At a quarter past 9 PM, the next contestant was about to appear. Having been enticed by Zhang Ye with his description of the contestant, his parents kept their eyes on the TV screen and antic.i.p.ated who would come next. They wanted to know just how frightening this next contestant would be. Even Chenchen who was still eating the sausages glanced curiously at the screen.
But at this moment, Zhang Ye stood up from his chair. After filling his stomach, he took a napkin and wiped the garlic sauce and oil from his hand. He then went back into his room. He took out his phone and hesitated for a long while but still decided to call the number that was written on a note he had kept in his pocket. He had gotten this from the program team. It was an emergency contact number one of the contestants had put on their application form.
He dialed the number.
Du du. The call went through.
Zhang Ye greeted: "h.e.l.lo."
It was a middle-aged man man who answered the phone: "h.e.l.lo, who is this?"
"Is this Mr. Zhou?" Zhang Ye asked.
"That's he, you are?" The middle-aged man asked, wondering what was going on.
Zhang Ye said: "Are you and your mother together at the moment? I would like to look for Grandma w.a.n.g. I'm not sure if it's convenient for her to answer the phone right now?"
The middle-aged man said: "Looking for my mother? Are you a comrade from the Residents' Committee? Or the Retirees' a.s.sociation?" Maybe it was because of Zhang Ye speaking very formally, the middle-aged man did not make much of it and wasn't too suspecting. "OK, please wait, I'll get her." Then a voice could be heard: "Mother, mother, a call for you."
About five or so seconds later, someone answered.
It was a little old granny's voice: "h.e.l.lo, is this Little Li from the committee?"
Zhang Ye said: "No, Grandma w.a.n.g, my name is Zhang Ye."
"Zhang Ye?" Grandma w.a.n.g said while shaking her head. "Did you get the wrong number?'
Zhang Ye said:"I didn't get the wrong number. I understand that you might not know me, but I'm calling you with a rather presumptuous request. Could I get you to tune in to Central TV Department 1's channel on TV?"
Grandma w.a.n.g did not understand. "Eh?"
Zhang Ye said: "You'll understand when you see it."
After saying that, Zhang Ye hung up because he did not know what else to say. He also didn't know if he should be the one to say it, so he just hurriedly and briefly said a few words.
On the other end.
Grandma w.a.n.g was feeling very confused. "Who was that?"
Her son, Mr. Zhou, said in surprise, "You don't know that person?"
"I don't know him. He only asked me to take a look at Central TV Department 1's channel now and then hung up after saying that." Grandma w.a.n.g's television was on at the moment, but she was currently watching opera. She very much so enjoyed listening to opera.
Mr. Zhou was quite speechless at that. "What did he mean by that? Was it a sales call? A phone scam?"
Grandma w.a.n.g said, "I don't know."
"What's there on Central TV Department 1? Oh, it's Thursday today, isn't it? I think it's The Voice of China at this time. Many of my colleagues have been telling me how good it is. Eh, wait!" Mr. Zhou suddenly said, "What was the name of the person who called just now?"
Grandma w.a.n.g thought for a moment. "He said he was…Zhang Ye?"
Mr. Zhou was stunned. "Isn't Zhang Ye that host? I think he joined Central TV Department 1 and The Voice seems to be produced by him!"
"Host?" Grandma w.a.n.g thought, but she did not know any celebrities in person.
Mr. Zhou was feeling very curious, so he switched over to Central TV Department 1. "Look, it's really The Voice. I think it just started not too long ago. Could it really be Zhang Ye who called? That's not possible, he's such a superstar, why would he call our house? Just thinking about that seems impossible already! This is really weird!"
Grandma w.a.n.g said, "If it's a scam, then just ignore it. I want to continue watching my opera."
