(The events of this chapter take place either concurrently with Seven Days, or after. You’ll probably be able to tell which is which. This chapter is a lot shorter, a lot less bonkers, and yes, I am aware I have other Sims.)

Settling In

Xiyuan had no trouble whatsoever acclimating to his new life.

This is what he was doing when I switched control to him.
This is the second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth thing he did. It’s good to be home.

The Neighbors

Xiyuan accidentally moved next door to the Chinese Mafia. He made the mistake of introducing himself in his native language, and now they can’t seem to leave him alone.

Note the hearts coming from the door when Lily Feng, the wife in this two-Sim household, is outside.

They love Xiyuan. They love the absolute heck out of him.

Victor and Lily Feng are described as a politician and businesswoman, respectively, who are secretly bent on world domination. In practice, though, they apparently spend all their free time with their ears up to the wall they share with Xiyuan, yelling is-he-here-I-think-he’s-here, ready to bolt out and stand in front of his door the moment they think he’s home.

If Xiyuan talks to them, they take that as an invitation to come in and use his computer for hours, because there are no other sources of entertainment in his apartment beyond painting obsessively and practicing instruments.

This is DAY ONE.

He can’t even avoid them in his dreams; when he goes to bed, they follow him to his bedroom and start an online chat with him using his computer.

By now, “Xiyuan pink” should be starting to make a lot of sense

If he practices the piano, they need to be let in so they can watch him play. If he has friends over, they need to be let in to watch his friends. If he’s cooking something, they need to come over so he can feed them. He can barely put a book away without one of them realizing his presence and knocking on the door to claim boredom or loneliness.

It was Mapo tofu. She ate two whole servings back-to-back.

But Xiyuan is too polite/hyperfocused on painting to ask them to leave, so the only Fengless moments he gets are when he leaves his apartment. They haven’t started following him around. Well, they haven’t started following him around every time.

Exploring the City

San Myshuno offers a variety of activities for the discerning tourist, some of which are outlined below with minimal commentary. You can drink in San Myshuno, as demonstrated by Claudia:

You can also break into your friend’s house and use his bar while he’s at work, then leave before he comes home.

You can ignore age limits for sitting at the bar, as demonstrated by Shu:

Green hair has a thing for Xiyuan, she’s going to be so disappointed

You can reluctantly listen to your young son outline his plans for teenagerhood:

When the body language screams “I don’t want to be here” and the townies scream “you need to download more CC”

You can appreciate the lack of bureaucratic awareness as a filthy Sim dressed as a raccoon sleeps on a cheerfully multicultural park bench:

Oh, I get it! She’s a trash panda.

You can light yourself and Claudia on fire and pretend you and your ex are on speaking terms because your kid is right there:

Xiyuan’s sitting there wishing he could have burned that outfit instead. Also, in his defense, Claudia was already lit.

Here’s something you can’t do. You can’t invite dead painters to the romance festival:


You can be peer pressured by your friends into buying garbage:

Raise your hand if you can see Xiyuan ever wearing this or any other T-shirt. Nobody? Good.

You can have your cultural identity erased:

Dolly’s partner: I find it unbelievable that a painter and violinist would be lacking in finger dexterity. (Dolly’s partner actually talks like this)

You can be marginally less awful at karaoke than everyone else:

You can, and probably should, definitely avoid this guy:

This is the kind of person that Simister and I would see on a train, and everyone would immediately shift in their seats and look downward to avoid acknowledging the fact that they now have to share a space with someone who ignores societal norms in a potentially harmful manner, and Simister would be fascinated by the shared feeling of discomfort and start a conversation about how unhappy everybody looks because they have to share a space with a potentially volatile person, while seated right next to said person, while I lower my head and try to shrink into as small a ball as possible to hide all evidence of my existence so I don’t get murdered

And this is just the beginning. It’s a nice city, but, personally, I can’t feel at home without the lingering smell of piss.

