纽约时报文摘 | 在中国的饭局上,女性如何生存?

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在中国的饭局上,女性如何生存?
How to Survive as a Woman at a Chinese Banquet

A Chinese banquet can be many things, but it is never a gastronomic occasion.
中国的饭局可以各种各样,但绝对和美食无关。

It is more like a sport, one in which the primary goal is to drink a toast with each individual sitting around the table, in a rigid successive order, starting with the most prominent and proceeding clockwise. If that sounds straightforward, it isn’t: Bear in mind that everyone at the table is playing the same game simultaneously, which means just as you’ve homed in on your target and are ready to make your move, he could be raising a toast to another guest, who could very well be looking to drink with someone else.
饭局更像是一种体育运动,主要目的是向桌子旁边的每个人敬酒,而且是按照一个严格的次序,从最重要的位置开始,顺时针往下转。如果听起来很简单,其实一点也不:你得记住,席上的每个人都在玩同样的游戏,这意味着,当你瞄准目标准备行动时,他可能正举起酒杯向另一名客人敬酒,而那个人很有可能正在把杯子举向另一个某人。

Other rules: Make sure to turn the shot of baijiu bottoms up with every encounter; say flattering words in your toast, but nothing too flowery; appear cordial and personable; smile, but avoid inappropriate body contact. Finally, while you’re busy circling the table, don’t forget to eat.
其他的规则还有:每次碰杯后都要把杯子里的白酒喝干;敬酒时要说些恭维话,但不要太花哨;样子要亲切,还要有风度;要面带微笑,但要避免不恰当的身体接触。最后,当你忙着围着桌子转的时候,别忘了吃东西。

At a Chinese banquet, the eating is the least important part. The problem, though, is that Chinese food is irresistibly delicious, especially if you’re someone who’s lived outside China for the last four years. And so this summer, when I returned to my home city of Chengdu for a visit, and a friend called to ask me to meet up at a local restaurant, I said yes without any hesitation.
在国内的饭局上,吃是最不重要的部分。但问题是,筵席上的菜特别好吃,让人无法抗拒,尤其是对在国外生活了四年、刚回来不久的人来说。所以今年夏天,当我从国外回到老家成都后,一个朋友打电话约我在当地一家餐馆见面,我毫不犹豫地答应了。

On the day of, I arrived late. The restaurant had been revamped since the last time I’d visited, six years ago. A slim hostess in a red qipao welcomed me while I stood dazzled by the colossal crystal chandelier suspended from the high ceiling. I told her my friend’s name and was escorted to a private dining room at the end of the hall.
那天,我迟到了。我上次去这家餐馆是六年前,如今餐馆已经重新装修过。一位身穿红色旗袍的苗条女服务员在门口欢迎我,悬挂在高高天花板上的巨大水晶吊灯令我眼花缭乱。我把朋友的名字告诉服务员,她把我带到大厅尽头的一个包间。

The hostess held open the door. I walked in. The dining room was the size of half a swimming pool. A large round table was in the middle. Its centerpiece was a miniature Chinese garden, from which a thick vapor of dry ice ascended. I didn’t need to check the faces of the guests who had already been seated to know that I had been tricked. This was not a casual dinner — what we call a fan in Sichuan, which means rice, indicating a gathering mainly for the purpose of food consumption. This was a xi  a banquet.
服务员把包间门打开。我走进去。包间有半个游泳池那么大。中间摆着一张大圆桌。桌子中央的装饰物是一个微型中式花园,干冰的浓密雾气从中缓缓升起。我不用看已经就坐的客人的脸,就知道上当了。这不是一顿随意的晚餐——也就是四川人说的一顿“饭”,是以吃东西为主的聚会。这是一场“席”——一个盛大的宴会。

Around 2,000 years ago, our ancestors coined a phrase: “min yi shi wei tian” — food is the top priority of the people. But that was a different China. Today, in the post-Deng Xiaoping era, we have merged food with what, for many Chinese people, has become the most vital aspect of their lives: business. All business meetings end up in private dining rooms, employing pork and chicken as icebreakers and closing deals over dumplings and rice.
大约2000年前,我们的老祖宗造了一个短语:“民以食为天”——吃对老百姓来说是最重要的事情。但那时的中国与现在很不一样。在后邓小平时代的今天,我们已经把吃饭与做生意结合起来——对许多中国人来说,后者已经成为他们生活中最重要的东西。所有的商务会议最后都在餐厅包间里结束,猪肉和鸡肉可以用来打破僵局,吃着饺子和米饭可以做成生意。

