She ran him up the escalator, through an indoor balcony, and out to a ballroom with tables laid for a banquet.
A banner hanging over the podium said “Donate Your Wealth, Plant Forests, Fight Desertification, and Take Back Our Green Fields!” The woman asked him to please sit down wherever he could find a seat, then disappeared.
He sat at a table next to the door. The banquet had already begun, and he was starved, so he swept through the dishes in front of him without knowing what they were.
A man sitting next to him introduced himself as a reporter from the Beijing Evening News and asked which press outlet Dan belonged to. Wishing to be left alone to enjoy the free lunch, Dan answered he was from the Beijing Morning News. The guy said he’d never heard of it, and Dan replied that it was newly established. A Web site? Yes, yes, a Web site.
After Dan was stuffed and was thinking about slipping out, the reporter asked if Dan would go with him to pick up their fee. What fee? Oh, just the two hundred yuan for their attendance, what they call “money for your troubles”: submit your business card and the host will pay you two hundred yuan for the article you might write about the meeting.
Dan silently gulped the air: two hundred! That’s several times a reserve worker’s monthly salary, plus a meal fit for a king. And all it takes is a business card!
Leaving the banquet, Dan went directly to a print shop. He picked out an expensive-looking design and had a bunch of cards made. The card said he was a reporter from some Internet news site. He had made some inquiries at the banquet and found out that many Web-based media outlets were going in and out of business every day.
Up to this morning in early May 2000, when he is taking a shower for the noon banquet that will mark a turning point in his life, Dan has made a nice living eating banquets.
Rubbing himself down with a rough washcloth, Dan asks Little Plum if she believes that he has tasted all the dishes of all of China’s cuisines. Yes, she believes he has. He feels a bit unsatisfied. Every time he tries to impress her, she is too easily impressed.
If asked whether he qualifies as the banquet eating master, she would answer, of course, who else does? She gives him all the wide-eyed admiration he wants, and the lack of challenge bothers him.
Looking up, he sees her face red with the effort of lifting the rubber tube. She is twenty-four, small but substantial, with a head of natural curls pulled back into a ponytail, exposing her smooth, still adolescent face.
“But you are wrong this time,” he says. “There was one dish I had never set chopsticks on until yesterday.” “What is it?” Little Plum asks.
“I couldn’t make out what it was at the first bite. Then I looked at the menu and was shocked.” He looks up at his wife through the streams of water. “Can you guess what it was made of?”
She shakes her head, smiling: “Can’t guess.” Every time she is confronted by a word riddle or a guessing game, she surrenders before tiring her poor little brain.
“The-dish-was-made-of-a-thousand-crab-claw-tips.” Dan Dong sounds out every word. “A thousand. Just imagine how they cracked all those claws and shelled them. Imagine: all that meat was once the tiny fingertips of those poor little monsters.”
He waits for her to ask how many crabs they had to kill for that many claw tips. But she just quietly absorbs her astonishment.
“When your chopsticks pick the little fingertips, they tremble and jiggle, almost slipping off before your mouth catches them.” He lets the water run through his hair, rinsing off the rich shampoo lather. “I hope next time they put the menu on the invitation. If there is ever a crab finger dish again, I will smuggle you in. Trust me, it’s worth the risk.”
《赴宴者》The Banquet Bug