First, I need to vent: I started a girl’s running club this week to run twice a week, Mondays and Wednesdays at noon. I thought I might add Friday once the girls began to feel good about it, which I know they would if they stuck with it. Today, the second day of the club, all 8 of the girls left to go to Volunteers Club and told me this was going on every Wednesday. Smelling a rat, I consulted David who told me that, yes, Wednesday is club day and not only Volunteers Club but other ones run as well. Hmmm. Thwarted before I get out of the gate. I am not giving up and will try to gather them tomorrow for Friday. We have now filled the lunch-hour with vocabulary lessons taught by Chinese, and conversational English with the English teachers; I purposefully scheduled myself out of M and W to do this running as the girls are so soft and the PE is even softer. Now I have to forego my wine until after I exercise at home! Is this fair, I ask you?
Next, at Monday’s admin meeting with Chinese administration and our English-speaking support teachers, I was invited to attend the celebration for National Women’s Day. What happens there, I ask. Well, the women gather at the saloon (now you have my attention) and they play some games, maybe some cards and sing karaoke and maybe win some small prizes. “Ohhhhhkaaaaay, do I have to?”, I think to myself but say, “Why don’t the men participate in National Women’s Day?” to which the entire room erupts in uproarious laughter. I wasn’t trying to be funny–It was a serious question. Well, I now know the answer.
It wasn’t in a saloon, it was in a salon. Oh. When we arrived there were about 10 women there trying their best to make this an event. A few were singing karaoke, loudly and off-key, others were playing cards, and others still were manning the various games. I bowled the requisite 3 balls into a formation of filled water bottles; I hula-hooped the requisite time; I drew the line at skipping. Daisy and I sat down and commiserated with each other about being there. Mr. Zhao arrived, obviously having drawn the short straw at work and taking Mr. Xu’s place. Within 10 minutes of his arrival, he came over to tell me that if I wanted to, I could leave, it was okay. I asked what would be happening; there would be some awards given out and then there would be a lecture about women’s manners, dress, how to do make-up–I kid you not!
I would have left right then and there but I drove with somebody who was receiving an award, so we couldn’t very well leave before that was done, so back down we sat and watched the room fill up with more women, all of whom were chatting madly with each other and eating the bananas,–fresh and dried– oranges and peanuts that were set out for snacks. Finally and luckily, for us, our driver was the first one to get her award and then the four of us unceremoniously left. Frankly, I’m still a little shell-shocked by the whole experience. I cannot imagine that a men’s celebration would be anything like this. Seriously, let’s get together, drink tea, eat fruit and give some awards out for best male teacher. The topper could be yet to come: knowing the school’s habit of giving gifts in celebration, I couldn’t help but notice that the gate office was stacked with cases of laundry soap samples! I cannot be held responsible if one of those comes my way.
(Ed. note: An entire afternoon of Terry’s life – gone forever!)