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October 16, 2009 11:34 AM   Subscribe

I was ready to sink into the earth with shame. An ancient Chinese form letter sent to apologize for having imbibed too much at a dinner party.
posted by ShadePlant (33 comments total) 44 users marked this as a favorite

 
* adds to AutoHotKey script *
posted by everichon at 11:35 AM on October 16, 2009


"Ready to sink into the earth" is a pretty good way to describe a very bad hangover.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:45 AM on October 16, 2009


What a wonderful blog! Thank you for sharing this ShadePlant. You made my day.
posted by anitanita at 11:49 AM on October 16, 2009


I'm about halfway through Drink: A Cultural History of Alcohol and it is pretty interesting reading about all the different approaches to drinking and drunkenness. In some eastern cultures, it was a complement to the hosts for you to send these letters of apology. They meant that the host was so generous with his liquor that the guess could not help but be hungover the next day, even if you had to pretend the headache.

I recommend the book!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:51 AM on October 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Everichon, aka mai brother, found the link, I must say. He is rather front-page shy, however, and I post with abandon.
posted by ShadePlant at 11:52 AM on October 16, 2009


This makes me feel much better about my boozehound ways. I mean, it's part of our shared human heritage and all. I must practically be a UN ambassador by now.
posted by Go Banana at 11:52 AM on October 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


We have a Bandon here in Oregon but I never use it to post with.
posted by everichon at 11:57 AM on October 16, 2009


Are they excavating the ancient Chinese Bureau of Communication?
posted by justkevin at 11:59 AM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


It wouldn't have been feasible back when paper and ink were rarer and more expensive, but these days a form letter like this would be more useful if it included a few blank spots so you could tailor it to the situation at hand:

"Yesterday, having drunk too much, I was completely shitfaced; but none of the stupid things I did were on purpose. The next morning, after hearing others speak on the subject, I realised that I had thrown up on the floor of your apartment and attempted to clean up the puddle of beer and semi-digested chicken wings with your bathrobe, whereupon I was overwhelmed with confusion and ready to sink into the earth with shame."
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:10 PM on October 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


You know, if you replace 'drunk too much' with 'spent too long in the balloonboy thread'. it applies to roughly half of Metafilter's population.
posted by mannequito at 12:13 PM on October 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


All you really need to do is say 'Well, you know what I did'. Getting into specifics merely raises the possiblity people will realise you did sometihng else they didn't know you did yet.
posted by Swandive at 12:14 PM on October 16, 2009


Site mentioned previously and yesterday.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:14 PM on October 16, 2009


I drank the
plum wine
last night
at dinner

that you were
probably saving for
someone else

When I heard
what I said
about your mother

I was ready to
sink into the earth
in shame
posted by zippy at 12:23 PM on October 16, 2009 [24 favorites]


Yesterday, having read MeTa too much, I was outraged as to pass all bounds; but none of the rude and coarse language I used was uttered in a conscious state. The next morning, after reading others' posts on the subject, I realised what had happened, whereupon I was overwhelmed with confusion and ready to sink into the earth with shame.
posted by JeffK at 12:29 PM on October 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


China: Getting drunk and falling down elegantly since 856 AD.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:45 PM on October 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Bookmarked.
posted by joe lisboa at 12:51 PM on October 16, 2009


I have a similar form letter, but with mention of the unpardonable thing I did to the host's goat, as well as my promise to return the garments that belong to the hostess and I stole and wore for a while. An alternate version also promises prompt return of the loaned bail money.

I send them out regardless of whether I got drunk or not, or even if I was actually at the party. I always want my friends to think that their parties are far more successful than they actually ever are.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:13 PM on October 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Humans: Getting drunk and falling down
posted by gagglezoomer at 1:19 PM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Just to be clear, the sorry-I-got-drunk template took only four columns in that image, starting on the 5th column on the right going right.

