Chapter 7 — [Difference between Confidence]
Princeknife: RPE will be dual hosted on by iso and sigmanovels. Enjoy~ Also, I’ll be translating Immortals once again but it will only be hosted on Sigmanovels so do check it out!
The bellowing storm helped Haizhou cool down for half a day short; the very next day, Haizhou district was back to its usual sweltry hot, humid weather.
The breakfast satiated his parents appetite and left for work, riding the bus as means of transportation. Not long after, the Li Mu household’s phone started to ring nonstop. The calls were from Li Mu’s classmates.
Out of curiosity, some called asking about his performance from yesterday’s examination; some were a little worried and asked certain questions from the science portion of the exam due to their inability to wait for the result the following day, so it was only proper they call Li Mu to confirm their answers; and there was also his best friend, Zhao Kang who called to hang out with him tonight at the internet cafe.
The two were childhood friend from the same district.
Half of the working class from Haizhou district worked at Xiling Coal Mine and Zhao Kang’s parents were no exception. It was due to this that Li Mu and Zhao Kang knew each other since they were in diapers.
When Li Mu and Zhao Kang went to the same elementary school, they were in the same class; when they went to the same junior high, they were also in the same class; and although both went to the same high school, and were not in the same class, they managed to maintain their close brotherly-like relationship.
However, Zhao Kang’s result for the university examination was not too good. Despite everyone having the impression Zhao Kang would pass just barely, the actual result was unexpectedly 20 points short of expectations. Zhao Kang, who hoped to enter a university of his second choice, was forced to repeat a year due to his parents prideful ego unable to accept Zhao Kang’s test score. The Zhao Kang, who repeated a year, became more stubborn and more and more rebellious. Halfway through the school term, a big fight occurred with his family. He left home soon after.
Li Mu, who was in a university at that time, attempted to get in touch with Zhao Kang. It’s just that Zhao Kang had a stubborn behavior. Li Mu’s multiple attempts were in vain. Not to mention Li Mu, Zhao Kang’s family were also unable to contact him. All Li Mu had was that one yearly phone call telling him all is well, telling him everything is fine.
Every Chinese New Year, a phone number from a different area code would call Li Mu. The phone number’s area code would often change but it was always the same voice—it would always say the same six words.
“Happy New Year, Brother.”
Each time, the phone call ends abruptly without waiting for Li Mu’s reply; each time, Li Mu called back the same number; each time, no one picked up; each time, the line from the other side was dead and silent.
Li Mu knew the voice who called was his close friend, Zhao Kang. This sort of thing had gone on for over ten years, becoming a sort of yearly routine. During those time period, Li Mu was left in the dark; he did not know if Zhao Kang lived well; did not know if he was okay; did not know if he was happy.
Thinking about his close friend left him in a melancholic state. His heart suddenly grew heavy and Li Mu let out a deep sigh.
Li Mu knew Zhao Kang’s call’s original intent was for Li Mu to find a proper excuse to go to the internet cafe at night but Li Mu’s mind was preoccupied with the current game [Stone Age] dominating the market.
“Has your parents left for work? If so, let us meet for lunch and we can head to the internet cafe after.”
“Sure. This is fine too. Let’s go to KFC, my treat!”
Early in 2001, KFC, a fast food chain company, recently opened in Haizhou and the business exploded instantly. The later generations simply could not imagine something like this. Those in line, lingering and waiting to order simply for a KFC meal, was so long it stretched passed the store and hit the roadside.
Half a year passed since its opening and the older generation believed the trend for it might have somewhat decreased, but KFC was still popular amongst the younger generation.
| ED: KFC, Kentucky Fried Chicken, is an American fast food restaurant chain that specializes in fried chicken; it is the world’s second-largest restaurant chain. |
“What? Eat in KFC? All they have is junk and unhealthy food. Let’s just go find good restaurant and order two dishes.” Li Mu coaxed.
“Absolutely not!” Zhao Kang answered with disdain, “KFC has the best hamburger. It’s so delicious! I, Zhao Kang, cannot and will not be satisfied just by eating KFC once a month! And you still dare to refuse when I said I will treat you?”
Li Mu sighed. He did not resist any further. “Fine. KFC at 12 PM?”
“Deal. I’ll come over to your house to pick you up later.”
Li Mu hung up and right after the phone rang again.
