As it says on the tin. We learned in the previous chapter that Chantel (new readers: girlfriend #1 out of ???) is about to lose bone plasticity and start slowly accumulating hyperlordosis-induced back pain as she prepares for the next step in her switchlike aging process. So, off we go to her birthday party, where she has invited Shu.
And no one else.
Chantel’s birthday party activities, or activity in this case, consist of awkwardly watching romantic comedies with her parents, boyfriend and boyfriend’s mother. She’s delighted! But while Colten and Angela Lucas have already been repeatedly filled in on biographical (and useless re. dreaminess) data about Shu, Chantel didn’t bother reversing her flow of knowledge. He’s left posing simple introductory questions—where did you grow up? Do you prefer cats or dogs? When did you move into this house? Angela/Colten, on the other hand, go for the jugular. What does being in love with someone mean for you? How did the divorce affect your psyche? How’s your relationship with your infamous undead stepfather? Just as the rom-com hero says something that could maybe possibly be interpreted as mildly offensive and the heroine storms off in a tiffy, the conversation reaches the point of sharing personal traumas, which for Shu are mostly book-induced.
Shu was stuck making the birthday cake after the caterer walked into a conversation about sperm count and backed the fuck out before the front door could even close. Sugarless, joyless carob coconut. Chantel doesn’t even balk at this disgusting offering before sacrificing its candles in the commonplace explosive ritual magic aging process.
Yes; not even the threat of carob can dampen Chantel’s spirits. She admires the promise ring on her finger, using the other hand to browse Simstagram for its upgrade. Something marquise-cut with rose gold and leaf motifs.
Exercise: Find Chantel’s high school binder (marked Mrs. Xishu Liu so many times that the ink ran out of her pen) and determine where she and Shu are going to live, how many kids they’re going to have, what breezy modern gender-neutral names they’ll be assigned, where the family burial plots are, etc.
Chantel and Aileen have already seen each other in their jammies, freeing the birthday girl to skip introductions and bond with her future in-law over common interests.
While Chantel’s parents bring out a notebook and ask Aileen if she’s a carrier for any recessive genetic disorders, Shu sneaks up to Chantel’s childhood room. It’s spotless, soft blue with warm purple accents, with two dim lamps failing to replicate the daytime effect of sun streaming through her floor-to-ceiling picture windows. He takes out his violin and plays a cheerful tune for her perfectly color-matched unicorn. He renames the unicorn Dick Pasta. Maybe she’ll notice.
(Romeo and Juliet laws apparently don’t apply to controlled characters but do apply to non-controlled characters. That is, Chantel was able to kiss Shu on the cheek but, due to the age difference, he couldn’t reciprocate. The fuck?)
Aileen and Shu are shooed out of the house precisely five hours after their arrival. Once the door is closed, and Chantel has stopped waving through the window, Aileen starts whispering to her son about the general weirdness of it all. Did you see her mouthing along with the speech in A Week in Windenburg? And what were those questions? Aileen doesn’t even know what age-related macular degeneration is.
Shu shrugs it off and continues being Shu.
He’s had a crush ever since watching Max kick over a trash can stirred up some uncomfortable feelings. If we can take away anything from Shu’s experience with Shannon, it’s that he has a type.
Across the river, Aileen tries to keep a low profile on her date with the hot astronaut, quickly switching her queued ballad with a cheesy 60’s duet as the yoga hypocrite meanders in her direction. She would try to beat Shu at his own game, she would. It’s not her fault there are only two decent single guys. It’s not her fault she doesn’t click with either of them well enough to not wonder what it would be like to sleep with her yoga instructor.
Yet, thanks to her three-step plan for distraction, she’s forgiven Xiyuan,
and is now gym buddies with his husband.
Aileen is a believer in the rule of three. Derrick, Josh, Matt. Since Aileen saw the other two last night, she senses Matt’s presence through walls, a dozen yards away, and decides to make out with him. Girl, you’re covered. But! In an unexpected turn of events, Shu brings a girl home.
That’s right—Sleepover Standoff 4!
(Marielle Beam, by the way. Glutton. Neat. You should have seen her before the makeover.)
Shu’s date was interrupted by a text from his romantic interest, congratulating him for getting a new girlfriend. He’s also a fan of the rule of three.
Despite looking like he has the personality of Mark from RENT, Mark from the museum is also an astronaut. Aileen can only hope him and Derrick aren’t in space when they start comparing their sex lives. And yet, do you see Derrick anywhere? Aileen doesn’t. She should know; she can sense boyfriends through walls.