But every experienced banqueteer knows that the dishes are just props. What really matters are the diners, whose roles are underscored by their positions around the table. The most prominent guest gets the “upper seat,” the one squarely facing the entrance, so his authority is appreciated as soon as a guest arrives. Opposite the upper seat, in the chair closest to the doorway, is the so-called manager, the one who sends out invitations, orders dishes, arranges the seating, urges people to drink more and then shoves the drunks into taxis afterward.
但饭局上每个有经验的人都知道,菜只是道具。真正事关紧要的是用餐者,他们在餐桌上的座位强调了他们的角色。最重要的客人坐“上座”,也就是正对着包间门的座位,其他客人到来时,一眼就能看出他的权威。上座的对面,也就是离门最近的那把椅子留给管事儿的人,他负责发邀请、点菜、安排座位、劝酒,然后把醉汉送进出租车。

On this particular occasion, the guests all turned to stare when I entered. My friend, who was sitting closest to the entrance, stood up and walked toward me with an encouraging smile. “You’re finally here,” he announced. “Our precious guest from afar!”
当我走入这个饭局时,所有客人的头都转向了我。我的朋友坐在离门最近的位置上,他起身向我走来,带着表示鼓励的微笑。“你可到了,”他宣告。“远方的贵客啊!”

He led me to the table, where a broad-faced middle-aged man — the president of a publishing house — occupied the upper seat. The man nodded lightly at me, while the rest of his body remained motionless below the neck. We shook hands.
他把我带到桌边,坐上座的是一个宽脸的中年男子,他是一家出版社的社长。他对我轻轻地点了点头,脖子以下的身体其余部分几乎一动不动。我们握了手。

“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” he said. “I’ve been looking forward to meeting you for a long time.”
“幸会、幸会,”他说。“久仰大名,如雷贯耳。”

“Thank you,” I said. As soon as the words came out, I realized I’d done something wrong: I should have delivered an answer that was more deferential, one that showed more recognition of his position. I frowned at myself.
“谢谢,”我说。话一出口,我就意识到自己犯了个错误:我应该用一句更恭敬的话来回答,对他的地位表示更多认可。我暗地里为自己的失误皱了皱眉头。

My friend interrupted before the awkwardness deepened. He invited me to take a seat in the vacant chair next to the president. To get out of the spotlight, I sank down quickly into the red velvet, before realizing I had made another mistake. I was sitting on that seat, the seat I had been pinned in to too many times when I had lived in Chengdu as a 20-something, a nervous newcomer to literary circles.
我的朋友在局面更尴尬之前出来圆场。他请我在社长旁边的空椅子上就座。我不想再成为人们关注的对象,立刻坐进了那把红色天鹅绒的椅子,但马上意识到,我又犯了个错误。我坐在了那把我在成都生活的那段时间里经常被迫入座的椅子上,那时我20多岁,是刚刚步入文坛的新人,非常紧张。

This seat was for “the girl” — the young woman installed to entertain the important middle-aged man. Those in this seat can expect to receive: an absurd amount of secondhand smoke; a number of judgmental looks from men and women around the table; inexhaustible baijiu refills and, occasionally, a squeeze on the shoulder or a hand on the back.
这个位置是为“那个姑娘”准备的,她是一位被安排来招待重要中年男客的年轻女子。坐在这个位子上的人可能会收到:多得离谱的二手烟;桌边男男女女们的上下打量;永远喝不完的白酒续杯,以及肩膀上偶尔的一捏,或落在背上的手。

