(Yep; Part I. It’s another twofer.)
Some men cascade with emotion like water over a cliff. Charlie isn’t one of them.
Post an adolescence-long conversation with the night sky and people’s shoes, an early career spent touching his patients too lightly to the point where the lack of contact became kind of creepy, and a spiritually questionable (for her) hookup with the local ascetic, the search performed on the soul of the eldest second-gen J.E. still lacked the breadth and depth to make any conclusive statement about whether he actually wanted to be in a relationship. He wasn’t sure what drove him more nuts: the ambiguity itself or his inability to fix it. He cringed at himself for leaving this mental civil war unresolved even as he woke snuggling with another Sim. And then, for being unable to choose between the three as a source of frustration, ad infinitum, inductively.
But if there were anyone capable of opening Charlie’s mind to collapse these options into one (Charlie liked to picture the cat-box in Schrödinger’s thought experiment whenever external involvement was needed to make his ideas click), it would be sweet Jo. He had no issues with physical vulnerability, even enjoyed being affectionate, he’d learned; but to let her into his head? That clusterfuck? Even he didn’t want to be there. Besides the disorganization and the excessive involvement of Cruz Greenwood, she likely wouldn’t appreciate the amount of time he devoted to questioning their relationship. In fact, he decided, negate the earlier statement; she was the worst possible person to share this with.
It could still be Charlie and Josephine forever, but forever hasn’t started yet. They still have time. A couple more weeks and—
—and Jo might as well be a firefighter, because she just saved the cat.
Climbing, running, fishing—many of Charlie’s favorite hobbies required him to turn his brain off and operate on pure intuition. Love might be the same way, he figured. Clear everything, quiet your natural approach, just enough to listen to the gut.
His gut says the same thing it always does when he understands how to not disappoint someone else. He says yes.
His doubt washes away in a wave of relief. He no longer has a choice to make. In fact, Jo can make the decisions for both of them from now on.
Charlie’s future brothers-in-law Gavin Guy (married to Abram Guy) and Maxwell Liu find him at the Spice Festival to express their excitement about the proposal. Neither of them joke about ending him if he harms a hair on their sister’s head/breaks her heart/etc., which could be a sign of trust or just a side effect of Charlie being enormous. He repeats some of his dad’s old standup stories. He’s not paying enough attention to notice any hesitant sideways glances, but they laugh anyway, of course. It would be impolite not to.
Drained from the social interaction, Charlie tries to retreat back to his and Jo’s mostly-outside, mostly-UVB/UVC-proof house, which is unfortunately a favorite neighborhood hangout spot for no
So that’s the context for Charlie introducing Jo to all his friends and family: he hopes leaving the house will finally get him some privacy.
Joey comes in with a plan to help Charlie’s bespectacled childhood friend figure out eye contact, which is shattered when Shu shoots her a gaze with enough force to make his head recoil. She honestly thought her fiancé was describing this guy’s D&D character. But no, now she could see where Charlie got the words “high charisma” and “bard.” Something about the manicured womanizer before her seemed hopelessly dislikable: the way he leaned back in his chair was too cocky, as was the excessive amount of jewelry; she didn’t like that brief pause between when she asked what he did for work and when he claimed to be a musician. Confident people could make you believe anything they wanted you to, she reminded herself. That’s why she liked Charlie. He had nothing to hide, and even if he did, he couldn’t. Her open book.
She found her opportunity to leave the conversation when Casanova pulled out a guitar and started strumming on top of the karaoke. Infuriating. Were people not paying enough attention to you, or what?
While Joey Jo-Jo lacked the context to mitigate Shu’s intensity, Charlie’s memories of a prepubescent Shu give him too clear a picture, one that weights the past more heavily than the present.
Charlie was bombarded with questions that night, which he did his best to answer. Their parents were friends. They were born in the same house. He spends a lot of time playing instruments. He does have a girlfriend, Chantel. Probably also Gen. I don’t know, maybe twelve? That’s just how he operates. Just don’t talk to him, then.
