There were three events this week, which need to be aired out, but please don’t let your children read this.
#1. On Monday of this week I was sitting in Starbucks, working on some Photoshop posters for the children at school and Principal Xu. As usual, as people walk by the window and stare, I nod and smile and they return the same. This young fellow did the same, and then came in and got his coffee and came over. Now, the place is basically deserted in the morning, but he asks if he can sit down with me. What can I say? I move my coat, backpack and headphones from the chair opposite and down he sits. We chat for awhile – he apparently spent 4 years in Nanaimo (should have been my first clue, right – who spends 4 years in Nanaimo) at the University of Vancouver Island, formerly Malaspina College. Anyway, now he works for a bank in Hongzhou (60 miles away) and is town to help a new business with venture capital, but they are busy and he needs to wait. After some more chit chat, I tell him that I have to go – to get the posters to the printer. He asks me if he can help me – we could spend the day together. I politely decline and disappear as fast as possible. Starbuck’s Jennifer, anyone?
#2. Yesterday (Friday) was the first day of the exams at Terry’s school. She would be through at 11:45, we would catch the 12:oo bus to the train station and catch the 1:13 train into Shanghai for the weekend. Good plan, right? Wrong. Two of her students chose to use, let’s say, not strictly kosher methods to pass the exam. The rest is up to her to share. Anyway, this means that I have to get a taxi, get to the school, wait for her, David and Mr. Zhao to deal with it, get the taxi to wait and then rush to the train station, with the only taxi driver in China who obeys all the red lights and speed zones. (As an aside, we come up to a red light at a left turn lane. We patiently wait behind the van in front through the change of light – he is still sitting there, despite the mild honking of our taxi and Geoff’s increasing frustration. As we finally pass, he is on the phone. Now, it is good that he isn’t talking and driving, but maybe sitting in the left turn lane to chat is not the best option.) Anyway, by the time we get to the station, I have downed two grande lattes and need the facilities. I rush in to the washroom and STOP DEAD. Here, standing at the urinal, is an adult male. He has undone his belt, button and zipper and lowered his pants halfway down his thighs (thankfully most, but not all, of his derriere is still covered) in order to relieve himself. Now my experience is that most men just undo their zipper, but I guess this guy had either a) some searching to do or b) the zipper opening wasn’t large enough. I don’t know which since I chose the opposite wall of urinals and he was, in fairness, just redressing.
#3. Now I want to share a story with you which comes from an impeccable source, but, thank God, hasn’t actually happened to me. Often times in public areas, such as workout gyms, basketball courts, hockey rinks, golf courses etc. the locker rooms, if they don’t have individual shower stalls, have large open rooms where men face the wall and shower themselves, with a modicum of either modesty or decency. Apparently not in China. Here they stand facing the middle of the room with everything fully exposed and no attempt to hide anything. Now if you are in early to mid 20s, this might be okay, but apparently it goes right through the ages. Nothing more interesting than a wizened up 50 year old, I say. Along the same line, in some places they have a chair facing a mirror where you can use the hair dryer, apply the body lotion etc. etc. It is not unusual for the men to use the hair dryer to dry ALL the hair on their body or apply the lotion to ALL parts of their body while sitting at the chair, fully naked, admiring themselves. As our own “Deep Throat” articulated, “There is no way in hell I would ever sit on that chair!”
Our next post will be less explicit and more family oriented.