I cringed, turning back to my friend. He grinned at me.
我感到尴尬不安,看了我朋友一眼。他冲我咧嘴一笑。

Two years ago, an article called “Women at Banquets,” published in GQ China, went viral on the Chinese internet. “Without women, even a banquet full of meat would turn out vegetarian,” it declared, before going on to lay out different types of women — “a coquettish virgin or a chaste whore” and the ways they could shape an event’s ambience. It compared them with dishes, ranging from braised pork belly to tiramisù.
两年前,《GQ中国》上曾发表了一篇题为《一桌没有姑娘的饭局,还能叫吃饭吗》的文章,被人在中国互联网上疯传。文章开门见山地写道:“如果没有女人,再荤的饭局也都是‘素局’。”然后写了不同类型的女人——“有一点放浪的处女,或者一个矜持的荡妇”,以及她们怎么让饭局的气氛活跃起来。文章将女人比做不同的菜,从红烧肉到提拉米苏。

The article was polarizing. Some were disgusted by its unvarnished objectification of women; others simply considered it an especially vivid reflection of reality. For the latter camp, it was not the article itself that was appalling — rather, it was the very nature of Chinese banquets.
这篇文章引起了截然对立的反响。有些人对文章赤裸裸地物化女性感到厌恶;有些人则认为这是现实生活的写照。对持后一种观点的人来说,令人震惊的不是文章本身,而是国内饭局的本质。

In 2008, when I was 23, I went to a PEN meeting in Beijing, organized by a top literary journal and attended by a number of nationally acclaimed critics and editors. At the postmeeting dinner party, where I sat at a corner table with all the young attendees, I was horrified by the scene at the main table, where a 30-something woman writer, seated next to the editor of the journal, could barely hold herself up under the bombardment of toasts coming from all the important men at the table. Yet she pushed on, shot after shot, knocking back baijiu as the critics and editors cheered like a mob.
2008年我23岁时,曾参加过一次中国作家协会在北京举行的会议。会议由一家很有名的文学杂志组织,许多全国知名的评论家和编辑都来参加。在会后的晚宴上,我坐在角落里的一张桌子,同桌的都是与会的年轻人。主桌的场景让我感到厌恶:坐在该文学杂志主编旁边的一位30多岁的女作家,在同桌所有重要男人的轮番敬酒下,几乎都站不住了。但她仍在继续,把一杯杯的白酒喝下去,那些评论家和编辑们像暴民似地为她大声叫好。

“Do you think she needs some help?” I asked a young man sitting beside me, a lecturer at a university in Beijing.
“你觉得她需要帮忙吗?”我问坐在我旁边的一个年轻人,他是北京一所大学的讲师。

“She doesn’t need help from you,” he said in a knowing tone. “That woman knows very well what she’s doing.”
“她用不着你帮,”他用会意的语调说。“那女人完全知道自己在做什么。”

As a young woman who lived far from the capital city, I allowed myself to be dissuaded. I only started to wonder, years later: Why had what appeared to be a crucifixion to me seemed like an act of enthronement in the eyes of men?
我是一个住得离首都很远的年轻女人,于是就这样听从了别人的劝阻。只是在多年后,我才开始思忖:为什么在我看来是受难的事情,在男人眼里却像坐上了宝座?

“We actually met once,” the president said to me soon after I sat down. “It was many years ago, at the Writers’ Association’s New Year’s banquet. I was very impressed with you there: You certainly can drink!” he laughed.
“我们其实见过一面,”我坐下不久,社长对我说。“那是好多年前在作家协会的新年宴会上。你那回给我留下了很深的印象:你确实能喝!”他笑了起来。

“Did I?” I smiled, remembering it was probably the time when I drank 15 shots of baijiu in one go and went straight to the bathroom to throw up. I was 24. Desperately wanting to be seen as an equal by men, I decided to drink like one. It didn’t work out in the end.
“是吗?”我笑着问道。我记得可能是我一口气喝了15杯白酒,然后马上去厕所呕吐的那次。我当时24岁,迫不及待地希望别人将我与男人平等看待,所以我决定像男人那样喝酒。后来发现这样行不通。

“Too bad you don’t live in China anymore,” he said. “I heard living abroad is lonely. So when Wang” — he nodded at my friend — “told me you were back, I thought we should arrange a dinner party.”
“你不住中国了,真有点可惜,”他说。“我听说在国外生活很孤独。所以,小王告诉我,”——他朝我的朋友点了点头——“说你回来了,我觉得我们应该搞个饭局。”

“It’s really thoughtful of you,” I said, turning toward the entrance, where waitresses were bringing in an array of dishes.
“您想得真周到,”我说,同时把头转向门口,女服务员们正把好几道菜送进来。

