“Koo, I heard that you are such an excellent matchmaker. I mean for a young man, that’s quite unique, isn’t it? Are you still doing it?” Whenever people say that to Koo, he would smile modestly and reply, “well, it’s a complicated undertaking, really. I don’t do it anymore since, you know, often success is the biggest disappointment of all.”
His reply usually puzzles people exceedingly. “What do you mean by that? You are too young to be so philosophical or even cynical. Tell us. What’s going on?”
Koo doesn’t really like to talk about it, but one day at a waterhole near where he works, he drinks a little more than he should, and becomes a little less guarded as he usually is. He opens up.
Koo and her big sister Kami are from a very loving family in Edison, New Jersey. Kami is two years older than Koo, and Koo just loves his sister, who is so energetic, smart, and full of life. Koo can’t understand how such a wonderful sister of his can like a man like Jip. He has only met Jip once at their parents’ place for dinner, but he knows the two is probably getting serious–otherwise Kami would not have introduced Jip to family members. Jip is nice to the point of self effacement, apologetic for no reason. And also unambitious, quiet, and content. The contentment is what really annoys Koo. Jip is so self satisfied even if he dropped his future mother-in-law’s favorite teapot on the marble kitchen floor, said things that would not add any luster to his own manly image. “What does she see in him?” Koo asks himself this question.
Right before their second meeting, Jip suddenly comes up with an idea. It is really a moment of impulse. Koo just finishes talking with Shang from the finance department when he receives a social media message from his sister that they are to meet at their parents place the coming weekend. There will be several families there to celebrate the Lunar New Year. It suddenly dawns on him that Shang is single, available, and age-appropriate for his sister. How come he has never thought about that before? Although Shang and him are not from the same department and are not really friends, Shang is smart, responsible, good-looking. Best of all, Shang just ended his relationship with his girlfriend. Even if Shang may not end up being a real boyfriend to Kami, he probably will drive Jip away. What a good plan.
The day comes and everything goes according to Koo’s plan. However right before the party, Koo suddenly thinks that he should find somebody to attract Jip away–if Jip is always around his sister Kami, Shang may not have his chance. What to do? Although the Asian community here is not really that small, the number of eligible Asians is quite slim. Also this is a last minute thing. Where can he find this girl?
“Of course it should be the neighbor Jasmin.” How come he didn’t think of her before. Actually Jasmin likes Koo, but Koo is not ready for a committed relationship yet. So the two maintains their friendship. The two have grown up together, lived in the neighboring houses, gone to the same school together. So Koo talks to Jasmin and tells her his plan. At first, Jasmin is hesitating, but Koo manages to convince her to come and to make an effort to attract Jip’s attention.
And the party is a great success. Everything happens exactly as Koo has planned and anticipated. Jasmin talks with Jip, and the two even make a special rice pancake together. His sister Kami discusses stock market with Shang, and she even vows to follow Shang’s suggestions. After the dinner, Koo suggests that they can gather three tables of mahjong, which is his parents’ favorite pastime. Mahjong playing is kind of like extended poker game played with tiles instead of cards.
And at one table, Koo contrives to gather Shang, Kami, Jip, Jasmin together. Koo thinks that Shang’s brilliance in game and math and memory will outshine everybody else, and will certainly attract his sister Kami’s attention. How can Kami still love Jip when Shang wins and Jip loses?
And things turn out exactly as Koo has imagined. Shang wins and he not only wins, he can also remember all the tiles and tells Jip what he should have done to win next time. And as if by design, Jip can’t even appreciate Shang’s sharp mind, saying something like “game is just for fun”. The contrast between the two men cannot be more obvious.
And in the following day, Koo is so happy about his success. Actually it seems to be more successful than he designed it to be. Jasmin sends him a message saying that she has finally got over him and finds the love of her life. A minute later, his sister Kami sends a message saying that she understood his intention of inviting Shang over, and thanks to the previous night, especially the Mahjong table, she has understood everything, including her heart, more clearly. Koo cannot be happier for the result.
However when he accidentally meets Shang again several days later at the company cafeteria, it transpires that he gets the story completely wrong. Shang and Jasmin hooked up–Jasmin admired Shang’s brilliance and Shang finds solace in Jasmin’s warmth.
And his sister Kami talks with him about her decision to get married with Jip. “Koo, if it is not for the comparison at the Mahjong table, I won’t be aware of Jip’s merits. Jip’s so kind and sensitive to my feelings, unlike Shang, who just wants to win and win like a little robot.”
Koo has never felt more sour about these two successful matchmaking he has done. However he soon gets over it and becomes good friends with everybody.