Marielle is having a good time, but forgot item 17 of “45 Ways To Make Your Date Great” in last month’s Simsmapolitan: don’t sleep in your date’s mom’s bed. She’s promptly banished to the A.I.B. as Aileen prepares to consummate her new relationship.
Post-coitus, Matt remembers he needs to pick up his dry cleaning (or check stocks, or some other slipshod adult excuse clarifying why this never happens to Shu), and yeets out of the house.
Exercise: Can you break The Sims 4 by being a slut?
Observe the lack of timer on this moodlet. Shu has become the Flirty singularity, and is now permanently horny. (Exercise: Does this change any aspect of his life whatsoever?) Similar to how the frog prince needs to be rescued by a kiss, the only way to save him from this curse is for him to hit on someone, which resets the timer and cures him after four hours. Seduction has become a necessity.
But Shu, refusing to do anything/one halfway, discovers how seduction can become a matter of life and death.
It begins with Shu challenging himself to break a personal record. He’d compete with a friend, if he could, but locker room talk is hardly that if you’re supplying all the stories; by that point it’s locker room monologuing, and he’d rather just spin-change and use the extra 15 minutes to make out with Max. Today, he’s aiming to complete three consecutive dates on a school night. Tomorrow, optimizing his outfit for standing in Magnolia Promenade with a guitar and looking cute.
This challenge is refereed by Shu’s father, future father-in-law, and best friend’s mom/mom’s best friend. None of them agreed to carry scorecards.
Like any reader of last month’s Simsmapolitan, Shu is a master of successful date construction. First: sit down. You have to sit down and talk. If you don’t sit down and talk, be prepared for the bartender to kick you out on your keister with a pack of crayons and a coloring book illustrating your failure, because it’s not a fucking date. You must socialize with your date at least ten times. Experienced daters recommend hiding one’s hands under the table and raising a finger for each successful interaction. You must continue to initiate a discrete set of at minimum one and at maximum three predetermined platonic or romantic interactions. You cannot initiate either only platonic or either only romantic interactions; you have to do both. Four total. Only then can you claim to have enjoyed spending time with another Sim.
Billie’s single required platonic interaction is to get into the playful spirit. Thinking quickly, Shu scours facebook for ironic minion memes. They stumble upon the PlumbBook page of an elder Sim with a love of the yellow tic-tacs and teen-like preoccupation with self-serving politics. Opinions, compression artifacts, and hasty edits overflow from his phone screen.
All too suddenly, Shu finds himself in danger of choking on his own spit from laughing too hard.
He excuses himself to calm down in the mirror, but it doesn’t work. (One of the minions had similar glasses.) Plan B is to flirt with Billie like his life depends on it; it’s his only hope.
And, damn it, it works. Shu thanks Billie for saving his life, escorts her out of the club, walks back in, and starts texting the next girl.
Elsa seems to have accepted Shu for who he is: not the best long-term option but cheaper than a movie ticket.
Don’t worry, father of the year! They sat down and talked first.
Alright, Elsa, that was fun, but—nope, he’s thinking about minions again.
Shu leaves the date early in shame. His challenge was failed, his night is ruined. While he’s sleeping off the side effects of combining “things Boomers criticize Gen Z for” with “things Gen Z criticize Boomers for,” Aileen chills with the Jeong-Espinosas. (Come to think of it, everyone except Bernard is Gen Z, if Gen Z lived in a state of cultural stasis. They also did technically experience climate change.)
Aileen had barely walked through the door when this popped up:
Aw, shucks, thanks. Aileen couldn’t have done this without the help of her supportive friends, Mike and Claudia. Where’s Claudia?
Claudia, you silly goose! Come downstairs and celebrate with your friends!
Claudia will always provide an optimistic take on Aileen’s existential crisis du jour. She’s excited to vicariously experience the whole three-boyfriend thing, and Aileen’s having a stable enough day to face Claudia’s brand of slurred positivity head-on, so dish they do. (The other dish is just watching.) After two hours of active listening to pros & cons/compulsive cocktail-crafting, Claudia presents her final verdict of “they all sound woooooonderful, my dear.” Even Josh? “There’s a little something special in everyone.” But what will Aileen do? “Don’t worry, everything always works itself out in the end.” Aileen knows no one can make this decision for her, and, internally rolling her eyes at the lack of productive input, prompts Claudia to list Hector’s activities this month. Temporal order, alphabetical, random, just knock yourself out.
A recently recovered Shu goes back to the nightclub to parade yet another romantic interest in front of his heavily pregnant future mother-in-law.
Genevieve Haskins isn’t afraid to power-clash or make a young boy’s dreams come true.