“Is this Li Mu?”
It was a woman’s voice—a pleasant and alluring voice.
“Elder Sister Wan?”
“You have really good hearing!” Chen Wan said, “Where is your home? I will visit.”
Li Mu laughed playfully, “My parents are not at home at this time. You are another family’s daughter. Don’t you think it’s inappropriate for you to come over?”
“What’s inappropriate?” Chen Wan muttered in discontent. Her lips twitched in displeasure, “You’re just a little boy. Is it not proper for your Elder Sister to visit?”
Li Mu used the thumb of his right hand to pull the elastic belt of his jeans; he stretched the front edge of the briefs and looked down, “A few years ago… it had already developed its fighting power to this extent…” Li Mu muttered softly.
After giving Chen Wan his address, she asked Li Mu to wait.
“Elder Sister is riding her bicycle.”
Li Mu smiled sheepishly, “Not driving?” Li Mu teased.
“Drive my ass! Just wait for me at the front of your house.”
The call came to an end and Li Mu left the house, closing the front door behind with a click. Li Mu then pushed the front gate open. He lived on a red-colored, contemporary five-story brick apartment inside a small district. Residents living on the upper floors of the apartment complex did not care as to whether the resident owner of the first floor were to build a gate to have a small courtyard. It looked more appealing to the eye, after all.
This became a trend and Li Mu’s parents followed suit.
A gate was built creating a small courtyard, concrete floors were cemented, and to the side was three small separate sheds. It costed Li Mu’s parents nearly 30,000 yuan, but to their dismay, their expectations of the quality did not match the high price they paid.
At least they had the three small sheds built in the courtyard and the spaces between them was an excellent place for drying clothes and bed sheets.
Li Mu found an ivory white clothing with short sleeves and round neckline made of light, inexpensive cotton fabric. Compared to apparels with fanciful designs, he preferred simple shirts with no graphics.
Since the beauty, Chen Wan, was coming to visit, Li Mu headed to the bathroom to ready himself. He looked back at the reflection of himself and Li Mu could not stand to look at his reflection any further.
The main issue was this simple and plain bowl cut. The hair was cut a straight fringe on the front and the rest of the hair was cut the same length all the way around. He looked listless and somewhat feminine. There was also this irritable chunk of thin black hair tashed over his lips. His hairstyle, and the chunk of black hair tash was the common look of male youths in this current age. It lacked style and his parents would not allow him to shave off his facial hair; saying that the more you shave, the thicker it becomes and you won’t look good.
Though little do they know that a few years from now, all those young girls will be obsessed with bearded guys.
Li Mu picked up his dad’s shaving razor and shaved the growing cluster of black hair away cleanly. It was now smooth and clean, somewhat more pleasant to the eye.
“I should go cut my hair.”
Li Mu made up his mind and gave Chen Wan a call, asking her to meet at the barber shop’s front entrance. He walked towards his study table, one filled with many memories, and found stacks of yuans he saved up from his high school days; all in all, Li Mu saved up a total of 580 yuan. He stuffed his savings into his pocket. Wearing a bermuda shorts, a particular type of semi-casual attire with cuffed hems, and flip-flops, Li Mu went out, heading towards the barber shop.
Taking a seat at the barbershop, Li Mu asked the barber with the punky, vibrant hair, “Excuse me, help me get a messy quiff look.”
The punk with a streak of vibrant blonde hair was astonished, he raised his eyebrows and looked at Li Mu weirdly, “Little Brother, what is a quiff look?”
Li Mu was stunned.
Yes, that’s right.
Only few guys in this era could find the sort of hair which suits them best. Most either opted for the flat top, a sort of short cut where the hair on the top stands upright and is cut to make it look like a flat deck, or choosing the bowl cut which Li Mu currently had.
Those that were slightly more fashionable would let their hair grow out longer and have the hair pushed up from from the back be teased, flat-ironed, and pieced out for that spiky effect with the front falling over the face; and some opted for black hair with streaks of bright colors such as blue or purple. The bangs (a fringe of hair cut straight across the forehead) would frame their face by growing in length from the eyebrow angled down all the way to below the chin. This sort of look formed a punk-like style with the addition to the dramatic, vibrant colors.