Charlie goes for a sunrise jog to the hospital, mentally prepping himself for another day where he’s the only one doing any work. The receptionist sits and plays on the computer while lines of patients form in front of them, Don Lothario chats up young female patients even as Charlie tries desperately to work around him, and there’s one other co-worker who tries to talk to him while he’s, y’know, actually working.
Today might be different. There’s a new doctor.
Charlie sneaks a glance as he runs from the patient rooms to test a sample. She’s pipetting! He closes his eyes in a moment of pure joy. He won’t be running the hospital alone anymore.
He records the sample results, diagnoses the patient, prescribes a vaccination (Sim doctors are a tad unclear on how inoculation works, but it does, so whatever), signs them out, ushers the next person to a bed, asks questions, takes a saliva sample, runs back to the lab. She’s still pipetting. He looks at the label. It’s the same damn sample. Repeat two or three more times; she’s still doing it. Tying up a machine. Damn it.
An emergency call preserves Charlie’s sanity. Three people may have just simultaneously collapsed at a bar, but at least he can be outside for a couple brief minutes.
He shakes the first Sim awake to administer treatment. He can count on what’s happening next more than he can on his coworkers: upon regaining consciousness, the patient’s knee-jerk reaction is always to spring up and start running as far away from the doctor as possible.
One patient manages to get two blocks away from the bar before Dr. Swole delivers his pills with a flying tackle. As much as he used to enjoy his morning jogs, it’s part of the job now.
He runs over his schedule for the rest of the day: after catching infectious vagabonds, he has to clean the beds, maybe rush to cure a couple more people before the end of his shift—nope, he’s interrupted by a promotion. The final one.
Charlie is breathless as he processes his emotions. He’s elated, he tells himself, because he’s supposed to be. The same reason he’s grateful. This is supposed to be a reward, he reminds himself, grabbing folders of budget reports to take home. This job would solve a lot of problems for many Sims. The new Chief of Staff—he feels nothing about the title, nothing, not achievement or pride or prestige—takes out his phone to text his parents the news, stopping short to wonder if they would even care. Everyone knew he would become Chief of Staff eventually. Now what?
Tuesday night, Jo gets a message from Ana asking if she can hang out. They chat until Charlie comes home. He greets her with a quick “sul sul,” to which she responds by slyly pointing out how good he looks in his lab coat. He winces and gestures his head back/slightly to the left.
Right before falling asleep, the realization hit him: Ana didn’t know he was engaged. She dropped in for a booty call and probably didn’t expect his fiancée to be answering the door. He was a bit embarrassed on her behalf, but wasn’t sure how he felt about that otherwise.
The Saturday of Jo and Charlie’s wedding is sunny, with not much aerial pollen. Save the tissues for the ceremony.
Myshuno Meadows has the largest amount of outside to accommodate the happy couple. In their tux and traditional dress, they greet their maximum eight loved ones, some of which forgot to change out of their Xiyuan/Bernard wedding uniform, one whose only formalwear is a tailcoat they “borrowed” from their dad’s tailcoat closet (he has other grey ones. Plural! He won’t notice), one wearing a warm-toned blush which is definitely not white, one pouting because her sibling outshone her bold fashion choices by correctly wearing a fedora.
Having already spent too much time between their first meeting and nuptials, the efficient couple starts their vows before the guests can reach their seats.
As Charlie kisses Josephine Jeong-Espinosa for the first time, he reflects on the hundreds of decisions leading to this moment. His gut brought him here, into the arms of a woman whose presence nourished him in body and soul even as his mind lagged behind.
He had no definition of love before. He considered it might be what he was feeling at this moment, but felt it was a bit pessimistic to assume the sensation you’d spent a lifetime chasing was so fleeting—or so easily displaced by excitement over, say, cake.
