people's republic of desire

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 April, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 April, 2003, 12:00am

After Lulu leaves the magazine, the realisation that she has no job, husband or home of her own, hits her hard. All she has is her Chinese-made SUV. Actually, she also has great looks, a wonderful figure and a fine mind, but for the moment, she can't acknowledge that.

She drives out to an area near the Great Wall. She climbs a hill, and looking out on the grand vista of the Great Wall, sits pondering. She thinks about Jenny, the woman nobody likes in her office because she is lazy and arrogant. But by seducing the magazine's owner and becoming his mistress, Jenny got the editor-in-chief position, when everyone else assumed Lulu had it in the bag.

Jenny hasn't even tried hiding her affair from her husband or her colleagues. She wants people to know she has the boss wrapped around her little finger.

There are so many Jennys around. Colourful Cloud, who was Niuniu's acquaintance in Missouri, used her teacher to get her out of a poor Guangxi village. By sleeping with her college room-mate's father, she was able to come to Beijing. She chased after an old American man in Beijing who later married her, and off they went to the United States.

Once she had some roots in the US, it wasn't long before she dumped the old man and married his young and virile grandson.

Little Fang, the vixen who stole CC's English boyfriend Nick, is the next character who springs to Lulu's mind. With the help of Nick, she got into Oxford where she met Sir William, who was referred to by the locals as 'Old-Money and Plenty Of It'. Nick was immediately dumped, and Little Fang made Sir William divorce his wife and abandon his kids to marry her.

Little Fang's wedding was held in both an English castle and a five-star Shanghai hotel. All the guests' travel expenses were paid for by Sir William, and everyone is still unsure what kind of tricks Little Fang employed to make that happen.

None of these women take principles or morals seriously. They use men as shortcuts to better lives. And they get away with it.

Where is my shortcut? Lulu wonders. From childhood, she studied hard. After graduating from a top university in China, she chose to work for a women's magazine when she was offered work at a foreign company. She simply wanted to be a journalist.

Everybody in the office thought she was a great writer, a first-class interviewer and a dedicated editor. But it was Jenny, not her, who got the promotion.

Her pay was low and she worked hard to save money. She bought a car, but still couldn't make her family proud of her. Her mother and brother were disappointed the car was Chinese-made, not an import. Before her father died, his only dream was to see his daughter a blissful bride. But it hasn't happened.

Talking about men, Lulu feels heart-broken. Her parents' genes 'agreed' and made Lulu a beauty. When she went out to interview models, she showed them up with her good looks. In fashion magazine circles, her nickname was the Sex Goddess. But her good looks haven't attracted Mr Right yet.

As her girlfriends have pointed out, she doesn't know how to play games with men. If she likes someone, she'll confess it to the man and devote herself to him. It is not that she doesn't know the play-hard-to-get-game, but she always wants to stay above it.

In return, what has she got? One man she fell in love with claimed to be a free spirit, who didn't believe in marriage. Another man she adored wasn't afraid of matrimony: he secretly married another woman without even a goodbye.

Yes, there have been rich men who have approached her. Again, she doesn't believe in marrying money and wants to stay above it.

She thinks she is noble, but she's ended up a noble failure. Standing on the hills of the Great Wall, she feels she has done nothing but sell herself short.

She cries out, 'What's wrong with men? What's wrong with society?' Bad girls get rewarded for being manipulative, while good girls have to suffer for staying good. Should I change? she wonders. What about the principles my father taught me?

Confused, she calls her friend Beibei for help. After hearing her story, Beibei laughs, 'Who really cares about principles anyway? Instead of acting with principles, let me hook you up with the principal stockholder of the competitor's magazine!'