Welcoming Bernard Home

In case you missed the moving Gothic romance/giant wall of text, Xiyuan successfully convinced Lord Bernard Shallot Escargot IV to run away with him and start a new… life. Bernard has had some exposure to modern technology and customs (he understood the importance of making the relationship Plumbook official), but also must adjust to leaving his entire previous life behind.

The first thing he did was possess the oven.

The maid is like “yep, same shit every day”

Luckily, his primary liaison with the modern world shares enough common interests to make the transition smoother.

Having your boyfriend match your entire house is peak Xiyuan

This also had to happen at some point.

The game had an achievement for WooHooing with a ghost, which suggests EA is judging me pretty hard right now

Bernard was initially thrilled to have moved in, but as the shock of seeing his apartment for the first time wore off, the guilt he felt for leaving Mimsy began to dominate his thoughts.

He also saw all the mean fan content about him on the internet.

Ideally, Bernard would have made an appointment with a licensed mental health professional to discuss his anxiety/depression (because “loony” isn’t an actual thing, right?), high sensitivity, traumatic experiences, social isolation, blasé attitude towards his own death, change in sexual identity, recent divorce, and dramatic relocation. But in this world, there is no therapy. There are no medications for chemical imbalances in the brain. There is only basketball.

See the tiny green arrow? It’s working!

It took Bernard 8 hours of shooting hoops to get over his divorce.

Having been touched by the miraculous healing properties that could only come from chucking an orange ball into a net held open by a 10-foot high metal ring, Bernard was finally free to live his best life. Bernard’s best life involves his re-entry into the Painter career, five hours minimum of art practice per day, and being really, really fucking cute with his partner.

Shut the blog down, we’re done

All of these posts so far have been polished from the original first drafts, which were built from pairing screenshots with first-thought commentary on the situation. Past Dolly had nothing insightful to add about the following two images, or eighty gazillion other similar images (not shown), and just mashed random keys while squealing. Current Dolly doesn’t either.

sgjl ravjcfi;nsgoidhrgiorehigowr
dsgijharcifxneiaxfhijdbfpojpje. Actually, this one is marginally plot-relevant.

Connoisseurs of The Sims 4: Get Together may have realized one glaring inconsistency in the story as presented so far, which is that Bernard’s traits are Art Lover, Ambitious, and Hates Children, and Xiyuan has a kid. Xiyuan never actually mentioned that he had a kid. This is because introducing Shu to Bernard is a potentially volatile situation that should be carefully handled in a safe environment, and certainly not like this:

Bernard did manage to have a civil conversation with Shu, which is as much as anyone could ask for.

In short, by the power of basketball, Bernard has successfully been reintroduced into society. Here’s his natarajasana.


The Finale

Sims have a different understanding of love than we do. Sims can be paired off to someone reasonably attractive and compatible because their handler wants to control their children and they’d be perfectly happy. If a human did that, we wouldn’t call that love. If a friend said “Brad and I are going to get married because we need beautiful babies,” you would spend the next few days furiously trying to convince them that this is a Bad Idea and they need to Get Out of This Hot Mess Right Now.

But for Sims, it’s fine! As long as they have a 60-100% full friendship bar and 75-100% full romantic bar, any two Sims can be labeled as soulmates. Us humans, we don’t have a bar to fill. The decision to marry another human is often reported as happening during mundane activities, like eating breakfast.

Sim artists randomly choose what to create from a list of preset images. If two human artists in love decide to collaborate on a work together, they’d probably choose something deeply symbolic and meaningful, something that captures the essence of their relationship. For example, if a couple transcended time and death to be together, they might choose to focus on the timelessness of their partnership, and portray two figures encircling each other in eternal harmony. Sims are incapable of understanding metaphor. Sims can only paint what the game tells them to.

Even if one Sim gets the whim to marry their partner, it takes a while for the other Sim to generate a similar marriage-related whim. Whims are randomly generated according to a variety of factors. It would be extremely improbable to have two Sims express the same desire to be wed within 12 hours of each other.

