By Yujing Liu, PC ’17
What do college students in Hong Kong do after they get into relationships? Yujing Liu, an exchange student from the University of Hong Kong, explains that they take their friends to a so-called “out-of-pool treat.”
一对情侣若公开宣布确立恋爱关系，则常常引来亲朋好友的祝福和恭喜，这再正常不过。然而在香港的大学中，情侣们在公开关系后会肩负一项特殊的义务 — — 请客吃饭。
结婚时摆宴席似乎是为大多数文化所接受的，然而情侣恋爱也要请客是为什么呢？也许是因为“出pool”对于香港的大学生而言的确是一件具有重大价值与意义的事情 — — “pool”的比喻本身就暗示了一种对单身人士“一定要努力离开‘pool’”的期望。
而“出pool饭”则总是让我不禁联想到商品交易成功后的庆祝。另一套流行术语也许能够佐证：在港大，你的恋爱经历与现状总是可以被快速地概括成为A (Available)、O (Occupied)或C (Complicated)加上一个数字，这个数字代表曾谈过几段恋爱。譬如“A5”即代表某人曾有过五段恋爱史，而现在没有男女朋友。同学聚会时大家常会做“Round Status”，即轮流报出自己的状态。这种快速高效的身份概括似乎让恋爱褪去浪漫的外衣，变成一件如买卖商品或竞价拍卖的市场化行为。如此看来，“出pool饭”不正是一对对情侣历经千辛万苦终于交易成功、脱离苦海后的庆祝吗？
People everywhere receive congratulations after getting into relationships. On Hong Kong’s college campuses, however, couples take on a special duty after disclosing their relationships — to treat their friends to a meal.
This ritual is called an “out-of-pool treat.” “Out of pool” means being in a relationship, which perhaps originates from a popular Hong Kong metaphor referring to singles being packed in a pool. As soon as people manage to find their partners, they flee the pool together. Those who luckily get “out of pool” are often greeted with a question from friends besides the usual congratulations. “When are you treating us to the ‘out-of-pool’ meal?” This ritual has become such a natural part of the norm among students that friends use this term to make fun of each other, “Are you treating us soon?”
Unlike their American counterparts, college students in Hong Kong usually skip the dating process and get into relationships after confessing their feelings to each other directly. So this kind of news could be quite surprising to friends. Treat meals usually happen only when people encounter pleasant surprises. For instance, one may treat his or her friends after receiving a scholarship.
Treating friends to a grand meal for a wedding seems to be a tradition quite universal across cultures. But why do so when people get into relationships? Perhaps the status of being “out of pool” carries much value and meaning to college students in Hong Kong — the “pool” metaphor itself implies an expectation for single people to strive to get into relationships.
This ritual often makes me think of the kind of celebration after commercial deals were made. Another set of campus jargons further proves this: at the University of Hong Kong, people’s relationship history and status are indicated by A (available), O (occupied), or C (complicated) followed by a number that represents how many relationships they have had before. For example, an A5 person has had five relationships but is “available,” or single, at the moment. “Round status” is what people often do when hanging out, which is basically taking turns revealing relationship statuses. This efficient way of identifying oneself transforms the whole process of “getting out of pool” into something less romantic and more businesslike. In this way, isn’t the “out-of-pool treat” a genuine celebration of a hard-earned transaction of love?