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Where is he?

I scan the audience searching for him. The stage lights are blinding and hot. The crowds are cheering. The entire studio is booming with Avril Lavigne's "Girlfriend". Hey! Hey! You! You! I don't like your girlfriend!

Hey! Hey! You! You! I don't like your girlfriend!

I hold Shauna's hand as we run up the stage with 22 other single ladies. She's glittering in a silver mermaid dress. Hair combed back into a slick bun. She's as regal as the Statue of Liberty if we'd just give her a torch.

We wave and smile at the cameras, each pair of us. And then we split into two lines on each side of the T shaped stage. I let go of Shauna's hand. With a smile plastered to my face, I search through the audience again for him. Left and right. I see Le Jia. I see Huang Han. I try to maintain a strut in this friggin' tight mini skirt and land each step on beat, while balancing on 5-inch stilettos. But I keep searching...

Where is he? He said he'd be here.

I scan the audience again. There are so many of them. Cheering excitedly. Their faces upturned and expectant. They're so stoked to be here. It took the broadcasting company 3 months to prepare for the Canadian Edition of Fei Cheng Wu Rao (You Are the One) – The hottest TV show in China. A reality dating show with 300 million viewers worldwide.

I look around at the single ladies standing behind their podiums. Some of them are truly breathtaking to behold – stunning in a way that you wouldn't want to take your eyes off them. And you can't help but wonder, how could they be so perfect? Not only perfect in their doll-like faces, but also tall and big bosomed at the same time. (I thought usually you're either pretty and short and small-bosomed, or pretty and tall and small-bosomed, or ugly and tall and big-bosomed). But pretty and tall and big-bosomed? To get all three? Holy of holies! Pretty, tall, big-bosomed, smooth-skinned, strong, curvy, sexy, classy, womanly perfection. As if that's not intimidating. Sometimes I just want to dig a hole and hide.

Aside from pretty, some of these ladies are wealthy, some incredibly intelligent, some younger, some older, some went to Harvard, some are soon-to-be lawyers. 3000 people across Canada applied to be on the show. Only 16 ladies were chosen.

Now where is he?


-----------  One Year Earlier  ------------

"You're 26 years old, you should get a boyfriend," grandma bosses me over the phone.

"Yes grandma...maybe you could hook me up?" I joke.

"Would you come back if I found you a good Chinese boy?" grandma asks in all seriousness.

"If we really liked each other, yes, I would," I say in all seriousness back.

"Ok, I'll ask the neighbors," grandma concludes decisively.

Grandma and I are very close. Dad calls her every weekend. They talk about health, family, work, and I tell her about my boy troubles. Grandma always lends a patient ear for the boy in question, and the issues at hand. Sometimes she'd tell me to give him the benefit of the doubt. Other times she'd say it's downright unacceptable. And this night is no different. Another evening of friendly exchange on modern dating dilemmas, and tried-and-true, century-old advice on love. You know – girl talk.

Just because grandma's one of the "girls", doesn't mean our lifestyles in any way resemble one another's. Grandma lives in China, and I live in Canada. She's 89. I'm 26. She begins the day with watering the plants in the morning, followed by a light lunch taken leisurely with aunt and uncle; nap in the warm afternoon sun; and then watch Chinese Opera while sipping at a cup of jasmine tea. Meanwhile, I bounce out of bed at exactly 7:15 – after slamming the snooze button for the nth time – slip into something professional-looking, and spend the day trying to management consult our clients on how their businesses can be efficiently maximized, with every single risk carefully calculated and resources fully optimized. At the end of the day, grandma looks as radiant as a youthful yogi, and I come home looking haggard like an old lady.

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