Yep, the other one had the controls uncropped so the time would be visible.

The list of all possible suitors for any given Sim is finite, known, and short. Humans have a much larger set of options; faced with a myriad of potential choices, the set of people they meet is determined by chance. Sometimes finding love is a matter of being in the right place, at the right time, and talking to the right person.

Sims have a well-defined set of characteristics, but may be given more depth of character by their creators through external backstories. If two Sims are fated to be together, it is often by design. It would be unthinkable for someone to design a Sim perfectly suited for another while being completely unaware of the other’s existence.

And of course, if a human falls in love with someone who died in a previous era, they’re SOL.

This is all one big coincidence. Most of these choices were made by a machine, and while this particular combination of events is improbable, it’s not impossible. So what? Are our lives not subject to the same forces of stochasticity?

And ultimately, if we come to recognize in Sims our own experience of being an unwitting victim knocked around by chaos, they start to feel more human.

“Dolly,” you may be wondering, “what’s this perfect fairytale romance doing in a story about handling death and self-inflicted trauma?” Well, let me ask you something.

What does this imply about everyone else’s relationship?

Xiyuan Liu/Lord Bernard Escargot Shallot IV: Vignettes from San Myshuno
Tagged on:         

18 thoughts on “Xiyuan Liu/Lord Bernard Escargot Shallot IV: Vignettes from San Myshuno

  • October 26, 2019 at 6:35 pm

    Xiyuan pink! Trash panda! Bald townies! I’m cracking up. Okay. I’m going to read for a bit longer before I make more comments. I promise I won’t be a lone weirdo, making you rewind like 7 months into the past.


    man do I relate to that description of Simister on the train. Oooh boy does my husband do the same thing (and my father in law, the two them together with strangers is an exercise in how quickly can I make myself invisible!).

    LOVED the whole part about sim relationships vs human relationships. I felt guilty for like 5 minutes. But then I was I corrupted by the unending power bestowed upon me by being their handler.

    That last line: What does this imply about everyone else’s relationship?

    Whew. Honey. Child. I had no doubt who’s story I was reading. damnnnnnnnnnn!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • October 28, 2019 at 3:55 pm

      Y’all don’t worry about the comments; I spend way more time on this than I should and love to hear when other people enjoy it. It means a lot for someone with a punishingly dense/intricate story who has Words of Affirmation as a secondary love language.

    • March 13, 2020 at 8:36 pm


    • November 28, 2019 at 3:05 pm

      They’re beautiful! You’re beautiful! We’re all beautiful!!

  • January 13, 2020 at 7:44 am

    Bold of you to imply that basketball isn’t right on up there with actual therapy in terms of treatment. Maybe you should have Bernard bring out the tragic clown. I’m getting a feeling they’d get along beautifully.
    That part about Sims and humans read like a proper monologue, like the ones you get in movies with some beautiful instrumental music playing in the background while some characters’ suddenly impossibly wise monologue is voiced over these pretty, tear-inducing scenes… I loved everything about it. The meta is strong in this one, and I’m here for it. I’ve been high up in this thing my professor eloquently explained as post-post-modernism, turned into meta-modernism later because it sounded smarter, and man, I’m feeling those vibes in your chaos theory.

    • January 13, 2020 at 8:21 pm

      Glad you liked the monologue—all I had to do was work with what these two are giving me, and I can’t seem to ever do them justice. A side effect of their relationship being autonomous is that I don’t have any pretty pretty pictures, so later this year I’m going to redo their love story in pictures on tumblr.

      Good catch! Before I fixed the story description on the forums to be more accessible, Catastrophe Theory was described as a “post-postmodernist work of exploratory metafiction.” I have to admit ignorance on the difference between post-postmodernism and meta-modernism; I looked up meta-modernism on Wikipedia and am not a fan of the “oscillates between modernism and postmodernism” description because ‘oscillate’ implies periodicity. The earliest version of the splash page clarified that the first thing any applied mathematician worth their salt has to do is admit they know nothing and their entire field is but an approximation of reality—and no one knowing what the heck is going on, even the author, definitely fits the story. Even the title itself is a nod to how the dynamics of an elaborately interconnected chaotic system can change abruptly based on the fluctuations of parameters. What parameters? Who knows.