The translated text isn't too literal, and I can't make out the last bit too well. (The lack of punctuation definitely doesn't help.) "小器到次满盈" might be a humble admission by the writer that he can't hold his drinks -- there's a similar phrase that translates literally into 'A small cup overruns easily.'
posted by of strange foe at 1:32 PM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Looking into the rest of the scroll, there are even one letter template for 'a Buddhist monk replying to a layperson' and vice versa; and one for 'a Taoist monk replying to a layperson' and vice versa. So random.
posted by of strange foe at 1:41 PM on October 16, 2009


One sociologist who researched drinking labeled two main phases of drunkenness as 'empty solidarity' and the second 'cosmic solitude'. Apt labels. And sinking into the earth with shame is a common phrase in finnish too.
posted by Free word order! at 2:25 PM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]



"I made sweet love to your pool table... which I then defiled..."
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 2:35 PM on October 16, 2009


Some years ago, a friend of mine, who had earned throughout his college years the reputation for imbibing copious amounts attended a dinner party with some friends. He did what he always does, which is drink too much, turn slightly pale, become belligerent, make some inflammatory, ill-informed statements about world politics, insult his hosts, throw up and pass out.

The next morning, short on specific memory but knowing his inclinations, he asked one of his friends how bad his behaviour had become the night before. She pondered this a moment.

"Let's put it this way," she said. "At least you didn't shit in the Cuisinart."

This led to a piece of local vernacular that I find quite handy, and the ninth-century Chinese might have also. Making an ass of yourself at a dinner party in the worst possible manner: "Shitting the Cuisinart."
posted by bicyclefish at 2:58 PM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


So if Beowulf is the oldest English manuscript and it's got it's own blockbuster movie, then it follows there's going to be a Chinese one out, too.

Sink Into The Earth With Shame | 04.04.10

(add the desired Don LaFontaine narration)
posted by crapmatic at 3:37 PM on October 16, 2009


<edit>its own blockbuster movie</edit>
posted by crapmatic at 3:38 PM on October 16, 2009


isn't Shitting the Cuisinart shortformed as crapmatic?

"I can't remember anything from last night, and why is my head bleeding?"
"Dude, you got all crapmatic again. You should cut down on the sauce."
posted by mannequito at 4:11 PM on October 16, 2009


I really wish I could read Chinese, the original scroll of form letters is linked, and it looks like several feet of earth sinking fun.
posted by doobiedoo at 5:26 PM on October 16, 2009


The translated text isn't too literal
So they're doing 无地容身 as "I sank into the earth..."? Definitely a bit free.
Great post to highlight the scroll - what with the other form letters for meeting an old friend after long separation; husbands and wives missing each other from distant parts; and a selection of seasonal greeting, bit like an early Hallmark catalogue of canned sentiment. Suspect the 'Daoist to layperson' market has seen a bit of decline in subsequent years though.
posted by Abiezer at 6:15 PM on October 16, 2009


Wait, do I know you, bicyclefish?
posted by zoinks at 7:01 PM on October 16, 2009


"I die. I breathe in and breathe in and cannot exhale. I explode all over my friends. They forget my name and pretend it is dung. They wash off in the square and the well becomes polluted. All die. O the embarrassment."
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 11:28 PM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Looks like the preparer of this template was about 1154 years ahead of their time.

Oh whoops, justkevin beat me to the Bureau of Communication reference.
posted by bigtex at 12:54 AM on October 17, 2009


In Poland and Ukraine being very drunk in public is cool, people smile and cheer when the middle guy is stumbling through the park held up on either side by his less drunk mates. When you get really drunk with a batch of friends it is a good idea to walk home at 2 or 3am down the middle of the street, loudly singing songs.
posted by Meatbomb at 10:43 AM on October 17, 2009


A friend of mine pointed out that the literal translation of "ready to sink into the earth with shame" is: "I have no place on earth to stand since I am so full of shock and guilt".
posted by lenny70 at 5:45 PM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


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