Playing with several tropes at once (the teach-me-something trope, the love-is-not-lost-in-translation trope, the quirky-foreigner-in-an-exotic-land trope), Books with Benefits went out into the bustling city to learn how to speak Chinese. On Day 11, April tries to find men who will teach her to say milk, potato chips and, finally, I love you. Will April find someone willing to play along?
At the start of our journey, we challenged ourselves to create encounters in a small area. After deciding Starbucks wouldn’t limit our search radius enough, we aimed our sights on another ubiquitous Taiwanese mainstay: the neighborhood 7-Eleven. To up the ante even more, we were only going to allow single attempts in the five stores nearest our home—an area which is a little bit suburban, a little bit rural. At first we got a runner, a man fleeing April and her questions in fear as though she was the single star of The Walking Dead‘s long-awaited return. April had better luck with employees (cashiers and delivery guys), but we were already finished with store three without any real success. Things were getting desperate!
As we drove to the fourth 7-Eleven, I dared April to ask her subject to teach her to say I love you and then to say it back to him.
When she tried it–with an employee again… She laughed. He laughed. Mission accomplished!
Lessons in love and life: You know those folks that always tell you to try and try again; well, they’re not wrong. If at first you don’t succeed, keep at it. But, if things aren’t working, make changes, too. Be unusual. Be surprising. Make yourself or somebody else laugh. And then maybe, just maybe, an ordinary Pin-Pon will turn into an extraordinary I love you.