‘Player’ is one of the most reasonable aspiration rewards, based on the premise that if you make your way through romantic partners like creampuffs at an all-you-can-eat buffet, the community is eventually going to realize you’re making your way through romantic partners like creampuffs at an all-you-can-eat buffet. Congratulations! Your reward is sleeping with more people. Now, when one of Shu’s dozens of girlfriends witnesses him making out in public with someone else, they’ll shrug it off, the same way they do when they learn of his indiscretions from a text.
Exercise: Two trains move toward each other starting at 800 miles apart. One train is moving at 110 mph, the other is moving at 160 mph. How many times is Shu going to take advantage of his hard-earned reputation before the trains meet?
Aileen, as addressed earlier, has no such enhanced reputation.
She continues to simultaneously ignore Claudia’s advice while doing exactly what Claudia suggested—waiting it out. Of Aileen’s partners, Derrick seems to care about her the most. No one else invites her out. This should be a non-issue, shouldn’t it? But Aileen isn’t worried about choosing between three suitors; rather, she’s disturbed by her lack of connection with any of them. The longer this conflict draws out, the harder it is for Aileen to believe she’ll get her happy ending. She finds herself spacing off during the date to escape into the two-dimensional duochrome world of Chantel’s rom-coms.
On the bright side, there won’t be a Sleepover Showdown for once! She wins by default! She—
By the looks of it, Derrick missed the abduction because a hummingbird moth was buzzing around the hydrangeas, and left for a nice jog around the park. She’ll be fine! ‘Aileen’ and ‘alien’ kind of sound similar, anyway.
Aileen is returned to Earth—eventually—but makes it back in time to ignore her son at the Romance Festival. They both bring dates: Josh,
and some teenage girl Shu met earlier that day at a PB&J meeting.
Seduction is a well-documented art. In fact, it’s a bizarre interpretive dance in which one waves their body like a flag and makes these vile misophonia-triggering noises. (Exercise: Actually try to “Attempt to Seduce” someone. See how that goes.)
Aileen wins the Sleepover Standoff for once, and takes full advantage.
And yet, even when she wins, she loses. Note the painting of the woman behind the mirror. It’s there—
—and then it’s gone. That painting was worth a couple hundred dollars. Aileen hasn’t noticed and she’s ready for a second round, so, eh.
Aileen has some personal issues to work out, and she’s about to start living in her head a lot more. Today, she completes one of the most useful, challenging, and visually uninteresting life goals.
Forget jealousy! She controls life itself! Petty squabbles mean nothing to a woman who just developed godlike powers! Why, the motivation boost from spitting in death’s face is enough for one to be the bad parent and give Shu the WooHoo talk.
Shu learns he will get pregnant and die just in time for his birthday.
Before the last candle is extinguished, Shu presses ‘Send’ on a PlumbBook status that should really be read as a warning to adult Sim women. Four of his closest girlfriends mingle with each other and close family friends. (Xiyuan’s outside with the plants again.) All things considered, it’s significantly less awkward than his last birthday party.
Shu doesn’t need a third trait—he’s already a pretty strong character—but is now a Dance Machine. This way, he gets a little extra enjoyment out of doing what he do.
Shu the overachiever entered adulthood with nine girlfriends and eight maxed skills. Yes, neither of those are typos: nine girlfriends and eight maxed skills. (Also Max.) In reverse order: Charisma, Cooking, Fitness, all 3 instruments, Painting, Singing, barely missed Gourmet Cooking with a 9; and Chantel Lucas, Shannon Bheeda, Elsa Bjergsen, Genevieve Haskins, Olivia Spencer-Kim-Lewis, Billie Jang, and three other Sims. For reference, Claudia (MVP) also has eight maxed skills. His dad only has five.
Since Shu’s rather more of a Parallel than a Serial romantic, collecting several favorite girlfriends in the same room is used here to help him determine whether he has a favorite.
Exercise: Guess whom?
Yeah, it’s heartwarming, isn’t it? Despite her insistence on indoor sunglasses, and his on seeing everyone naked, there may actually be something to Chantel and Shu’s relationship.
The official party hasn’t ended before an unofficial party starts in the A.A.B.
For those of you prepared to scoff at the “Break out the candles, and make it romantic…” message, “Mess Around” totally counts.
For generational parting gifts, Aileen gave Shu the Book of Life, and Shu gave Aileen a painting to replace the one Josh stole.
They engage in one last Sleepover Standoff, which Aileen won.
Releasing Shu from captivity is like throwing a pig into a pit of starving wolves, but one obstacle remains before we can see the fallout from this disaster.
Yes, it’s the dreaded
1. Is Shu a counterexample to Aileen’s Theorem; that is, is he a good man?
2. Who will Aileen end up with?
3. What career is Shu going to enter?