      I’ll also concede here that some of the concepts are reactionary, hence post-postmodernism: sure, we need cohesive narratives to understand reality, but simplify it down to the level of a fairytale and that shit is HARMFUL. Go too far in the other direction, and distrust in your own beliefs can be manipulated by assholes who don’t care whether their version of reality is true. Heck, the most recent chapter claims “that was the problem—not optimists, not pessimists, but people who declare the glass half-empty or half-full before checking the water level.” So your diagnosis of post-post-/meta-modern is not only entirely accurate, I’m amazed you caught it this early on!

      (The tragic clown will make an appearance, but she’s more concerned with showing up to every bar than making friends.)

      • January 14, 2020 at 9:30 am

        That’s some really interesting stuff! My catching it so early probably had to do with the fact that the take-home exam I’ve been working on for all of last week dealt with 12 post-post/meta-modernist novels for a contemporary fiction course which general focus was, as you may guess, on literary theories of postmodernism and post-postmodernism and metamodernism. Can’t believe i actually found a simlit who falls under that same category…. the coincidence! 😱

      • January 14, 2020 at 5:50 pm

        Hahaha! Procrastination justified! You were just extending your study of contemporary fiction to include nontraditional genres.

  • July 5, 2020 at 4:29 am

    San Myshuno is a perfect place for them, especially living next door to the Fengs. I must say that Bernard and Xiyuan are making it very difficult to get as invested into the other characters, they are just way too brilliant.

    I do think some sims naturally mesh better than others, even though you can technically make anything happen. That being said I’m prone to extreme projection where the sims are concerned so I can always convince myself that whatever I want to happen is happening organically in the game and I just had the amazing foresight of knowing heh.

    Fun fact, I do actually have one friend who likes to think of relationships like the bars we get in the sims – he always makes a point of reaching out to people after a certain amount of time to ensure the green bar doesn’t get too low. As for myself I don’t know how much it applies, but I do think of myself as having that ‘social’ bar metre, I’m an introvert so if I happen to fill my social bar with the husband I do need to actively remind myself to get in touch with others because I’m perfectly content (ok, enough tangent here…)

    • July 5, 2020 at 3:32 pm

      I’ll drink to that; Bernard and Xiyuan are too cute to not dominate the beginning of the story. But not to worry! Everyone else has better drama for a while.

      That’s my favorite strategy, taking what happens in the game and interpreting it in light of what you understand about the context and characters. And here, it’s meta-ironic that everyone is a garbage mess, and although I say it’s their doing, it’s mostly the author reading too much into tiny bits of sim randomness. But it makes the stories better that way!

      I’ll admit to having done the green-bar thing in high school. It’s a bit anxiety-inducing, isn’t it? Like in The Sims 3 where if you ignored someone for too long, they would send you this text that says WE ARE NOT FRIENDS ANYMORE. Rude. It totally does work as a reminder to do emotional labor, though. It totally does.

  • July 22, 2020 at 7:36 pm

    But in this world, there is no therapy. There are no medications for chemical imbalances in the brain. There is only basketball.

    Heh. From shooting sad hoops to being discovered by Shu while taking a ghost poo. Boo!

    Shallot-Liu is a perfect fairytale romance built upon recognition and acceptance and healing from self-inflicted trauma and death — normally destructive forces that somehow brought them together. The other relationships? Well.

    • July 22, 2020 at 7:41 pm

      … the other relationships are built on a throne of lies and cause self-inflicted trauma and death? I see where you’re going.

  • July 31, 2020 at 7:18 pm

    I started reading this a few months ago, but I’m terrible about keeping up with my reading. But I’m back again. 🙂 I know it was suggested that I start later in the series (being fairly new), but I’m a completionist and didn’t want to miss out on anything and I am enjoying the earlier chapters. I’ll do my best to provide comments, but some subtler nuances may be lost on me.