Him and Josephine would have the rest of their lives to figure it out. They couldn’t predict change, but they could face it together.
The overthinking was giving Charlie a headache—wait, is it overthinking if you’re ruminating on snap decisions? Is there an optimal degree of overthinking and if so, is it just called thinking? Does the degree—ack, his headache got worse. Good thing he always carries aspirin.
Remember how Elsa earned her title of ice queen with a text congratulating her then-boyfriend, Shu, on his new “friend”? Well, here’s an absolutely venomous text from Charlie’s ex, to his new wife, during the wedding.
There’s a partial explanation for this: Asteya is one of Jo’s closest female friends, and probably would have been maid of honor if Char-Jo could invite more than eight people to the wedding.
Charlie is too swirly to process what’s going on. Doctors are supposed to be less susceptible to infectious disease, which should prevent such situations as getting Starry Eyes at your own wedding, but a combination of stressors (planning & existential, here) can blow right through special traits.
We also learn that while yogurt parfait is customary for birthdays, French toast is à la mode for weddings.
A sufficiently toasted Josie and Charlie take the afterparty to the Romance Festival. Here, romance permeates the lungs of non-newlywed (i.e., non-newlywed and unmarried) Sims; the groom’s sister and teenage namesake, to name a couple. Charlie Feng may be starting to show interest in Kendra.
Back at home, the most recently appointed Jeong-Espinosa acclimates to married life. Charlie’s noticed she has the tendency to make these bizarre yelping sounds daily. Did she do that before and he just didn’t notice? Whatever. They’re certain they can face their first major challenge as a team, even with half the team howling like a horny pterodactyl.
The nature of this first challenge? It’s pretty routine.
Upcoming: we learn more about Jo, who becomes the second-newest member of the family.
9 thoughts on “Charlie J.-E./Josephine Liu: I Call Shotgun! Pt. I”
Yeah, I’ve been to parties with leftover guacamole. It’s a California thing, or at least was in the 1970s. Not a pretty sight.
Interestingly, this story, by existing smack within the Sim world, with its own peculiar constraints, feels much more realistic and immersive to me than those stories that try to fit the Sims into our world.
Aw, thanks for the sweet comment! That’s one thing I like about writing SimLit—these guys write themselves sometimes.
Oh man, I really feel for Charlie and his struggles about wanting to be in a relationship… like on a deeper level. May also have to do with the fact that it’s currently Valentine’s day, a holiday that makes even the most aromantic fucker like myself ponder whether or not I should be in a romantic relationship after all, but yeah, Charlie… he’s relatable. And he’s such a good dude, I just really don’t wish this kind of internal struggle on him. Don’t wish any internal struggles on anyone because they naturally suck ass, but Charlie… Charlie’s Charlie. He deserves only the very best.
Wait, Jo proposed to him?! Oh, man! Oh, man… His gut says yes, but he doesn’t want to disappoint anyone… I can’t help but feel like Charlie is making a grave mistake here because man, to get into an engagement because you don’t wanna disappoint with a no… I actually wonder how many times that happens. I don’t doubt the fact that it happens more than we think.
Charlie and his dad’s jokes… man, this dude is so socially incompetent. It’s endearing. Townies in this game are so damn rude, aren’t they?! They invite themselves into your houses, knock on doors when you literally don’t know them at all, they butt into conversations… I had one butt in on a super steamy conversation that happened between my Sims just seconds after they got engaged.
I love how Jo flat out states she loves Charlie because he’s the opposite of confident. That’s beautiful. He has nothing to hide… oh, girl. Oh, girl. I think one important life lesson for Jo here is that, everyone, every single person on this Earth, has something to hide—and will be hiding something.
So Charlie is Chief of Staff… I’m happy for him, but I also am not because he doesn’t seem to be happy about it himself. Man, I really feel like this dude is in deep with mental health stuff—i.e. not being happy with fulfilling society’s demands.
