My name, now renderable in emoticons

I woke up (was woken up) very early this morning by the rest of my family texting back and forth. Normally I would have been pretty annoyed, but:

It was the best text I've received this year.
It was the best text I’ve received this year.

For those of you who can’t read Chinese or emoticons, the first two characters say: Lao Zhu, or Old Pig. That’s me. I am Lao Zhu (Old Pig).

One of my earliest childhood memories is of the time when I was about 3 (I am 3 in all of my earliest childhood memories, though I have no idea if I was actually 3). We were all at my grandparents’ house, and I had wandered into the dining area where the TV was playing Journey to the West (maybe the classic 1986 CCTV adaptation??). Journey to the West is one of the four great classical novels in Chinese literature, the one about the Monkey King who goes west, which is India, to help a monk bring some original Buddhist scriptures back to China. Monkey King and the monk are accompanied by Lao Zhu, whose real name is Zhu Bajie. Zhu Bajie is half-pig, half-man (no bear) and described as lazy, greedy and super lustful of women. (Seriously, one time, he disguised himself as a monk to bathe with a bunch of chicks he came across in a pond, then changed into a fish to swim between their legs. His lust is also what got him kicked out of heaven). He is also disproportionately vain relative to his actual looks and abilities. And there’s this from his Wikipedia page:

In the original Chinese novel, he is often called dāizi (呆子), meaning “idiot”. Sun Wukong [Monkey King], Xuanzang [the monk] and even the author consistently refers to him as “the idiot” over the course of the story.

You can even refer to someone as a Zhu Bajie to mean that he’s dumb and unaware of it (probably because of his vanity). Basically, he really isn’t the best of characters. But for some reason, whatever he was doing on the TV at the time I wandered into the dining room really spoke to me. I can’t say what it is I saw that I identified with, but he is actually meant to (and does, in Chinese culture) represent the ordinary man. Despite his faults, he is still kind-hearted and a loyal sidekick. And he’s a funny character.

I asked my parents what was Lao Zhu. I don’t remember their answer, but it worked for me, so then I asked them to call me Lao Zhu as my nickname. I think they laughed a bit, but ever the spoiled one, I got what I wanted.

Happy New Year! I’ll be watching the ball drop later via Skype with my parents.

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