"Can you watch the opera in a while? Let me take a look first." Mr. Zhou wondered about what kind of program The Voice actually was. "This show is very popular right now. Everyone in the country is talking about it. The viewers.h.i.+p ratings have won hands down against all other variety shows in the same period. They also say that the contestants are all very good performers too. My colleagues told me that there was a bicycle repairman in the first episode who sang with an even more womanly voice than a woman could. That voice was really the best. Then there was another contestant…Ah!" As he related to this part, he suddenly cried out in surprise. The words that were coming out from his mouth became stuck in his throat!
Grandma w.a.n.g asked, "What's the matter?"
Mr. Zhou was shocked as he pointed at the television screen. His hand was trembling. "F-Father! It's my father!"
"What?" Grandma w.a.n.g expression also turned to shock. She turned her focus to the television and stared hard at it. Her eyes swirled with a complex mix of emotions!
Mr. Zhou, who seemingly had seen a ghost, said, "What's my father doing on TV!"
Grandma w.a.n.g was silent for a moment, then uttered, "Change the channel!"
"Mother…" Mr. Zhou said.
"Change the channel!" Grandma w.a.n.g said firmly.
Mr Zhou said, "Why do you want to change it? Just watch it. You've already divorced my father for seven or eight years years already. Each time he calls, you always hang up on him. Every time he comes to look for you, you don't even want to open the door for him. Whenever any of our neighbors mention my father's name, you will give them an angry look. Just what are you trying to do? It's not like my father has done something wrong. All he likes is singing, so why can't you get over that after all these years."
Grandma w.a.n.g said angrily, "Is that what he calls liking singing? He treats singing like it's his life. When we were still young, your father would carry that guitar of his around every day and form whatever band or groups with his co-workers. If you say that he was young at that time, I'll let it pa.s.s, but as we got older, he still did not change. After working at the factory for 20, 30 years, just because he wanted to pursue that dream of his, he took the golden handshake at work and left his job. All the golden handshake payment was good for was a few years of insurance payments, and he was left with no other income. It's not like you don't know how much our family suffered during those years!"
Mr Zhou said, "That still didn't warrant getting a divorce from my father, did it!?"
Grandma w.a.n.g resolutely said, "When he sang during his younger days, it was fine. But he's already so old, yet he still keeps on thinking about that dream. Everyone has their destiny, and his is a worker. Why does he still not give up at his age! Does he not understand?! Only young people go on talent shows, what is he thinking stepping in and joining in on the fun?! That singing of his is so terrible, who would like it?"
Mr Zhou seethed, "If you don't want to watch, I will. I have never really heard my father singing a song before. Every time he tried to sing in the past, you would always pick a quarrel with him!"
Grandma w.a.n.g scolded very harshly, but did not actually move from her seat. She remained on the sofa and her gaze was still on the TV set.
Many of the viewers were also raising a ruckus.
"I'm gonna faint!"
"I'm gonna faint +1!"
"F**k me, why is there even an old man?"
"Your sister! The composition of the contestants in The Voice is way too complicated! There's a train driver, a P.E. teacher, a bicycle repairman, and now even a retiree?"
"Teacher Zhang, I bow to you!"
"Pfft! Does it need to be this funny?"
"At that age, he still wants to join a talent show?"
"This grandpa is really courageous, he can still sing at that age?"
"Surely this must just be meeting the requirement of the number of contestants, right?"
"Could he be intending to perform a square dance?" [1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Square_dancing_(China) ]
The viewers in front of their TV sets found it both laughable and pitiful. They'd seen strange things, but never had they seen something this strange. A 60 year old still coming to take part in a talent show compet.i.tion? And it's even a singing compet.i.tion? In all the other singing shows, even a 40 year old would be rare and would be considered an overaged contestant. They were all basically just contestants who would end up having that one appearance in the compet.i.tion before getting eliminated. After all, people at that age really weren't in the condition for singing, not to mention what it would be like for a 60-year-old grandpa!
Would you cut it out!?
Grandpa, could you please cut it out!?