    I do like the comparison of sims to real life and how simplistic and ridiculous the sims can be. But also that there are some parallels, like being knocked around by chaos. Yep, life can be chaotic and messy, and often there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach or an easy answer.

    And Bernard doing yoga in a suit was priceless.

    • August 1, 2020 at 12:46 am

      Welcome!! If you’re enjoying the earlier chapters, you’re fine, haha. Just know that it gets a lottttt better.

      Bernard holding onto his ghost foot doing yoga in a suit is the best.

  • January 8, 2022 at 3:17 am

    hehehe lost it at “It took Bernard 8 hours of shooting hoops to get over his divorce.” peak dark humor (amongst all the other witticisms, but there are always too many for me to point out in the comments, but i promise you that when i’m reading, i’m thinking ‘oh that’s funny, i should note that in the comments, oh that’s also funny, and this too’ and then there’s 273 items on my list and i’ve already forgotten the first 272 TT.TT)

    are our lives prone to randomness like autonomous sims? i like this analogy. i also like the idea of us being the gods of our own narratives to make sense of this stochastic chaos. y’know, like you’re doing in your SimLit (whoa, meta!)

    • January 9, 2022 at 12:14 am

      Haa, thanks… and WHY is basketball so effective at removing negative moodlets, WHY. I’d prefer if the antidepressant effects of basketball carried through into real life, more than being knocked around by chaos, thanks.

      CT? Meta? Hm?

  • July 13, 2022 at 4:17 pm

    My first question is did YOU put the bunny slippers on Yuan or was it randomly generated?

    This isn’t so much a question or a comment but a realization. Yuan, although quite an amazing partner in antiquing, would be an embarrassment at a nightclub. 1) WHO brings a violin; and 2) Is it an euphemism somehow related to HIS instrument …. like, hey baby, look what I can whip out in public?! Who needs Yuan sexting them dick pics when there’s a violin he can beat.

    The Fengs’ are strange and I am wondering if they have run into Bernard yet, or has it only been Shu? Speaking of, THAT photo of Shu freaking out over a ghost going potty is HILLARIOUS!!!!! SO. MANY. QUESTIONS. Is he surprised because there’s a ghost in the condo? That ghosts exist? That ghosts have to relieve themselves even though …. well that’s a whole other bunch of questions.

    LMAO. Bernard is pink. I collect pink. Thus I must collect Bernard. FOR. ETERNITY.

    “You can reluctantly listen to your young son outline his plans for teenagerhood:” SNORT SNORT. OMG. Something tells me that Shu did not get roped into commitment (or is he, at this age, the one who is interested in commitment?!?!) as I keep hearing stories about him being a fuckboy.

    LMAO – maybe Shu WAS interested in commitment and then that disappeared soon after his first experience at a barstool. Future BFF to Claudia.

    Bernard didn’t need therapy. He needed to occupy his hand with balls. I MEAN……

    I think the sidewalk mural does speak volumes of their relationship. Koi fish (or COY + “fish” – think Drag Queen definition) and in a circle/circular (never-ending/forever) movement. It’s very romantic for them. If only the fish were pink, but then that might get a little too ridiculous, and their love, defying time and marital convenience, is to be marveled.

    Why was no one in attendance at their wedding? I mean I am sure it was more of a convenience thing but thought I’d ask.

    Hilarious as always with brilliant insight that I would try to focus my attention on in this comment, but I am having a difficult time concentrating, so I will focus a bit on this line : What does this imply about everyone else’s relationship?

    ALL I’m going to say is that you left this open… you don’t specify what type of relationship. Assuming it is romantic, but it is to reason that the assessment is not just romantic relationships, but assessing all types of relationships, from platonic to work, etc.

    Great story and I always look forward to reading them when time permits <3


Leave a Reply to Dolly LlamaCancel reply