“There are some fans of yours in our office. They are all thrilled to meet you,” I heard him continue, as I eyed a beautiful plate of braised aubergine with garlic.
“我们社里有好几个你的粉丝。他们能见到你都特别兴奋,”我眼睁睁地盯着一盘漂亮的蒜蓉烧茄子,听着他继续说道。

“Little Chen,” the president said. “Come have a toast with Ms. Yan.”
“小陈,来和颜女士干一杯,”社长说。

I turned toward him and saw that next to the president, there was now a young woman holding up a shot of baijiu with both her hands. “It’s such a pleasure to finally meet you, Ms. Yan,” she said. The look on her face reminded me of myself not so long ago — the way I once cringed and struggled at banquets, feeling simultaneously embarrassed and humiliated but also obligated to please. I also realized in amusement that I’d misread the situation. I’d been seated near the head of the table because I was, in fact, the guest of honor at this banquet. I was not the girl anymore. This young woman was “the girl.”
我转过身来,看见社长身边现在站着一名年轻女子,双手举起一杯白酒,“终于有幸见到您了,颜女士,”她说。她脸上的表情让我想起了不久前的自己——我也曾在饭局上畏缩不前,但又不得不拼命应付,一边难堪尴尬,一边又必须取悦别人。同时,我暗自为自己误读了情况感到高兴。我被安排在主座旁边,是因为我是饭局的主客,不是因为我是“那个姑娘”。这个年轻女子才是“那个姑娘”。

I looked at her. She smiled at me, gamely raising her shot glass.
我看着她。她冲我微笑着,勇敢地举起了酒杯。

Then I acted inappropriately for the third time since I’d entered the room. “I don’t want to drink today,” I said. “Why don’t we all have tea instead?”
接下来,我做出了进包间以来的第三次不当举止。“我今天不想喝酒,”我说。“大家都喝茶吧,好不好?”

The ultimate purpose of a banquet is to get its diners drunk. Only in this way can we connect and become friends, squeeze each other’s shoulders and make dirty jokes. When it goes wrong, it can be ugly: Fights can break out; women might be abused for sport. But when it goes right, mistakes are forgiven; the diners perspire, devour, quaff and sing together, and then, only then, will business be done.
饭局的最终目的是把用餐者灌醉。只有大家都醉了,才能建立关系,成为朋友,互捏肩膀,讲荤笑话。饭局出问题时,情况可能会很糟糕:有人可能会打起来;女性可能会被作为消遣遭到滥用。但如果饭局搞得好,各种错误都会被原谅;吃饭的人一起满头大汗,一起狼吞虎咽,一起痛饮,一起高歌,然后,而且只是然后,生意将会做成。

At the party, it soon became obvious that the purpose of this banquet was to get me to sign my next novel with this publishing house. And very quickly, it was clear that the deal would not be sealed: Not only had I refused to drink, but I also disclosed apologetically that I had already signed with a different press.
我很快发现,这次饭局的目的是让我和这家出版社签约,出版我的下一部小说。而且情况很快清楚了,这笔交易做不成:我不仅拒绝喝酒,而且还抱歉地透露,我已经和另一家出版社签了约。

Once this became apparent, the president sat in boredom, picking at vegetables in his bowl, sipping buckwheat tea. Around half an hour later, he ordered and ate some noodles and took his leave.
这一切变得明朗之后,社长无聊地坐在那里,用筷子在自己的碗里挑来挑去,喝着荞麦茶。大约半小时后,他要了碗面条,吃完就走了。

After he left, the atmosphere around the table changed. My friend came to sit beside me for a good catch-up. Little Chen told me about when she’d first read my book as a college student and a coming-of-age novel she’d been working on. We finished every dish on the table, including the fruit platter.
他走后,餐桌上的气氛变了。我的朋友走过来在我旁边坐下,我们好好聊了一会儿。小陈告诉我,她第一次读我的书是在上大学的时候,还告诉我,她正在写一本成长小说。我们吃光了桌上所有的菜,包括水果拼盘。

“This is great,” another woman at the table sighed. “It’s probably the only dinner party after which I won’t go home hungry.”
“太好了,”在座的另一位女士叹息道。“这可能是唯一一次没有饿着肚子回家的饭局。”

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