The quiff became the most iconic hairstyle a man could sport over the last few years. Li Mu at that time sported that messy quiff look under a suggestion of a girl from when he was in university. He learned after that it became a sort of standard for identifying an attractive, well-proportioned, and handsome guy was from their short hair; realizing that it became all the more popular due to it having multitudes of variations that can be modified to suit for nearly any face shape, hair type, and aesthetic.
This was especially so due to Edison Chen. His hair on the side and back were cut extremely short and faded whilst the top of the hair is longer, styled upwards and combed slightly back for that textured, aesthetic look. The longer hair on top provided a stark contrast to the short hair on the back and sides, giving that voluminous feel to it. This sort of hair was not too over the top because it highlighted men’s facial features. It made one’s physical appearance all the more youthful and full of vigor. Even maintaining the same hairstyle for 16 years, it would not look old-fashioned at all.
| TN: Edison Chen is a Hong Kong-Canadian actor, rapper, singer/songwriter, producer, entrepreneur, artist and fashion designer. |
Most importantly, this type of hair gave off the natural bad boy aura which girls have a soft spot for. In his previous lifetime, recent research found that guys who have the bad boy aura were found to be more attractive and usually got more dates than their average counterpart. Bad boys were more likeable, had more confident body language, and a more attractive facial expression. This sort of bad boy look are irresistible.
| TN: Research says its true. | Princeknife: just like me a handsome boy!
Although Li Mu’s facial features could not compare to the young Edison Chen, he was still considered within the category of a handsome guy.
After the young punk listened to Li Mu’s description of a quiff, he donned a sympathetic look. He felt Li Mu was too old-fashioned—an uncultured guy. He flipped his long hair with blonde streaks that covered his eyes and said proudly, “Brother, your current bow cut is suitable as it is. Ahhh, just let it grow out and how about you get up to fashion with hair like mine? Ok, ok, I’ll trim your fringe a little to make a diagonal bangs, and after two months, you will absolutely be a lady killer!”
Li Mu quietly watched. He looked up at the punk, and asked in a serious tone asking, “How much would you pay me if I listen to you?”
“Saying it like this…” The punk laughed nervously, “I’m just saying this for you own good. With a hairstyle like this,” he pointed to his hair, “Picking up girls at the Internet Cafe would be piece of cake!”
“I don’t need to go to the Internet Cafe to pick up girls.”
“Ah! If you are not going to the Internet Cafe then where else can you go?!”
“Go to university and pick up girls,” Li Mu joked, “Now quickly help me with the quiff. I’m from the Xiling Coal Mine district, I know some of the local bullies; I won’t be paying if you don’t do a good job!”
The punk’s expression turned sour; though he knew Li Mu joked, his lips were puckered and face contorted in unusual manner. He sighed inwardly. He truly could not afford to offend the children of Xiling Coal Mine workers.
What a brat!
It was only a trivial argument, yet he could easily make a few local bullies cause trouble using threats. Ordinary people like him could not fight back against such threat.
Although the barber with punk-like hair and blonde streaks aesthetic looks lacked finesse, the punk’s skill in his craft was adept. Under Li Mu’s guidance, his bowl cut hair started to take its shape after a few minutes work. The top part of the hair was kept to an ear length while the sides and back were blended and kept short. Thereafter, his hair was washed and blow-dried upwards to add lift and volume at the roots, the bulk of the hair separated from the parting and blow-dried in the opposite direction of Li Mu’s hair growth for extra volume. After, the barber used a reasonable amount of pomade on Li Mu’s hair, coating it thoroughly with his hands for the added textured, and relaxed finish look. Li Mu’s hair was finished off with a hairspray for extra hold.
Looking at Li Mu’s reflection, the barber’s heart was torn in half.
The long and vibrant hair boosted his self-esteem and confidence, but it was the type of confidence different from Li Mu; Li Mu’s confidence was like that of a flower boy in those blockbuster films, while his had the subcultural mix of urban and rural feel to it. The contrast was too intense.
Li Mu nodded, satisfied with the cut. He stood up and pulled the money from his pocket, “Is there more pomade? If so, give me one and calculate the price together.”
The punk-like barber stared blankly. This kid… He hurriedly fetched a pomade brand and said respectfully, “The haircut is free of charge. I’ll give you a discount of 63 yuan.”
Li Mu thought that this young barber was an interesting character with his dramatic change of personality. Li Mu smiled softly and still took out two 100 yuan note.