Jo’s brothers are like students in a classroom… never come near that first row. Oh, god… the dancing guests at weddings. Don’t we love those! They’re just great, man.
Man, Charlie can have the absolute greatest shit possible happen to him and I’d still feel fucking bad for him cause he’s just never happy! This poor dude, man. I’m really feeling for him. Like fuck, dude just got an insanely good promotion, he got married to a beautiful woman, and yet I still feel sad for the guy. Maybe the fact that I’m secretly still, deep down, rooting for Charlie and Ana, has something to do with it too.
A pregnancy, huh? More great news but nah. I don’t think this is gonna end well. Charlie’s not in it with all his heart and I feel like eventually, it’ll all collapse around him… and when that happens, it’d be the greatest relief possible for him.
Goddamn MF-ing random autonomous proposal. In the home gym! In a swimsuit.
I spend a long time ruminating on these characters, and out of the original six, Charlie took the longest for me to understand. He can be read as a legacy heir gone wrong: we can come up with goals for ourselves, and our sims, to keep the game interesting, but what would it actually be like to center our life around a certain set of goals someone else set? (But he’s not a real legacy heir because both his parents are player-created.) Shu, as well: how many variations of the 100-baby challenge or Berry Berry whatever things can we come up with before we get bored, and how do we find true novelty within a set structure?
Charlie has a lot of fans. Many readers seem to really get him. Unfortunately, the best thing I can do for Charlie fans is write faster, which isn’t happening until mid-June probably. At least Cathy Tea’s here to remind me.
oh yeah, them autonomous proposals keep doing me in too.
and that’s so interesting. i really like concepts like those too. i originally planned to do sort of a mini 100 baby storyline kind of thing with tika only the babies were gonna be aliens… then i got distracted.
i can wait for charlie. 💖
That was very quick! Definitely get a kick from the fact she doesn’t know all of his traits or his career 😆
Wait, doctors are called to go help people who have passed out in bars? Wonder what that bar is serving… clearly I haven’t played enough of the GTW careers.
Anna sure managed to take the news surprisingly gracefully.
Can’t say I have a strong opinion on the newly married couple, but Kendra looked awesome at the wedding.
You don’t have a strong opinion? Neither does Charlie. Lmao.
My gosh, you’re right. Charlie’s an overachiever, and his expectations of himself are so self-destructive. My sister is the same, being the baby of the family, doing her PHD in plant research and yet she thinks her achievements are mediocre and expected. Pains me to see Charlie think like that of himself. Idk where your story is going but the psychological implications of that thought pattern in the long run is… I hope it’s not going that direction for Charlie.
But okay I’m here to observe Shu and Jo. I’ll try not to get side-tracked by Charlie. I laughed at Jade pipetting. The microtube must be a supertube after all if she’s pipetting the same sample into the same tube repeatedly over the day. XD
Ok I’m side-tracked by Charlie. Why is he getting married with Jo when he doesn’t even know what love is? Did his parents pressure him for grandkids last chapter? He doesn’t think love exists? Seems like it from your opening paragraph. He’s resort to empty hook ups in hopes to feel something I see. Poor dude. Those leave you drier and emptier (unless you want the other less deep stuff xD ) But why are you just going with the flow, dude!?? As a romantic I kenot accept this. I need to know why he’s going with the flow. Do you have a chapter to point me to that I can start with for Charlie’s shenanigans? Actually its okay I will hunt down this guy’s romance journey.
But first, observe Shu and Jo haha. I’ll try not to get side tracked xD
Oh, Charlie is a fan favorite. Do get sidetracked by him. Do think about those psychological implications.
Charlie’s just very bad at making decisions. He’ll ruminate on too-small decisions for hours, but make snap decisions on big things because it overwhelms him. To be fair, the storytelling in Book I is pretty weak so your analysis will probably be more insightful than whatever’s revealed here.